Bamako travel guide

Bamako Tourism | Bamako Guide

You're Going to Love Bamako

Bamako lies on the Niger River in West Africa, a historic center for arts and culture along with commerce and trade. From the busy and colorful open air markets to the many museums, with the area's natural beauty close by, Bamako offers visitors classic West African hospitality.

Top 5 Reasons to Visit Bamako

1. The Music

Bamako is the heart of Mali's thriving and internationally recognized music scene, and exploring the city's musical artists through its nightlife is simply a must on any visit.

2. Parks and Gardens

Take a break from sightseeing with a visit to the city's lush botanical gardens, a feast for the senses, or wander through the great outdoors at the extensive Parc National du Mali.

3. History and Culture

There are many museums in Bamako where you can learn about the traditions and past of the city, including the National Museum of Mali with its archaeological exhibits, along with art galleries and much more.

4. The Niger River

Take a few hours or even a whole day and experience a leisurely trip down the river on one of the many boats to rent, with day cruises on motor boats available to as far away as Guinea.

5. Local Arts and Crafts

You'll be able to find truly one-of-a-kind souvenirs, crafts, and other artisan work at the city's many open air markets.

What to do in Bamako

1. Showing Off Mali's Magnificent Past

Located just north of the city center, the Musée National du Mali provides a wonderful introduction to Mali's rich history, with a creative approach, and plenty of treasures to discover. Some of the highlights are beautifully made replicas of the great mosques of Timbuktu and Djenne, along with wooden masks from the nation's many ethnic sub-divisions. There are some colorful and charismatic puppets on show, as well as a dazzling array of traditional textiles that will make you want to rush to the market for some of your own.

2. A Towering Islamic Attraction

Built in the 1970s with plenty of help from Saudi Arabian petro-dollars, the Grand Mosque is the center of modern Mali's spiritual life, and it's very hard to miss. The twin minarets soar over central Bamako in the absence of the kind of skyscrapers visitors might be familiar with from western capitals, and it has a kind of mid-century elegance that makes for some fine photo opportunities. But don't expect to gain access to the interior unless you're properly dressed and ready to pray.

3. A Finely Crafted Artisan Marketplace

As the name suggests, this is Bamako's premier market for traditional and modern craft products. Even if you have no intention of picking up some carvings or marionettes, it's still an engaging place to wander around. While wooden carvings and leather items are the most common souvenirs on offer, look out for gold and silver jewelry, which is another regional specialty, and remember that these items will be priced by weight, so weigh up your options carefully. You can find the center just off Rue Pasteur in central Bamako.

4. Chill With The Crocs In An Urban Escape-Hatch

This recently built urban oasis has added a welcome expanse of green space to the center of Bamako, and it's a joy to stroll around. The highlight is the botanical garden, which houses hundreds of native Malian trees and flowers, but there's also a charming little zoo with birds and crocodiles. The rest of the park is given over to relaxation, with sports facilities and on-site restaurants, where you can get a decent feed at reasonable prices. All-in-all, if you've tired of the dust and noise of the center, it's a great place to recharge your sight-seeing batteries.

5. The Place To Snag Some Malian Threads

Although it's Bamako's premier market, the Marche de Medine is strangely off the beaten tourist track, which probably makes it a more relaxed place to track down some bargains. Situated off the Rue de Bougoni in northern Bamako, the market is full of clothes vendors and textile traders - so if you fell in love with a print at the National Museum, there's a chance you'll find something similar here, along with food stalls aplenty, and a remarkable quota of beauty salons.

1. Showing Off Mali's Magnificent Past

Located just north of the city center, the Musée National du Mali provides a wonderful introduction to Mali's rich history, with a creative approach, and plenty of treasures to discover. Some of the highlights are beautifully made replicas of the great mosques of Timbuktu and Djenne, along with wooden masks from the nation's many ethnic sub-divisions. There are some colorful and charismatic puppets on show, as well as a dazzling array of traditional textiles that will make you want to rush to the market for some of your own.

2. A Towering Islamic Attraction

Built in the 1970s with plenty of help from Saudi Arabian petro-dollars, the Grand Mosque is the center of modern Mali's spiritual life, and it's very hard to miss. The twin minarets soar over central Bamako in the absence of the kind of skyscrapers visitors might be familiar with from western capitals, and it has a kind of mid-century elegance that makes for some fine photo opportunities. But don't expect to gain access to the interior unless you're properly dressed and ready to pray.

