SENEGAL TRAVEL GUIDE
Take a trip with us to the Western coast of Africa in this Senegal travel guide. Dakar is an important contributor to African and global contemporary art with its breadth of museums, monuments, and The Biennial of Contemporary African Art, DAK’ART. It is also home to trend-setting designers including surrealist Selly Raby Kane and internationally renowned designers Aissa Dione, Faty Ly and Johanna Bramble. Here are things to do in Dakar Senegal when planning your trip to Senegal.
Photo Credit L’Hôtel Royal Horizon Baobab
WHERE TO STAY AND WHAT TO EAT
Escape to your own oasis at L’Hôtel Royal Horizon Baobab during your Senegal vacation. This hotel is located only 80 km from Dakar in the beach town of La Somone. We suggest their “pied dans l’eau” - feet in water - beachfront bungalow as a peaceful getaway for anyone visiting Senegal beaches.
For other things to do in Dakar, consider the breathtaking views of Dakar’s city center, Madeleines and Gorée Islands, stay at this bright loft in Downtown Dakar, available through Air bnb. Expect features including spacious rooftops perfect for barbeques and sunset dinners.
The Boma Lifestyle Hotel in Almadies is ideal for design enthusiasts. Each bungalow features a Moroccan-tiled shower, woven wall decor and vibrant leaf mural paintings. The elegant, colorful design scheme continues in the hotel’s nightclub, Boma club, where revelers can expect exhilarating Amapiano, Naija, Dancehall and Hip Hop.
WHAT TO EAT
As a Dakar tourist, visit the local restaurants. Chez Loutcha serves up hearty Senegalese and Cape Verdean meals. Local dishes on offer include Yassa poulet and Thieboudienne, Senegal’s national dish made using grilled fish, rice and tomato sauce. The restaurant can get very busy so avoid going during peak times and rush hours.
Enjoy a scrumptious Sunday brunch at the eclectic Loman Art cafe. Bold, playful brass works add vivacity to this cozy space. Among the places to visit in Senegal, experience a tantalizing contemporary African gastronomic meal by booking a spot at the Table Pana residency. Chefs, invited by residency founder Nadia Kopogo, craft a flavorful menu using local ingredients.
KEEP IN MIND LOCAL CUSTOMS
Wolof and French are the main languages spoken in Senegal. Make sure that you have some basic phrases in either language before you get around. Wear clothing that does not display any LGBTQI affiliations and covers the midriff. Avoid holding and giving money with your left hand.
Senegalese people often express their warmth by sharing meals. If you are unable to honor someone’s invitation to eat with them, do not say no. Instead, say thank you and that you are full because you have already eaten.
SPEND TIME IN THE ART CAPITAL
On your Senegal vacation, start with a trip to the newly opened Museum of African Civilizations and explore the history and significance of African art and design. With nearly 40,000 sq. ft of display space, the museum was created as a place to showcase works from across the African diaspora, and ultimately to reclaim and display African art pilfered throughout colonization and currently showcased abroad. After that, head to the Musée Leopold Sedar Senghor. From 1981 - 2001, this was home to Leopold Senghor, Senegal’s first president. Its exterior is reminiscent of M’zab and African mud architecture while the interior is a blend of European and African influences. Sculptures created by Senghor dot the house.
Dakar’s gallery scene is long-established and thriving, with the longest-running contemporary arts show in Africa. Take a street art tour with a Tastemakers guide and visit Medina, the cultural center of Dakar and also home to singer Youssou N’Dour. If you’d rather explore on your own, the Aissa Dione textile showroom also in Medina is a good place to start. Credited for the revival of the Senegalese woven textile industry, particularly Mandjaque weaving, Aissa Dione has an eye on sustainability, with her operations focusing on the whole cotton supply chain, from production to manufacturing. Her award-winning textiles have led to collaborations with Hermès, The Met Store and most recently with Kehinde Wiley on the interiors for his residency - Black Rock Senegal in Dakar. At the Raw Material Company, you’ll find a dynamic program that includes contemporary visual art, film, artist lectures and panel discussions. The Village Des Arts is a must-see for art lovers. Pieces by emerging and established Senegalese artists are displayed in a large garden. You can catch some of the artists in action as they create their works.
Marche HLM is frequented by Dakorois in search of fabric for various occasions. From lace to bazin (woven cotton with a glossy finish), there is a plethora of fabrics to choose from. You can have an outfit custom-made by one of the onsite tailors. It’s best to visit the market with a guide who will help you get around and bargain.
After fabric hunting and haggling, unwind with a cold glass of fresh ginger juice at the Copacabana Surf Village. Watersports lovers should book either individual or group surf lessons. Cap the night off with a session at Le Djoloff jazz club. For something more upbeat, Electrafrique is the answer. Galvanizing electronic sounds from across Africa and its diasporas will keep you on your feet.
Credit: Acclaimed Senegalese Artist Omar Diop
There are so many interesting things to do in Senegal. When planning Senegal vacations, take in these tips and be sure to explore Senegalese contemporary home decor on 54kibo to get a taste of the design culture.