Dakar is the capital of Senegal.
The Senegalese are very proud of their reputation for "teranga" — hospitality. Locals are extremely friendly and helpful; but as anywhere else, watch out for scams and pickpockets. Petty crime here is relatively high, be cautious. While some locals are friendly, be careful, because local shop owners are very persistent.
Dakar was founded in 1857 when the French built a fort on the site of the modern Place de l’Indépendance to the interests of merchants.
The city’s name comes from "dakhar", a Wolof name for the tamarind tree and the name of a coastal Lebu village, that was located south of what is now the first pier. The city is crossed by rivers of Gambia and Sénégal.
For many years Dakar was home for the annual desert rally, which was first held in 1977 as Paris-Dakar Rally. In the past, the rally was held on the rally tracks of Southern Europe, in the mountains and deserts of northern Africa until 2007. Since 2009 the Dakar Rally had been taking place on the South American continent and starting from 2020 in Western Asia. The final stage of the rally took place around Lac Rose, a red salt lake in the north of the Dakar peninsula.
Dakar is a major West African hub, so there are lots of flights coming from and going to Europe, North America and other African cities. Be prepared to arrive and leave at any time of the night or day — many flights come in at around 2 and leave at around 4 AM.
Blaise Diagne International Airport (AIBD; airport code DSS) opened in December 2017, taking over from the current hub, Léopold Sédar Senghor (DKR). Unfortunately, due to extremely aggressive security measures (hand-searching every bag of every passenger) without adequate staffing, AIDB is currently experiencing severe delays (up to 2.5h)
AIDB is situated around 50 km from Dakar City Center. A railway link is planned but unfinished. Thus, AIBD can be reached by Bus or Taxi.
The DDD Bus Nr. 404 links the City with the Airport. It runs app. each 0.5h between 08:00 and 22:00. the line starts at the Station "Palace 2", goes via "Place d'Independance" and then takes the Toll-Road to AIDB. A journey costs 1'000 CFA/Pers. Another option (as of June 2019) is to take the Dem Dikk AC bus from the airport (busses are waiting right outside to the right as you exit the main terminal) that costs 6,000CFA with a route that ends in the terminal in Grande Yoff (location: 14°44'40.4"N 17°27'16.1"W) across from the Stade Léopold Sédar Senghor. From there, you can grab any of the waiting taxis to wherever you are staying in the city. Taxi to Médina or Plateu for a single person should not cost more than 2000CFA depending on how patient you are and your French/Wolof, though a more probable price will probably end up being in the 3,000CFA range.
Plenty of Taxis and Coaches can be found that drive to the Airport. Expect fares of about 15'000 CFA per cab or more. The journey takes about 60 minutes under good conditions, or more if your driver gets confused (many don't know their way around the new airport). Be prepared to give them directions and help them read the signs.
From South Africa: SAA (Johannesburg),
From Dubai: Emirates,
From Europe: Air France (Paris-CDG), TAP Air Portugal (Lisbon), Alitalia (Milan), Iberia (Madrid, Las Palmas), Brussels Airlines (Brussels), Turkish Airlines (Istanbul)
From Africa: TACV Cabo Verde (Praia and Bissau), Royal Air Maroc (Casablanca), Air Ivoire (Abidjan), Ethiopian (Addis Ababa via Lomé and Abidjan or via Ndjamena), Kenya Airways (Nairobi via Bamako), Virgin Nigeria (Lagos), Brussels Airlines (Banjul), Tunisair (Tunis), Air Algérie (Algiers), Air Mali International (Bamako), Air Mauritanie (Nouakchott), Bellview Airlines (Lagos), Delta Airlines (Luanda),
From North America: SAA (Washington-Dulles and New York-JFK), Delta (Atlanta), Delta (New York-JFK),
From Asia: Emirates (Dubai).
The rail service connecting Dakar and Koulikoro in Mali, once stopping at many cities in Senegal, has been cancelled indefinitely.
The main method of travel around the country is by sept places (from French, "seven seats," literally questionable station wagons in which they will pack seven people so that you are basically sitting on the next person's lap throughout the journey). You can also come with a group and rent out an entire sept place, but this will be expensive. If you are obviously a tourist, they will try to rip you off, so make sure to set a price before you agree to a driver. There are set prices to often-travelled locations.
