Dakar is the capital and largest city of Senegal and is often regarded as the cultural and commercial center of French-speaking West Africa. The metropolitan area is home to about 2.4 million people and lies on the end of the Cap Verte peninsula, which is the westernmost point of the African mainland.
Dakar is often the first stop in exploring French-speaking West Africa because it has good flight connections with Western Europe, whereas the other main French-speaking West African city, Abidjan, does not.
The Senegalese are very proud of their reputation for "teranga", or hospitality. Locals are extremely friendly and helpful, but as you would anywhere else, watch out for scams and pickpockets. Petty crime here is relatively high, so be cautious.
The peninsula was settled by the Lebou people, closely related to the Wolof people, when the Portuguese first reached it in 1444. The original villages: Ouakam, Ngor, Yoff and Hann, still constitute distinctively Lebou neighbourhoods of the city today. The Portuguese were repulsed by the locals at first (the first Portuguese ships were slave-raiders), but peaceful contact was made in 1456. The bay was an important stop for the Portuguese India armadas of the early 15th century and Portuguese armadas en route to Brazil. It is believed that during a stop here in 1501, when an armada returning from India and one heading to Brazil met, an explorer with the latter (Amerigo Vespucci) compared notes with explorers returning from East Asia and realized that Asia & the New World couldn't be the same continent;it was a letter published upon his return that is heralded as the first postulation of America as a separate continent.
The Portuguese established a settlement on the island of Gorée in the early 16th century and, on the mainland, the Lebou established the town of Ndakaaru to service the needs of the Portuguese. It would be captured by the Dutch in 1588 and switch hands several times between them until the British captured the island in 1664 and the French gained control in 1677. The settlement would mostly support the slave trade. The infamous House of Slaves was completed in 1796.
In 1795, the Lebou revolted against Cayor rule and established the Lebou Republic with Ndakaaru as its capital. In 1857, the French established a military post on the peninsula and annexed the Lebou Republic. With slavery outlawed, the French supported peanut cultivation. Gorée island proved ineffective as a port, and so with the booming peanut trade, the French supported the growth of Dakar and its port. Dakar replaced Saint-Louis as the capital of French West Africa in 1902. During this heyday, the city was one of the most important cities in the French empire (comparable to Beirut or Hanoi).
In 1959, Dakar became the capital of the Mali Federation and, upon its breakup, became the capital of Senegal in 1960. The city still maintains strong ties to France and boasts a large French expatriate population and hosts offices for many French businesses involved in West Africa.
|Climate chart (explanation)|
Dakar is warm and humid year-round with a rainy season that lasts from July–October. Temperatures are warm, but moderated by cool sea-breezes and not as hot as inland cities in the region (like Bamako or Ouagadougou). The warmest months are Jul–Oct with highs of 30 to 31°C (86 to 87°F) and lows of 24.5°C (76°F). Jan–Mar are the coolest months, with highs around 25°C (77°F) and lows around 17 to 18°C (63°F).
Average yearly rainfall is 495 mm (19.5 in), of which just 19 mm (0.75 in)) falls outside the rainy season! During the rainy season, roads around the city can turn into rushing rivers and without proper sewers in some parts of the city, standing water is contaminated and not safe to walk through.
|21 °C (70 °F)||20 °C (68 °F)||20 °C (68 °F)||21 °C (70 °F)||22 °C (72 °F)||25 °C (77 °F)||27 °C (81 °F)||28 °C (82 °F)||28 °C (82 °F)||28 °C (82 °F)||27 °C (81 °F)||24 °C (75 °F)|
- 1 Aéroport international Blaise-Diagne (DSS IATA). Opened in December 2017. The airport is about 50 km from Dakar near the village of Diass. Dakar is a major West African hub, so there are lots of flights from Europe and African cities. South African Airline's Johannesburg-Washington and Johannesburg-New York (JFK) flights stop in Dakar and allow passengers to leave or join the flight. Be prepared to arrive and leave at any time of the night or day, although many flights arrive and depart in the middle of the night.
