Dar es Salaam vs Nairobi: Settling the Score

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Time to settle the score between these two city face-offs: Dar es Salaam and Nairobi.

Dar Es Salaam

From the soaring skyscrapers to the rhythm of the streets, we’ll dive deep into the architectural wonders, the vibrant people, and the pulse of daily life. But that’s not all. Stick around as we explore the nightlife beats, evaluate safety vibes, and even unpack the weather genre. Buckle up; it’s time to settle the score in the city face-off: Dar es Salaam versus Nairobi.


The People

Let’s start with the people. It’s obvious right away that people in Dar es Salaam have a more laid-back attitude compared to the bustling pace of Nairobi. In Dar es Salaam, everything moves at a slower pace—service in restaurants, walking around the city, and even shopping at supermarkets. In contrast, Nairobi feels more metropolitan, with quicker service and people who are always on the move.


Tanzanian Fashion

Another noticeable difference is the proficiency in English. Nairobi residents generally speak better English, making communication much easier for English speakers. In Dar es Salaam, while many people do speak English, it’s not as widely understood or spoken as fluently. Both Tanzanians and Kenyans are friendly and approachable, but Tanzanians exhibit a more relaxed demeanor, possibly influenced by Dar es Salaam’s coastal setting.


Nairobi’s architecture is more advanced and modern, featuring numerous skyscrapers and glass buildings. This metropolitan vibe is a testament to Nairobi’s goal of becoming a Western-style metropolis. The architectural designs in Nairobi also benefit from significant international influence, contributing to a sleek and modern cityscape. Niorobi also has more Victorian old buildings.

Victorian Buildings of Nairobi

In contrast, Dar es Salaam’s architecture reflects its rich history with colonial and coastal influences. The buildings often feature arched windows and coral stone, with a mix of Arab, German, and Indian architectural styles.

Arches and Coral Stone in Dar Es Salaam

While Nairobi pushes towards modernity, Dar es Salaam retains a blend of historical and modern elements.

Urban Planning and Infrastructure

When it comes to urban planning, Nairobi seems to have an edge. The roads are generally better maintained, though both cities struggle with traffic congestion. Dar es Salaam’s urban planning is often criticized for poor road conditions and confusing junctions. However, both cities lack sufficient pedestrian infrastructure, making walking around a challenge.



Dar Es Salaam



Nairobi offers a more diverse and international nightlife scene compared to Dar es Salaam. In Nairobi, you can find various types of music and entertainment catering to different cultures, whereas Dar es Salaam’s nightlife is predominantly local. The quality of sound systems in Nairobi’s clubs and bars is also superior, enhancing the overall experience.

Nairobi Nightlife

In Dar es Salaam, the nightlife tends to be more about local music and simpler setups. While there are live bands and local flavors, the sound systems can often be subpar, making it less enjoyable for some. Nairobi, on the other hand, has more modern dance music and better-quality venues.


Drinks In Dar Es Salaam


Safety is a significant consideration when comparing these cities. According to crime comparison websites like Numbeo, Nairobi has a higher crime rate than Dar es Salaam, but the safety scale for walking alone at night is better in Nairobi. This discrepancy might be due to the types of crimes prevalent in each city—Nairobi may have more severe crimes, whereas Dar es Salaam might experience more petty theft.

Both cities, however, require common sense and vigilance. Avoiding dodgy neighborhoods and not walking alone at night are universal precautions that can keep you safe in both places. Street lighting is an issue in both cities, with many areas remaining poorly lit at night, which can add to safety concerns.


Dar es Salaam enjoys a consistently warm climate, being hot throughout the year with temperatures rarely dropping below 30 degrees Celsius. If you love the sun, Dar es Salaam’s weather is perfect, though it can get quite humid.

Rainy Seasons both Nairobi and Dar Es Salaam around the same time


Nairobi, due to its higher altitude, experiences cooler evenings and can get chilly, especially during the rainy seasons in April and November. The cooler climate in Nairobi can be a pleasant change from the constant heat of Dar es Salaam, but if you prefer warmth, Dar es Salaam might be more to your liking.



In conclusion, Nairobi offers a more modern, fast-paced city vibe with advanced infrastructure, better English proficiency, and diverse nightlife. Dar es Salaam, on the other hand, provides a unique blend of historical and coastal influences, a relaxed atmosphere, and warm weather.


Ultimately, the choice between Dar es Salaam and Nairobi depends on what you’re looking for. If you prefer a metropolitan lifestyle with a vibrant, international feel, Nairobi is your city. If you enjoy a slower pace with a beach vibe and historical charm, Dar es Salaam is the place for you. Both cities have their own unique advantages and charm, making them worth a visit.



📐Russell M. Henderson is a practicing RIBA Chartered Architect based in Tanzania, East Africa.

🎥Russell (Architect Russell) also makes videos on YouTube , TikTok Instagram & Skillshare  sharing thoughtful, honest and pragmatic knowledge while working and living abroad.

Architect Russell Uncensored is podcast also available on YouTube, talking about an architect’s life unfiltered. The education of 7 years to controversial topics such as RIBA and ARB, to unusual architect experience abroad like in Bangkok and Tanzania. This is content never before released on any platform and you can only get it here first. The truth through the eyes of Architect Russell, unfiltered and uncensored.


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