The Dakar bus system, known as Dakar Demm Dikk (Dakar coming and going), is fairly dependable. Fares are 150 CFA, and there are no transfer. Unfortunately, there's not much of a map of the bus system. But multiple Apps (such as "Talibi") make up for the lack of maps.
The number 10 bus runs along the Corniche de l'Ouest and turns into the suburbs at Rue Aime Cesaire. The number 1 bus runs along the VDN.
Cars Rapides. These are the usually blue, yellow or white mini-buses that careen through Dakar and some of Senegal's other cities. There are somewhat fixed rates for certain distances, but you need to check with a Senegalese beforehand. As of 2011 150
CFA would cover most destinations. To find out where one is going, flag it down and shout out your destination at the apprenti, the boy in charge of collecting fares who hangs out the back. If she shouts back at you the destination you want, signal it to stop and hop aboard. To stop, bang loudly on the side of the bus, on the roof or signal to the apprenti you want off. Apprenti's don't always speak French, so be prepared to communicate otherwise if you do not speak Wolof.
Cheap and safe and everywhere. All taxi fares are negotiated beforehand and will require bargaining. If you're not from Senegal, it is best to check with locals before to get an idea of what they pay, in order to know what you will be able to get. Make sure your taxi has the right change as well before departing. Leave tips when you feel the service was good.
Besides the large rental companies small companies offer cars at reasonable prices.
- African Renaissance Monument. Dakar opened its doors in December 2010. This colossal monument is dedicated to Africa's emergence from the oppressive European regimes, that once ruled the continent and the end of slavery. It is also means a demonstration of African pride to avoid foreign perceptions about the Africans as the lesser people. From base to the top, it reaches taller than the Statue of Liberty. edit
- Corniche road. It is cut into the cliff around Cape Manuel and offers the fine views of the harbor and the islands. Have an interesting walk along this rocky coast. edit
- Dakar Cathedral (Cathédrale Notre Dame des Victoires). It was consecrated on 2 February 1936. edit
- Dakar Grand Mosque (Grande Mosquée de Dakar), Avenue Malick Sy, Dakar. It was built in 1964. edit
- Daniel Sorano National Theatre, ☎ +221 33 822 1715. Performing arts theater. edit
- Deux Mamelles. It is twin hills located in Ouakam commune. The hills are the only highest place in the city, providing views of the entire area and the sweeping views of the city. The first hill is topped with Mamelles Lighthouse built in 1864. The second one has the newly completed African Renaissance Monument built on top. edit
- Gorée Island (Île de Gorée). Goree Island in English was named by the Dutch, after taking over the island from the Portuguese in the late 1600s. The island has interesting colonial architecture, mostly in ruins, including the landmark "House of Slaves" museum. Ferries can be taken from the terminal north of Place de l'Independance (very close to the Dakar Railway Station). IMPORTANT NOTE: as of June 2019 you must present your passport to the port guard to be allowed to enter. A copy of your passport will not be accepted, no matter how much you try to explain, that you did not previously know. The trip takes about 20 minutes. Ferry schedule can be found . The ferries leave on time. There are many small restaurants and a handful of places offering the lodging. This is a place of a great atmosphere, because it gives you kind of an pirate-island (with friendly folks all-over kind of feeling). Just walk around and explore. It is a small island, so you can easily stroll around it in an hour. You can buy cheap beer and lounge on the beach, when you're after strolling or buy an art-work from the locals. edit
- Grand National Theatre of Dakar, Parc Culturel - Autoroute x prolongée, 27307 Dakar, ☎ +221 33 822 6674 ([email protected]), . Performing arts theater. edit
- Hann Park and Zoo, ☎ +221 33 831 0101. Open Tu-Su 10:00-12:30 and 15:00-18:30. The public gardens were built in 1903 and thee arboretum in 1947. The gardens feature a wide variety of Senegalese plantlife and the zoo contains over 130 animals. edit