- From Europe: Amsterdam (TUI), Barcelona (Air Senegal and Vueling), Brussels (Brussels Airlines); Geneva (Air Senegal), Lisbon (TAP Air Portugal); London-Stansted (Air Senegal), Madrid (Iberia); Marseille (Air Senegal), Milan (Neos); Nantes (Transavia), Paris-Charles de Gaulle (Air France and Air Senegal); and Istanbul (Turkish Airlines)
- From North America: New York City-JFK (Delta Air Lines)
- From Asia: Dubai (Emirates)
- From West Africa (some airlines fly multi-city routes and therefore direct flights are only available in one direction to or from Dakar and the listed city): Abidjan (Air Côte d'Ivoire, Air Senegal, ASKY Airlines, Cameroon Airlines, Kenya Airways, Mauritania Airlines); Abuja (Air Senegal); Accra (Air Senegal, and Arik Air); Bamako (Air Burkina, Air Cote d'Ivoire, Air Mali, Air Senegal, Ethiopian Airlines, Kenya Airways, Mauritania Airlines); Banjul (Air Senegal, Arik Air, Brussels Airlines, Guinea Airlines, Transair); Bissau (Air Senegal, ASKY Airlines, Transair); Conakry (Air Cote d'Ivoire and Air Senegal, Brussels Airlines, Guinea Airlines, Mauritania Airlines, Transair, Tunisair); Cotonou (Air Senegal and CEIBA International); Freetown (Air Senegal, Mauritania Airlines, Transair); Lagos (Air Senegal, Arik Air); Lome (ASKY Airlines, Ethiopian Airlines); Niamey (Air Senegal); Nouakchott (Air Senegal and Mauritania Airlines); and Ouagadougou (Air Burkina and Air Senegal).
- From North Africa: Algiers (Air Algerie); Casablanca (Air Senegal and Royal Air Maroc); Tunis (Tunisair)
- From Eastern Africa: Addis Ababa (Ethiopian Airlines, via Lome); Nairobi (Kenya Airways, via Abidjan and Bamako)
- From Central Africa: Douala (Cameroon Airlines and Senegal Airlines); Libreville (Senegal Airlines), Malabo (CEIBA International)
- From Cape Verde & Canary Islands: Gran Canaria (Binter Canarias); Praia (Air Senegal, ASKY Airlines, Transair); Sal (Cabo Verde Airlines), Tenerife-North (Vueling)
- National carrier Senegal Airlines operates domestic flights from Dakar to Cap Skirring & Ziguinchor in the western part of Casamance. Regional airline, Transair, operates to Cap Skirring, Kolda and Ziguinchor.
Taxi rides from the airport to the centre of Dakar are around CFA20,000, negotiated with taxi drivers. Insist on using the toll motorway (autoroute à payage), you will be expected to pay the toll, as it will save a lot of time during the day, and the local roads are unsafe at night.
There is probably a bus to Gare Routière de les Beax Mariniers.
Be prepared to refuse touts and taxi drivers. See Stay safe for details.
- 2 Léopold Sédar Senghor International Airport (DKR IATA). The old airport now only serves limited passenger flights to other African cities and cargo flights.
Dakar is the western terminus of the Dakar–Niger Railway, built by French colonialists in the early 20th century. The line connects Dakar with Bamako in Mali and was for a long time very popular with travelers. Unfortunately, large sections of the railway has fallen into disrepair and there has been no long-distance trains since 2010.
While there are no long-distance trains running as of 2022, there have been investments in a new modern regional service. The Train Express Régional (TER) now connects the central railway station with Dakar's eastern districts, ending in the nearby city of Diamniadio. The next phase will see the line extended to connect with the international airport and with Thies, 60 km (37 mi) to the east.
- 3 Dakar railway station (Gare de Dakar), Place des Tirailleurs.
The main method of travel around the country is by sept places (French for "seven seats"), questionable station wagons in which they will pack seven people so that you are basically sitting on the next person's lap throughout the journey. You can also come with a group and rent out an entire sept place, but this will be expensive. If you are obviously a tourist, they WILL try to rip you off, so make sure to set a price before you agree to a driver. There are set prices to often-travelled locations. Watch out for pickpockets!
