Standing taller than the Statue of Liberty, this huge and impressive bronze statue (the largest in Africa) commemorates the end of slavery and the reemergence of the African continent after the oppressive European rule that once dominated. Although it has received some criticism, it is a quite impressive sight, and deserves a visit.
Promoted by Senegal's first president, this is one of the oldest and most important art museums in West Africa, and contains important collections from across Francophone Africa. It also functions as a research institute for the study of African culture, and boasts collections by contemporary African and diaspora artists.
Goree Island was greatly used for the transport of slaves headed to America. It now boasts some impressive colonial architecture (though much of it is in ruins) and the House of Slaves museum. The island is small enough to explore on foot, and visitors can enjoy a drink on the beach or shop for art from the locals.
The House of Slaves is a museum and memorial to the Atlantic slave trade on Gorée Island. The Door of No Return memorialises the final exit point of the slaves from Africa. Though the exact number of slaves who departed from here is debated, a visit is an important and solemn experience.
Lac Rose (Lake Retba in English) contains a very high concentration of cyanobacteria, which gives the water a strong pink colour, making a truly unique sight. Visitors can also see workers collecting salt from the lake in the traditional fashion. Located just 22 km from the city, it is well worth a visit.
Yoff is a strongly religious community, where drinking and smoking are forbidden, and visitors are expected to dress appropriately. This mausoleum is dedicated to Saidi Limamou Laye, the founder of the Layen Muslim brotherhood, and its location on the beach and sand floor make for an interesting visit.
Waltz through Le Cozy's heavy wooden doors and you're instantly swept off the market streets into a temple of refined cuisine. Presentation and service are as perfect as the swanky restaurant and bar spaces and in the evening, the space transforms into a smart lounge bar, serving delicious cocktails. Serving contemporary cuisine and meat.
Considered by many to be the best seafood restaurant in the city, Cabane always offers the day's freshest catches. Favourites include marlin steaks, fried balahoo or crayfish, accompanied by rice, legumes and salad. Add to that the beach-side location and laid-back vibe, and it's the kind of place you'll want to linger.
Even though Ali Baba is a fast food restaurant, visiting it on a Saturday afternoon proves to be a cultural experience, as it is a favourite among locals who flock here to enjoy Senegalese sandwiches stuffed with French fries and drowned in sauce. Also on the menu are burgers, pizza, Greek and Mediterranean food.
Part restaurant and part live music venue, Just4U offers a memorable dining experience. This outdoor restaurant specialises in desserts, but offers all sorts of Senegalese specialties, including music. The small stage hosts daily concerts, having featured some of the biggest names in local and international music, ranging from hip hop and reggae to jazz and folk.
Dakar's high society comes to Le Patio as much for the delicious food, great setting and tasty cocktails as they do to mingle with their fellow socialites. It is a classy place, as made evident by the lighting, decor, cuisine and prices. At night it turns into a bustling nightclub where partygoers dance until the early morning.
Dakar's beaches have been steadily becoming more sought after, and restaurants like Noflaye Beach are only speeding up the process. Offering French cuisine by the beach in a cosy wooden interior, visitors revel in everything from crepes to ratatouille and marvel at the scenery.
For an authentic taste of some of the best traditional fare Senegal has to offer, be sure to visit the Soumbedioune Night Market. Meander through stalls and crowds to sample fresh fish and seafood. It is a fascinating place where locals and tourists mingle and enjoy delicious meals together for some of the best prices in the city.
This widely renowned Canadian chain of cafes has opened a branch in Dakar, recognising the great potential of this emergent city. Bringing their great coffee recipes and a good selection of simple food, like wraps and sandwiches, Prese Cafe has been drawing great crowds in the Senegalese capital.
For a truly Senegalese coffee experience be sure to visit one of the many Nescafe vendors sprinkled throughout the city. They sell sweetened coffee in tiny plastic cups for next to nothing, and can really be found just about anywhere. Linger for a chat with the vendor and the locals who stop for a pick-me-up alongside you.
Don't pass up the chance to try Cafe Touba, a typical coffee drink in which the beans are ground with djar, a type of black pepper, served black and with tons of sugar. It is said to have stomach-soothing effects, as well as apgrodesiac, and even medicinal, qualities, tasting both sweet and spicy. It can be bought at stands found throughout the city.
Mbalax, the fusion of jazz, soul, and rock with traditional drumming and dancing, is the musical life-force of Senegal, and there is no better place to enjoy it than Thiossane, owned by Youssou N'Dour, one of the country's best and most beloved musicians. It is a bit outside of the city, but well worth the ride.
This wonderful arts centre is one of the city's most important arenas for culture and art. The facilities are impressive, housing exhibition rooms, a small cinema, workshops, a cafe and a shop, as well as an open-air stage. It is a great place to catch a performance of traditional music and dance.
Kadjinol Station is a great lounge/bar with a relaxed vibe and a passion for cinema. Patrons can enjoy a film for free while eating their meal or sipping on a refreshing drink. The selection of movies is always interesting, including titles from world cinema and some older classics.
Senegal's national theatre, the Théâtre Daniel Sorano, is a vital hub for music and culture in the country. It hosts performances by the Ensemble Instrumental, the Ballet National du Sénégal and the Théâtre National du Sénégal, meaning that visitors can always enjoy a world-class performance when they're in town.
Vibrant and colourful fabrics line the maze of stalls that compose the Marché HLM, the best place in town to buy traditional African textiles. High-quality prints, embroidery, silk and more are available at very decent prices, along with all manner of accessories, all dyed in the richest hues to beautiful results.
Marche Sandaga is a great big bustling market where savvy shoppers can find just about anything, from clothes and textiles to wood carvings and baskets, to traditional masks and souvenirs, and the list goes on. Be sure to haggle to get the best possible price on all your new acquisitions.
Léopold Sédar Senghor International Airport (DKR) is located in the area of Yoff, in the northwest part of town. It is the main air travel hub of the country and handles numerous flight to major international destinations in Africa and Europe, as well as to New York. If you haven't arranged for airport pickup, taxis are your best bet to get to the city. There is a taxi stand outside the terminal, but many illegal taxi drivers will try to offer rides before you can get there. Ignore them and only take the registered taxis. Bus number 8 also goes to the city from the airport. It is much cheaper than a taxi, but can also take much longer.
Dakar's public bus system is called Dakar Demm Dikk. It is relatively reliable and very affordable, but the bus network can be very difficult to figure out if you're not already familiar with it. Be sure to ask a local which bus to take to get where you're going. Cars Rapides, small blue and yellow mini-buses are a good option for getting to more remote areas of the city. The person in charge or the money will yell out its destinations, so flag it down if it's going your way.