An amazingly diverse capital that combines both Arabic and African culture with a colonial past, Khartoum is a unique city with something to see or explore at every turn. In 24 hours, visitors can get a flavour of the city and experience some of its highlights, whether that’s breakfast next to the Nile, an ancient wrestling match or a modern art gallery that’s supporting local creatives. Here’s our guide to what to do in Khartoum in 24 hours.
Start the day with a hearty breakfast at the scenic Nile River Café. Serving a range of locally inspired dishes alongside international options, be sure to try a traditional Sudanese coffee, which is served from a jabana (a jug with a long spout) and made with coffee beans that are fried rather than roasted. The result is a brew that’s strong and thick and guaranteed to set you up for the day ahead. Follow the Sudanese practice of adding cinnamon or cardamom as well as plenty of sugar.
As the country that produced one of Africa’s foremost modern painters, Ibrahim El-Salahi, Sudan has a flourishing arts scene and Khartoum has several galleries that are worth visiting. Alongside with the National Museum, visitors should make their way to Dabanga Art Gallery and Mojo Gallery, which are both known for showcasing local Sudanese artists. Visit either gallery and you’ll soon discover that a prevalent theme seems to be exploration of identity—appropriate given Khartoum’s position as a meeting point of both Arabic and African cultures.
Experiencing the bustle and frenzy of the city’s souks is a must do in Khartoum and Souq Omdurman is one of the biggest. Set aside a few hours to really explore this warren of local crafts, gold and jewellery, leather goods and local delicacies and you’re bound to find some truly authentic and unusual souvenirs.
From the souk, it’s a short distance to the Khalifa House Museum. Built in 1887 in the Omdurman part of the city, it was the home of Imam Muhamed Ahmed Al-Mahdi’s successor, Abdu-Allah Al-Ta’eshy. The museum provides an interesting perspective on the Sudanese uprising against the British and Egyptians that occurred at the end of the 19th century and includes personal effects such as rifles, swords and photographs. Be sure to visit the courtyard where the first car in Sudan is exhibited.
Head back towards Corinthia to browse the interesting artefacts housed at the Ethnographic Museum. Sudan is a country that’s made up of hundreds of tribes and the museum offers an enlightening insight into the traditions and cultures of these different groups. If you’re visiting on a Wednesday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday, you can also check out the nearby Republican Palace Museum, which is housed, somewhat surprisingly, in an Anglican church. Take a look at the showcase of presidential cars, medals and gifts presented to respective heads of state.
If you’re lucky enough to be in Khartoum on a Friday afternoon, you’ll have an opportunity to witness the ancient art of Nubian wrestling. The sport, which takes place every week, is similar to a martial art and the men participating display a strange elegance and grace that has to be seen to be believed.
Evenings in Khartoum tend to be on the quiet side, but if you’re looking for something to do in Khartoum after dark, Jazz Café is a great choice. Sip on coffee or soft drinks as you mingle with the locals and listen to that night’s live music act.