- House of Slaves, Gorée Island (Île de Gorée), Dakar, ☎ +221 776 493 824. The Portuguese established a presence on the island of Gorée off the coast of Cap-Vert and used it as a base for the Atlantic slave trade. Today Île de Gorée is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which preserves the colonial era architectures and facilities. edit
- IFAN Historical Museum, Gorée Island (Île de Gorée), Dakar, ☎ +223 760 23855. Old fort presents the history of Senegal since the prehistory. edit
- IFAN Museum (Musée Théodore Monod d’Art Africain), Rue Place 18, Dakar, ☎ +221 33 824 1652 ([email protected]), . edit
- Leopold Sedar Senghor French Institute, 89 Rue Joseph Gomis, Dakar, ☎ +221 33 823 0320, . Cultural and linguistic centers. Art gallery is located on 3 Rue Parchappe of Dakar. edit
- Leopold Sedar Senghor Museum (Musée Leopold Sedar Senghor), Dakar, ☎ +221 33 823 5711. edit
- Les Almadies (Les pointes des Almadies). The Westernmost Point of Continental Africa, where are plenty of seafood restaurants. edit
- Lighthouse of Dakar (Phare des Mamelles). It stands on the Cap-Vert peninsula about 9 km from the city center of Dakar in the district of Ouakam and marks the westernmost point of the African continent. edit
- Maritime Museum (Musée de la mer), Gorée Adası, Dakar. edit
- Henriette-Bathily Women's Museum, Gorée Island (Île de Gorée), Dakar. It is dedicated to the women of Senegal. edit
- Mémorial Gorée-Almadies, Gorée Island (Île de Gorée), Dakar. edit
- Monument du Millénaire, 45 Avenue Malick Sy, Dakar. edit
- Pink lake (Lac rose or Lake Retba), Route Rufisque-Niaga-Lac Rose, ☎ +221 77 893 1656. The high concentration of cyanobacteria gives to the lake a pink tone. During the dry season and when the sun is the brightest, the color is especially vivid. The lake has a high concentration of salt, so while you admire the beauty of the lake, you can also observe the salt harvesters, who still gather salt in the traditional way. edit
- Place du Souvenir Africain, Dakar, ☎ +221 33 825 9659. edit
- Presidential palace (Palais Présidentiel). It is the a seat of the government constructed in 1907. edit
- Soumbédioune street. This is the most notable street market and the tourist favorite attraction. edit
- Technopole De Dakar, Pikine, Dakar. Ecological park. edit
- Beaches. One of the most popular beach is Plage de N'Gor. edit
- Birdwatching. Senegal is a great country for birdwatching and Dakar is not exception. Les Almadies is a good place to see the seabirds and the Iles de la Madeleine is the only nesting place of the red-billed tropic bird in Africa. edit
- Magic Land, Dakar, ☎ +221 33 823 4936, . Amusement park. edit
- Musical scene. Check out, it is incredibly rich. edit
- Surfing. This attraction can be realized at Gorée Island (Île de Gorée). edit
- Islam Couture/ Embroidery Dakar has some amazing (and amazingly expensive) stores specialized in haute-couture, embroidered traditional west African Muslim clothes.
- Marche Sandaga Madness. A decrepit concrete structure that has - despite appearance - three levels of activity: meat and vegetable stalls on the main floor, fish in the basement dungeon and - surprise - restaurant stalls on the roof. You will need to brave the crumpled stairs and step around guys cleaning dead chicken to make it up. Around the market building a sprawling network of stalls offer everything from copied music CDs, Manchester United shirts, electronic gadgets and islamic books - but be aware the hawkers can be very aggressive. The place is also famous for pickpockets, so take only the amount of money you need and keep it in a safe place.
- Marche HLM A smaller market geared primarily towards fabric vendors, Marche HLM is slightly less crazy than Sandaga. Hundreds of options for fabric that you can buy and then get tailored into perfectly fitting traditional Senegalese wear (if you will be in Dakar for awhile, ask a Senegalese person who his or her tailor is, and go there. A little less convenient for travelers who will only be staying a week). Most vendors won't sell less than 3 to 6 metre of fabric. A reasonable price for local 'African decorated' cotton fabric is 1000CFA/yards, rather than meters. There are several types, qualities and styles and the price range is 3,500cfa/4,000cfa for 6 yards of 'wax,' Sotiba, Afritex and a few others are 1,000cfa a yard, imported tye dye called 'thioup' from Mali is 9,000cfa for plain colors, 15,000cfa/18,000 up to 25,000cfa for best quality elaborately hand dyed fabric. It comes in plastic packages, 4 yards with two pieces of cloth. The price is based on quality rather than decoration.