All minicar and sept-place arrivals and departures have moved to Dakar's new Gare Routiere Beaux Maraicheres, which is in Pikine on the outskirts of Dakar. To get to the city centre you will have to take a taxi for between 4,000 and 6,000 CFA. There may also be Dakar Dem Dikk busses passing by (possibly number 218). DDD bus number 15 passes near-ish going to Place de l'Independance.
A state-owned ferry runs between Dakar and Ziguinchor in Senegal's Casamance region (below The Gambia). The Joola, one of the former ferries on this route, capsized in a storm while overloaded in 2002, regarded as the second deadliest maritime disaster in recent history. 1,800-1,900 people are believe to have died while only 64 survived (the ship was built to carry 580 people!) and the disaster remains on the minds of many Senegalese. The Aline Sitoé Diatta, built in 2008, is the current ferry. Changes have been made to ensure a disaster such as the Joola never happens again, so passengers shouldn't feel too worried.
The ferry runs overnight and takes around 16 hours in each direction. A seat costs CFA15,000. Cabins are available with 2-8 beds, but are more expensive (around €100) and are fully booked in advance, especially during tourist season. Departures from Dakar are Tuesdays & Fridays. Departures from Ziguinchor are Thursdays and Sundays (arriving in Dakar on Fridays & Mondays, respectively).
The Dakar bus system, known as Dakar Demm Dikk (Dakar coming and going), is fairly dependable. Fares are CFA150 and there are no free transfers permissible with each ticket. There's not much in the way of a map of the bus system, so you'll have to figure it out on your own. The number 10 bus runs along the Corniche de l'Ouest and turns into the suburbs at Rue Aime Cesaire. The number 1 bus runs along the VDN.
Cars Rapides. These are the usually blue, yellow or white mini-buses that careen through Dakar and some of Senegal's other cities. There are somewhat fixed rates for certain distances, but you need to check with a Senegalese beforehand. As of 2011 CFA150 would cover most destinations. To find out where one is going, flag it down and shout out your destination at the apprenti, the boy in charge of collecting fares who hangs out the back. If she shouts back at you the destination you want, signal it to stop and hop aboard. To stop, bang loudly on the side of the bus, on the roof or signal to the apprenti you want off. Apprentis don't always speak French, so be prepared to communicate otherwise if you do not speak Wolof. Be careful about asking for your destination, as the apprenti will often tell you it is going there just to get you on the bus, no matter its actual destination. If possible, ask where it is going rather than if it is going to your destination.
Cheap and safe and everywhere. Just don't mind the broken windshields. All taxi fares are negotiated beforehand and will require bargaining. If you're not from Senegal, you will probably have an outrageous price proposed, so check with locals before to get an idea of what they pay, in order to know what you will be able to get. Even if you have negotiated a price, once you arrive your taxi driver will pretend he has no change on him, even if he had assured you he had.
The first section of Dakar Train Express Régional (TER), between the central railway station in the city centre and Diamniadio in the eastern suburbs, opened in December 2021. While the service is mainly aimed at commuters, it can be useful for tourist to reach destinations in the eastern parts of the city. Over the next few years the TER network will be extended to reach the international airport among other destinations.
Paris - Dakar Rally
For many years Dakar was the end point of the most important off-road rally in the world. The competition had three classes: motorcycle, car and truck. It began in 1979 and ran to Dakar until 2007. The 2008 Dakar rally was cancelled due to terror threats by Islamists. The unstable situation in Mauritania and Mali led to a move to South America; since 2009 the rally has taken place annually there. Attempting to follow the rally route today is definitely not recommended.
- 1 African Renaissance Monument. 24/7. This colossal copper monument opened in 2010 and is dedicated to Africa's emergence from the oppressive European regimes that once ruled the continent and the end of slavery. It is also meant as a display of African pride to counter foreign perceptions of Africans as inferior people. The monument is rather controversial, with some Africans feeling the sense of pride it is meant to evoke while others criticizing it as a foreign (it was built by North Korea), completely un-African Stalinist statue. With its 52 m from base to top, it is the tallest statue in Africa and also the tallest in the world outside Eurasia. Free.
