The Cape Verde Peninsula sticks out westward into the Atlantic Ocean, reaching from the Old World to the New, harbouring the westernmost city on the African mainland: Dakar. A city that represents Africa's development better than almost any other, Dakar boasts the comforts and luxuries of modern living, while firmly keeping a grasp on its history and traditions. The bustling markets of downtown are juxtaposed with the laid-back pace of Île de Gorée and the surrounding beaches, making a visit to Dakar a fascinating experience of contrast.
West African CFA franc
1 XOF = 100 centimes
Medical: 889 1515
Most businesses and shops generally open at about 8:30am and close around 7:30-8:30pm. Some establishments may close for a few hours during the early afternoon. Some places may also open Sunday morning, and others will remain closed on Mondays.
Metropolitan area: 2,450,000
Dakar is and has for centuries been a vital hub for travel and commerce, connecting Africa, Europe and the Americas. Once an important point for the Atlantic slave trade because of its strategic location, it still holds an important position for trade, transport and communication.
Dakar's rich cultural heritage and a diverse and often difficult colonial history have bred a unique social blend that incorporates European, North African and West African elements, but stands out from all three. It is a blossoming city with a vibrant art scene, exciting diversity and enough natural wonders in the vecinity to warrant a few day trips. The mix of cultures is clearly visible in every aspect of the city, from the art and architecture to the cuisine and religious practices, and every quartier holds new things to discover.
Giant bronze statues, fantastic art museums, mosques, cathedrals and tons of fascinating history mean that you're sure to find plenty to do in Dakar. If you feel like exploring a bit further outside the city, attractions like the vibrant pink Lake Retba, the Village des Tortues, and the nearby Goree Island make for great day trips.
African Renaissance Monument
IFAN Museum of African Arts
Cathedrale du Souvenir Africain de Dakar
Like its people, Senegal's cuisine draws from North African, French and Portuguese influences, all mixed with local ingredients and the gastronomic traditions of the country's diverse ethnic groups. Fish is an important part of the food here, as are lamb, peas, peanuts, cous cous and lentils. Also, be sure to try some of the delicious fruit juices, such as mango, soursop and buy, the fruit of the baobab tree.
Soumbedioune Night Market
Coffee culture in Dakar has its quirks. There's nothing quite like buying a tiny plastic cup of extra sweetened coffee from a street vendor. But as the city has become ever more cosmopolitan and worldly, and as international influences have become more and more a part of life in the Senegalese capital, Western style cafes have been popping up throughout the city. Below are some suggestions for those wanting to escape the hustle of the city to enjoy a hot coffee, a quick snack or a creamy dessert.
Dakar boasts some of the best, liveliest and most varied nightlife in West Africa. Bars serve cool and refreshing drinks, and nightclubs keep the crowds dancing till morning. Additionally, the selection of musical and cultural events is staggering, and concerts, cinema and different kinds of performances are always available throughout the city.
Institut Français de Senegal
The best shopping to be found in Dakar is at the abundant and colourful markets found all around the city. Some specialize in certain types of products, like fabrics or produce, while others seem to offer anything and everything you can think of. Be sure to haggle to ensure getting the best possible price, and beware of pickpockets, who tend to prefer the hectic bustle of markets to find easy prey.
Léopold Sédar Senghor International Airport
Léopold Sédar Senghor International Airport (DKR) is located in the area of Yoff, in the northwest part of town. It is the main air travel hub of the country and handles numerous flight to major international destinations in Africa and Europe, as well as to New York.
If you haven't arranged for airport pickup, taxis are your best bet to get to the city. There is a taxi stand outside the terminal, but many illegal taxi drivers will try to offer rides before you can get there. Ignore them and only take the registered taxis. Bus number 8 also goes to the city from the airport. It is much cheaper than a taxi, but can also take much longer.
Address: Ngor, Dakar
Phone: +221 77 040 65 32
Dakar's public bus system is called Dakar Demm Dikk. It is relatively reliable and very affordable, but the bus network can be very difficult to figure out if you're not already familiar with it. Be sure to ask a local which bus to take to get where you're going. Cars Rapides, small blue and yellow mini-buses are a good option for getting to more remote areas of the city. The person in charge or the money will yell out its destinations, so flag it down if it's going your way.
Taxis are ubiquitous in Dakar and can be flagged down anywhere. They are fast and safe, as well, but you must haggle and agree on the fare before getting in. Taxis can also be caught in front of major hotels.
Main Post Office
Address: Boulevard El Hadji Djily Mbaye, Dakar
Address: Rue de Thann, Dakar
Phone: +221 33 821 1448
Country code: +221
Area code: 8
Voltage: 230 V
Frequency: 50 Hz
Power sockets: type C / D / E / K