- For other places with the same name, see Monrovia (disambiguation).
Monrovia is the capital, and with a population of around 1,000,000, also the largest city in Liberia.
From the harbor city's establishment in 1822 to Liberia's 1847 declaration of independence, the American Colonization Society resettled approximately 3200 former African-American and Caribbean slaves and their descendants. The city was named Monrovia in 1824 after US president James Monroe, then a prominent supporter of the colony. There are now more than a million people (approximately 29% of the Liberian population) in the 5 square mile (13 km²) capital city.
The city center is the image of a tropical capital, melting in the hot sun. Monrovia is a low-rise capital on the sea, lined with palm trees and paint-chipped buildings of no more than three stories. The city, however, has a vibrant vibe on the street.
There are a number of merchants lining the streets of downtown, selling used clothes, household wares, and an interesting selection of DVDs. Waterside market is the largest local indoor/outdoor market, with narrow walkways between busy stalls. There are two large, well-stocked supermarkets in the city center to offer a surprising selection of Western foods.
Still, despite its woes, Liberia has the feeling of a country on the ascent. Billboards line the streets, inviting citizens to pay their taxes to make their country stronger and to take pride in their success. It is not cliché to say that Liberians are extremely friendly, so the streets seem alive and peepy.
Monrovia is one of the wettest capitals in the world with over 5,100 mm of annual rainfall.
Before the 2014 Ebola outbreak, a dozen airlines flew into Monrovia. The Brussels flight used to make a stop in Accra, Ghana or Dakar, Senegal. Air France had been flying from Paris via Conakry. Delta Air Lines had established a weekly flight from Atlanta to Monrovia in 2010 via Accra. Connections from the African continent also existed to the Addis Ababa hub of Ethiopian Airlines, to the Nairobi hub of Kenya Airways, and to Lagos, Nigeria with Arik Air via Accra. Ethiopian Airlines and Kenya Airways offered excellent connections to other African destinations and to the Middle East.
Some of the service (a Kenya Airways flight from Nairobi-Accra-Monrovia and a return to four flights a week on Brussels Airlines) was restored in 2015, but many others have yet to return.
Taxis are plentiful and inexpensive but there have been rumors of robberies and pickpocketing in taxis. If you do take a taxi, don't take a shared taxi but rather hire one just for yourself.
- 1 National Museum of Liberia. Houses cultural artefacts and historical items depicting Liberia's heritage. Much looted during the long civil war it is now trying to regain stolen artifacts. Also includes exhibitions on the civil war itself.
- 2 Ducor Hotel. A former luxury hotel now abandoned, and occupied by squatters.
- The Waterside Market
- The Blo Degbo—Rock formation shaped like a human face in Paynesville
- Waterside Market.
- Ranzeno. Fine men’s clothing. Tel: +231 6-530-799. Benson Street (Between Randall and Gurley Streets).
- The Best Jewelry. For high-end African-inspired jewelry. Tel: +231 6-513-578. 15th Street and Tubman Blvd, Sinkhor.
- Little Angels. Children’s clothes and supplies. Tel: +231 6-699-699. Randall Street, next to Computech.
- Rima’s Fashions. Jewelry. Tel: +231 6-239-001. Randall Street.
- Sorayah Laurice Fashion House. Customixzed tailoring and interior decorating. Tel: +231 0-82-78-49. Camp Johnson Road.
- LIB Electronics. Electronics of all sorts. Tel: +231 6-530-057. 195 Broad Street.
- Aretha. Women’s fashions and accessories. Tel: +231 6-517-945. Gurley and Benson Streets.
- Unboxed. Women’s shoes. Tel: +231 6-698-005. Broad Street.
- Touba Art Center. Traditional arts and crafts. Tel: +231 6-373-939. Next to Cape Hotel on Mambo Point.
- Picasso. Art. Tel: +231 7-7006-666. Randall Street.
- Fuchsia. Arts and crafts. +231 6-446-688. Randall Street, across from Stop and Shop Supermarket.
Dining options in Monrovia are pretty good, all things considered. Anything other than Lebanese and Liberian tends to be expensive, but there are a few reasonable places.