- 2 IFAN Museum of African Arts (Musée Théodore Monod d’Art Africain), Rue Emile Zola.
- 3 Ile de Goree. Goree Island in English, it was named by the Dutch after taking over the island from the Portuguese in the late 1600s. Today it's listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Goree was a minor location used for the transport of slaves headed to the Americas, though its prominence is often overplayed. The island has interesting colonial architecture, mostly in ruins, including the landmark "House of Slaves" museum. Ferries can be taken from the terminal north of Place de l'Independence and cost CFA5000. The trip takes 10-20 minutes. There are many small restaurants and a handful of places offering lodging. Just walk around and explore. It's a small island, so you can easily stroll around it in an hour. You can buy cheap beer and lounge on the beach when you're done, or stroll some more and buy art-work from the locals.
- 4 Les Almadies (Les pointes des Almadies). The Western tip of the African continent where plenty of seafood restaurants are located.
- 5 Dakar Grand Mosque, Av. Pape Gueye Fall. Built in 1964 by French and Moroccan architects. Due to the Moroccan influence, there are strong similarities with the Grand Mosque in Casablanca.
- 6 Dakar Cathedral.
- 7 Hann Park and Zoo, ☏ . Tu-Su 10:00-12:30 and 15:00-18:30. The public gardens were built in 1903 and the arboretum was built in 1947. The gardens feature a wide variety of Senegalese plant life and the zoo contains over 130 animals.
- 8 Léopold Sédar Senghor national stadium, Route de Yoff. Football is as important as music! When the biggest team ASC Jeanne D'Arc plays, the stadium is packed with more than 60,000 fans. Expect passion, noise and African football at its best. €5-15.
- 9 Village Des Arts, ☏ . Daily 11:00-18:00. Kind of an organic art studio/cultural exhibit forum for local artists. Dance and musical events take place along with artists working and pieces on display. Next to stadium.
- 10 Phare des Mamelles, ☏ . Superb views of ocean and city skyline from the lighthouse besides the interesting name.
- 11 Place du Souvenir Africain (just south of the Radisson Blu), ☏ . A plaza perched on a cliff overlooking the ocean with the Henry Bathily Museum of the Women and some eateries and exhibition space. Here you can really take in the sunset from the edge of Africa. Adjacent to the Sea Plaza shopping mall.
- 12 Monument du Millénaire. A monument about looking to the future along the corniche, so more great views.
- 13 Musée des Forces Armées Senegalaise (Senegalese Armed Forces Museum), Rue de la République, ☏ . Patriotic museum showcasing the history of Senegal and its military, including how Senegalese soldiers fought bravely under the French flag.
- 14 Musée Civilisations noires, ☏ . Tu-Su 10:00-19:00. Focus on African civilization and culture, the Nubian way of life. May need a little French understanding to comprehend the placards. Nice rotunda building.
- 15 Loman Art Gallery (https://www.lomanart.com/), villa no. 1 rue de pharmacy Atlantic Mamelles, ☏ . Daily 10:00-18:00. A place for contemporary African art aficionados owned by the eponymous artist. Along with works by various artists, you can find special showings, a cafe and even a homestay. Free admission.
- Dakar has a vibrant music scene and is very popular with young people. Check out the incredibly rich and variant styles. Places like Club Thiossane, Just 4 U are a must for World Music fans.
- 1 Lake Retba (Lac Rose). Also called the "Pink Lake", the high concentration of cyanobacteria indeed gives the lake a pink tone. During the dry season and when the sun is brightest the color is said to be especially vivid. The lake has a high concentration of salt, so while you admire the beauty of the lake, you can also observe the salt harvesters who still gather salt in the traditional way.
- Birdwatching. Senegal is a great country for birdwatching, and Dakar is no exception. Les Almadies is a good place to see seabirds, and the Iles de la Madeleine is the only African nesting site of the red-billed tropicbird.
