Holding the title of Africa’s westernmost city, Dakar sprawls across the Cap-Vert Peninsula on the Atlantic coast of Senegal. Centred around a historic medina, it was originally settled in the 15th century and flourished as a colonial trading post before becoming a base for the Atlantic slave trade.
Things to do in Dakar
One of the most important religious buildings in Dakar is the Grand Mosque, a richly decorated monument designed by French and Moroccan architects and opened to devotees in 1964. On the other side of the city centre is the Cathedral of Dakar, a gold-domed building constructed on the site of an ancient Lebu cemetery in the 1920s.
Art enthusiasts shouldn’t miss a visit to the Musée de l'Institut Fondamental d'Afrique Noire, which is one of the oldest art museums in West Africa. Aside from housing an impressive collection of works from across Francophone Africa, it hosts the Dakar Biennale and is an important centre for the study of African culture.
Just off the coast of Dakar is UNESCO World Heritage-listed Gorée Island, which is home to the House of Slaves and its Door of No Return. It’s been transformed into a memorial and museum detailing the Atlantic slave trade, with it said that more than a million enslaved people were held here before being transported across the seas. Guided tours are offered through the site, with previous visitors including Pope John Paul II, Nelson Mandela and Barack Obama.
Getting around Dakar
Blaise Diagne International Airport is a one-hour drive from the centre of Dakar and has flights to destinations across Africa, the Middle East and Europe. Buses connect Dakar to towns and villages across Senegal and travel within the city itself. Taxis are readily available for getting around Dakar.