- Marche Kermel, near the city centre in the area across the street from Casino supermarket, Marche Kermel is a smaller market than Sandiga but has better quality artisanal goods, from ostrich leather attaché cases, crocodile belts & camel wallets, to antique African masks and beautiful bronze sculptures both made locally and imported from Burkino Faso. There are also high quality (expensive and beautiful) imported handmade textiles from Ghana. This market also has an extensive fresh seafood market featuring the largest shrimp (Cameroon) and lobsters to be found in Dakar as well as grouper (called thiouf), red snapper (called rougette), organic chicken (free range from farms) and meat. The market is clean and well kept and the vegetables, fruit and fresh flowers are also sold there as well. Marche Kermel, although it is a traditional African market, the design of the building (round) makes it an interesting place to shop and the quality of the goods are as you would expect in any grocery store anywhere in Dakar.
- Soumbedioune, a popular evening fish market. There is also a "Village Artisanal" nearby where especially tourists can buy hand-made African jewellery, wooden decoration elements and much more. Be prepared to bargain.
Sunset over Dakar from Hotel de l'Independance
- Ali Baba, 23 Avenue G. Pompidou, Dakar, ☎ +221 33 823 5589. Fast food restaurant. edit
- Annapurna, the road to the Airport, Dakar (road to the Airport, if coming from Almadie), ☎ +221 33 868 2222, . Restaurant serves Indian food, nice atmosphere. This place is popular with expats, and outdoor seating is available. edit
- Café de Rome, 30, Avenue de la République/Rue J. Gomis, Dakar (City center), ☎ +221 33 849 0200 ([email protected]), . Welcome to Cafe du Rome, authentic French food (as a matter of fact, you are in France), from oysters to steak tartar and the famous Sole Meunière. It is pricey by Dakar standards, but the food is great. edit
- Chez Loutcha, 101 rue Moussé Diop, Dakar, ☎ +221 33 821 0302, . Chez Lutcha is a Cape Verdian restaurant, that serves huge portions of excellent food. Cape Verdian (Portuguese inspired) dishes, Senegalese food and international cuisine. Cozy courtyard or AC dining room. Excellent service. edit
- Indiana, 17, Rue Ramez Bourgi, Derriere la Perfecture Rue de Essarts, Dakar, ☎ +221 33 822 9080. Restaurant offers Indian food. Monday to Friday they offer buffet lunch. Well priced food. edit
- La Fourchette, 4 Rue Parent, 620 Dakar, ☎ +223 3842 6666, . Stylish place serving international cuisine (Mexican, Japanese, Moroccan, etc.) at moderate prices. Next to Marche Kermel. edit
- La Royaltine, Avenue Place 71, Dakar, ☎ +221 33 821 9994, . Pastry shop serves fresh, warm croissants, pain au chocolate and pain ain au raisins. The coffee is good and the fruit juices freshly squeezed. You will be surrounded by locals in beautiful Muslim outfits, reading the paper and discussing the latest news. edit
- Le Jardin Thailandais, 10 Rue Ziguinchor; Point E Dakar, ☎ +221 76 545 7270 ([email protected]), . Huge menu of delicious Thai food, great atmosphere. A little pricey, but worth it. Across the street from UCAD (Universite Cheikh Anta Diop) off of Avenue Cheikh Anta Diop/Rue de Ouakam. There is a jazz club across the street. edit
- Le N'Gor, Pieds dans l'Eau, Corniche des Almadies, Dakar 12000, ☎ +221 77 504 3006, . A brightly painted open-air restaurant overlooking the sea. Several terraced patios give it a good feel. Portions are small, but the food is delicious. It is located in Les Almadies past the Hotel de Almadies from the new US embassy, set back from the road behind an often empty parking lot. Look for poorly lit painted signs for "Ile de Le N'Gor". edit
- Seoul Restaurant, 38 Rue Amadou Assane Ndoye, Dakar, ☎ +221 33822 9000. Korean restaurant edit
Gazelle is the local favourite beer - it comes in serious bottles, or Flag, which is stronger and more expensive.
