With a brand new international airport it’s even easier to spend a weekend in the de facto chill capital of West Africa
Dakar, the de facto chill capital of West Africa
friday 9:00 AM
Start the day with breakfast at Layu Café (2), one-half of a bohemian clothing and accessories store. Or, for a fuller, more affordable option, step out into the streets. In true francophone fashion everything comes with bread: grab a baguette with fries and yassa (thick stewed onion sauce).
Senegal is home to the world-famous thieboudienne, a dish that reappears all along the West African coast as jollof rice. The Prestige Miam Miam in Ouakam serves it as a great lunch option with grilled or pan-fried fish that will set your palate alight.
Traditional folk wrestling is so beloved of the Senegalese that heavyweights of the sport are national celebrities, whose fame oftens extends to neighbouring Gambia. You can catch a tournament at the 60,000-capacity Léopold Sédar Senghor Stadium and watch contestants drive the crowd wild, with marathon bouts of drumming and rituals by marabouts part of the show. Grab some street food at the entrance, where vendors sell dibi – skewered lamb roasted on open fires.
The main parties happen at the beaches, which surround Dakar on three sides. Noflaye beach in the N’gor area is the place to go. There are passionate DJS, happy feet, cheap cocktails and parties right next to the water that go on all night.
saturday 4:00 PM
Buy a ticket for 500 CFA francs to explore the Ile de Gorée (1); the return journey is free – just don’t miss the last boat back at 6pm. Be sure to visit the House of Slaves Museum – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – and linger at the Door of No Return, a memorial to the millions shipped off to slavery in the Americas and Europe. Use the rest of the afternoon to wander around the island’s enchanting and nostalgic spaces, where no cars disturb the calm of the centuriesold buildings. If you do decide to stay for the night, dine at Chez Thio 1974 and raise a glass to the gentle sound of lapping waves.
sunday 12:00 PM
Back in Dakar, on the city outskirts is Collines des Mamelles, home to the African Renaissance Monument, a 49m-tall bronze statue commissioned by former president Abdoulaye Wade to mark the half-century of Senegal’s independence in 2010. The lift to the viewing platform costs 2,700 CFA francs, but the experience at the top is glorious.
Time for an early sundowner at La Mer à Table (3), for the best of Cape Verdean cocktails. It’s a decent seaside bar with a DJ dishing out Portuguese pop alongside riddims from Jamaica, Latin American reggaeton and Nigerian Afrobeats.
Last chance to try another of Dakar’s mouthwatering restaurants. Praïnha Crêperie Grill in Almadies has delightful grilled fish fit for royals. Eromo Egbejule in Dakar