- 2 Madeline Islands National Park (Le Parc National des Iles de la Madeleine). Island off Dakar tip with pristine ecosystem (particularly birds, bird nests) Stone Age tool discoveries, and place of ancient worship that is considered the smallest national park in the world. The boat trip can be a little intimidating, being in the open ocean on a canoe, but feels a world away from the hustle of Dakar, which you can take pictures of from the island. ~5000 CFA for boat trip.
- 3 Magic Land, Dakar, ☏ . Su-F 10:00-22:00, Sa 10:00-24:00. A Senegalese amusement park, kind of run-down, like it is Pennywise's home. But if you get bored there is also the Casino Terrou-Bi and a small beach next door.
- 4 Leopold Sedar Senghor French Institute, 89 rue Joseph Gomis, Dakar, Senegal, ☏ . Daily 09:00-20:00. French cultural institute offering theater, library, French lessons, dance, exhibitions, buffet.
- 5 Plage BCEAO (Plage de Yoff) (in Yoff borough on north side of Dakar), ☏ . Pretty beach and water, but watch out...sometimes beach is closed to swimming due to rubbish, release of sewage/open defecation, instances of drowning. You can see Yoff Island (Ile de Yoff) off in the distance.
- 6 Plage du Virage. Somewhat rocky beach but cleaner than some; bar nearby. More for surfing than for swimming.
- 7 Ile de Ngor (off northwest side of Dakar peninsula). Small popular isle off northwest tip of Dakar with clean (hopefully) beach and bars/eateries. A 5-minute boat ride to get there costs about 500 CFA leaves from the Embarcadere Ile de Ngor on mainland.
- 8 Plage de la Pointe des Almadies (at northwest tip of peninsula, just west of US embassy and King Fahd Palace). Relatively clean, somewhat rocky beach. Food/drink venues. Westernmost point of mainland Africa just to south.
- 9 Plage des mamelles. One of Dakar's most popular, well-liked beaches. Sandy. Sunsets, whew, pretty phenomenal. Watch out for big waves though. Just below Phare des Mamelles. Max's restaurant adjacent.
- 10 Plage de l'Anse Bernard. Quiet, peaceful beach with smaller wave break so okay for swimming.
- 11 Plage de la Voile d' or. Another nice beach and good for swimming. May be able to see Goree Island in the distance.
- Islam Couture/ Embroidery Dakar has some amazing (and amazingly expensive) stores specialised in haute-couture, embroidered traditional west African Muslim clothes.
- 1 Marche Sandaga, cnr Rue Sandinieri and Ave du President Lamine Gueye (City Center). Madness. A decrepit concrete structure that has, despite appearance, three levels of activity: meat and vegetable stalls on the main floor, fish in the basement dungeon and restaurant stalls on the roof. You will need to brave the crumpled stairs and step around guys cleaning dead chicken to make it up. Around the market building a sprawling network of stalls offer everything from copied music CDs, Manchester United shirts, electronic gadgets and Islamic books. The hawkers can be very aggressive. The place is infamous for pickpockets, so take only the amount of money you need and keep it in a safe place.
- Marche HLM A smaller market geared primarily towards fabric vendors, Marche HLM is slightly less hectic than Sandaga. Huge selection of fabric to buy and then get tailored into perfectly fitting traditional Senegalese wear (if you will be in Dakar for awhile, ask a Senegalese person who his or her tailor is, and go there. A little less convenient for those who will only be staying a week). Most vendors won't sell less than 3 to 6 metres of fabric. A reasonable price is CFA1,000 per metre.
- 2 Marche Kermel (near the city centre). Traditional Senegalese market. Casino du Port also near here (north towards harbour) if you want to have a buffet or spend time at a casino.
- 3 Marche Soumbedioune, ☏ . Daily 08:00-19:00. a popular evening fish market. There is also a "Village Artisanal" nearby selling handmade jewellery, wooden decoration elements and many other handicrafts. Be prepared to bargain.
- 4 cocktail du senegal, Rue Mousse Diop. more handicrafts and curios.
Peanuts: The roasted peanuts you can buy on the street or get with your order of beer in any bar are delicious. These nuts are not greasy and have just the right amount of salt, and sometimes are still slightly warm from being roasted.
