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11 Awesome Things to Do in Dakar, Senegal

  • Post last modified:April 4, 2024
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The capital of Senegal is full of surprises. There are so many great things to do in Dakar, as well as the surrounding areas. This Western African city really surpassed our expectations, and we're excited to share some of the cool spots we got to explore.


With French influence, and an African flare, Dakar is a beautiful blend of cultures. Located on the coast, there are also plenty of ways to enjoy all that the area has to offer.


So let's jump in and check out the 11 best things to do in Dakar Senegal. But first, we will share a few other things to know before starting your adventures.

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Where is Dakar?

Dakar is the capital of Senegal, a small country in Western Africa. The city is located on the West Coast of the country, situated right along the Atlantic Ocean. Senegal shares borders with Mauritania to the north, and Guinea-Bassau to the South.

where is Dakar in Senegal

Dakar is located on the Western Coast of Africa.


How to Get to Dakar, Senegal

Dakar is one of the best connected cities in Western Africa. The capital of Senegal is a large hub in the area, and one of the cheaper places to fly from both Europe, and other African countries.


Cities that fly direct to Dakar include Abidjan, Algiers, Amsterdam, Bamako, Banjul, Barcelona, Bissau, Boa Vista, Brussels, Cap Skirring, Casablanca, Conakry, Cotonou, Espargos, Gran Canaria, Istanbul, Lagos, Lisbon, Lome, Lyon, Madrid, Milan, Nantes, New York, Niamey, Nouakchott, Ouagadougou, Paris, Praia, Tunis, Verona, and Ziguinchor.


Want to find the cheapest flights? You can look up "from your city" and "to Dakar" with flexible dates, and Skyscanner will show you which dates are the cheapest to fly!

The airport is located about an hour south of the city. There are private transfers, taxis, and local buses that can take you from the airport to the city, and vice versa.


Note: There is no Uber available in Senegal.

how to get to Dakar Senegal

Dakar is one of the major hubs in Western Africa, making it easy to fly there.


Entry Requirements for Senegal

Whenever traveling to a new country, it's important to check the requirements for getting in. Here's all you need to know for traveling to Senegal.


Visa Entry Requirements for Senegal

This is actually much trickier than you would think. The Dakar Airport website is different than the paperwork that customs agents have throughout the country. For this reason, we ran into numerous problems going in and out of Senegal. As an American, I had no restrictions going in or out. However, Fede is from Argentina- and while the website said he didn't need a visa, some customs officers claimed that he did.


Another thing to note is that customs officers assume everyone will bring them something. When we first arrived the customs agent asked us if we had coffee for her. We laughed and then realized that bribing is real in Senegal, and it can actually affect you getting through customs. We've read that there are only a number of countries that don't need a visa, which are listed below: 


A European Union country
Benin
Brazil
Burkina Faso
Canada
Cape Verde
The Central African Republic
Chad
China
Congo DR
Côte d’Ivoire
Djibouti
The Gambia
Ghana
Guinea
Guinea-Bissau
India
Japan
Liberia
Malaysia
Mali
Mauritania
Mauritius
Morocco
Niger
Nigeria
Sierra Leone
Singapore
South Korea
Togo
Tunisia
United States
Vatican City

Fede was actually able to pass through customs without a visa, but when we tried re-entering after a visit to The Gambia, he was denied at the border. Things can be pretty corrupt in a lot of African countries, so make sure to be prepared so you don't run into any problems.


Covid Entry Requirements for Senegal

There are no longer any restrictions for entering Senegal due to Covid-19.


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Local Adjustments for Traveling to Dakar, Senegal

Whenever you travel there are certain things that you may forget about, that may differ than from where you are coming from. Here are a few things to keep in mind while traveling to Dakar, Senegal.


Language Spoken in Dakar

The official language in Dakar is French. We found very little people actually speak any English (except hotels and some restaurants), so we would suggest picking up some of the basics before visiting.


What is the Currency Used in Dakar?

The currency used in Senegal is the West African Franc, otherwise known as CFA, and written as XOF. Currently (as of February 2023) the conversion is 662 XOF for every USD.


It's very important to note that being able to use a credit card is almost impossible anywhere. Even in places like supermarkets or gas stations everything is cash only, so take out a generous amount of cash while visiting Senegal.


What Plugs are Used in Dakar?

