Dakar travel guide

Dakar Tourism | Dakar Guide

You're Going to Love Dakar

Senegal's capital is full of colonial architecture, colorful streets, frenetic markets, and pulsating nightclubs. But it has another side too. If you want to chill out, you can relax on the city's northern beaches, or find peace and quiet on the city's offshore islands.

Top 5 Reasons to Visit Dakar

1. Culture and Museums

Dakar has the museums and galleries befitting a major world capital, from the Institut Français to the African art collections at the Musée Théodore Monod.

2. Thrilling Nightlife

Check out the popular bar and dance club at the Phare des Mamelles lighthouse or enjoy some Senegalese reggae at Black & White.

3. Fascinating Offshore Islands

Visitors should not miss the Île de Gorée, a UNESCO heritage site that was once a crucial hub in the transatlantic slave trade. If you want to get away from it all, the Îles des Madeleines are the ideal place to do so.

4. Vibrant Markets

There's no better place to buy souvenirs than the HLM Market, while Sandaga Market is the place to head for wooden carvings.

5. Laze Around on the Beach

Surf at Plage de Yoff or the Plage du Virage, or find a secluded spot on the beautiful Île de N'gor.

What to do in Dakar

1. Lac Rose: Float in a Pink Paradise

Located about 18 miles from Dakar's downtown, Lac Rose is a saltwater lake near the Atlantic Ocean. The water's high salt content attracts the Dunaliella salina algae that give it its rosy color, which is most prominent from November to June, during the drier season. The water's high salinity means that it is easy to float, with swimming and boating available by arrangement. Golden sand dunes on the ocean side of the lake add to the area's scenic beauty and make for great photo opportunities. There are also great souvenir shops and resorts with dining options in the area.

2. Île de Gorée: Look Into the Past

Île de Gorée is a small island in the Atlantic, and it is also a district, or arrondissement, in the city of Dakar. There are no cars on the island and it is accessible by boat or ferry. Île de Gorée was colonized by various European powers and was once a stop on the Atlantic slave trade. To reckon with this troubling past, the Maison des Esclaves, or Slave House, and other historical museums and monuments are open to the public today. The island is much calmer than the busy streets of mainland Dakar, with a downtown area of pastel colonial architecture that includes restaurants and shops. There are also many local markets with art, artisan work, and other souvenirs for sale.

3. Le Monument de la Renaissance Africaine: A Monument to the African Renaissance

Located on the second of the two hills just outside Dakar known as the Collines des Mamelles, the African Renaissance Monument is an impressive bronze statue that overlooks the Atlantic Ocean. The statue is over 160 feet in height and was erected in 2010 to commemorate the country's 50th anniversary of independence. Taller than the Statue of Liberty, it was meant to portray the hopes of modern Senegal with a depiction of a man, woman, and child reaching upwards. The statue is lit up at night, creating a dramatic image.

4. Musée de l'Institut Fondamental d'Afrique Noire: IFAN Museum of African Arts

Also known as the Théodore Monod African Art Museum, this museum contains an internationally recognized collection of ancient artifacts that come from all over former French colonies in West Africa. Ground floor collections include weaponry, clothing and other textiles, musical instruments, and more. Temporary exhibits of contemporary art are shown on the second floor. The institution also hosts the Dakar Biennale, which showcases contemporary African art.

5. Grande Mosquée de Dakar: Dakar's Grand Mosque

The Grande Mosquée de Dakar is one of the city's most important religious institutions, and is an active place of worship. The building is notable for its intricate decorations both on the interior and exterior. The minaret rises about 220 feet in the air. The Mosque incorporates the the Institut Islamique, an institute of Islamic studies that is also open to the public. The Mosque is available to visit during specified hours that vary according to holidays and season.

1. Lac Rose: Float in a Pink Paradise

Located about 18 miles from Dakar's downtown, Lac Rose is a saltwater lake near the Atlantic Ocean. The water's high salt content attracts the Dunaliella salina algae that give it its rosy color, which is most prominent from November to June, during the drier season. The water's high salinity means that it is easy to float, with swimming and boating available by arrangement. Golden sand dunes on the ocean side of the lake add to the area's scenic beauty and make for great photo opportunities. There are also great souvenir shops and resorts with dining options in the area.

2. Île de Gorée: Look Into the Past

Île de Gorée is a small island in the Atlantic, and it is also a district, or arrondissement, in the city of Dakar. There are no cars on the island and it is accessible by boat or ferry. Île de Gorée was colonized by various European powers and was once a stop on the Atlantic slave trade. To reckon with this troubling past, the Maison des Esclaves, or Slave House, and other historical museums and monuments are open to the public today. The island is much calmer than the busy streets of mainland Dakar, with a downtown area of pastel colonial architecture that includes restaurants and shops. There are also many local markets with art, artisan work, and other souvenirs for sale.

