Old Town Mombasa may be a far cry from major hubs of African history like Marrakesh or Zanzibar, but you'll find that there's enough commotion and intrigue here to satisfy those with a desire to experience the "authentic" life firsthand. Its Arab and Asian inspired architecture are the neighborhood's biggest draw, complete with ornately decorated front doors and balconies that have admittedly seen better decades. You can also stop by the city's main market near the intersection of Mombasa and Digo Roads, where everything from luggage and wood carvings to spices and fresh veggies are at your disposal.
As you peruse, it pays to keep in mind that, while some parts of Old Town have become tourist oriented, there are many sections in which first-time travelers might feel a bit out of their element. Don't, however, be put off by the congestion and/or seedy appearances. For all its want of upkeep, Old Town is still by and large a safe (though somewhat hectic) place to check out.