Welcome to Abidjan, the bustling economic heart of Côte d’Ivoire. This vibrant city is a tapestry of cultures, where tradition meets modernity and French influence mingles with local flair. If you’re planning to visit, walk with us as we explore the 11 best things to do in Abidjan.
1. Visit the Iconic St. Paul’s Cathedral
Kickstart your exploration of Abidjan with a visit to St. Paul’s Cathedral, an architectural masterpiece. Its stunning design and serene atmosphere make it a must-see landmark in the city. The cathedral is not just a place of worship; it’s also an architectural marvel that showcases the fusion of traditional African craftsmanship with contemporary design.
2. Wander Through Banco National Park
Escape the city’s hustle and bustle by exploring the lush greenery of Banco National Park. This protected rainforest offers a serene setting for nature lovers and a variety of hiking trails. You can spend hours strolling through the park’s winding paths, admiring the exotic flora and fauna, and listening to the melodies of resident birds. The park’s trails cater to different levels of hikers, so whether you’re a novice or an experienced trekker, there’s a path for you.
3. Experience the Treichville Neighborhood
Treichville is one of Abidjan’s liveliest neighborhoods, known for its vibrant street markets, restaurants, and nightlife. Explore the colorful markets and savor local cuisine at a street-side café. The local markets are a treasure trove of Ivorian crafts, textiles, and spices. It’s the perfect place to immerse yourself in the city’s daily life, meet friendly locals, and sample delicious street food.
4. Enjoy the Beauty of Assinie
For a taste of paradise, head to Assinie, a beach town just a couple of hours from Abidjan. Relax on the sandy shores, enjoy water sports, and relish fresh seafood by the sea. The beaches in Assinie offer a tranquil escape from the urban buzz of Abidjan. You can try your hand at activities like surfing, kiteboarding, or simply bask in the sun and enjoy the ocean’s gentle breeze.
5. Explore the Cultural Village of Grand-Bassam
Grand-Bassam, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a short drive from Abidjan and offers a glimpse into the country’s colonial past. Stroll through its picturesque streets and visit the National Costume Museum. The old colonial buildings are now art galleries, boutiques, and quaint cafés. The National Costume Museum is a fascinating place to learn about the country’s diverse cultural heritage, with displays of traditional attire from various Ivorian ethnic groups.
6. Admire Art at the Abidjan Museum
The Abidjan Museum, also known as the National Museum, is a treasure trove of Ivorian art and culture. Explore its collections, which include traditional masks, sculptures, and contemporary art. The museum offers a rich tapestry of Ivorian artistic expression, providing a deeper understanding of the country’s history and culture. Don’t forget to check the museum’s event schedule, as it often hosts exhibitions and cultural events.
7. Sip Coffee at a Maquis
To experience the local coffee culture, visit a Maquis, a traditional Ivorian café. Order a cup of strong Ivorian coffee and savor it while watching daily life unfold. Maquis is where you can truly experience Ivorian café culture. While enjoying your coffee, engage in friendly conversations with locals and get a taste of their daily lives.
8. Stroll Through the Cocody Botanical Garden
The Cocody Botanical Garden is a lush oasis in the city. Take a leisurely walk among the diverse plant species, and admire the serene ponds and local wildlife. The garden is not only a place of relaxation but also an educational opportunity for plant enthusiasts. You’ll discover a wide array of native and exotic plants, as well as local wildlife, making it a perfect destination for a peaceful and informative stroll.
9. Dance the Night Away in Zone 4
Zone 4 is Abidjan’s nightlife hub, where you can enjoy live music, dance to local beats, and mingle with friendly locals. The energy and vibrancy of this area are infectious. Zone 4 is a vibrant district that truly comes alive at night. It’s the place to experience the lively Ivorian music scene, indulge in local delicacies, and dance until the early hours. The district hosts live performances featuring various musical styles, from reggae to coupé-décalé, the Ivorian dance music.
10. Indulge in Ivorian Cuisine
Savor the flavors of Ivorian cuisine by trying local dishes like attiéké (cassava couscous), grilled fish, and alloco (fried plantains). Don’t forget to sample the famous street food, “kédjénou.” Ivorian cuisine is a delightful journey for your taste buds. Whether you’re dining at a local restaurant or trying street food, you’ll be treated to a symphony of flavors. Be sure to sample the national dish, “attiéké,” which is made from cassava and often served with grilled fish or chicken. “Alloco,” a popular side dish of fried plantains, is a delicious accompaniment to many Ivorian meals.
11. Shop at the Treichville Market
The Treichville Market is a vibrant place to shop for everything from traditional fabrics and crafts to fresh produce. Engage in some friendly haggling and take home unique Ivorian souvenirs. The market is a sensory delight, with its colorful stalls and the sounds of merchants calling out their wares. You’ll find an array of goods, including textiles, clothing, crafts, fresh produce, and more. Don’t hesitate to practice your bargaining skills; it’s all part of the shopping experience.
Abidjan, often called the “Pearl of the Lagoons,” is a city that seamlessly blends tradition and modernity, offering a unique and captivating experience. Whether you’re exploring its historic sites, indulging in local flavors, or dancing the night away, Abidjan promises a memorable adventure. So, pack your bags and get ready to uncover the charm of this dynamic West African city.