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 The Cap-Vert 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 contrasts.

currency

West African CFA franc
1 XOF = 100 centimes

phone

Police: 17
Fire: 18
Medical: 33 889 1515

newspaper

Enquete Plus: www.enqueteplus.com
Le Quotidien: lequotidien.sn
Le Soleil: lesoleil.sn
Sud Quotidien: www.sudquotidien.sn

hours

Most businesses and shops generally open at about 8:30 am and close around 7:30–8:30 pm. Some establishments may close for a few hours during the early afternoon. Some places may also open on Sunday morning, and others will remain closed on Mondays.

population

City: 1,182,417 Dakarois (2023 census)
Metro area: 3.9 million

Panorama of Dakar, Senegal Anton_Ivanov/Shutterstock

The City

For centuries, Dakar has been a vital hub, linking Africa, Europe, and the Americas. Initially significant for the Atlantic slave trade due to its strategic position, it continues to play a crucial role in trade, transport, and communication.

The Cap-Vert peninsula, home to the city, was settled by the Lebu people, a subgroup of the Wolof ethnic group, no later than the 15th century. The original Lebou villages of Ouakam, Ngor, Yoff, and Hann remain distinct neighbourhoods within the city. The name 'Dakar' itself is derived from 'dakhar,' a Wolof word for the tamarind tree, reflecting the city's connection to its natural surroundings. Established by the French in 1857, Dakar has grown into a vibrant metropolis, boasting a mix of public buildings, embassies, and a bustling business district centred around the Place de l'Indépendance. The city's port area is a hub of activity, with industries ranging from peanut-oil refining to fish canning. Cultural institutions like the Grand National Theatre of Dakar, the Théodore Monod African Art Museum, and the Museum of Black Civilizations showcase the city's rich artistic and historical heritage. The corniche road around Cape Manuel offers stunning views of the harbour and nearby islands, while the new Blaise Diagne International Airport connects Dakar to the world.

Dakar's rich cultural heritage, shaped by a complex colonial past, has fostered a unique social blend that combines European, North African, and West African influences, yet remains distinct. The city is flourishing, with a dynamic art scene, diverse cultures, and natural wonders nearby, inviting exploration. This cultural mosaic is evident in every aspect of city life, from art and architecture to cuisine and religious practices, with each quartier offering new discoveries.

Do & See

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 pink Lake Retba, the Turtles Village of Carnoules, and the nearby car-free Gorée Island make for great day trips.

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Museum of Black Civilizations

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Mosque of the Divinity

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Les Mamelles Lighthouse

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N’Gor Island

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African Renaissance Monument

Eric Haglund/cc by-sa 2.0/Flickr

Théodore Monod African Art Museum

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Gorée Island

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House of Slaves & its Door of No Return

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The Tortoise Village

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Grand Mosque of Dakar

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Médina

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Hann Forest & Zoological Park

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Lake Retba

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Place de l'Indépendance

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Presidential Palace

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Our Lady of Victories Cathedral

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Océanium

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Layen Mausoleum

Lamb and sweet potato peanut stew served with white rice. Caribbean and West African dish. Paul_Brighton/Shutterstock

Dining

Senegal's cuisine reflects its multicultural population, blending North African, French and Portuguese influences with local ingredients and the culinary traditions of its varied ethnic groups. Fish, lamb, peas, peanuts, couscous and lentils are staples in Senegalese dishes. Don't miss the chance to savour refreshing juices made from fresh fruits like mango and soursop.

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La Cabane du Pêcheur

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Ali Baba

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Chez Loutcha

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La Fourchette

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Le Lagon 1

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Noflaye Beach

Close up image of tan stylish woman shaking her morning coffee, wearing summer trendy dress and accessorizes , siring alone at cafe. Bright colors. Ann Haritonenko/Shutterstock

Cafes

Dakar's coffee culture has its quirks. While sipping at a tiny plastic cup of extra-sweetened coffee from a street vendor is a quintessential experience, the city's growing cosmopolitan vibe has ushered in a wave of Western-style cafes. These new spots offer a tranquil escape from the city's hustle, providing a perfect setting to enjoy a hot coffee, a quick snack, or a creamy dessert. Here are some recommendations for those seeking a peaceful coffee break in the Senegalese capital.

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Café de Rome

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Sweet Coffee

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Nescafe Stands

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Cafe Touba

The still waters of the Atlantic ocean reflecting the colourful lights along the shores of downtown Dakar Dereje/Shutterstock

Bars & Nightlife

Dakar boasts some of the best, liveliest, and most varied nightlife in West Africa. Bars serve up cool, refreshing drinks, while nightclubs keep revellers dancing until dawn. The city's cultural scene is equally impressive, with a wide array of musical events, film screenings, and performances regularly taking place across the city.