The outlets throughout Senegal are supported by plug types C, D, E, & K. 


  • C is the plug that has two round pins
  • D is the plug that has three round pins in a triangular pattern
  • E is the one which has two round pins and a hole for the socket’s male earthing pin
  • K is the plug that has two round parallel pins and a grounding pin.

The standard voltage is 230V and the frequency is 50Hz.


Is Water in Dakar Drinkable?

The water quality should be good enough to drink throughout the country of Senegal, especially in Dakar. However, some locals recommend to sticking to bottled water.


Is Tipping Customary in Dakar, Senegal?

There are a lot of people who say different things about tipping in Senegal. While it's not mandatory, locals suggest leaving a tip of up to 7.5% on top of the bill.


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The Best Things to Do in Dakar, Senegal

Want to know the best things to do in Dakar, Senegal? Well here are 12 different options.


1. Visit the African Renaissance Monument

This has to be one of the most impressive monuments that we have ever seen. The giant sculpture depicts and a man and woman holding up their baby. This is extremely significant to the entire continent of Africa, because it depicts the triumph of African liberation from hate, ignorance, and racism.


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The bronze monument soars up to 49 meters high, and is located on the top of one of the twin hills "Collines des Mamelles". Walk up the long set of stairs and you will feel just how powerful the African Renaissance Monument is.


Not only can you admire this from the outside, but you can climb up to the top inside. Here are some of the most spectacular views of the city, making it one of the best things to do in Dakar, Senegal.

Things to do in Dakar, things to do in Dakar, Senegal

The African Renaissance Monument is one of the most fantastic we've ever seen.


2. Go to the Western Most Point of Africa

This is one of those "bucket list" moments that we all like to tick off. The Western most point of Africa is right in Dakar, in the popular area of Almadies, and is conveniently located on the beach.


It didn't seem to be a major tourist attraction, but it was a fun spot to go and take a picture, while being able to stare far out into the Atlantic.


westernmost point of Africa, best things to do in Dakar

The westernmost point of Africa is located right along the coast of Dakar.

3. Swim in a Pink Lake

Did you know that there are pink lakes throughout the world? You can access one of them just outside of Dakar, Senegal.


Lake Retba is just off the coast, about 30 minutes from the city. The lake is enormous, and there are many different ways that you can enjoy it. The lake has hotels, restaurants, and different water activities, as well as ATV and rentals to explore the area.

pink lake in Senegal, best things to do in Dakar

The pink lake in Senegal is one of the most famous locations. (color of photo was enhanced greatly).


Note: The water is not always super pink. The best time to visit is midday, when the sun is hitting directly from above.


Want to take a tour here? Here are a few different options to choose from:


Want to see another pink lake (with even pinker waters)? We also found one located on Costa Blanca, Spain.


Costa Blanca in Spain is a coastline in the eastern part of the country. The area stretches along 200 kilometers throughout the province of Alicante. Boasting gorgeous beaches, adorable towns, and unique landscapes. there is so much to do in this small corner of Spain. One could spend weeks exploring all there

Read More

4. Sail Over to Île de Gorée

The island of Goree has an extremely sad history, but is definitely one of the best things to do in Dakar, Senegal.


Goree Island is home to the famous "house of slaves" museum. Here is where you can learn about the history of the island, and the slave trading that occurred there.


colorful streets of Goree Island
Goree Island, things to do in Dakar, Senegal
Museum of SLaves, Goree Island

Goree Island has a sad history, but is now super vibrant.


But Goree isn't just about slavery. The island is now home to colorful buildings, talented artists, and local craft markets. It is a popular day trip for families to swim in the turquoise waters, and have a relaxing day of paradise away from the chaos of the city.


Want to know more about Goree Island? Check out our full article below!

Visiting the Island of Goree is one of the best things to do in Dakar, Senegal. Just a ferry ride away from the capital, this island is the perfect spot for a day trip, or even a weekend getaway. Here is everything you need to know about visiting Goree Island.*Please

Read More

Don't want to go on your own? Here are a few different tours to visit the island:


5. Take a Dip in an Infinity Pool

Dakar can get pretty hot! The good thing is that there are so many great places to take a swim. 


But there was one particular spot in Dakar that we truly loved. Surfer Paradise is a small restaurant, bar, and surf camp in Almadies. They have private cabanas, great food, and an epic infinity pool facing the ocean.

surfer paradise in Dakar

Surfer paradise has an amazing infinity pool to enjoy the sunset.

