This cosmopolitan crossroads of French and African culture sits on the westernmost point of the continent, a city that boasts five official languages and two great faiths. Dakar's thriving arts scene, fabulous food, beaches, and rich history make it one of West Africa's most interesting ports of call.
What We Love
Musée Théodore Monod: More than 9,000 objects are on display at this superb museum of African art and culture.
Cheb-ou-jen: Senegal's national dish is a sort of African paella — rice combined with fresh and dried fish, vegetables, chili peppers, and the occasional sea snail.
Best Known For
Gorée Island: This infamous isle is indelibly linked to the Atlantic slave trade. The moving Maison des Esclaves museum and memorial is the centerpiece of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
African Renaissance Monument: The hulking 160-foot-high metal statue commemorating African independence caused controversy on a lot of fronts, in part for its hefty price tag and use of non-Senegalese builders.
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Who It's Best For
Foodies: Cheb-ou-jen is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the exotic West African dishes you can find in Dakar. You should also try dibi (barbecued meats) and chakri (steamed millet balls).
Craft Hunters: Dakar excels in regional arts and crafts, with the best selection available at Le Village des Arts and Marché Sandaga.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
Petty Crime Is Common: Bag snatchers and pickpockets often target tourists. Avoid taking out valuables.
Senegal Is Not LGBT-Friendly: Senegalese law punishes "unnatural acts" with imprisonment and/or stiff fines; be aware that there have been several prosecutions in recent years.
Joe Yogerst is a California-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has also written for Travel + Leisure.