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Phare des Mamelles

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Bayékou

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Le Thiossane

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Institut Français du Sénégal

Andrey_Kuzmin/Shutterstock

Théâtre Daniel Sorano

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Le Patio

A lot of baskets of sea grass made by women in Africa from Senegal Gines Romero/Shutterstock

Shopping

Dakar's shopping scene thrives in its vibrant and diverse markets, each bursting with colour and offering a wide range of goods. From fabrics to local produce, these markets cater to all sorts of needs. Haggling is a must for securing the best deals, but be cautious of pickpockets who may take advantage of the bustling atmosphere.

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Marché Sandaga

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Marché Soumbédioune

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Marché HLM

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Sea Plaza

horse on the beach of Senegal africa924/Shutterstock

Tourist Information

Passport / Visa

Citizens of the following countries can visit Senegal visa-free for a stay of up to 90 days: the European Union citizens, Benin, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Canada, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Djibouti, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, India, Japan, Kenya, Liberia, Malaysia, Mali, Mauritius, Niger, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Singapore, South Korea, Togo, Tunisia, United States. They need a passport that is valid for at least 3 months from the date of arrival.

Citizens of most other countries can obtain a 30-day visa on arrival, provided their passport is valid for at least the next 6 months.

Note that evidence of return or onward travel may have to be presented in order to enter the country. A certificate of vaccination against yellow fever might also be necessary if travelling from endemic countries.

If you're not sure whether or not to apply for a visa, we recommend that you contact the embassy or consulate in your country.

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Website: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visa_policy_of_Senegal

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Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit Dakar is during the dry season, namely from November through May, when the average temperature is around 20°C/68°F and rain is basically non-existent. Of course, this is also the high season. The period from June through October is the wet season, with hot, humid days and frequent rainfall. During this period, you can find good deals and still have a pleasant stay, but be prepared that business may be closed.

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Blaise Diagne International Airport (DSS)

The new airport serving the city of Dakar is the Blaise Diagne International Airport (IATA code: DSS), which is located about 43 km (27 mi) east of the city centre. Blaise Diagne International Airport is a modern and well-equipped facility that opened in 2017 to replace Léopold Sédar Senghor International Airport as the main airport serving Dakar and the surrounding region.

The airport has a single terminal building that serves both domestic and international flights, and offers a range of amenities and services for travellers, including shops, restaurants, and lounges, as well as a number of banks and currency exchange offices. The airport also has a range of transportation options for travellers, including car rentals, taxis, public buses and a train called Train Express Regional (TER).

Address: Aéroport international Blaise Diagne, Ndiass, Senegal

Email: contact@dakaraeroport.com

Phone: +221 33 939 59 00

Website: www.dakaraeroport.com/en

More Information: The airport was named after Blaise Diagne, the first black African elected to France's parliament in 1914.

Public Transport

Navigating public transport in Dakar may initially seem daunting because of its apparent disarray. The city's streets are awash with colour, mirroring the vivid hues of the local buses. Traditional attire, particularly the wax fabric dresses worn by women, adds to the kaleidoscope of colours.

Dakar's public bus system is called Dakar Dem 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 if you're not sure which bus to take to get where you're going.

Public buses, distinguishable by their blue paint and numbering, are a common sight. While affordable, with fares around 200 CFA francs, they require some getting used to. Routes are not clearly mapped, and schedules are unpredictable, leading to sporadic service. Despite these challenges, these buses are a mainstay for locals, connecting various parts of the city, including the airport.

In contrast, the multicoloured buses, a more informal mode of transport, offer a different experience. Fares range from 50 to 100 CFA francs, depending on the distance. These buses are typically crowded, with passengers boarding from the rear and finding space wherever possible. Vigilance is advised, as the close quarters can lead to petty theft.

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Taxi

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. They are usually yellow and black with a printed number on the side.

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Post

La Poste Senegal is the public company in charge of postal services in Senegal, with several offices in Dakar. The central post office is located along Boulevard El Hadji Djily Mbaye.

Address: Poste Centrale, Immeuble Azur 15, 12 Boulevard El Hadji Djily Mbaye, Dakar

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Pharmacies

Pharmacie Nelson Mandela
12 Avenue Nelson Mandela, Plateau, Dakar
Open 24h
+221 33 821 21 72

Pharmacie Guigon
Avenue du Président Lamine Gueye, Dakar
Open Mon–Sat 7:30am–10:30pm, Sun closed
+221 33 823 03 33

Pharmacie Mame Oumy Gueye
Sacré Coeur 71, Dakar
Open Mon–Sat 8:30am–11pm, Sun 9am–10pm
+221 33 825 59 99

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Telephone

Country code: +221
Area code: 8

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Electricity

Senegal uses type C, D, E and K power plugs and sockets. All four types use round pins. The standard voltage is 230 V at a frequency of 50 Hz.

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