Discover Dakar, the capital of Senegal
Dakar is the capital of Senegal and is the country's economic, cultural and political hub. The town is located at the most Western point of the African continent - on the Cape Verde archipelago, surrounded by the ocean. The town can be accessed via its international airport, and Air France offers regular flights with lay-overs in France or Amsterdam, departing from London. Flight time will therefore be about 7 hours, without counting the lay-over. Once there, you will need to put your watch back one hour because of the time difference.
When booking your airline ticket to Dakar, there are several interesting periods of the year to travel. For motor sport-lovers, the Dakar Rally period in January makes the town seething with excitement, and contemporary African art enthusiasts can spend the months of May and June attending the Dakar Biennale festival.
In terms of climate, the months of August, September and October are more humid than the rest - but the rest of the year is perfect for booking your flight to Dakar.
To understand the inhabitants and be understood by them too, some knowledge of French is important - English is not widely spoken by locals.
When organising your trip and to make sure everything goes well, remember to check what administrative formalities are required prior to your departure.
Dakar, a city filled with history.
During your trip to Dakar, you can discover a fascinating city, filled with life. To start you off, we recommend discovering the city from above. You even have a choice: you can either climb right on top of the African Renaissance Monument, or to the top of the Mamelles lighthouse…or both! The former building is a monumental bronze and copper statue showing a man, woman and child - inaugurated in 2010 to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of Senegal's independence. To can climb to the very top of the statue to admire the view over Dakar and the ocean. The second panorama is from the Mamelles lighthouse - build in 1864. It towers over one of the two volcanic hills on the peninsula - known as the Mamelles hills.
To delve into the country's past and history, we recommend discovering the island of Gorée - easily accessible with a rowing boat: the crossing lasts 20 minutes. The island bears testimony to the 6 centuries of foreign occupation and the painful marks of a time when the slave trade was a flourishing business. The island now lives from tourism, and you can discover the moving vestiges of this difficult time.
Within Dakar itself, you can also admire remarkable religious buildings - such as the Cathedral with its original architecture and Sudanese-style turrets, Byzantine domes and African frescos out on the forecourt, or the Divinity Mosque inaugurated in 1997 located on a beautiful beach right on the edge of Dakar.
If you wish to rest between two visits, you can stroll along the Yoff or Ngor beaches, or walk through the Hann forest and zoological park.
Culture and art, Dakar style
During your trip to Dakar, you will be amazed by how African art is brought to the forefront. There are several art galleries presenting superb collections of art and craft objects, sculptures, pottery and jewellery. We strongly recommend discovering the Théodore Monod museum, that boasts a large and impressive permanent collection of objects illustrating African art and culture - as well as several temporary exhibitions. For contemporary art enthusiasts, opt for the Dakar Biennale festival period to discover all the temporary exhibitions scattered all over the city, bestowing it with many colours and works of art by local African and international artists.
For more information on preparing your trip:
- Ministry of Foreign Affairs