Whether it’s the romantic candlelit dinner you’re after or pizza and bowling, Kampala offers many great scenarios for date night! I’ve always praised this city for it’s delicious food and wide variety of entertainment and activities. I realize that this article will barely scrape the surface of great ideas, but here a few to get you started in the right direction.
The “Safe” First Date
Met a cute girl at Iguana’s last weekend and want to test out if it’s really love or just too many Nile Specials? This is exactly when you need to engage in a “safe” first date! The classic dinner and a movie date dodges some of the potentially awkward romantic scenarios and provides a more relaxed atmosphere perfect for getting to know someone.
Grab a pizza at New York Pizza Kitchen in Garden City Mall. It’s a bit difficult to find, as it’s located near the parking area, but they offer authentic New York style pies. Yum! It’s small and cozy and won’t feel like you’re taking your date to a food court. Head upstairs to their movie theatre or walk next door to Oasis Mall to access their theatre. On this note, Kampala now has a 3-D movie theatre off the Northern Bypass in Naayla (use Google to map it). Go for a late afternoon flick then head to Mediterraneo in Kololo for “upscale pizza” and Italian food. This place might have the best ambiance in town!
Another scenario? See a performance or play downtown at the National Theatre . The old theatre has charm and it’s a fun experience compared to your average movie night! There are two delicious restaurants down the street to fit your mood. Istanbul Restaurant offers authentic Turkish cuisine or Chaat Masala House, literally across the street from the theatre, is Kampala’s only South Indian restaurant.
The Activity Date
Skip the candles and white table linens; these dates are for the couples who want to be active together and Kampala has no shortage of fun activities. Check our Living in Kampala Facebook page (shameless plug) for weekly events because there’s usually something for everyone: wine tastings at 49 Cheese & Wine, cooking classes, reggae night, charity events, and don’t forget the annual “Goat Races.”
If you’re feeling competitive, Garden City Mall is home to Uganda’s first bowling alley called Alley Gators. Grab dinner beforehand at the delicious and affordable Indian restaurant, Nawab, on the top level of the mall. While you would imagine poor ambiance, Nawab is open-air and breezy and has a lovely view of the city at night. Definitely doesn’t feel like a mall food court joint!
Another idea is to spend an afternoon at Speke Resort in Munyonyo. The grounds overlooking Lake Victoria are stunning and tranquil. For a small fee, you can spend the afternoon at their pool and enjoy a few cold drinks from their full-service wait staff. This also allows access to their relatively small gym and sauna. Other on-site activities include horseback riding at their Equestrian Centre or head down to their marina for jet ski and boat rentals on Lake Victoria!
The “Mommy Needs a Break” Date
Men–Score big by noticing when your lady needs a night out. While this date is definitely not just for moms, I’ve enjoyed seeing my mommy-friends eat this one up when suddenly their husbands turn into George Clooney with the simple mention of a night away from home.
What does every woman need after a long week? A stiff drink will do! Take her out to the ultra-cool Camel Club and let their talented mixologists help take the edge off with one of their fun cocktails. Enjoy the beach vibe and trendy ambiance before heading to dinner, and believe me… you’ll need dinner because these pricey cocktails are strong!
Depending on your appetite, two great dinner options nearby are Fez Brasserie at the gorgeous Emin Pasha Hotel or Yujo Japanese Restaurant. Fez Brasserie has a delicious menu and classy ambiance. Plus, if you’re there on a Friday night, there’s usually a live jazz band which is a fun way to end the evening! Yujo will be a little bit more upbeat as far as vibe. The place is always packed and the sushi is incredible! It just depends on if you want a quiet, more romantic ambiance or something a little more lively.
The Wine Lover’s Date
Ahhh the “Wine lovers date”. It’s a personal favorite! Take your sweetheart for a pre-dinner glass of wine at 49 Cheese & Wine. This darling wine shop in Bugolobi has a wide variety of South African wines and also sells BROOD breads and specialty cheeses. It’s like a picnic without having to do any of the shopping and preparation! Choose a bottle and some snacks and head outdoors to the picnic tables to start the evening.
Next up, transition your tastebuds from South African to French wines. Head down the street to Le Bougainviller for a delicious steak and continued romantic ambiance. Be sure to walk downstairs to see their sweet wine cellar before you leave! If you’re still up for some fun after dinner, stop by Jazz Ville Restaurant for a nightcap and live music. Jazz Ville features live bands Wednesday through Saturday nights.
The Weekend Getaway
Kampala is amazing but sometimes the ultimate romantic gesture is a weekend away for rest, relaxation, and romance! I’m killing myself for using that alliteration, but you catch my drift. Luckily, there are several lovely spots not too far from the city.
Jinja is always an obvious favorite. Depending on traffic, only a few hours from Kampala, yet completely serene with a charming, small-town vibe. Stay a few nights in a luxury banda or bungalow at The Haven, or if you’re up for it, bring your tent and camp on their gorgeous plot! Enjoy the outstanding view by day and fall asleep to the sounds of the rushing Nile River as you sleep. You can opt for full board or go explore some of Jinja’s fun restaurants. The Black Lantern has delicious food and nice ambiance. Try the spare ribs! Another nice spot is Mezzanine. They’re located directly on the river and offer a tapas-style menu that’s really fun.
I’ve heard Jinja referred to as “the adventure capital of Uganda” and they’re not kidding around. There are countless things to do together: horseback riding, rafting, canoeing, or fishing. The important thing is that you two are together so have fun on your getaway and make some memories!
What would be your dream date in Kampala? We’d love to hear your ideas so leave a comment below. We’ll post our favorite idea on our Living in Kampala Facebook page!