All these are in the city centre:
- 1 Chez Elias, 81 bis Av. Peytavin. Fast food very popular with menu at the top. Simple welcoming place. Quality food and fast service. Best Shawarma.
- 2 Les batons ("BANT-YII"), 7 Av. Jean Jaures. Mythical place in Dakar to eat meat skewers with an epise from Niger made from corn. Atypical place if you are a lover of good meat. The food is very tasty there.
- 3 Ali Baba. Greasy Spoon where you can get cheap Lebanese food. Good falafel sandwiches with French fries and lots of tahina sauce, shwarma, kebab and all sorts of other delicious (also western) snacks. Find it halfway up Ave. Pompidou.
- 4 Hotel Restaurant Farid, Rue Vincens. Drink a gigantic Arrak (made from anis) as an aperitif and then order the 20 Mezze.
- 5 Artisan Boulanger Eric Kayser, ERIC KAYSER Artisan Boulanger, 3 Boulevard de la République Dakar, Rue de la République. It's along the street of Cafe du Rome towards La Corniche (the sea) and away from the centre two blocks up on your right hand side. Serves fresh, warm croissants, pain au chocolate and pain ain au raisins. The coffee is good and the fruit juices freshly squeezed. You will be surrounded by locals in beautiful Islamic outfits, reading the paper and discussing the latest news.
- 6 Chez Loutcha, 101 rue Moussé Diop, ☏ . Chez Lutcha is a Cape Verdian restaurant that serves huge portions of excellent food. Cape Verdian (Portuguese inspired) dishes, Senegalese food and international cuisine. Cosy courtyard or air-con dining room. Excellent service.
- 7 Le N'Gor, Cor des Almadies. A brightly painted open-air restaurant overlooking the sea. Several terraced patios give it a good feel. Portions are small, but the food is delicious. Expect to pay CFA10,000 for a full meal with beer and dessert. It is located in Les Almadies past the Hotel de Almadies from the new US embassy, set back from the road behind an often empty parking lot. Look for poorly lit painted signs for "Ile de Le N'Gor".
- 8 Bidew, 89 rue Joseph Gomis (in the Centre Culturel Français).
- 9 Le Jardin Thailandais, 10 Rue PE 43, ☏ . Huge menu of delicious Thai food, great atmosphere. A little pricey, but worth it. Across the street from UCAD (Université Cheikh Anta Diop) off of Avenue Cheikh Anta Diop/Rue de Ouakam. There is a jazz club across the street.
- 10 Hotel de l'Indépendance, Place Place 170. Eat here for the magnificent views from the restaurant on 16th floor.
- 11 Café de Rome, 30, Avenue de la République, Rue J. Gomis (City centre). Authentic French food (you feel like you're in France), from oysters to steak tartar, and the famous Sole Meuniere. It is pricey by Dakar standards, but the food is great
- 12 La Fourchette, 4 Rue Parent. Stylish place serving international cuisine (Mexican, Japanese, Moroccan, etc.) at moderate prices. Next to Marche Kermel.
Gazelle is the local favourite beer - it comes in serious bottles, or Flag, which is stronger and more expensive.
- 1 Le Viking (Ave G. Pompidou). On the Ponty, in the midst of Sandaga madness, it is a popular spot for expats and tourists. Pricey drinks, but great atmosphere. Live music on weekend nights!
There is a wide selection of hotels, from the basic to the best 4 star chains. Many first time visitors stay at the expensive Meridien. There are, however, some good and reasonably priced places to stay.
- Oceanium, Route de la petite corniche Est, ☏ . Environmentally friendly hostel/diving center, the Oceanium is also home for the Senegalese Ecologists Federation (FEDES). This very well located hostel works like a family and will give you many chances to meet the local culture. The fisherman's village Terrou Bye Sogui is next to the hostel so you can easily have a nice and affordable grilled fish for dinner. CFA15,000 double room.
- Onomo hotel, Route de l'Aéroport. Very useful for people that have to catch very early morning planes to other places. It is not uncommon that your flight to say Europe or Nigeria leaves at 03:00! You can book on line and their advertised rate is CFA30,000.
