Having spent 4 days in Cotonou and Ouidah, I can confidently recommend the top 10 things to see & do in Benin Republic. Keep reading!
Benin Republic is the most accessible country to visit from Lagos, Nigeria. Although the roads and multiple police stops along the way are tedious, within 3-5 hours, you’re there.
So whether you’re considering a 24-hour trip, a weekend getaway or a long vacation, the country has it all. Accessible beaches, historical walks and stunning local culture.
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This is one of the most peaceful places in Benin Republic and no visit is complete without spending a few hours in Cotonou’s hidden gem.
Babs Dock is a small island on the outskirts of Cotonou where you can either spend the night or the day unwinding from a stressful travel day. To get there, you need to take a 10-minute boat ride for N4,000 (3,000 CFA) through the narrow mangroves before emerging into open water and disembarking at the floating dock.
At Babs dock, you have the option to just eat lunch and bask in the sun and take in the views or do a few activities like kayaking and sailing for an additional cost.
P.S.: at the entrance to Babs dock, there are a few stalls where you can buy souvenirs from 1,000 CFA upwards (remember to haggle).
Top 10 things to see & do in Benin Republic – Ganvie
Ganvie is the largest floating village in Africa with over 20,000 people, it’s high on every single bucket list (including mine) and a must-visit location in Cotonou. It’s not just a destination for tourists to visit, but a unique community with markets, schools, families, churches, mosques and even a hotel. It’s incredible and I hope to experience it soon.
Top 10 things to see & do in Benin Republic – The Amazon Statue
If you’ve watched the movie “The Woman King” then you’ll understand my excitement about visiting this monument. The statue was erected in honour of the women warriors of Dahomey (The Agojie) who are the only documented female army in history. This statue made of bronze wields a machete and rifle which is reminiscent of the warriors’ motto “win or die”.
It stands in the centre of the bustling city – Cotonou – and it’s free for anyone to see when in Benin Republic.
Top 10 things to see & do in Benin Republic – Python Temple
In the heart of Ouidah – the voodoo capital of the world – lies the Python Temple. This is a major tourist attraction in Ouidah because it is home to about 60 pythons and it’s more than just an attraction. The temple is a sacred place for the people of Ouidah where they worship the snakes (they are seen as gods) and perform voodoo rituals.
I did not go in because of my personal beliefs however if you are planning on going, there is an entry fee of N3,450 (2,500 CFA). You have to wash your hands in some purified water before entering or carrying the snakes.
There is also a guide to take you through and explain all the spiritual practices.
Zinsou Foundation Museum
Located just down the road from the Python Temple is Zinsou Foundation Museum. It is a fantastic place to learn about the history and culture of Ouidah and Benin Republic through stunning paintings and sculptures.
You can take this visual journey through the country’s history and customs for free.
It also has some stunning photo spots, so take advantage!
If you want to feel the pulse of a city, visiting a local market is the way to go. You will be able to interact and communicate with the locals. If you desire to make these types of authentic connections, consider taking a trip to Dantokpa market, Cotonou which is the largest open-air market in West Africa.
Tip: Benin Republic is a French-speaking country so ensure you go with a local to help with navigation and negotiation.
Porte du Non Retour (Door of no return)
I have yet to visit the door of no return in Ouidah, Benin Republic however I have visited the “Gate of no return” in Elmina Castle, Ghana and the Point of no return in Badagry, Nigeria. They are used to signify the point where slaves walked through, never to return.
The Door of No Return is a concrete and bronze arc built on the beach to memorialise the enslaved Africans. It is very significant to the history of the people of Benin Republic, although very rough, painful and devastating, it needs to be experienced. Our history cannot and should not be forgotten.
Cali Cali Beach Club
Benin Republic is known for its peaceful, stunning and clean beaches so we had to start our trip here. We spent our first night at Cali Cali, a private beach in Cotonou with only a handful of people on the beach and beautiful photo zones. So I highly recommend it.
The Benin Republic capital isn’t known to be a tourist hub but, it’s known for its stunning colonial buildings like the Brazilian-style Great mosque (formerly a church). It’s also home to numerous museums which have a lot of historical masks, musical instruments and costumes on display.
One day is enough to explore this city, so if you have more than 4 days in Benin Republic it’s a great addition.
If you love souvenir shopping, you need to visit the Artisanal Centre in Cotonou. It has everything you can ever think of from paintings and bags to masks and clothing most of which are handmade by local artisans. You can buy anything at amazing bargains or just window shop without spending.
I have barely explored what the country has to offer, and I can’t wait to return.
I hope this post helps you plan your trip to Benin Republic. If you want someone to plan your trip, send me an email so we can get to work! Please leave any questions you may have in the comments below.