You are going to visit Senegal and you are wondering what to do during your stay? Discover the 10 most beautiful places to visit.
A country in West Africa, Senegal borders the Atlantic Ocean. The country of Teranga abounds in unique and exotic sites. However, be careful on the roads, which are sometimes more like sand paths… If necessary, don’t hesitate to be accompanied by a local person to discover the treasures of Senegal and its traditions.
We will guide you through the 10 must-see sites of this African destination.
If you visit Senegal, you should go to Dakar, the capital of Senegal, which is above all the economic lung of the whole country. With more than two million inhabitants, the city is renowned for its active life. You can discover this hustle and bustle along the many large markets such as Sandaga, Kermel or Tilène. Then it’s time to visit the presidential palace, the Independence Square, the Great Mosque of Dakar, the city’s port… On the outskirts of the city, the Almadies Point is a very popular place. Discover also the craft market of Soumbédioune or the imposing Monument of the African Renaissance. This bronze structure in Ouakam stands 52 meters high!
2- The Pink Lake
How can you visit Senegal without seeing Lake Rose, located 30 kilometers northeast of the capital. Tourists love this excursion. Be careful, the pinkish hue of the lake can vary. The lake appears more pink in the dry season, but also in the middle of the day. This hue is due to the presence of an iron oxidizing algae. The colors evolve according to the sun’s rays, which can turn to mauve if the color is very present, or even not make pink appear at all on certain days. Salt workers extract white gold from the lake in the middle of the many salt dunes. The spectacle is quite fascinating. From Dakar, it is possible to reach Lake Rose from the beach at low tide or by road number 1 in one hour.
3- The Sahel and the reserves
Do you have the soul of a backpacker looking for adventure? The Sahel and its great rainforest border Senegal. This beautiful geographical location is conducive to unique discoveries. Try the adventure by crossing the desert valleys. Discover impressive hundred-year-old baobabs. Amaze yourself with the fauna and flora, visit the reserves and parks, quite numerous in Senegal. You will be able to take magnificent photos aboard your 4 x 4.
Discover the ecological trail of the Mbour reserve or the island of the Madeleine located north of Dakar. Go to the forest and zoological park of Hann, in the national park of Niokolo-Koba. There is also the Saloum Delta National Park and the Senegal Turtle Protection Centre.
Considered by some people as the most beautiful city in Senegal, Saint-Louis is the former capital. Today it is one of the largest cities of this African country, it is full of culture and history. Since the year 2000, it has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The city is in full mutation with the arrival of more and more tourists. However, it has preserved its historic buildings such as the Governor’s Palace, its cathedral and its mosques. Very different from Dakar, Saint-Louis is a more traditional city, despite its namesake with the American city. You will discover a preserved architecture of the colonial period, as well as beautiful houses to discover. Saint-Louis was the capital of Senegal between 1872 and 1957. Its good location, close to the river, attracted English and French settlers until Senegal became independent in 1960. What else to do in Saint-Louis? Head towards the Faidherbe bridge and its port city. As the fishermen return with the fish of the day, the animation is in full swing.
5- The Casamance
For a good visit of Senegal, do not hesitate to go to the nearest villages, in Casamance, a region located in the northwest of Senegal, between Guinea-Bissau and Gambia. It is considered by some as the most beautiful region of the country. It takes its name from the river and has many islands and thousands of birds. With lush vegetation, rice paddies and mangroves, discover the towns of Ziguinchor, the beaches of Cap Skirring, Oussouye, Kolda, Sédhiou, Vélingara… Between the delicious fruits and the meetings with the inhabitants, you will multiply the discoveries.
6- The beaches
How to visit Senegal without seeing its beautiful beaches. Some of them are the most often photographed. The most beautiful are located near Dakar, like those on the island of N’Gor. Here, surfers and fruit lovers rub shoulders. Discover also the one in Ouakam or those south of Dakar, generally smaller.
Don’t miss Toubab Dialao, with its red cliffs illuminated at nightfall, a must! Visiting Senegal cannot be done without discovering the fishing and shopping areas. Beware however of the strong smell, but this is part of the local folklore. The fishermen of Mbour, Somone and Thies are well known. You will even discover how old, non-functional refrigerators are used to preserve fresh fish…
Gorée is a city in Senegal quite popular with tourists for its history linked to slavery. The island of Gorée is located not far from Dakar and is accessible by rowboat every day from the port of Dakar. Symbol of the slavery period, the city is an ancient hub. It has opened many museums such as the Women’s Museum or the House of the Slaves. This car-free island opens is quiet.
The city of Thiès is the second economic lung of the country. This city, at the same time bubbling and discreet, deserves the detour. It is pleasant to live in and has preserved its charm of yesteryear. Less stressful than the capital Dakar, you have the time to live here. You will be able to stroll through the markets without being constantly solicited. To visit Thiès completely, don’t miss the Ibrahima Sarr district, the Place de France, the Promenade des Thiessois or the Senegalese factory dedicated to decorative arts.
The Senegalese city of Touba has a strong religious imprint with its Muslim brotherhood. Founded in 1887, it is today a beautiful urbanized city. Do not miss to visit the great mosque of Touba or the library with the writings of the founder of the city, namely Sheikh Ahmadou Bamba. On the 18th day of the Hegira safar month, the whole country of Senegal lives to the rhythm of the Magal festival of Touba. The different populations participate in this commemoration of the founder’s departure into exile. Religious sessions as well as meal offerings are carried out.
10- The Djoudj National Bird Park
To visit Senegal is also to admire its fauna and flora. The Djoudj National Park is the most important bird sanctuary in the world. Covering 60,000 hectares, it is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is home to thousands of birds and animals. There are Gambian geese, vultures, pink flamingos, waders, grey pelicans, ducks… But also, spoonbills, vultures, egrets, pythons, red monkeys, lizards, crocodiles and warthogs. This magical site is located sixty kilometers north of the city of Saint-Louis. It is open from November to June.
For a total change of scenery, the Kédougou region is a treasure trove where different ethnic groups mingle: Soninkés, Jalonkés (or Dialonké), Bassaris or Bediks. Even if the population is welcoming, it is advisable to take a guide to get there and not hesitate to bring gifts to the inhabitants during the visit. If nature wins you over, don’t miss to visit the Niokolo Koba National Park and its beautiful landscapes.
12- The megalithic circles
Visiting Senegal without seeing the Gambia and its megalithic circles classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site is unthinkable. These sculptures, placed near the burial places, are well worked and constitute the best megalithic site in the world, even if the stone circles are smaller than those of Stonehenge in England.
This quiet and peaceful place reflects the authenticity of Senegal. Here, there are no roads or cars, travel is by dugout canoe or on foot, to discover the rich cultural, traditional, cultural or historical heritage. The site is also classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and pleases with its church of 1885, its beaches and its fishing. In short, to visit Senegal is to discover an artistic and local heritage.
14- The Popenguine cave
The place is home to the Black Madonna and various statues of Saints in the cave of Popenguine, 55 kilometers north of Dakar. The site is preserved and attracts more and more visitors every year.