Exploring Cotonou: Best Places to Visit and Places to Avoid
Located in the west of Africa, Benin’s largest city and economic capital, Cotonou offers an exciting getaway destination filled with cultural richness, beautiful beaches, and historic landmarks. However, while there are many sights worth seeing, visitors should also be aware of some areas or activities that may not be safe or suitable for tourists.
Places to Visit
1. Cotonou Cathedral
The magnificent Catholic church, Cotonou Cathedral, is one of the top places to visit for the religious and the curious. Built-in 1883 with architectural inspiration from the Portuguese, the church is a significant landmark in the city, and its interior showcases paintings depicting Catholic saints and African culture.
2. Dantokpa Market
Located in the center of Cotonou, the Dantokpa market is one of the largest open-air markets in West Africa, providing an authentic shopping experience. This bustling market has a variety of local products ranging from traditional spices, vegetables, and textiles, among other commodities.
3. Abomey Palace Museum
The Palace Museum of Abomey was listed as a UNESCO world heritage site, giving visitors a chance to learn about the Dahomey Kingdom and their history. The palace’s display exhibits traditional costumes, portraits, and the throne of the former Kings of Dahomey.
4. Fidjrosse Beach
If you’re in Cotonou, you can’t afford to miss the beach. Fidjrosse beach offers a range of seaside activities such as beach soccer, kayaking, and swimming. The beach also has plenty of food stalls, serving fresh fish and barbecued chicken, among other grilled delicacies.
5. Cotonou Artisanal Center
The Cotonou artisanal center is an open-air market bringing together various traditional crafts, including pottery, jewelry, and sculptures. It’s a perfect place to buy handmade souvenirs and gifts for loved ones back home, made by skilled local artisans.
6. Ouidah Museum of History
The museum of history in Ouidah is a monument reflecting the dark past of slavery in Africa. Visitors can learn about the transatlantic slave trade and the history behind the point of no return. The museum houses art collections and old documents related to the slave trade.
7. St. Michel de Ouidah
The Temple of pythons, also known as St. Michel de Ouidah, appears on the list of bizarre places to visit in the world. The temple is home to hundreds of pythons, considered sacred animals by the locals displayed in the temple’s courtyard.
8. Lake Nokoue
Lake Nokoue is a vast lake situated on the outskirts of Cotonou. The lake is home to several species of fish and was once a trade route for the city’s port. Visitors can take boat trips around the lake and stop by Ganvie, a village built on stilts on the water.
9. Ouando Market
Ouando Market is a vibrant and colorful street market in the heart of Cotonou. The market has a local atmosphere, where customers can buy everything from fresh fruit to clothes, electronics, and crafts.
10. National Museum of Benin
The National Museum of Benin displays the nation’s significant cultural heritage in its extensive collections, including textiles, sculptures, and photographs that showcase the history and beliefs of Benin’s people.
Places to Avoid
1. Grand Marche Du Dantopka
The Grand Marche Du Dantopka is known for its massive crowds, pickpockets, and increased risk of muggings. Visitors should be cautious and vigilant when shopping around the market, especially in the evenings past 7 pm.
2. The Waterfront
The Waterfront is a large open space popular with locals and tourists during the day. However, it’s advisable to avoid the area at night, as it is known for its high crime rates and constant harassment of visitors.
3. Plage de Cococodji
Plage de Cococodji is a secluded beach located in Cotonou, with little or no security presence. While the scenery is breathtaking, visitors should avoid going alone and keep an eye on belongings.
4. The Boulevard Shoreline
The Boulevard Shoreline provides one of the most stunning views of the city; however, visitors should avoid walking the street at night, as it is known for frequent pickpocketing and purse-snatching incidents.
5. Pobe Village
Pobe is a village located outside the city, known for animal sacrifices and traditional religious practices. Visitors should be cautious when visiting the village during religious ceremonies, which can be noisy, and some locals may become hostile towards outsiders.
Overview of Cotonou
|Average Temperature by Season:||Summer(28°C) | Winter(24°C) | Spring(27°C) | Fall(25°C)|
|Best Time to Visit:||December-February|
|City Official URL:||http://www.mairie-cotonou.com/|