3. Le Monument de la Renaissance Africaine: A Monument to the African Renaissance

Located on the second of the two hills just outside Dakar known as the Collines des Mamelles, the African Renaissance Monument is an impressive bronze statue that overlooks the Atlantic Ocean. The statue is over 160 feet in height and was erected in 2010 to commemorate the country's 50th anniversary of independence. Taller than the Statue of Liberty, it was meant to portray the hopes of modern Senegal with a depiction of a man, woman, and child reaching upwards. The statue is lit up at night, creating a dramatic image.

4. Musée de l'Institut Fondamental d'Afrique Noire: IFAN Museum of African Arts

Also known as the Théodore Monod African Art Museum, this museum contains an internationally recognized collection of ancient artifacts that come from all over former French colonies in West Africa. Ground floor collections include weaponry, clothing and other textiles, musical instruments, and more. Temporary exhibits of contemporary art are shown on the second floor. The institution also hosts the Dakar Biennale, which showcases contemporary African art.

5. Grande Mosquée de Dakar: Dakar's Grand Mosque

The Grande Mosquée de Dakar is one of the city's most important religious institutions, and is an active place of worship. The building is notable for its intricate decorations both on the interior and exterior. The minaret rises about 220 feet in the air. The Mosque incorporates the the Institut Islamique, an institute of Islamic studies that is also open to the public. The Mosque is available to visit during specified hours that vary according to holidays and season.

Where to Eat in Dakar

There's great seafood to be found at Le Lagon 1 and Le Bideew, while Le Djembé is the place to head for an authentic plate of thiéboudienne (rice, vegetable, and fish stew). Meals cost around XOF5,000-15,000.

When to visit Dakar

Dakar in July
Estimated hotel price
$39
1 night at 3-star hotel
Dakar in July
Estimated hotel price
$39
1 night at 3-star hotel

Senegal's dry season is the time to go, between December and April. December also sees the World Festival of Black Arts swing into town, so it's a great time to visit.

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

How to Get to Dakar

Plane

Delta and South African Airways fly into Léopold Sédar Senghor International Airport (DKR). From there, Bus Line 8 runs into town (XOF150) and taxis will cost about XOF5,000.

Car

From the airport, follow the Route de l'Aeroport, then proceed onto the N1, which runs into the city center. If you are coming from Thies, take the N2 while the N1 runs from Kaolack.

Bus

Buses in Senegal tend to take the form of "Sept Places" (seven seater) minibuses, which run into Dakar's Gare Routiere Pompiers.

Airlines serving Dakar

United Airlines
Good (2,810 reviews)
American Airlines
Good (4,358 reviews)
Lufthansa
Good (2,100 reviews)
KLM
Good (345 reviews)
Air France
Good (392 reviews)
Delta
Excellent (3,019 reviews)
British Airways
Good (1,397 reviews)
Turkish Airlines
Good (1,305 reviews)
SWISS
Good (450 reviews)
Qatar Airways
Good (1,184 reviews)
Emirates
Excellent (917 reviews)
Iberia
Good (906 reviews)
Air Canada
Good (1,356 reviews)
TAP AIR PORTUGAL
Good (533 reviews)
Etihad Airways
Good (300 reviews)
Brussels Airlines
Good (100 reviews)
Ethiopian Air
Good (146 reviews)
Vueling
Good (376 reviews)
Royal Air Maroc
Good (126 reviews)
FlexFlight
Excellent (1 reviews)
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Where to stay in Dakar

Downtown Dakar - the center of town offers great attractions like the Galerie Le Manège, the Place des Tirailleurs monument to African World War One soldiers, and some lively markets.

Popular Neighborhoods in Dakar

Point E - Point E has some of the city's best music venues, including Just 4 U - a legendary reggae spot.

Yoff - sprawling over northern Dakar, Yoff is home to the airport and some of the best beaches in the area.

Where to stay in popular areas of Dakar

Most booked hotels in Dakar

International Hotel Dakar
Excellent (8.3, Excellent reviews)
$108+
Pullman Dakar Teranga
Excellent (8.2, Excellent reviews)
$363+
Terrou-Bi
Excellent (8, Excellent reviews)
$352+
Radisson Blu Hotel, Dakar Sea Plaza
Good (7.6, Good reviews)
$306+
See all hotels

How to Get Around Dakar

Public Transportation

Single fares on the Dakar Dem Dikk bus network cost XOF150 and the system is fairly dependable.

Taxi

Travelers can take "car rapides" (minibuses) for around XOF150 per journey, or conventional taxis. Fares are negotiated before traveling and usually come to around XOF1,500 per mile.

Car

You can rent a car from branches of Hertz or ADA, and rates are often around XOF4,000 per day.

The Cost of Living in Dakar

Shopping Streets

Head to HLM Market for fabrics, Sandaga Market for pretty much anything, and Marché Kermel for locally produced craft products.

Groceries and Other

Grocery stores include Score and Citydia. Expect to pay around XOF1,000 for 12 eggs.

Cheap meal
$13.20
A pair of jeans
$132.04
Single public transport ticket
$0.27
Cappuccino
$3.44