Travel to Dakar

Mosque de la Divinité, Dakar

If you are going to Senegal, it is likely you will travel to Dakar, the capital and location of the international airport. The new airport is quite far from the city, about an hour. We had a great guide and driver through Trip Tour Senegal, so we started the trip with a warm welcome at the airport. Dakar and the surrounding areas are quite amazing to discover for a few days. We had to cut our stay there a half day short due to travel restrictions on the 2024 Presidential election day.

Within the city, there are many sights to see. We enjoyed staying in the Plateau area, as we could walk to museums, the rail station, cathedral and many restaurants and shops. It felt relatively safe although some streets were very dark. If you travel to Dakar during Ramadan, then be aware that some restaurants and cafes close early or they only serve a Ramadan buffet.

Dakar is surrounding by beautiful beaches and coastal viewpoints. Also, just outside of the city you can visit the Pink Lake. It was named Le Lac Rose because it used to be pink. However, now it is just a normal brownish blue colour. The water is very salty, and it is an interesting experience to take a boat ride to see the men harvesting salt. Hard work! Nearby, we had a lot of fun riding ATVs through sand dunes and on the empty beach. Beautiful and exhilarating.

There are two local islands off the coast that can be visited by boat. Gorée Island is the larger of the two, and infamous for its history of the slave trade. You can reach it by ferry and I recommend getting a local guide to show you around the island. In addition to learning about local life from the guide, you will also be supporting the local economy.

Les Almadies beach
Museum of Black Civilisations
Pink Lake (Le Lac Rose)


  • Museum of Black Civilisations
  • Les Almadies beach and the westernmost point of Africa
  • Ngor Beach and island
  • Pink Lake (Le Lac Rose) and boat ride to see salt harvesting; ATV riding through sand dunes
  • Kermel Market
  • Independence Square
  • African Renaissance Monument
  • Mosque of the Divinity
  • Cathedral of Our Lady of Victories
  • Place du Souvenir Africain
  • Western and Eastern Corniche coastal drives
  • Grand Mosque of Dakar
  • Grand Théâtre National de Dakar
  • Dakar Central Rail station
  • Presidency of Senegal
  • National Assembly
  • National Gallery of Senegal
  • Dakar Port and ferry to Gorée Island

Before you go

  • Dakar is the capital of Senegal, and located on the western coast
  • The airport is pretty organised, however beware of guys trying to offer you an unofficial taxi upon arrival
  • The best exchange rates are via the black market, which your guide can help you with
  • Post offices and banks have short hours on the weekends
  • Weather is generally moderate although there is a rainy (Jun-Oct) and a dry season (Nov-May). It can also get very windy by the coast
  • Most people speak French, but less speak English so a translation app is useful
  • Taxis are the easiest way to get around. You do have to bargain and pay with cash
  • Many people are independent business men and women and they signal their trade in interesting ways, like nail cutters clicking scissors
National Theatre, Dakar
Kermel Market
Independence square, Dakar


  • The main airport is Blaise Diagne International Airport, about 1 hour drive from the city
  • We had an excellent driver, Samba, and English-speaking guide, Mika, from Trip Tour Senegal
  • Although there are public buses, we opted for the convenience and safety of private transport
  • Around the city taxis are available, and you should have in mind what the cost should be so you can agree at the start of the ride
  • Additionally, there is a Dakar Central Rail station, so you can take the train though we didn’t try it


  • While in Dakar, we stayed at the four-star Hotel Fleur de Lys Plateau, right in the middle of the city centre
  • Comfortable rooms and beds, spacious bathroom with amenities
  • Breakfast is included but there is not a lot of selection, so get there early
  • Great views from the slightly run-down rooftop terrace
  • As usual I recommend checking reviews on or using AirBnB
Salt Harvesting at Pink Lake
Ngor beach and island
Washing used shoes to sell
African Renaissance Monument
Baobab roundabout in Dakar
Nescafé cart for coffee in Dakar
Chez Salim Prawns
Poulet Yassa and rice at Chez Salim
Breakfast at Hotel Fleur de Lys Plateau
Desserts at L’Oriental
Daurade at Hotel Fleur de lys plateau


All of our breakfasts were at the Hotel Fleur de Lys Plateau. We enjoyed the buffet, although the selection was limited. The first day, we thought we went too late and that they were almost out of food. However, on the next day we went earlier and also didn’t have much food to choose from. Interestingly, they had mixed vegetables, heated tinned tuna, and rice.

Dinner at the hotel was better and we could choose what to order. My friend had a grilled prawn platter one night. And we both had whole daurade with side dishes. It was great to have fresh fish every day in Senegal.

Our meal at Chez Salim near the Pink Lake was excellent. We had three courses starting with shrimp in sauce with a salad. Because I had heard that we should be careful with fresh fruit and vegetables, I skipped the raw salad. Then my friend had the fish and I had poulet yassa, a traditional fish with a tasty onion sauce.

One evening, we had a hard time finding an open restaurant that was not a Ramadan buffet. We ended up eating falafel burgers from a fast food place called Nomad. It was surprisingly delicious, crispy and fresh.

We also had some dessert from L’Orientale, a large Lebanese restaurant. They had an amazing selection of baklava and other sweets. Finally, it is also possible to find French patisseries at Eric Kayser and Belgian chocolate from Jeff de Bruges.

Riding ATVs near the Pink Lake
Cathedral in Dakar
Dakar Central rail station


Q: Do I need a tour guide?

A: No, it is easy to ger around Dakar by taxi although I recommend a guide/driver if you want to see further outside the city

Q: Do people speak English?

A: No, for the most part the second language of most people is French not English so a translation app can be useful

Q: Is it a walkable city?

A: No, you need a car or taxi to get around the whole city. However, if you are downtown in the Plateau area, then you can walk around

Go to Senegal

Go to Country Map

Sharing is caring!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *