With the Gulf of Guinea on one side and Lake Nokoue on the other, you’re never far from waterfront vistas while visiting Cotonou. The port city of Cotonou is one of Africa’s more cosmopolitan destinations, home to a vibrant urban lifestyle of multicultural restaurants, youthful dance bars and market stalls.
Things to do in Cotonou
The red and white stripes of Cotonou Cathedral will immediately catch your attention. Investigate closer and you’ll discover a beloved Roman Catholic church filled with locals, as well as a small bookshop selling works by Africa’s finest writers. Walk a few blocks to Saint Michel Church, which showcases a facade of pastel pinks and greens.
Creativity is easy to find in Cotonou, particularly at Fondation Zinsou, an exhibition hall with African artwork including sculptures, paintings and photography. For more local culture, head to the French Cultural Center of Cotonou, where you can attend workshops, concerts, festivals and exhibitions throughout the year. There’s also a library, small gallery and cinema.
Enticing culinary offerings from around the world can be found throughout Cotonou, particularly along Avenue Jean-Paul II. Dine at L'Impala Restaurant Lounge Bar for tapas and cocktails, Bangkok Terrasse for authentic Thai food or Shamiana for exceptional Indian fare. If you can’t decide on a particular cuisine, walk down Haie Vive, which boasts multiple restaurants, from Moroccan and French to Sushi and Western.
Need some rest? Take your towel and swimmers to Fidjrossé Beach, a popular local hangout with luxury villas, restaurants and water sports. Don’t miss the Dantokpa Fetish Market, a relatively hidden gem where voodoo items and traditional medicines are sold alongside laptops, CDs and clothes.
Getting around Cotonou
The fastest and easiest way around Cotonou is by the local taxis called zemi-johns. You can also use zemidjans, which are moped taxis. You can also use buses for travelling long distances, many of which depart from Etoile Rouge station, including the popular ATT services.