- Matcha Café, Mamelles, Dakar, ☎ +221 76 699 0406, . Tea house edit
- N'ice Cream, 97 Avenue Place 52, Dakar, ☎ +221 33 823 3545 ([email protected]), . Ice cream shop edit
- Simone Cafe, 7603 Villa Nabou, Rue 3, Dakar, ☎ +221 33 825 1198. Great space to read or meet with your friends. Food is delicious though portions are modest, prices fair. edit
- Viking Pub, Avenue G. Pompidou, Dakar, ☎ +221 77 244 8056. On the Ponty, in the midst of Sandaga madness, Le Viking is a popular spot for expats and tourists. Pricey drinks, but great atmosphere. Live music on weekend nights! edit
There is a wide selection of hotels, form the basic to the best 4* chains. Many first time visitors stay at the expensive Meridien. There are however, some good and reasonably priced places to stay.
- Auberge Poulagou, Yoff Tonghor Plage, Dakar, ☎ +221 820 2347. Le Poulagou is a nice small hotel, 2 km from the airport. Ideal for the first days in Senegal and to escape the madness of Dakar. Free Internet access. Poulagou is advised by most of the tourist guides. Good report quality/price. edit
- Madou Gorgée, Gorée Island (Île de Gorée), Dakar, ☎ +221 33 842 7709. Hotel edit
- Ngor International Hostel, SN, Rue NG 197, Dakar 12500, . edit
- Oceanic, 9, Rue de Thann, Dakar, ☎ +221 33 822-2044 (fax: +221 33 821 5228). Océanic is a budget option hotel. Centrally located. Rooms and beds are (a bit) run down but the bathroom is OK. Good breakfast at neighbouring self-service restaurant. edit
- Onomo hotel, Route de l'Aeroport, Dakar 38233, ☎ +221 33 869 0610, . One of the latest additions to Dakar and very useful too for people that need to catch very early morning planes to other places. It is not uncommon that your flight to say Europe or Nigeria leaves at 3 am! edit
- Al Afifa Hotel, Dakar Plateau No. 46 Rue Jules Ferry, Dakar (city centre), ☎ +221 33 860 0704 ([email protected]), . Clean air-con rooms. WiFi works most of the time and is free. Small outdoor pool, the main restaurant/bar along side it. Food is good and the breakfast excellent with fresh croissants. Ask a waiter to prepare a mango or other fruit at the buffet. This hotel also has an "American bar" and a nightclub attached. Walking distance to the main attractions in Dakar and the best restaurants such as Cafe de Rome and Chez Loutcha. edit
- Farid, 51, Rue Vincens, Dakar, ☎ +221 33 823 6123 ([email protected]), . Hotel – Restaurant. Central location. Rooms with air-co, TV, mini-bar, safe and free internet access. Good quality/price. edit
- King Fahd Palace, Route des Almadies, Dakar, ☎ +221 33 869 6969 ([email protected]), . Top class hotel offer a free shuttle service to and from the airport. Though their in house restaurant offers a smart menu of meals, ordering a well done steak will result in a piece of near raw meat being served. Sending it back will just upset them. edit
- Pullman Dakar Teranga, 10, Rue Colbert, Place de L' independance, BP 3380 Dakar (Between Independent Square and the Atlantic Ocean (City center)), ☎ +221 33 889 2200 ([email protected], fax: +221 33 823 5001). Very good setting. It is a good hotel, although not cheap, starter for medium budget travelers to acclimatize in Senegal. Comfortable rooms, cozy atmosphere. Breakfast is splendid! edit
- Radisson Blu Hotel Dakar, Dakar Sea Plaza, Route de la Corniche O, Dakar 16868, ☎ +221 33 869 3333 ([email protected]), . Trendy neighborhood offering picturesque views of the Atlantic Ocean. edit
- Terrou-Bi Resort, ☎ +221 33 839 9039, . On the Corniche Ouest, not far from the Radisson. Almost as nice as the Radisson, but a bit of a walk to anything. You'll need to take a taxi everywhere, but there's a great private beach and a fantastic restaurant. edit
- Yaas Hotel Dakar Almadies, Route des Almadies, Dakar 16144 (next to the airport), ☎ +221 33 859 0700 ([email protected]), . Comfortable hotel. Wi-Fi access, swimming pool. Very clean and very well kept. edit
Petty crime in Dakar is relatively low; crime against tourists is common, even around Place de l'Independance. Use common sense: women should not walk around alone after dark. Watch your pockets in crowded places, such as Sandaga, and keep a close eye on your belongings. There are many different scams to get money from tourists, so be wary. The African favorite 'I work at your hotel and have run out of fuel, please can I borrow €10' etc are common, so don't be fooled.
