Rock Garden was my favourite nightlife spot where I spent most of my Kampala nights. It is perfectly positioned, right in the heart of the city and a foot from the restaurants where I used to have my dinners. Besides, one part of a club is a restaurant, open until 11:00pm, and offering very good food. I strongly recommend grilled tilapia.
Admission to this club is free, while the drinks, comparing to other clubs, is cheap. Just to mentioned, imported Tusker beer (good Kenyan beer) costs 300 shillings only.
The music is very good, mostly Ugandan or from other African countries, mixed with excellent Indian music and inevitable Abba hits. Abba is the most popular group in Kampala, everywhere you go around the sound of Abba is following you.
Although very popular club, especially within the white community of Kampala, I didn't like it much. For my money, it is overcrowded and the music is sort of midle of the road. Besides, O'Learys looks alike to average or even bellow it pubs you can see all over Europe.
If mzungu (white), the admission to this club will cost you 5.000 shillings, about 2,5 euros, not much but quite alot of money for the locals who cannot afford it.
There are couple of casinos in the central part of the town but my advise is, stay away from them unless you don't know what to do with your money. There is one rule in such a places only, they win you loose.
Dress Code: It's the most funny part regarding casinos, atenders should wear decent cloths, whatever it means. They probably feel much better when fleecing money from client dressed in a "decent" cloths.
Capital pub is really more of a disco than a pub and a really good night out. Not all the girls here are working girls. Things are a bit cheaper here, you sometimes have to pay to get in but if you do you usually get 1st drink free. Good mix of music at Capital, loads of pool tables and a whole bunch of tellies if for some reason you want to watch TV.
Not worth going before 11 at night. Capital is outside the city in the area called Kabalagala you can get here by minibus from the taxi park or what impatient folk like myself do is haggle for a good price on the back of a Boda-boda (it’s always more coming back to town on a boda). There are loads of eating places in Kabalagala as well as other bars I like a Congolese bar a few doors away.
City Bar has it all and it’s cheaper than many of the upscale places around the corner. You can get some seriously cold beers, sit outside in the fresh air and get great service. You can also sit inside at the huge bar – the largest in Kampala. If they don’t sell it then it’s not been made. You can also watch live sports on their large TV or have a fantastic meal. If you get there a bit early and ask nicely they will put on a nice big juicy steak for you. City Bar – a great evening
One of my favourite boozers in Kampala was the Top Pub. It was in the same building and more or less suronded by The Sax Pub.
Both of the these watering holes have moved, Sax to a spot overloking City square on kampala rd and Top Pub has moved to William Street. Sax is now a shadow of its former self. Top Pub is still pretty good the only problem there is a nutter went in and shot 8 people dead while I was in Kampala. Thankfully I was tucked up in bed at the time.
Dress Code: Hard hat, toe tecters, ear plugs, safety goggles.
Al's Bar is a little out of control (in a good way). This open-air bar gets very busy and attracts a wide selection of local Ugandans and some of the expat community -- all of whom are there to let their hair down. In addition to being a good place for a beer (or something stronger), Al's Bar is a great place to go dancing at night (pop music and local East African jams).
Stays open LATE.
Dress Code: Casual
And there are some punters who manage to have a drink at all hours at my favourite watering hole in Kampala. This place can get choka from around midnight to the early hours most nights of the week.
A lot of punters can been seen outside the gaff on the pavement having a scoop but this is actually another bar "Top Pub" next door. To enter Sax you have to go down the moody alley passed the boncer, the barber and the rolex seller!
Dress Code: Any old clobber with your money pushed well out of sight! It is not unsual to have your pocket felt just use a bit of nowse.
This is the one place in Kampala that is considered by the locals as the “forbidden apple”. It is a little difficult to describe Al’s bar because it is not your ordinary bar or pub nor restaurant. How do I describe this place? If you want to party till you drop dead in the company of a drop the music is very western but the bar style fits in with the African setting. My girlfriends and I used to frequent Al’s bar way back. When I returned home last year, I stopped by briefly and found that I was no longer in the league of those that party there, it was quite simply wild. The music is mostly Rock and Pop. The bar gets lively at about 9:30 pm/ 10:00 pm and runs till dawn.
In general Kampala is expensive, so the drinks at Al’s bar are considered averagely priced. Beer and most any liquor you want is available and the bartenders are very experienced. Food is readily available until late so if you get hungry and tipsy, filling your belly is a good idea. For the gentlemen, bewared the ladies in the night, if you are alone you just might have ten women all over you. There are many foreigners who go to Al’s bar and they do have tales to tell about this place. All in all it is an adventurous place to visit among the night life entertainment places, do not miss visiting Al's bar if you are in Kampala, you will find it interesting.
As the Americans warn, do not drink and drive, the Kampala Police are quite corrupt, they will milk you dry if they pick you up for driving while drunk. There are Taxis waiting right outside the bar, most of the taxi drivers know Kampala like the back of their hand. While in Kampala, be safe and have fun.
Dress Code: casual/ Nice
I know this is in my nightlife tips but I have probably spent more time here in the afternoon.
This is a great bar for chilling if you've walked from the centre of town and want to sit in the shade and watch the world go by with a frighteningly cold beer in hand.
This is an Indian run bar like a lot of businesses in Old Kampala but the customers here are a real mixed crowd. This is also the place in Kampala where I have seen the best pool being played.
Capital Pub occupies an area with a tree as the centre and many bars and pool tables around. They play load African and American Hip Hop music. It's also an infamous hangout for prostitutes. Locals call the place "Kinnya". Capital Pub is the largest night club in Kabalagala. It is run by a Swiss emigre.
Go to Google Earth and paste in the GPS coordinates:
0° 17' 54.3100" N 32° 36' 5.0700" E
Just Kicking (or "JK") is a good expat bar, frequented primarily by Kampala's large British community. They regularly show cricket and rugby matches, but can also be pursuaded to show televised American sporting events, assuming nothing from the other side of the pond is on at the same time. Though I normally find traditional expat bars, such as JK, obnoxious, JK manages to maintain a friendly atmosphere, which makes it a great place to relax and have a beer after work.
Dress Code: Casual
Nile Special is Uganda's famous international award winning beer, brewed at the source of the great river Nile. "True reward from the source". It's a good beer.
Brewed under licence from Sabmiller Int. B. V. by Nile Breweries Ltd.
This place has been raved about on other VTers pages but sadly the pace of change in Kampala has left the City Bar behind. It is now not much more than a building site. The old outside terrace in front is now scattered with rubble if you can manage to look beyond the metal fence. I guess it will makeway for another ridculously big modern building. Shame indeed!
Rock garden or On The Rocks is actually a bar in a really smart hotel, Speke Hotel. So in Ugandan terms we are talking a bit out of my price range here or just the occasional treat but if I venture up Speke road I actually make sure I have a few cheap beers before I get to the Rock Garden. It has a big island bar with loads of TVs so is a good place to watch any sport that are on the box, so when a big English premiership match is on the telly it can be well busy. Weekends are usually a lot busier with the occasional band playing here.