Major Tourist Attractions: W National Park, Pendjari National Park, Cotonou Cathedral, Royal Palaces of Abomey, Stade de l'Amitie
The birthplace of voodoo and the home of the ancient Dahomey Kingdom, Benin may not look like much on a map. This slender country serves as a transit point for many travelers, but those who stop to explore are rewarded with sprawling beaches, a world class game reserve, countless historical sites and vibrant urban areas.
Benin is a French speaking country with beaches and rainforest in the south and dry grass plains in the north. Many travelers take a south-north route to traverse the country and see the major sites. There is an adequate road network, and travelers typically get around by hiring private cars or by taking public transportation.
Most travelers arrive in Cotonou, Benin's largest city and a gateway to the coast as well as attractions further inland. Cotonou is brash and loud, but don't write it off. Stroll through the neighborhood markets, including the famous Fetish Market, and don't leave without sampling some of the nightlife. From Cotonou, head to nearby Lake Nokoué, where you can visit the unforgettable stilt village of Ganvie.
From there, you can head west or east before turning north. Both the capital, Porto Novo, and the western city of Ouidah, offer rich history lessons on Benin's involvement in the trans-Atlantic slave trade. You can spend several days in each place, and then travel north towards Pendjari National Park, one of West Africa's most renowned game reserves. Stop in Abomey before you get there, and see the remnants of the ancient Dahomey Kingdom. Once in Pendjari, hire a local guide and a four wheel drive vehicle, and discover a vast landscape that is teeming with wildlife, including four of the famous Big Five – elephants, leopards, lions and buffalo.
A wide range of accommodation is available in Benin, from simple low-priced guesthouses to more expensive international hotels. In villages and rural areas, the accommodation options may be limited, but it's always possible to find at the very least a clean hotel room with basic amenities.
Here are some of the more notable experiences that await in Benin:
- Spot wildlife in the remote Pendjari National Park
- Visit West Africa's largest Fetish Market in Cotonou
- Stroll the royal grounds of the ancient Dahomey Kingdom in Abomey
- Tour the stilt village of Ganvie in a pirogue on Lake Nokoué
- Dine on barbequed fish at an open air bar in Cotonou
- Visit the “Door of No Return” at a former slave castle in Ouidah
- View ancient artifacts from the royal palace of King Toffa in Porto Novo
- Dance the night away at Cotonou's famous nightclubs
- Catch a soccer match at Stade de l'Amitié in Cotonou, the country's largest stadium
- Visit the Notre Dame de Miséricorde also known as the Cotonou Cathedral
- Splash in the waves at beachside resort in the Ouidah area
Address: Rue Caporal Bernard Anani,
01 BP 2012, Cotonou, Benin
Phone: (+229) 21-300-650