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Africa > West Africa > Guinea-Bissau > Bissau

Bissau

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Bissau is the largest city in and capital of Guinea-Bissau.

Understand[edit]

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

Senegal Airlines flies from Dakar.

TACV 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.

By shared taxi[edit]

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.

Get around[edit]

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!

See[edit]

Former Presidential Palace
Bissau Velho
Porto Pidjiguiti
  • 1 Presidential Palace (Palácio Presidencial). Bombed-out during the civil war. Reconstructed in 2013 with Chinese money, serves again as president's seat.
  • Bissau Velho - the old Portuguese colonial centre. 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 down some 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.
  • Fortaleza d'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.
  • 2 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 is very helpful and good at explaining the purpose of the different items, and connecting it to traditional spiritual beliefs.

Do[edit]

Centre Culturel Franco Bissau Guineen
  • The French Cultural Center in the Bayana roundabout often features concerts, movies, dance classes, French classes etc. Programme on their webpage [1]
  • The Portuguese Cultural Center (next to the Portuguese embassy, behind "Benfica") also hosts concerts, but in slightly less inviting surroundings.
  • Swim at Palace Hotel (CFA 5000), 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.

Buy[edit]

  • 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 underneith Pensão Central selling textiles from NGO Artiss@l in 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.

Eat[edit]

Restaurants[edit]

  • 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.
  • Hotel Kalliste - Has 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 Louca Favorite place for pizzas and shawarmas. Very fair prices!
  • Le Grimaldi Restaurant of Hotel Kalliste in the Bayana roundabout, very tasty food and nice atmosphere.
  • Centre Culturel Franco Bissau-Guinéen open for lunch, has a nice courtyard for eating your morning croissants and espresso, or a good lunch.
  • Bate Papo very good for breakfast with croissants, pastries and sandwiches, coffee, natural juices etc. Located next to "Meteorología". Closed for renovation (January 2018)
  • Dom Bifana good steak-restaurant next to the parliament, having a live gazelle and a crowned crane in the restaurant.
  • Dragon Chinese restaurant uphill from the Bayana roundabout. It is a nice change, once you get tired of Portuguese and Lebanese style food.
  • 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.
  • Pensão Central - Fixed menu with soup, fish, meat and dessert for about CFA 5000 for lunch or dinner
  • 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
  • Restaurante bar maroquino "Sara" - Moroccan restaurant close to Aparthotel Lobato, good fish, shawarma etc.
  • Lenox - Bairro de Ajuda Popular local place with internet café, loud music, beer, shawarma, pizza, goats meat, sandwiches and other fast food.
  • Lenox - Luanda Same concept, but without the loud music.
  • Phoenicia Libanese place for good sandwiches, shawarmas, burgers, pizzas, softice and wireless internet. No alcohol sold.
  • Ali Baba - libanese fast food and soft ice, no alcohol.
  • Morabeza - next to Bayana roundabout. Food ok, Pizza good.
  • Magui - Senegalese place above the closed cinema.
  • Monte Carlo - Hotel Jordani - food is nothing special.
  • Dom Bifana - airport located in the very airport, it is fancy looking, but not good value for money.
  • Adega do Loureiro on a sidestreet between Baiana and Benfica. Nice place with good and innovative Portuguese food, but the service varies quite a bit.
  • Casa Santos in Santa Luzia
  • Cantinho da Mana M'Butcha Rua Domingos Ramos
  • Ruby Restaurant of the ApartHotel Ruby, next to the UN building
  • Chez Ami Rua Eduardo Mondelane

Supermarkets[edit]

  • 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.
  • Bon Jour - tends to be somewhat expensiver than the others - with a big section of tableware, kitchen utensils, linen etc.
  • Mavegro - Dutch supermarket, northern European food, wall-calendars and postcards from "Tiniguena", creole books and cartoons, historic books on Guinea Bissau.
  • 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.

Drink[edit]

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, Sonhos, Orio etc.

Sleep[edit]

Hotels in Bissau are generally overpriced. There's hope that prices will lower as new hotels are about to open.

Budget[edit]

  • Pensão Central, Avenida Amilcar Cabral, +245 201 232. This Pensão, is a good first stop, with clean rooms (shared toilets howewer) available at CFA 10,000. It's a few meters away from the port.
  • Pensão Creola, Av. Domingos Ramos 37, +245 663 30 31. Run by a Swiss-Bissau couple, this hostel is good value.
  • Hotel-Residência Proquil, Rua 2, Nr. 5-6, +245 67 87 117. 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 ration in Bissau-Center, nice and typical guinean atmosphere - rooms from CFA 12,500-20,000.

Mid-range[edit]

  • 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.
  • Hotel Libya (Former Hotel Hotti Bissau/Sheraton), Avenida 14 de Novembro, +245 251 251. Former Sheraton hotel that is now under Libyan management.
  • Grande Hotel, +245 21 3437. Undergoing renovation, so it might or might not be open
  • 1 Hotel Ancar, Av. Osvaldo Vieira nº10 (in the center of Bissau), +245 320 76 33, fax: +245 320 76 35, . 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, +245 671 60 00, . 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.

Splurge[edit]

Cope[edit]

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.

Connect[edit]

Orange sells SIM cards for 500 CFA. Inexpensive data packages available. In front of Spanish embassy. Bring ID.

Go next[edit]

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" [6], 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.


This city travel guide to Bissau is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.