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 contrasts.
West African CFA franc
1 XOF = 100 centimes
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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.
City: 1.4 million Dakarois (2021 estimate)
Metro area: 3.9 million
Dakar has been for centuries 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 vicinity 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 pink Lake Retba, the Village des Tortues, and the nearby Gorée Island make for great day trips.
Museum of Black Civilizations
Mosque of the Divinity
African Renaissance Monument
Théodore Monod African Art Museum
Ile de Gorée
House of Slaves
Le Village des Tortues (The Turtoises' Village)
Grand Mosque of Dakar
Hann Park and Zoo
Village des Arts
Place de l'Indépendance
Our Lady of Victories Cathedral
Like its population, Senegal's cuisine draws from North African, French, and Portuguese influences, all of which are 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, couscous, and lentils. Also, be sure to try some of the delicious juices made with fresh fruit like mango and soursop.
La Cabane du Pêcheur
The 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 provide cool and refreshing drinks, while nightclubs keep the crowds dancing till the morning. The selection of musical and cultural events is staggering, with concerts, movies, and performances always available throughout the city.
Phare des Mamelles
Institut Français du Sénégal
Théâtre Daniel Sorano
The best shopping to be found in Dakar is at the abundant and colourful markets all around the city. Some specialize in certain types of products, like fabrics or local produce, while others seem to offer just about anything you can think of. Be sure to haggle to ensure getting the best possible price, and beware of pickpockets, who tend to take advantage of the hectic bustle of markets.
Passport / Visa
Citizens of the following countries can visit Senegal visa-free for a stay of up to 90 days: 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.
Visa for up to 90 days can be obtained upon arrival by citizens of 69 countries and territories including Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Cameroon, China, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic,Egypt, Honduras, Iceland, Israel, Jamaica, Libya, Liechtenstein, Madagascar, Monaco, Namibia, Nepal, New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Russia, Seychelles, South Africa, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates and Zimbabwe. They need a passport that is valid for at least 6 months from the date of arrival.
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.
Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit Dakar is during the dry season, namely from November to May, when the average temperature is around 20°/68°F and rain is basically non-existent. Of course, this is also high season. From June to October it’s wet season, with hot, humid days and frequent rainfall. During this period, you can find good deals and still have a pleasant stay, but note that some business may be closed.
Blaise Diagne International Airport (DSS)
The new airport serving the city of Dakar, Senegal, is indeed Blaise Diagne International Airport (IATA code: DSG), which is located about 43 km (27 mi) east of the city center. 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.
Blaise Diagne International Airport has a single terminal building that serves both domestic and international flights, and offers a range of amenities and services for travelers, 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 travelers, including car rentals, taxis, public buses and a train called Train Express Regional (TER).
Address: Aéroport international Blaise Diagne, Ndiass, Senegal
Phone: +221 33 939 59 00
More Information: The airport was named after Blaise Diagne, the first black African elected to France's parliament in 1914
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.
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.
There are several post offices in Dakar.
Main Post Office:
Address: 12 Boulevard El Hadji Djily Mbaye, Dakar
12 Avenue Nelson Mandela, Plateau, Dakar
+221 33 821 21 72
Avenue G. Pompidou, Dakar
+221 33 823 03 33
Pharmacie Mame Oumy Gueye
125 Sacré çoeur 3 Pyrotechnie, Lot 87, Dakar
Monday-Saturday 8.30-23.00, Sunday 9.00-22.00
+221 33 825 59 99
Country code: +221
Area code: 8
230 V / 50 Hz
Type of power sockets: C / D / E / K