Sierra Leone travel guide

Sierra Leone Tourism | Sierra Leone Guide

You're Going to Love Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone is a lesser-known beach destination in West Africa, although its stretches of sand by the Atlantic Ocean are one of the reasons why travelers visit.

The country also offers the possibility to explore rainforests and national parks, and observe endangered species in the wild.

What to do in Sierra Leone

1. Explore Freetown

The capital city of Sierra Leone has a vibrant and colorful multicultural atmosphere, where days are a mix of quiet time by the beach and the busy city life.

2. Relax on a Secluded Beach

For travelers wanting to escape the busier beaches by the capital city, Sierra Leone has plenty of spots ideal for relaxing, surfing, and tasting delicious grilled fish. Beaches Number Two, John Obey, and Bureh are some of the most popular spots.

3. Camp in a Wildlife Sanctuary

Sierra Leone is known for its many wildlife sanctuaries. Not only do they protect endangered species, but some of them allow travelers to camp onsite and experience the outdoors up-close. The Mamunto Mayosso and the Outamba-Kilimi are some of the sanctuaries you can visit.

4. Don't Leave Without Sampling Street Food

Rubbing elbows with locals while sampling different types of street food is one of the most authentic ways to get to know a country's culture. Sierra Leone is no exception, with city streets lined with colorful stalls.

5. Go Island Hopping

For those that don't have time to visit all nine islands, make room in the itinerary to include a trip to Bunce Island. A former slave fort, the island is a 45min boat ride from Freetown and one of the most popular tourist attractions in Sierra Leone. Booking a guided tour is recommended.

1. Explore Freetown

The capital city of Sierra Leone has a vibrant and colorful multicultural atmosphere, where days are a mix of quiet time by the beach and the busy city life.

2. Relax on a Secluded Beach

For travelers wanting to escape the busier beaches by the capital city, Sierra Leone has plenty of spots ideal for relaxing, surfing, and tasting delicious grilled fish. Beaches Number Two, John Obey, and Bureh are some of the most popular spots.

3. Camp in a Wildlife Sanctuary

Sierra Leone is known for its many wildlife sanctuaries. Not only do they protect endangered species, but some of them allow travelers to camp onsite and experience the outdoors up-close. The Mamunto Mayosso and the Outamba-Kilimi are some of the sanctuaries you can visit.

4. Don't Leave Without Sampling Street Food

Rubbing elbows with locals while sampling different types of street food is one of the most authentic ways to get to know a country's culture. Sierra Leone is no exception, with city streets lined with colorful stalls.

5. Go Island Hopping

For those that don't have time to visit all nine islands, make room in the itinerary to include a trip to Bunce Island. A former slave fort, the island is a 45min boat ride from Freetown and one of the most popular tourist attractions in Sierra Leone. Booking a guided tour is recommended.

When to visit Sierra Leone

From September to February is the best time to visit Sierra Leone for the milder temperatures. Avoid March and April, the hottest months, and July and August, the most humid time of year.

How to Get to Sierra Leone

Entry requirements

Nationals from the United States, European Union countries, and Commonwealth countries (which include Australia, Canada, and New Zealand) can enter Sierra Leone with visa on arrival and a valid passport.

A certificate for yellow fever vaccination is mandatory for all travelers.

Plane

All international flights to Sierra Leone land at the Lungi International Airport, about 4h by car from Freetown.

Getting to Freetown from the airport by ferry or speedboat is faster (30min), and most companies offer a free shuttle to the ferry terminal.

Car

Passengers can enter Sierra Leone by car from Guinea Conakry and Liberia. Drivers need special permits to cross the land border with a privately owned vehicle.

Alternatively, travelers can hire a taxi to get from Conakry to Freetown. There are daily connections between both cities.

Entry requirements

Nationals from the United States, European Union countries, and Commonwealth countries (which include Australia, Canada, and New Zealand) can enter Sierra Leone with visa on arrival and a valid passport.

A certificate for yellow fever vaccination is mandatory for all travelers.

Plane

All international flights to Sierra Leone land at the Lungi International Airport, about 4h by car from Freetown.

Getting to Freetown from the airport by ferry or speedboat is faster (30min), and most companies offer a free shuttle to the ferry terminal.

Car

Passengers can enter Sierra Leone by car from Guinea Conakry and Liberia. Drivers need special permits to cross the land border with a privately owned vehicle.

Alternatively, travelers can hire a taxi to get from Conakry to Freetown. There are daily connections between both cities.

Popular airports in Sierra Leone

Popular airlines serving Sierra Leone

SWISS
Good (961 reviews)
British Airways
Good (4,676 reviews)
Delta
Good (4,556 reviews)
Turkish Airlines
Good (2,235 reviews)
United Airlines
Good (4,988 reviews)
Air Canada
Good (6,070 reviews)
Brussels Airlines
Good (228 reviews)
Ethiopian Air
Good (413 reviews)
Royal Air Maroc
Good (308 reviews)
American Airlines
Good (5,740 reviews)
Kenya Airways
Good (165 reviews)
Air Senegal
Good (56 reviews)
ASKY
Good (16 reviews)
Air Peace
Okay (8 reviews)
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Where to stay in Sierra Leone

Accommodations are more limited outside Freetown unless camping at one of the wildlife sanctuaries.

Where to stay in popular areas of Sierra Leone

How to Get Around Sierra Leone

Public Transportation

Most towns are served by a reasonable network of bush taxis and minibuses (known locally as "poda-podas"). They're usually overcrowded, but the most affordable way to get around.

Bus

There are private and government-owned buses connecting most of the major towns and cities regularly.

Car

It's simpler to rent a car with a driver in Sierra Leone, and most hotels will make arrangements for their guests.

Alternatively, some hotels offer the possibility to hire a private taxi for a fixed daily fee.

Public Transportation

Most towns are served by a reasonable network of bush taxis and minibuses (known locally as "poda-podas"). They're usually overcrowded, but the most affordable way to get around.

Bus

There are private and government-owned buses connecting most of the major towns and cities regularly.

Car

It's simpler to rent a car with a driver in Sierra Leone, and most hotels will make arrangements for their guests.

Alternatively, some hotels offer the possibility to hire a private taxi for a fixed daily fee.

The Cost of Living in Sierra Leone

Leone is the local currency and, although in some high-end hotels prices may also be shown in US dollars, payments should be made in the country's currency. ATMs are easier to find in Freetown, so if traveling around Sierra Leone, stock up on cash. Credit cards are usually only accepted at high-end hotels, but it's best to check ahead. Bread, milk, and vegetables at the supermarket can cost around 58,000 SLL (6 USD) for one day.