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Perhaps you’re just passing through Banjul on your way to southern Senegal. Or however you get to The Gambia’s capital, you’ll find yourself in a city renowned for its multi-culturalism and landmark features, all of which can be seen and experienced in just one day.
With a sub-tropical dry and wet climate characterised by heavy rains, this small island city is great to visit at any time of year. Banjul has a long history that dates back centuries. But, if you only have 24 hours to invest, here are some ideas of what you can get up to in this beautiful and vibrant city.
Many visitors are surprised to note that this old city’s neighbourhoods are alive and kicking from very early in the day. Don’t miss out on the early morning rush to the city’s biggest urban market, Albert Market. From food and clothing to electronics and jewellery, visitors will have the chance to explore and discover some amazing Gambian delicacies. The market is generally always overcrowded, so be mindful when venturing out – leave early and plan your route there to save time.
No visit to the city of Banjul would be complete without a trip to its National Museum. Housed in an old colonial building, this museum is the custodian of The Gambia’s rich history. Filled with permanent exhibitions, you will find displays of traditional musical instruments, archaeological artefacts and information about its history, both colonial and post-independence. The photo archive on display is a great way to learn about how The Gambia has grown and developed since colonisation. The museum itself is surrounded by beautiful gardens; a perfect place to sit and allow the history of this place slowly sink in. The museum’s gardens are also one of the few green open spaces left in the city.
There are so many fantastic bars and restaurants in and around the city of Banjul. With a range that will meet the tastes of all visitors, the best places to try local Gambian dishes are at any roadside restaurant near the Arch 22 monument. Here you can indulge in mafé, Benachin and Afra. If it’s seafood you’re after then you’re best off searching the inner city, or simply ask for Kunta Kinteh beach bar and restaurant, named after the historical legend.
An evening stroll through Banjul after a day out in the sun will allow you to take in the sights and sounds of a city always gearing up for a party. Watch the sun set from the beach before heading to dinner. It’s recommended to take a drive to the popular McCaesar’s Restaurants: a mid-range restaurant with two outlets, one at the popular Westfield junction and the other along the Kairaba Avenue in Fajara. They serve an amazing mix of international and local cuisines.
Even though the city of Banjul has a limited number of night clubs due to the fact that many are relocating to the concentrated tourist areas, visitors will still have a great night out in this old city. Those interested in salsa, reggae and dancehall, will find a number of dance spots in the Tourism Development Area (TDA) along the Senegambia strip, which is just few minutes’ drive from the city of Banjul. The TDA is always lively and you can find many venues playing all types of music.