Dakar, Senegal

Dakar, Senegal


Dakar, Senegal.

Why now?

Dakar has experienced rapid change, and while much of West
Africa is struggling with the Ebola crisis and the presence of Boko
Haram, Dakar is the region’s most stable city and has transformed
into a sprawling, multi-ethnic metropolis offering an eclectic mix
of religious architecture, a thriving creative scene and colourful

At Yoff Beach on the outskirts of Dakar, a white mausoleum and
its bright green dome is juxtaposed with tousle-haired surfers
riding waves as modestly dressed people stroll along the sandy
beach. At the other end of town, which makes up most of the
Cap-Vert peninsula, another architectural highlight is the
white-tiled grand mosque with its pale green floors, ornamental
arches and square minaret. But it’s after the Muezzin has made his
last call to prayer that the city really comes to life and Mbalax
beats – think catchy African tunes mixed with jazz, blues and
reggae – pump out from rooftops, cars and clubs around town.

Further afield, the colourful western coast is said to have some
of the best reef breaks, which draw in a varied crowd of locals and
visitors alike. Home to the successful
Dak’Art Biennal
, one of the most prominent platforms for
contemporary African art, and cultural centres and artist
residencies such as Thread, the creative scene
here is really flourishing. Thanks to individuals such as fashion
photographer Omar Victor
, Dakar is increasingly gaining attention on the global
circuit, while you’ll also meet some of Senegal’s most promising
painters, sculptors and multimedia artists at places like the
Village des Arts.

When to go?

Avoid August
and September,
as this is the wet season. Dakar is mostly dry and sunny throughout
the rest of the year.

Who to take with you?

Someone who’s up for anything, from touring religious sites to
getting sweaty to African beats.

Most likely to bump into?

Global creatives, gnarly surfers and curious travellers.

Don’t miss

After you’ve explored the traditional medina quarter with its
colourful houses and lively markets, as well as danced the night
away, take a day trip to the islands of Goré and N’Gor. With calm
beaches on the bay side and some great surf on the northern coast,
it’s ideal place to escape the busy capital and chill out with
lunch at one of the many waterfront restaurants.

For history buffs, Ile de Goré hosts the rusty pink House of
Slaves, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which was one of the largest
slave trading centres until about 1810. Now a museum, it serves as
a sobering reminder of West Africa’s colonial past.

Be sure to get stuck into Senegalese cuisine. Fresh seafood,
samosa-like pastries and brochette lette (monkfish skewers with
vegetables), are all local specialities. Dine on one of the breezy
waterside decks or hit up the street-food stalls.

How to get there

There are currently no direct flights from the UK, with Iberia,
TAP Portugal and Royal Air Maroc requiring one stop.

Essentials to bring with you

Visit with an open mind and your best dancing shoes, as well as
some modest clothing for the day – as much the Senegalese like to
party, religion and beliefs occupy an important place in their
daily lives.

Discover More
Catching the Rhythms of Senegal