We suggest staying here for sunset, as for us it was truly magical.


6. Take a Trip to Ngor Island

Looking for more island vibes? Ngor island is another perfect day trip from Dakar. 


Just 400 meters from land, you can reach this island by a short ferry ride. Ngor Island is the perfect spot for those beach lovers, as one side has waves for the surfers, and one side is a calm bay to relax in.


Want to take an organized tour there? Here are a couple of options:


7.  Shop at a Local Market

There are a lot of great markets in Dakar. Our personal favorite was located in Almadies. The craft market has local handmade goods. It is vibrant and inviting, just like the local people. Stroll around and support the small businesses, while connecting with the friendly people of Dakar.


market in Dakar Senegal

One of our favorite markets in Dakar is at Almadies Point.

Ask around for Mame Diarra. She has great handmade dresses, and can even custom make one for you!

Another great market is the HLM market. We didn't get a chance to go there, but a local recommended us to go there for fabric and textiles.


8. Taste the Local Seafood

One of the best things to do in Dakar, Senegal is to try the local seafood. When we were there, we tried some amazing things that we had never had before.


There are tons of great restaurants located on the water. Our personal favorite was Huitres de Sokone, which is located right next to the craft market of Almadies.

local seafood in Almadies

Huitres de Sokone has fresh and delicious seafood.

One of the guys working there showed us all around the area, and made us some of the freshest and tastiest seafood we've ever had.


9. Marvel at the Mosque of Divinity

Did you know that the official religion in Senegal is Muslim? The Grand Mosque in Dakar just opened in 2019, and is the largest in all of Western Africa!


The Grand Mosque was constructed for a whopping amount of 25 billion CAF ($41 million USD), solely from financial contributions. So you can only imagine has exquisite it is on the inside out.

Mosque of Divinity, best things to do in Dakar Senegal

Located on the beach, the Mosque of Divinity is one of the most beautiful structures in Dakar.

10. Marvel at the Mosque of Divinity

For us, this was even more impressive than the Grand Mosque of Dakar.


Located just steps away from the beach, the mosque is located conveniently near many other important attractions of the city. The mosque is so immensely impressive, that you can admire the enormous towers even driving high above it along the coastal highway.


We definitely think that due to its unique location and massive size, that visiting is definitely one of the best things to do Dakar, Senegal.

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11. Visit a Pink Mosque

This spot is more a hidden gem in Dakar, as it really isn't a well known place of interest.


I found this by searching intensely on Instagram for unique things to do in Dakar, Senegal. I then stumbled upon a photo, and let me tell you it wasn't the easiest to find.

pink mosque, best things to do in Dakar

This pink mosque is a true hidden gem in Dakar Senegal

The pink mosque is formally names Mosque de Cite Cheikh Amar, and can be found in the zone of Mamelles, right outside of the center of Dakar.


12. Have a Beach Day

Dakar is surrounded by beaches, and there are so many spots that you can go to enjoy them! However, head a little outside the city (in the direction of Lake Retba), and you will find pristine beaches with long stretches of soft sand, and dark blue waters.


You can go to some of the closer beaches such as Place BCEAO or Malibu, or head further down the coast to Place Apix, where you will find fewer crowds.


beaches in Dakar Senegal

There are tons of great beaches outside the center of Dakar.


Local Food & Drink

We loved the cuisine in Senegal, especially in Dakar. This city has a French influence, so you'll definitely want to hit one of the bakeries in the morning. Also, being surrounded by water, trying the seafood is definitely a must! Finally, make sure you try thiéboudieune, which is the national dish of Senegal. It is a hearty rice dish served with vegetables and fish or meat.

French bakery, food in Dakar

Dakar has French style bakeries.


The Best Way to Get Around Dakar

Going to a capital is tricky, because it's hard to know the best way to get around, and what to expect. That's why we're here to help you understand what it looks like to get around the city of Dakar.


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Renting a Car

Dakar is pretty big, and there is a lot to explore. Normally, we like renting cars, so this is exactly what we did.


That being said, if you only plan on staying in Dakar itself, and not venturing to other cities, we don't suggest you to do the same. Rental cars are extremely expensive in Senegal, and unless you are traveling far, it's not really worth it in our opinion.

