Bissau is the largest city in and capital of Guinea-Bissau.
Cabo Verde Airlines has four flights each week from Dakar to Bissau, returning to Dakar the same day. These flights are not an example of punctuality, and it is a good idea to check with the TACV office in Bissau (Av. Amilcar Cabral 8B, tel. 206087) before you head to the airport.
A sept-places (7-seat shared taxi) from Ziguinchor, Senegal, costs CFA 4,000. Additional CFA 1,000 for a normal sized bag. The trip takes 2½ to 3 hours, depending on border formalities.
Shared taxis are cheap and plentiful. Stop taxis and tell them where you want to go (or tell the passing taxis by pointing), and they will either accept "na bai" (I'm going), or decline "não" (no) if people, already in the taxi, are going to another part of the city. Prices are more or less fixed, and you'll normally not get cheated, except when you're an obvious foreigner and taking a taxi from the airport or Hotel Bissau Palace.
Group travel is cheaper, for example:
- 1 person CFA 300, 2 persons CFA 300, 3 or 4 persons CFA 600.
There are also minibuses "toca-tocas" going on fixed routes, you'll pay CFA 100 a person for the ride, but the buses are often very crowded!
- 1 Presidential Palace (Palácio Presidencial). Bombed out during the civil war. Reconstructed in 2013 with Chinese money, serves again as the president's seat. Nearby is the Independence Monument, which commemorates Guinea-Bissau's unilateral independence from Portugal on 24 September 1973.
- 2 São José de Amura fort (Fortaleza de São José da Amura). Old Portuguese fort, containing the mausoleum of national hero Amilcar Cabral and tombs of other revolutionaries. Inside is also Amilcar Cabral's car. Can be hard to get in, but possible, if you make friends with the soldiers or get a permission.
- Bissau Velho - the old Portuguese colonial centre where some pharmacies and businesses operate out of the colonial-era buildings. Not much life there nowadays, but still a nice place to walk around. Don't miss the prison with pink flowers painted on its front (At the corner of the fort, close to the harbour).
- Porto Pidjiguiti - walk out the little port and talk to the fishermen, watch the pelicans and see the city from a distance. The Pidjiguiti port was the site of the Pidjiguiti massacre on 3 August 1959, where police shot 50 striking dockworkers. This became the beginning of the active resistance against the Portuguese colonial power. There is a monument shaped as a gigantic black fist commemorating the massacre.
- Mercado de Bandim - Bissaus main market.
- 3 National Ethnographic Museum (Museu Etnográfico Nacional) (on the university campus, opposite "Lenox de Bairro"). Open mornings only, it has a small collection of Bissau-Guinean wooden masks and statues, baskets, cloths etc. The staff are very helpful and good at explaining the purpose of the different items, and connecting it to traditional spiritual beliefs.
- The French Cultural Center in the Bayana roundabout often features concerts, movies, dance classes, French classes etc. Programme on their webpage [dead link]
- The Portuguese Cultural Center (next to the Portuguese embassy, behind "Benfica") also hosts concerts, but in slightly less inviting surroundings.
- Swim at Hala Hotel, Hotel Azalaï 24 de Setembro or Campo Sueco (CFA 3000 - somewhat more noisy and crowded, but more African atmosphere).
- Exercise on the running lanes or in the gym in Estadio 24 de Setembro.
- Play tennis in the tennis club at the Bandim Harbour (close to Estadio 24 de Setembro) or in Campo Sueco.
- Wood carvings Try the Centro Artistico Juvenil, close to "Chapa de Bissau" with fixed prices and no need to bargain - or the market in front of Pensão Central (here you'll need to bargain).
- Hand woven textiles Good shop underneath University Bemantecs next to the cathedral selling textiles from NGO Artissal of Quinhamel - or at the Bandim Market.
- Batik Next to the Post Office.
- Cashew nuts
- Bissau-Guinean CDs
- Tiniguena in Bairro de Belém is an NGO working for sustainable community development, food and income security as well as a greater control over the natural resources on which the local population is depending. It has a little shop selling high-quality wall-calendars and postcards with Guinea Bissau motives as well as locally produced baskets, marmalade, rice, spices, palm oil etc.
- Ponto de Encontro has a large selection of quality DVDs, that can be ordered from Portugal and picked up the following Friday.
- Recidencial Coimbra has a good buffet every night at CFA 2000-7500 including starters, main courses, desserts, wine and water.
- Hotel Malaika. Has a nice restaurant inside, but also a roof top restaurant for drinks and fast food style meals.
- O Bistro - Belgian owned restaurant next to Mavegro, delicious food.
- Hotel 24 de Setembro. Good restaurant, and excellent service, but somewhat overpriced.
- Le Grimaldi, inside Hotel Kalliste - an open air restaurant right on Praca Che Guevara (known as "Praca Bayana" by most cab drivers). Excellent pizza and live music most nights, though relatively expensive (CFA 4000-5000 for a small pie).
- Papa Loca Favorite place for pizzas and shawarmas. Very fair prices!
- Centre Culturel Franco Bissau-Guinéen open for lunch, has a nice courtyard for eating your morning croissants and espresso, or a good lunch.
- Dom Bifanas good steak-restaurant next to the parliament, having a live gazelle and a crowned crane in the restaurant.
- Fernandas in Santa Lucia - famous for her Bica (Carpe Rouge).
- Campo Sueco in Alto Bandim - good for lunch and a swim in the pool, while you wait for the food.
- Ta Mar in Bissau Velho - nice place with outdoor serving in the street in the dry season.
