Douala travel guide

Douala Tourism | Douala Guide

You're Going to Love Douala

Douala is one of Africa's most successful cities, with a well-developed infrastructure and stable society that has made it a busy and modern metropolis. It's an economic center not just for the country, but the region, and has the largest port in Central Africa.

Top 5 Reasons to Visit Douala

1. Fishing and Water Sports

World-class deep sea fishing charters are available from this busy seaport on the Gulf of Guinea, along with boating and various water sports.

2. Douala Edéa Wildlife Reserve

This huge wildlife reserve on the edge of town is home to elephants, monkeys, chimpanzees, dolphins, and much more.

3. An Undiscovered Foodie's Gem

As a port city, fresh seafood is a local specialty, with menus that range from Cameroonian, Pan-African, Mediterranean, and Middle Eastern.

4. Limbe

Limbe, just outside of Douala, is where you'll find a sandy beach, and the Limbe Wildlife Centre, a refuge for rescued primates such as chimpanzees and gorillas.

5. Buy Local

Look for local crafts and artisan work, including beads, scarves and other textiles, hand-painted woodwork, and of course, locally produced coffee and delicious chocolate.

What to do in Douala

1. An Outlandish Colonial-Era Creation

Also known as "the Palace of the Kings Bell", this outlandish mansion was renamed by the writer Celine, who mentioned it in his 'Journey to the End of the Night.' It was originally built in 1905 by the German colonial state for their puppet ruler, King Auguste Manga Ndumbe Bell, and Celine's description seems apt. Similar to Chinese pagodas, but mixed with European and African motifs, it's a unique building for sure.

2. A Feast For Street Food And Retail Fans Alike

Situated in south-western Douala, Marché des Fleurs is the city's premier bazaar, and it's packed with souvenir hunting possibilities. Give the market plenty of time, as it's a big place, and be prepared to haggle. When you get there, you'll find a huge array of craft goods from the region around Douala, including woven baskets, vividly dyed fabrics, traditional carved masks, and sumptuous jewelry. And you'll also find plenty of chances to taste Cameroon's street food. Ndole is a particular favorite, featuring nuts, rice, bitter greens, and either beef or fish, depending on your taste. It's best washed down with the locally brewed beer that is also freely available at the market's refreshment stalls.

3. Song, Dance, Art, Crafts And Much More

Cameroon's French Institute does a great job at keeping the connections between the country and its major foreign influence alive. After the Germans left in 1914, the French took over, and ruled the city until 1960, giving them plenty of time to get a cultural foothold. These days, Franco-Cameroonian interchanges are constant, and this cultural complex is the place to discover them. From film screenings, and dance performances to art exhibitions and debates on political hot topics, there's always something going on at the Institut, and it's usually worth seeing.

4. Where Cameroon's Beach-Hounds Go To Catch The Sun

Drive for 40 miles west of Douala and you'll come to Limbe - Cameroon's premier Atlantic ocean resort town. Aside from the welcoming beach, Limbe is full of appeal, whether you head to the Botanical Gardens (where you can grab some "African Viagra"), or the Wildlife Center, which houses chimpanzees and mandrills. But nothing beats sunbathing a while before munching some grilled fish skewers and relaxing at the line of beach bars, as the sun sets over the Atlantic.

5. The Hub Of Douala's Modern Art Community

Located right next to La Pagode, Doual'art is a vibrant artistic collective which lays a good claim to be Cameroon's leading modern art institution. Founded in 1991 by one of the descendants of King Bell (who built the Pagode), it's a lively space for sculpture, painting, craft production, dance, music, and drama with a strong social side as well. So expect plenty of exhibitions on current issues, as well as a stunning portfolio of contemporary Cameroon's finest artists.

1. An Outlandish Colonial-Era Creation

Also known as "the Palace of the Kings Bell", this outlandish mansion was renamed by the writer Celine, who mentioned it in his 'Journey to the End of the Night.' It was originally built in 1905 by the German colonial state for their puppet ruler, King Auguste Manga Ndumbe Bell, and Celine's description seems apt. Similar to Chinese pagodas, but mixed with European and African motifs, it's a unique building for sure.

2. A Feast For Street Food And Retail Fans Alike

Situated in south-western Douala, Marché des Fleurs is the city's premier bazaar, and it's packed with souvenir hunting possibilities. Give the market plenty of time, as it's a big place, and be prepared to haggle. When you get there, you'll find a huge array of craft goods from the region around Douala, including woven baskets, vividly dyed fabrics, traditional carved masks, and sumptuous jewelry. And you'll also find plenty of chances to taste Cameroon's street food. Ndole is a particular favorite, featuring nuts, rice, bitter greens, and either beef or fish, depending on your taste. It's best washed down with the locally brewed beer that is also freely available at the market's refreshment stalls.