Want to know more about renting a car in Senegal? Make sure to take a look below for our full article!

Buses

Buses are definitely the cheapest option to get around Dakar, and there are definitely some options to take them, depending on which area of the city you are in.


However, they are definitely not the safest, or the most comfortable. Many times you won't have AC, and the buses will be so packed that you will see a bunch of people even hanging off the back of the buses!

public buses in Dakar Senegal

Public buses are a fun and cheap way to explore Dakar, but are not the safest or most comfortable.

Taxis

Taxis are definitely the most comfortable option to get around the city, and can be a great option. Just make sure that you ask locals prices before just jumping right in. This way you don't risk the chance of getting ripped off. Also make sure to carry cash on you, as this is the only way to pay.


Where to Stay in Dakar

Dakar is a huge city, and there are plenty of different areas to base yourself. We personally think the best area to stay is Almadies, as it is close the beach, and has some great restaurants and shops around. Some of our favorite things to do in Dakar are located nearby, making it the perfect place to base yourself.


Want to book your accommodation for Dakar? You can check the options on the map down below:

Booking.com

Safety in Dakar

A lot of places in Africa have a bad reputation for safety, and the cities even more so. However, we are happy to say that this is hardly the case in Dakar. 


People are extremely friendly, and generally speaking, the city is a pretty safe place. We do suggest not having a lot of flashy things though, out of consideration. This is because there are some people you will find that are not as wealthy, and it's good to be a little more conservative.

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Tips for Traveling in Dakar

Dakar is one of the most unique cities that we have ever been to, and we certainly learned a lot when we were there. Here are a few tips we'd like to share:


Carry Plenty of Cash

Credit card machines are extremely hard to come by. Even at restaurants and gas stations it is very rare to be able to pay with card.


Bring Something to Cover Up

The city of Dakar, and country of Senegal is mostly Muslim. There are no strict rules for how you need to dress. However, you will need to cover up if you are going into any of the mosques or religious sites. 

mosques in Senegal

Make sure to cover up in case you plan on going to any mosques or religious sites in Senegal.

Be Prepared

When it comes to documentation, sometimes it isn't very clear for what's needed and what's not. In our case, Fede had read that he didn't need a visa to enter Senegal. The officer let him through without a visa, but then he had problems later on our trip coming back from Gambia (a small country inside of Senegal).


One thing that we suggest is for you to contact your local Senegalese consulate to check if you do in fact need a visa or not.


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Other Things to Know About Visiting Dakar, Senegal

You're almost ready for your trip to Dakar! But don't go anywhere- we have just a few more things to share.


Weather in Dakar

Senegal has two different seasons- rainy and dry. The dry season goes from October to May, and the rainy season goes from June to September. Dakar gets extremely hot and humid during the rainy season, so we definitely suggest visiting in the dry months.


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The Best Time to Visit Dakar

 The best months to visit Dakar are from December to February, when you can experience sunny days, that aren't overbearingly hot.


Packing for a Trip to Dakar

Here are a few things to make sure you pack on your trip to Dakar, Senegal:


  • Sunscreen (the sun is strong)
  • Flip flops (our favorites are Havaiana flip flops, as they are long lasting)
  • Power bank (for the long excursions, beach days, and hikes- we use Anker power banks, as they are super long lasting and sturdy)
  • Bathing suits (for all the great beaches and Goree island)
  • Drone (You can get great shots at the African Renaissance Museum and the pink lake! We use the Mavic Mini Pro 3 because it's super light and high quality)
  • Travel Adapter (we use New Year Sale - Order Over $39+ Save 10% Off!" rel="nofollow" target="_blank" class="" style="outline: none;">Tessan travel adapters as they are affordable and reliable)
  • Plenty of Cash (most places don't accept credit cards)

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    We hope you're ready to explore this interesting capital, and experience all of the best things to do in Dakar, Senegal. We know you'll be just as fascinated as we were.


    Want to know more about what to expect visiting Senegal? We have a complete guide that we created for the best places to visit, entry requirements, and more! In addition, we have another article about some culture shock to expect, as well as a deeper guide into visiting the Island of Goree.


    Need help planning your trip? Check out Scratch Your Mapa Travel Planning Services to save money and time, while exploring the best of anywhere! Take a sneak peak at our travel packages to get started today.


    Here are some of the other articles you'll be interested in:

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