Basic Facts about DakarDakar is the capital city of Senegal in West Africa. Over 1 million people live in Dakar (double that for the whole metropolitan area) making it Senegal's largest city. Dakar is located on the Cape Verde peninsula that juts into the Atlantic Ocean. It was first settled in the early 15th Century and the Portuguese arrived just a few decades later to set up slaving forts on Goree Island (Ile de Goree). Dutch, French, British and Portuguese colonialists vied with each other over the next 250 years for control over the slave-trade until it was permanently abolished by the French in 1815.
Today, Dakar is a sprawling, lively cosmopolitan city. Modern buildings stand side by side with impressive colonial architecture. Bustling markets selling everything from second hand clothes to livestock are scattered throughout. The nightclubs are legendary. It's a big African city so it's chaotic, crowded, dusty and hustlers abound especially around the beaches and markets.
The central Place d’Independence is a good place to orientate yourself from. If you speak French, you'll have no problem conversing with anyone in Dakar.
Travel to DakarGetting There:
Direct flights from the US can be found on Delta and SAA. Fly direct from Paris (AF), Brussels (SN), and Amsterdam (KLM). Dakar is a regional hub and you can get to most West African capitals. Air Senegal is the national airline.
The best way to get around is by taxi, or try a scooter tour.
Where to Stay: Recommended hotels include: Le Meridien President (luxury); Hotel Djoloff (mid-range, boutique); Hotel du Phare Les Mamelles (budget/mid); SenegalSTyle B&B(budget). See Tripadvisor for more choices and reviews.
Where to Eat/Go Out:
Popular restaurants include: La Fourchette (upscale); Keur N'Deye (mid-range). Nighclubs: Just 4 U; Club Thiossane (owned by Youssou N'Dour); More restaurant reviews, and more recommended nightclubs.
What to See:
IFAN Museum: One of Africa's oldest art museums, IFAN is a treasure trove of masks, musical instruments, carvings and more from all over Africa.
Sandaga Market: The biggest market in Dakar, a great place to get some clothes but watch out for the hustlers.
Goree Island: It's just a boat ride away to this tranquil island that was a major slave-trading post. Visit the "House of Slaves" for a poignant reminder of the horrors of slave-trading.
More Dakar Resources:Goree Island
Lonely Planet - Dakar