- Hôtel du Phare Les Mamelles, 36 cité Magistrats Les Mamelles, ☏ , email@example.com. The Phare hotel, named after the landmark Lighthouse is in "Les Mamelles", a quiet residential beach district, 15 minutes from the city, 10 minutes from Leopold Sedar Senghor airport and close to "Les Almadies", "Ouakam", "N'Gor". Has 10 rooms surrounding an open air Flower Patio and rooms vary from sgl to quad each with ceiling fan and/or air con. from €30 (including free Wi-Fi).
- 1 Auberge Poulagou, ☏ . Yoff Tonghor Plage. Le Poulagou is a small hotel, 2 km from the airport and right on the coast. Ideal for the first days to escape the madness of Dakar. Free Internet access.
- Auberge Kingz Plaza, Villa 10504 Sacré-Cœur 3, VDN Extension, ☏ . Close to the airport, Kingz Plaza. Staff are friendly, the rooms are decent. The restaurant serves decent dinner and breakfast and a nearby café has good coffee and food. There is also a small grocery store 5 min by foot along the VDN. €26 double with shared facilities, €8 per person for the 6-bed dorm.
- Hotel Oceanic, 9, rue de Thann, ☏ . Océanic is a budget option for around €30 (room rate). Centrally located. Rooms and beds are (a bit) run down but the bathroom is OK. Good breakfast at neighbouring self-service restaurant.
- Hotel Farid, 51, rue Vincens, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Central location. Rooms with air-con, TV, mini-bar, safe and free internet access
- 2 Chez Eric, Rue de la compagnie, Gorée, ☏ . A bed and breakfast type of place on Goree Island, with a store next door. Wifi, bar, free breakfast. 22213 CFA.
- Al Afifa Hotel, (city centre), Clean air-con rooms. Wi-Fi works most of the time and is free. Small outdoor pool, the main restaurant/bar alongside it. Food is good and the breakfast excellent with fresh croissants. Ask a waiter to prepare a mango or other fruit at the buffet. Expect to pay around CFA45,000 for a single room plus CFA3,600 for a breakfast. This hotel also has an "American bar" and a nightclub attached. Walking distance to the main attractions in Dakar and the best restaurants such as Café de Rome and Chez Loutcha.
- Seneganne, Les Almadies (next to the airport), ☏ , email@example.com. Comfortable guesthouse run by an enthusiastic Belgian lady. Wi-Fi access, swimming pool and, important in Dakar, a backup generator. Very clean and very well kept.
- 3 Pullman Dakar Teranga, 10, Rue Colbert (Just south off Place de L'indépendance), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Best Accor hotel in town. Offers good views over the Atlantic from the rooftop. Island in the madness. Popular with business travellers. €120.
- 4 Radisson Blu Hotel, Dakar Sea Plaza, Route de la Corniche (6 km from city center), ☏ . Trendy neighbourhood offering picturesque views of the Atlantic Ocean.
- 5 King Fahd Palace Hotel. Top class hotel, and offer a free shuttle service to and from the airport.
Petty crime in Dakar is relatively high; crime against tourists is common, even around Place de l'Indépendance. Use common sense: women should not walk around alone after dark. Watch your pockets in crowded places, such as Sandaga, and keep a close eye on your belongings. There are many different scams to get money from tourists, so be wary. The favourites such as "I work at your hotel and have run out of fuel, please can I borrow €10", etc. are common, so don't be fooled.
Crime around the airport is extremely high. Do not change money at the airport. Con artists wait inside the arrival terminal by the baggage carousel. They inform you that they work for the airport and that they do not need any money from you. They snatch your bags out your hands, and lead you to a restaurant where you are told the kitchen is closed. They will all sit around you and demand money before they let you or your bags go. Some may offer to take you to "an affordable hotel" such as Hotel Tahiti. They then lock themselves in the room with you and demand money. They do not settle for anything less than USD10-25. They do not care if you have enough money for food or to get back to the airport. They will threaten you. Be warned.