There are hundreds of "cook shops" serving Liberian fare, but if you're yearning for something other than spicy sauces and rice, you can try one of the following (in no particular order):
- Casablanca. Great Moroccan food at the top of Broad Street. Again, very expensive, but tasty tagines (the chicken with raisins is particularly good.)
- Diana's. Great lunch spot on Center Street. Great Lebanese sandwiches and falafel. +231 656 3333
- Golden Beach Restaurant & Bar, 2nd Street (Sinkor region), ☎ . American-owned Continental restaurant that offers seafood, pizza and fine French dining from the head chef of Chez Christophe in San Francisco, California. Enjoy your meal with custom seating directly on the beach. Some great items include French Onion Soup, Filet mignon with mushroom sauce, lobster tails, pan fried fish with creamy bell pepper sauce and thin crust pizza. This is the only restaurant directly on the beach. This is the most popular spot for United Nations workers because of the large amount of Security guards here provided for protection of customers.
- Great Wall. Pretty good, authentic Chinese food on Tubman Boulevard. Hot pot (shabu shabu) available in the front room. Back room available for karaoke parties.
- Le Griot Cafe Opposite the American Embassy is an outdoor bar/restaurant offering a daily African special and a Sunday Brunch ranging from African food to Southern Creole Buffet. Friday Happy Hour Grill Bar Wireless internet. Cell +231 7 155 242 or +231 6 815 242
- Jamal's Boulevard Cafe. Very reasonably priced, restaurant that serves pizza/Lebanese/International cuisine on Tubman Boulevard and Sinkor. Happy hour on Saturdays include live, Liberian band. Pizza delivery available. Cell +231 77969969
- The Living Room (Royal Hotel Sushi Restaurant). Sinkor, between 14th and 15th Streets, on Tubman Boulevard. Expensive, especially for the mediocre sushi. Very nice, sleek atmosphere - you could almost be in New York. Almost. The Royal Hotel also has another Western/Lebanese restaurant, where the chicken burger is pretty good. Pirate (seafood) soup also not bad.
- The Barracuda Seafood and Sushi Bar (Mamba Point Hotel). The city's second sushi restaurant - food is comparable to sushi at the Royal.
- Dona Maria, Tubman Blvd at 15th St., land side, ☎ . Reasonably priced, nice little ice cream parlor/pizza/sandwich shop.
- Nour Restaurant. Good Lebanese on Center Street.
- P.A.'s Rib House, Near Spriggs-Payne Airfield, ☎ , , . Pretty good American-style barbecued ribs. Like most restaurants in Monrovia, service is a bit slow, and items on the menu are not always available.
- [formerly dead link] Ro-zi's - N’yla Café, ☎ . Liberian fusion restaurant, Bestman Road in Airfield, Sinkor - you'll see the signs pointing the way off of Tubman Blvd. and Old Road. Excellent menu, charming "New York City meets West Africa" decor. Also caters and delivers.
- Sajj House Restaurant, Tubman Blvd, Sinkor (at 18th St.), ☎ . Venerable Lebanese establishment with outdoor dining, a big screen TV, and wi-fi internet along with a wide-range of menu options. Cell phone number is "SAJJ" (7255)
- Taaj. Indian food at 5th Street (beach side) and Tubman Boulevard. Great Baigan Bharta (eggplant). Home to expat trivia game on Thursday nights.
- B First, 13th St., Sinkor (Beach side). Excellent and cheap Bangladeshi restaurant in Sinkor.
- Tides, Waterside (between Glamour and the garage). Excellent location overlooking the water, good cheap food, huge range of cocktails.
The best produce (salad, vegetables, herbs, fruit, squash, etc.) can be found on Benson St., around Newport St. Raw honey is available outside the mosque (you'll need to strain it).
There is an excellent strip of butchers on Somalia Drive, near the port, where they slaughter and sell fresh cow, goat, and sheep meet. A butcher shop on Benson St. in town sells meat from these butchers (freshest Wed/Sat).
Fresh fish is available in Sinkor just past the Vavoma building (where Sinkor becomes Congo Town), on the beach side of Tubman Blvd. Or call Moses at 06368158.
There are several supermarkets that sell imported (usually American, Lebanese, and some Western European) goods.
