Mbarara is about 290 kilometres (180 mi), by road, southwest of Kampala, Uganda’s capital and largest city. Mbarara is an important transport hub, lying west of Masaka on the road to Kabale, near Lake Mburo National Park. The coordinates of the Mbarara central business district are 00 36 48S, 30 39 30E (Latitude:-0.6132; Longitude:30.6582)
In August 2014, the national population census put the population at 195,013.
Mbarara Genesis Early Travellers in Ankole and the Founding of Mbarara by an African, Asian and European Initiative. by David Weekes, (2014) ISBN 9780956550149 describes its founding in 1899 on an old royal site which had been abandoned
Mbarara came from behind and developed to surpass Entebbe, Masaka, Gulu, and Jinja as the second-largest town in Uganda after Kampala and also second to Kampala in importance, industry, and infrastructure, 3rd largest town in Uganda by population after Kampala and Kira and the fastest growing town in Uganda followed by Gulu. Starting with 2000, modern buildings have been established including malls, arcades, plaza, and hotels. Modern hospitals have also been constructed including Mbarara Hospital which is now a National Referral Hospital, Mbarara Community Hospital a private hospital located in Kyamugorani, Kakiika Division, and Mayanja Memorial Hospital located in Nyamityobora Kakoba Division. On 7 August 2015 the Uganda cabinet approved Mbarara Municipality alongside other 5 municipalities to be granted a city status. As of 14 August 2015, the town is waiting for the approval of the parliament and the President.
4 h 10 min (266 km) via Masaka Road and Mbarara-Masaka Road. Take Mawanda Road and Gayaza Road to Northern Bypass 8 min (2.2 km). Follow Masaka Road and Mbarara-Masaka Road to Mackansigh St in Mbarara 3 h 56 min (263 km). Continue on Mackansigh St to your destination 6 min (1.7 km)
The town has got several shopping points scattered along the main road. A few of the more well-know ones are Intercity Shoppers Supermarket and the Apple Door to Door Supermarket. Most of the major banks are located in the town.
There are three methods of public transportation: boda-boda, matatu and special hire taxis. The fastest method are the boda-bodas; motorcycles that you see all over the city. You won’t be in Kampala long before being propositioned by a Boda driver. If you’re not interested, a simple ‘no’ will get them to leave you alone. You can get almost anywhere on the back of one for between 1,000 and 2,000 USh, but make sure you agree on the fare before the ride begins.
Nkokonjeru Tombs of Ankole
Located 12km from Mbarara on the road to Kampala, this new cultural village is worth looking at. Set on the grounds of a former palace of the Ankole king, this quality museum explores the peoples of southwestern Uganda.
In May 2019, the Uganda's cabinet granted Mbarara a city status, which started on 1 July 2020.
A public airport, located about 10 kilometres (6.2 mi), by road northwest of town, along Mbarara-Ibanda highway