Avoid the beaches at night. Try not to wear any outwardly expensive items of clothing or jewellery. In generally the Senegalese are not violent. Some people turn to stealing so that they can drink and eat. Overall, though, the Senegalese are an incredibly friendly and hospitable people and you will meet many people who are interested in talking to you.
Senegal is one of the most politically stable countries in Africa. The police force is useless for your safety, although they all speak French, and hence are helpful with directions when asked.
You should avoid walking in the evenings and nights along the Corniche, particularly the stretch between the International School of Dakar and the Club Olympique.
There are many beggars in Dakar, and so this can be an uncomfortable situation. One way to handle it is with a simple, polite "ba BEN-een yohn" ("next time" in Wolof). They may be persistent, but be firm without being rude. Another option is to give the talibes food. Also, keep in mind the Islamic tradition of giving daily after you've given once, you can say, "sah-RAHK-sah AH-gah-nah," which means "charity has already been done."
Embassies and consulates
- Canada, Rue Galliéni x Amadou Cissé Dia Dakar, Senegal, ☏ , email@example.com.
- Egypt, Rue 1, Villa 1, Fann Residence, B.P 474, ☏ , fax: .
- Germany, 20, Avenue Pasteur, Dakar B.P. 2100, ☏ , (emergencies), fax: . M-F 09:00 - 12:00.
- Greece, 15 Bis Rue Jules Ferry, Dakar B.P. 1810, ☏ , , , fax: .
- Romania, Point E, Rue Ax9A, ☏ , fax: , firstname.lastname@example.org. Embassy
- United Kingdom, 20 Rue du Dr Guillet, BP 6025, Dakar, ☏ , , email@example.com.
- United States.
BBC World Service radio broadcasts in English and French in Dakar on 105.6 MHz.
Travelling outside of Dakar can be manic and harrowing but is definitely worth it.
- Saint-Louis — The old French capital of Senegal, it is on the northern border, near Mauritania, and has fantastic colonial architecture and nightlife. Popular destination for travellers. Many bird parks are in this area.
- Sine Saloum Delta — Just north of the border with Gambia, the Delta has amazing mangrove forests that you can tour by pirogue (a motored canoe). Negotiate a fair price with a guide, and remember that once you get into the Delta, it's difficult and expensive to get around any way besides by pirogue.
- Casamance — The southernmost region of Senegal, the Casamance, boasts some of the most spectacular beaches and friendliest people in the country. The capital is Ziguinchor, nice to visit but not much to do. Cap Skirring is the main tourist destination, and there are many hostels as well as a Club Med ("Club Merde" as the locals call it). The Casamance has been involved in a secessionist conflict for years; though the warring factions do not purposely attack tourists, there have been tourist deaths. The overnight ferry from Dakar to Ziguinchor is affordable and comfortable.
- Details on the ferry: The boat leaves from Dakar on Tuesdays and Fridays at 20:00 and from Zig on Thursdays and Sundays at 15:00, arriving 15–17 hours later. Office hours in Dakar are M-F, business hours with a break for lunch. To purchase tickets, you must go to either the port in Dakar or the one in Zig. You cannot buy tickets online, or over the phone. Bring your passport to purchase. Advance purchase is advised, if possible, but not always necessary. Price for a couchette in a two person room is CFA30,500 and for a four person room is CFA28,500. Both include private bath and breakfast. Phone # for the Dakar ticket office is +221 33 821 29 00. They will be able to give you information on availability, prices and office hours.
- Touba — Senegal's religious centre, Touba makes a great day trip. Non-Muslims are no longer allowed inside the mosque, which is enormous. Women will be asked to wear long skirts and cover their heads to tour the grounds.
- Banjul - the capital of The Gambia. There is one daily bus departing at 07:00 from Parcelles Dem Dikk terminus.
- There are no options to buy the ticket either beforehand or online. Be there at 06:00 to buy a ticket and get a seat. Ticket price is CFA10,000; for one piece of luggage they charge CFA1,000.
- The trip normally takes 8 hours, but the real time depends on the border and ferry conditions.
- The buses have air-con, but the seats are narrow.