Dakar Travel Guide


Dakar © Jeff Attaway

Situated on the tip of the Cap Vert Peninsula in western Africa, Dakar teems with life and boasts luxurious hotels, a wide range of restaurants, beaches and water sports, a casino, and an active nightlife scene. This modern capital is also one of the busiest ports for cruise ships in Africa.

After three centuries of French colonial rule, Senegal became independent in 1960. Before independence the city of Dakar was the capital of French West Africa, it has been the capital of the independent Republic since then. The country has retained strong ties with France and the French influence remains in the architecture of the city, where well preserved colonial buildings, the monumental government house and café terraces stand testimony to its history.

For lovers of history, Gorée Island, a UNESCO Historical Monument, is a must-see. Here the painful history of Senegal's slave trade comes alive in 'La Maison des Enclaves' with its cells, shackles, and the slave dealer's apartments, as well as the many museums housed in former slave houses, and the forts built to protect the lucrative business.

The architecture in central Dakar is an attraction in and of itself; there are some beautiful buildings in and around the city, including the city's cathedral and grand mosque. However, the most famous site in Dakar is the controversial African Renaissance Monument, a massive sculpture representing Africa's emergence from slavery and colonialism.

Another great way to enjoy an afternoon in Dakar is by browsing the busy markets or having a picnic in one of the beautiful parks. Hann Park and Zoo is a great place to take kids and Lake Retba is also an interesting sight for visitors of all ages, where tourists can watch the traditional salt harvesters at work.