- A Padeira Africana - Portuguese style food
- Ponto de Encontro - same owner as "A Padeira Africana" - good for a beer and a snack on the sidewalk
- Darling - many Spanish brands, good value. One in the center, one in Estrada de Bor and one on the Airport Road, opposite Mercado de Bandim.
- Bodem - supermarket with a big section of shoes and clothes.
- Mini Marché Alvalade - opposite Dragon Chinese restaurant - is the best place in Bissau to buy cheese and frozen meat.
There are quite a few discos and nightclubs, one nightclub popular with expats is X-Klub. The club has pool tables and a small dance floor.
Discos include Plack, Bambú, etc.
Hotels in Bissau are generally overpriced. There's hope that prices will lower as new hotels are about to open.
- Pensão Creola, Av. Domingos Ramos 37, ☏ . Hostel run by a Swiss-Bissau couple. Good value.
- Hotel-Residência Proquil, Rua 2, Nr. 5-6, ☏ . Check-in: 13:00, check-out: 10:00. In Bissau-Velho. All rooms with own bathroom, partly air-condition, ventilator, some rooms with freezer, all rooms with own veranda, best cost-performance ratio in Bissau-Centre, nice and typical Guinean atmosphere. Rooms from CFA 12,500-20,000.
- Hotel Kalliste (Former Casino/Galeão), Praca Che Guevara. Set in an old Portuguese colonial style building, that is repuditly under renovation. If that is not the case, you'll be pleased to know that the interior is in a much better shape. CFA 40,000 to 60,000 per night.
- Ledger Plaza Hotel Bissau (Former Hotel Libya and Hotti Bissau/Sheraton), Avenida dos Combatentes da Liberdade da Pátria, ☏ . Outdoor pool and hotel tower. $196 (Ma 2022).
- Hotel CEIBA, Avenida Francisco Mendes (opposite Artesanal Park), ☏ . Outdoor pool and sleek lines. $147 (Ma 2022).
- 1 Hotel Ancar, Av. Osvaldo Vieira nº10 (in the center of Bissau), ☏ , fax: , email@example.com. This hotel was renovated in 2009. Has air conditioning, free breakfast and free wireless Internet (Wi-Fi). Singels CFA 50,000, doubles CFA 60,000, suites CFA 10,000 more.
- Appart Hotel Diarama, Av. Pansau na Isna, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Clean hotel in quiet location. Friendly Lebanese owner. Prices include a simple French breakfast. Ask to see the room, bargain and expect CFA 40,000 for a double.
- 2 Hotel Malaika, Rua Justino Lopes, ☏ .
- 3 Azalaï Hotel 24 de Setembro, Avenue Pansau Na Isna, ☏ , email@example.com. Fairly well maintained hotel, with rooms in better shape than the outside. On-site hotel and restaurant.
Embassies and consulates
- Brazilian Embassy
- Chinese Embassy
- Cuban Embassy
- French Embassy
- Portuguese embassy
- Russian Embassy
- Spanish Embassy[dead link]
- US Consul - 'Sitec'
- German Consul - 'Sitec'
- British Honorary Consul, Mavegro Int., CP100, Bissau
- Guinean embassy normally issues visas the same day. Bring CFA 45,000 and two photos.
- Romania, Bairro de Penha, Zones des Ambassades, B.P. 247, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Honorary consulate (Does not provide consular services. Instead, Romanian citizens in need of assistance should contact the embassy in Dakar, Senegal or the embassy of another European Union member state.)
Guinea Bissaus main hospital is Hospital Nacional Simão Mendes. But if you really need to go to the hospital, probably you should try and get your insurance company to pay for you at least going to Dakar.
Pharmacies are on every street corner in Bissau, pharmacies Rama (there are three), Rina and Amilcar Cabral are usually well-stocked and the Indian owners speak English.
Orange sells SIM cards for 500 CFA. Inexpensive data packages available. In front of Spanish embassy. Bring ID.
Ilheu do Rei - a nice get-away for a picnic if you're in Bissau on a longer term. Go to Porto Canoa (behind Mavegro and the cemetery) and ask around for a canoa to take you to the island, it takes about 10 minutes and you should not pay much for the return ticket (CFA 1000?). Once there, check out the abandoned peanut oil factory, and continue through the little village down to a little "beach" (ask people where it is), from where you can turn left and walk along the coast, if you don't mind climbing a little over trees and rocks. For once there is no mangrove, so you can actually get the feeling of strolling along the coast.
Volta de Bissau Starting at the Porto Canoa, this track goes around Bissau, passing rice fields and small suburbs, the big cemetery in Antula, São Paulo etc., and eventually you'll end up at the airport road close to Hotel Bissau Palace. A nice Sunday walk, some 4 hours, not all stretches are suitable for vehicles.
Hotel Mar Azul, in Quinhamel. Makes a fine daytrip for swimming and lunch, and maybe a fishing trip. In the town of Quinhamel there's also an interesting weavery, "Artissal", producing handwoven textiles.
Praia Suro in Prabis is the Guineans favorite weekend get-away in the dry season. The beach is a bit muddy, but there's always good ambient with music, people dancing, barbecuing, playing football and swimming. Just follow Estrada de Bor out of Bissau, continue when it turns into a dirt road, and eventually you'll reach the beach (might be a two-hour drive).
Saltinho Waterfall - A pleasant little waterfall located just under the bridge where the main road to southern Guinea-Bissau crosses the Rio Corubal. There is a hotel "Pousada do Saltinho" overlooking the waterfalls, with decent rooms (CFA 20,000) and meals. Many Portuguese hunters and fishermen stay there. About three hours drive from Bissau.