- Abi Jaoudi (Randall Street) is the biggest of the bunch. Has decent bakery, deli, fish and meat counters. Produce is usually overpriced and tired looking. Now officially Harbel's.
- Stop 'n' Shop (Randall Street) is small and crowded, but has a good assortment of groceries. Sometimes imports specialty items (i.e., strawberries.)
- Monoprix (Benson Street) is conveniently located right by the good outdoor produce market in town.
- Greenland (Tubman Boulevard, at ? Street.) Small and a bit dark, but it's the only one open on Sundays (from about 8AM to noon). Overpriced (but convenient) produce stands in front.
- UN Drive Supermarket (Tubman Boulevard, between 15th and 16th Streets). Decent array of imported goods.
- Exclusive Supermarket (Tubman Boulevard at 19th Street in Sinkor). A well-stocked supermarket with many imported goods of international standards. Excellent range of spices and Indian pulses. One of the only sources of whole wheat flour. Western cereals, energy drinks, and a wide range of wine are on sale. There is a small bakery offering sandwiches and Indian foods for take-away.
- Exclusive Supermarket (Second location in town on Center St. at Carey St.). Not as large as its Sinkor cousin, but large housewares section and reasonable prices.
- 1 The Capital Room (At Mamba Point, along United Nations Dr), ☎ . Luxury lounge with a patio offering beautiful views over the Atlantic. With an extensive wine list and good cocktails, it's a popular hangout spot for the local upper classes as well as tourists. Additionally, The Capital Room is also one of few places in Liberia where it's possible to get an proper Cuban cigar.
- T's Bar & Lounge
- Zanzibar Blue
- Deja Vu.
St. Teresa's Convent, Randall Streets - the only hostel in the city - beds are $10–15/night.
- Corina Hotel, Tubman Blvd at 24th St (next to Sam's BBQ), ☎ . Former Peace Corps HQ, now hotel and conference center, on edge of Congo Town. Single rooms advertised at US$65 + tax at airport, actual price usually at least US$90. Small, dark, old rooms and minimal breakfast are not great value for money at that price. Sam's BBQ in front of the hotel serves as its main restaurant. Diners beware however. When the bill arrives, the total for ex-pats at least is often higher than indicated on the menu. Check the prices and math first or risk paying more than necessary due to an honest "mistake". The beer however, is the coldest available in Monrovia.
- Greystone Suites Bed & Breakfast of Mamba Point, 1 Greystone Access Rd, ☎ , , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. One, two or three bedroom suites with 24-hr electricity, hot water, AC, wireless internet, DTSV, security, housekeeping and laundry. Opposite the American Embassy and the European Union building. Starting at US$110 per room or US$250 for an entire suite, monthly arrangements available..
- Hotel Provident, 9th St., Sinkor (beach side), ☎ . Simple, clean rooms. Popular for workshops - good catering, nice conference spaces.
- Moko's Guest House, ☎ , , ✉ email@example.com. This guesthouse is located on a secure compound in Sinkhor. Prices include a generous and delicious breakfast of omelette, pancakes, or fish. Laundry services, cable television, and wireless internet are available. The staff are extremely attentive and competent. About US$80-100 per night.
- 1 Mamba Point Hotel, ☎ , . Mamba Point has 55 air conditioned rooms, TV, 24 hour electricity, a bar and an international restaurant. It's near the water and several of the western embassies and UN agencies. It also has wireless internet connection in the lounge.
- 2 Royal Hotel, Tubman Blvd.
- 3 Kendeja Resorts and Villas, ☎ . Built by the owner of the US cable channel, Black Entertainment Television, is a luxury resort with spa and beach access. A bit far from town, past SKD Stadium on the Robertsfield Hwy.
- 4 The Renaissance Hotel, Cheeseman Ave, ☎ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Boutique hotel and restaurant with cable television and restaurant.
- 5 The Cape Hotel, United Nations Dr, ☎ , ✉ email@example.com. Posh hotel with African-inspired décor at Mambo Point, close to the US Embassy.
Careysburg is a town founded by freed slaves in 1859, about 30 minutes from Monrovia. The sleepy city and nearby townships have examples of homes and churches built in the style of the American South, set against a cool, lush landscape. The Quelu and Wulki Farms both offer accommodations with swimming pools and horseback riding.