3. A Finely Crafted Artisan Marketplace

As the name suggests, this is Bamako's premier market for traditional and modern craft products. Even if you have no intention of picking up some carvings or marionettes, it's still an engaging place to wander around. While wooden carvings and leather items are the most common souvenirs on offer, look out for gold and silver jewelry, which is another regional specialty, and remember that these items will be priced by weight, so weigh up your options carefully. You can find the center just off Rue Pasteur in central Bamako.

4. Chill With The Crocs In An Urban Escape-Hatch

This recently built urban oasis has added a welcome expanse of green space to the center of Bamako, and it's a joy to stroll around. The highlight is the botanical garden, which houses hundreds of native Malian trees and flowers, but there's also a charming little zoo with birds and crocodiles. The rest of the park is given over to relaxation, with sports facilities and on-site restaurants, where you can get a decent feed at reasonable prices. All-in-all, if you've tired of the dust and noise of the center, it's a great place to recharge your sight-seeing batteries.

5. The Place To Snag Some Malian Threads

Although it's Bamako's premier market, the Marche de Medine is strangely off the beaten tourist track, which probably makes it a more relaxed place to track down some bargains. Situated off the Rue de Bougoni in northern Bamako, the market is full of clothes vendors and textile traders - so if you fell in love with a print at the National Museum, there's a chance you'll find something similar here, along with food stalls aplenty, and a remarkable quota of beauty salons.

Where to Eat in Bamako

Experience classic Malian specialties with live music at San Toro, where main dishes start at about CFA 8,400. You can dine on traditional French cooking and wines at Hotel Le Campagnard, starting at around CFA 12,000.

When to visit Bamako

Bamako in September
Estimated hotel price
$34
1 night at 3-star hotel
Bamako in September
Estimated hotel price
$34
1 night at 3-star hotel

With its tropical climate, Bamako draws tourists during the relatively cooler and drier months of November to February, when temperatures average between 90 and 95.

Data provided by weatherbase
Temperatures
Temperatures
Average
Celcius (°C)
Data provided by weatherbase

How to Get to Bamako

Plane

The Bamako-Sénou International Airport (BKO) lies about nine miles from the city center. A taxi to Bamako should cost around CFA 7,000.

Train

There is limited train service to Kayes and Koulikoro.

Car

Roads are generally unpaved throughout Mali and tourist travel by car is not recommended.

Bus

Bus service links Bamako to other cities in Mali, including Ségou and Mopti, with connections to other West African centers.

Airports near Bamako

Airlines serving Bamako

KLM
Good (364 reviews)
Air France
Good (442 reviews)
Turkish Airlines
Good (1,412 reviews)
Delta
Excellent (3,182 reviews)
Qatar Airways
Good (1,327 reviews)
Ethiopian Air
Good (165 reviews)
Egypt Air
Good (127 reviews)
Royal Air Maroc
Good (147 reviews)
FlexFlight
Good (2 reviews)
Tunisair
Good (15 reviews)
Air Algerie
Okay (5 reviews)
Corsair
Excellent (4 reviews)
Air Senegal
Good (41 reviews)
ASKY
Good (27 reviews)
Air Côte d’Ivoire
Good (4 reviews)
Mauritania Airlines
Okay (3 reviews)
Air Burkina
Good (2 reviews)
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Where to stay in Bamako

Downtown Mali - this is the modern heart of the city, where you'll find luxury hotels and a busy dining and nightlife scene.

Popular Neighborhoods in Bamako

Quartier du fleuve - this district around the river is where you'll find fresh fish for sale, along with upscale restaurants and accommodations.

Torokorobougou - this riverside area is where you'll find the Torokorobougou market and other local shopping opportunities.

Where to stay in popular areas of Bamako

How to Get Around Bamako

Public Transportation

There is limited government-run public transportation in Bamako, consisting of a few bus lines. Private companies run minibus services, which are more popular with locals.

Taxi

Taxi motorcycles are a popular way to get around town for locals and visitors alike. Fares are cheap and start at about CFA 100. Negotiate your price up front.

Car

Many of the city's roads remain unpaved, and street signs aren't always available, so driving on your own is not recommended.

The Cost of Living in Bamako

Shopping Streets

Look to the Marché de Medina, where locals shop for bargains and you'll find open air stalls with handicrafts along with food and other items. For modern shopping opportunities, look to the malls on the outskirts of the city, located on either side of the river.

Groceries and Other

ALS and Supermarket Le Miniprix are located throughout Bamako, with good prices and well-stocked shelves. A quart of milk costs about CFA 1,500, and a dozen eggs about CFA 1,100.

Cheap meal
$3.86
A pair of jeans
$25.40
Single public transport ticket
$2.32
Cappuccino
$2.84