Avoid the beaches at night. Try not to wear any outwardly expensive items of clothing or jewelry. Generally, the Senegalese are not violent. Some people turn to stealing so that they can drink and eat. Overall, though, the Senegalese are an incredibly friendly and hospitable people and you will meet many people who are interested in talking to you.
Senegal is one of the most politically stable countries in Africa. The police force is useless for your safety, although they all speak French hence are good to ask directions.
You should particularly avoid walking in the evenings (or nights) along the Corniche, particularly the stretch between the International School of Dakar and the Club Olympique.
There are many beggars in Dakar, and so this can be an uncomfortable situation. One way to handle it is with a simple, polite "ba BEN-een yohn" ("next time" in Wolof). They may be persistent, but be firm without being rude. Another option is to give the talibes food. Also, keep in mind the Islamic tradition of giving daily - after you've given once, you can say, "sah-RAHK-sah AH-gah-nah," which means "charity has already been done."
Embassies & Consulates
- Canada, . edit
- Egypt, Rue 1, Villa 1, Fann Residence, B.P 474, ☎ +221 338695544 (fax: +221 338647744), . edit
- Greece, 15 Bis Rue Jules Ferry, Dakar B.P. 1810, ☎ +2219 571120/571149/572648 (fax: +2219 571504), . edit
- Italy, Rue Alpha Hachamiyou Tall - c.p.18524 - B.P.348, ☎ 002213388926368 (fax: 00221338217580), . edit
- United Kingdom, 20 Rue du Dr Guillet, BP 6025, Dakar, ☎ (221) 33 823 7392/823 9971 ([email protected]), . edit
- United States, Route des Almadies, Dakar, Senegal, ☎ +(221) 33 879 4000, . edit
- Israel, . edit
BBC World Service radio broadcast in English and French in Dakar on 105.6MHz.
Travelling outside of Dakar can be manic and harrowing, but is definitely worth it.
- Saint-Louis — The old French capital of Senegal, St. Louis is on the northern border, near Mauritania, and has fantastic colonial architecture and nightlife. Popular destination for travellers. Near many bird parks.
- Sine Saloum Delta — Just north of the border with the Gambia, the Delta has amazing mangrove forests that you can tour by pirogue (essentially a motored canoe). Negotiate a fair price with a guide, and remember that once you get into the Delta, it's difficult and expensive to get around any way besides by pirogue.
- Casamance — The southernmost region of Senegal, the Casamance boasts some of the most spectacular beaches and friendliest people in the country.
- Ziguinchor - nice to visit but not much to do. Cap Skirring is the main tourist destination, and there are many hostels as well as a Club Med ("Club Merde" as the locals call it). The Casamance has been involved in a secessionist conflict for years; though the warring factions do not purposely attack tourists, there have been tourist deaths. The overnight ferry from Dakar to Ziguinchor is affordable and comfortable.
- Details on the ferry: The boat leaves from Dakar on Tuesdays and Fridays at 8PM and from Zig on Thursdays and Sundays at 3PM, arriving 15-17 hours later. Office hours in Dakar are M-Friday, business hours with a break for lunch. To purchase tickets, you must go to either the port in Dakar or the one in Zig. You cannot buy tickets online, or over the phone. Bring your passport to purchase. Advance purchase is advised, if possible, but not always necessary. Price for a couchette in a two person room is 30,500 and for a four person room is 28,500. Both include private bath and breakfast. Dakar ticket office tel. +221 33 821 29 00. They will give you information on availability, prices and office hours.
- Touba — Senegal's religious centre, Touba makes a great day trip. Unfortunately, non-Muslims are no longer allowed inside the mosque, which is enormous. Women will be asked to wear long skirts and cover their heads to tour the grounds.