3. Song, Dance, Art, Crafts And Much More

Cameroon's French Institute does a great job at keeping the connections between the country and its major foreign influence alive. After the Germans left in 1914, the French took over, and ruled the city until 1960, giving them plenty of time to get a cultural foothold. These days, Franco-Cameroonian interchanges are constant, and this cultural complex is the place to discover them. From film screenings, and dance performances to art exhibitions and debates on political hot topics, there's always something going on at the Institut, and it's usually worth seeing.

4. Where Cameroon's Beach-Hounds Go To Catch The Sun

Drive for 40 miles west of Douala and you'll come to Limbe - Cameroon's premier Atlantic ocean resort town. Aside from the welcoming beach, Limbe is full of appeal, whether you head to the Botanical Gardens (where you can grab some "African Viagra"), or the Wildlife Center, which houses chimpanzees and mandrills. But nothing beats sunbathing a while before munching some grilled fish skewers and relaxing at the line of beach bars, as the sun sets over the Atlantic.

5. The Hub Of Douala's Modern Art Community

Located right next to La Pagode, Doual'art is a vibrant artistic collective which lays a good claim to be Cameroon's leading modern art institution. Founded in 1991 by one of the descendants of King Bell (who built the Pagode), it's a lively space for sculpture, painting, craft production, dance, music, and drama with a strong social side as well. So expect plenty of exhibitions on current issues, as well as a stunning portfolio of contemporary Cameroon's finest artists.

Where to Eat in Douala

Dine on a menu of international fusion at La Fourchette, where mains like grilled zebra fillet or stuffed crab start at CFA7,000. Eat local with an upscale flair at Saga Africa Restaurant, with Chinese dishes and pasta on the menu to round out the variety. Main dishes start at CFA4,000.

When to visit Douala

Douala in January
Estimated hotel price
$32
1 night at 3-star hotel
Douala in January
Estimated hotel price
$32
1 night at 3-star hotel

With temperatures that average between 77 and 83 degrees during the course of the year, most tourists choose to visit during the somewhat drier months of November to March.

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

How to Get to Douala

Plane

Douala International Airport (DLA) lies about six miles from the city. You'll find yellow taxis available just outside the airport, and a trip to the city should cost about CFA3,500.

Train

Douala is a hub on the nation's rail system, with most passenger service operated by Camrail. Connections are available to most major centers in the country, including Ngaoundéré, Yaoundé, Nkongsamba, and stops in between.

Car

Douala is linked to the capital city Yaoundé by the Yaoundé-Douala Highway, and by extension to most other major centers in Cameroon. Not all road surfaces you encounter throughout the country will be paved, however.

Bus

There are bus connections available from Douala to Limbe and Yaoundé, and beyond to Ngaoundéré.

Airports near Douala

Airlines serving Douala

United Airlines
Good (2,482 reviews)
KLM
Good (291 reviews)
Air France
Good (305 reviews)
Turkish Airlines
Good (1,081 reviews)
Delta
Excellent (2,668 reviews)
SWISS
Excellent (371 reviews)
Qatar Airways
Good (952 reviews)
Brussels Airlines
Good (74 reviews)
Etihad Airways
Good (207 reviews)
Ethiopian Air
Good (128 reviews)
Egypt Air
Good (115 reviews)
Royal Air Maroc
Good (93 reviews)
Kenya Airways
Excellent (30 reviews)
RwandAir
Good (1 reviews)
Air Senegal
Excellent (15 reviews)
ASKY
Good (27 reviews)
Air Côte d’Ivoire
Excellent (3 reviews)
Air Peace
Excellent (1 reviews)
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Where to stay in Douala

Stay in luxury at the Hotel Akwa Palace, with a great central location. The Hôtel Akena City offers stylish furnishings and a sunny roof terrace to enjoy.

Popular neighbourhoods in Douala

Akwa - this is the city's business district and historic center, where you'll find great shopping opportunities, including many markets.

Bonanjo - as the city's administrative center, this is where you'll find some charming colonial architecture, including the railway station, the old post office, and others.

Deido - this historic district is popular with locals and a hub for shopping and dining.

Where to stay in popular areas of Douala

How to Get Around Douala

Public Transportation

There is no public transit system per se, but there are several private companies that offer a network of bus services throughout the city.

Taxi

There are two taxi companies available in the city, and the best way to reach them is to ask your hotel to make the reservation. Fares within town should run CFA2,500 or less. If you share a taxi, the fare drops to about CFA250-350.

Car

If you choose to drive in the city, be aware that some streets may be in varying states of disrepair. A car rental starts at about CFA68,750 per day.

The Cost of Living in Douala

Shopping Streets

The large Marché Central (Central Market) is located on Rue Congo Pariso. The Place de l'Independance is another hub for street traders from all over the region.

Groceries and Other

Score is where to find European and American-style groceries, with well-stocked shelves. A quart of milk costs about CFA490 and a dozen eggs costs roughly CFA1,015.

Cheap meal
$3.86
A pair of jeans
$70.58
Single public transport ticket
$0.64
Cappuccino
$1.46