The Queen of Senegal
Chaotic, colourful, cosmopolitan and colonial, Dakar extends along the southern part of peninsula of Cap-Vert on the Atlantic Ocean and is the most European of African cities with over two million inhabitants. It is a very pleasant place to live in and visit. Each district has its charm and atmosphere. Strolling on foot or travelling around by taxi are fun activities full of interesting discoveries.
The fundamental point of reference of the city is Place de l’Independence, the business and administrative centre where the banks and main airlines have their headquarters. But the beating heart of Dakar is without doubt the Medina, overlooked by the minaret of the Grand Mosque. Its structure reflects that of an African village in which spaces are built around an internal courtyard where a baobab or a ceiba are the focus of attention. Maze-like streets, small shops and markets bring bustling life to the district, making it an extremely interesting place to visit.
Numerous restaurants and fast food outlets can be found in Avenue Pompidou, an extremely busy street, where you can grab a chawarma (an Arab flatbread wrap or bread roll with meat, vegetables and French fries) while exploring the city.
The Corniche, instead, is a long street running beside the sea, which is filled with local craft shops alternating with monuments, such as the futuristic Third Millennium Door, as well as markets and chic bars.
The Cathedral of Our Lady of Victories is Dakar’s Catholic cathedral. Designed by the architect Charles-Albert Wulffleff, it draws inspiration from different styles, with Sudanese-style towers, domes, Byzantine terraces and caryatids.
Dakar has various museums of contemporary art that can be visited, like the Gallery of National and Modern Art; the Museum of African Art, instead, offers collections of traditional Senegalese art.
One of the most exclusive residential districts is Point E where Senegalese politicians and diplomats live in luxurious villas. Ponty is considered the meeting place of Dakar where, along its streets, the most expensive boutiques of the city can be found.
If, instead, you prefer to shop amongst the bustling daily life of the city, the picturesque covered market of Sandaga, with its neo-Sudanese architecture, or the very colourful Tilene market, near the Medina, are unmissable attractions.
The island of Gorée, sadly renowned for having been, for centuries, the main departure point of slaves towards the Americas, is today a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Situated some 3 km off the coast of Dakar, it can be reached in just 20 minutes by boat.
The island’s buildings are constructed in colonial style of volcanic stone and surrounded by bougainvillea plants; the local roads are made of sand.
Sites of interest include the Maison des Esclaves, the Museum of Women and the Museum of the Sea. A popular local legend states that white men are mysteriously “sensed” by the island, assessed according to their soul and consequently accepted or not. Those who are unwanted are unable to stay the night as strange events and circumstances drive them away. Instead, Gorée becomes a magical place for those who are allowed to stay.
Maison des Esclaves in Dakar. Photo: Copyright © Sisterscom.com / Shutterstock
Museum of the Sea in Dakar. Photo: Copyright © Sisterscom.com / Shutterstock
The typical fish of Dakar
The Yassa fish
Dakar is also the capital of Senegalese cooking, a simple cuisine in which the staple ingredient is fish cooked in a variety of different ways and eaten alone or accompanied by rice and vegetables. Among the dishes to try are “Thieboudienne” (rice with fish and vegetables), Yassa fish (white rice with fish in lemon), Saint-Louisienne fish, stuffed with herbs, and Thiou, containing prawns.
Published on Avion Tourism Magazine
Updated August 2020
Where to sleep in Dakar
Dakar is a welcoming city and offers different possibilities for accommodation.
To find the ideal hotel and the best offers you can do a search for the stars but also for districts or landmarks.
Hotels for stars, differentiated by type of services:
Hotels in tourist areas
WHERE TO GO
Excursions and recommended tours
Dakar. Photo for editorial use only: Copyright © Sisterscom.com / Salvador Aznar / Shutterstock
CULTURE AND ATTRACTIONS OF DAKAR
Visit to the city with a professional guide to discover the capital of Senegal by visiting the main attractions of the city of Dakar, the Renaissance Monument, the Kermel market or the Palace of the Republic. Private tour of Dakar.
Isola di Gorée. Foto: Copyright © Sisterscom.com / Shutterstock
Private tour with professional guide to the island of Gorée which represents the tragic history of the slave trade in Africa, recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978. During the tour, stops at the Gorée slave house, the Dakar-Gorée memorial, at the Estrée fortress and Gorée beach. Private tour from Dakar to Gorée Island.
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Destinations found in the vicinity
Airports nearby Dakar
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