Your Ultimate Abidjan Travel Guide

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While Abidjan may not be as well known to many of you, if West Africa is on your bucket list, then this Abidjan Travel Guide will serve you well. The Ivory Coast may be on your bucket list for its stunning beaches. Rest assured, the Ivory Coast is beautiful if you’re a beach lover and want to just sit and relax for a week or so. Or longer.

Ivory Coast

I visited the Ivory Coast’s seaside town of Grand Bassam, a UNESCO listed World Heritage Site. So, while the beaches may be grand in some areas, there’s plenty of history and culture in the region as well.

What may be lesser known about West Africa’s coastal areas are its cities. For example, Abidjan is the capital of the Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) and is a great city. It is well designed, diverse and like many cities from my journeys, it is crying to be found.

Backpacking in Ivory Coast: Top 11 Sights in Abidjan

The Ivory Coast is becoming more and more modernized, but it’s not money from Didier Drogba or Yaya Toure that is pumping it up. You see, Morocco and Ivory Coast have a good bond at present and a lot of investment comes directly from the Moroccans — you’ll also see a huge national football stadium built in Abidjan. The country also has a handy e-Visa system now.

The Culture & History of Abidjan

The city of Abidjan houses 4.3 million people (in a country of a whopping 24 million) and has been the capital since 1933. I loved my time in Abidjan and have to say a huge thanks to Dayo Williams, my tour guide. A fantastic man, a true gentleman, excellent tour guide and very knowledgeable. I must have asked him over 100 questions and he answered them all.

Being a football lover, I had to see football in the city and so we managed to visit a whopping three football stadiums, and went inside two of them. They’re easy to find on nearly every suburban street corner.

Here it goes for this Abidjan Travel Guide.

The Grande Market

The market is stunning and the sheer amount of vegetables, fruit, spices, meat and fish here shocked me. It was one of the largest five food markets I’ve seen on my travels.

The aount of peppers and onions was over the top. The people work hard here. I toured he entire market with Dayo my guide. He introduced me to a lot of the different parts to the food culture here and also it probably helped me not getting asked by everyone if I wanted to buy something.

Grande Marche (Big Market) -

Grande Marche (Big Market) – Abidjan Travel Guide

I wasn’t really here to do shopping and I rarely shop in markets on my travels anyway but you need to check it out and get lost in it. Ask permission to the ladies before taking photos. I say ladies, as 95% of the vendors and workers were female. The smaller markets are amazing too but this place is where the real vibrancy of pure Abidjan hits you every step. It’s a must for the Abidjan Travel Guide.

National Assembly

I always love to see a government building when I visit a city and so I headed to the National Assembly. The guards spoke to us although we couldn’t go in. What is interesting for me is that the Ivory Coast national flag is orange, white and green. This is the exact opposite of the Republic of Ireland flag.

Assemble Nationale (National Assembly)

Assemble Nationale (National Assembly) – Abidjan Travel Guide

I remember at the 2014 World Cup partying with Ivory Coast lads and getting a photo with their flag and my Northern Ireland flag together. The below photo taken in Fortaleza, Brazil.

St. Paul’s Cathedral

West Africa is very mixed when it comes to religion, however the main two religions are generally Muslim and Christian. It was similar in Senegal and the Gambia, where I also saw Mosques and Churches. Here in the Ivory Coast, I saw quite a few churches. St. Paul’s Cathedral is the largest, most prominent and most artistic church in the city.

 

Smaller Churches

There are smaller churches, like this Catholic church near the market and I went in to pray. Catholic and Muslim are the two main religions here.

Central Mosque

The main Mosque that we went to was also one of the most modern Mosques I have ever seen. There was a prayer on during my visit.

Central Mosque Abidjan

Central Mosque — Abidjan Travel Guide

Local Neighborhood

It is important for me to see how the local people live in a city, and of course everywhere I go. To get to the heart of Ivorian culture, we headed to the famous neighbourhood, Quartier Grand Campement. Here, we could watch kids play football, see some dancing, another Mosque and a city beach. Also in Campement Dayo and I visit one of his friends who has some Ivorian home made gin. It is very very strong!!!

Local Neighbourhood of Campement - Abidjan Travel Guide

Local Neighbourhood of Campement – Abidjan Travel Guide

It wasn’t an overcrowded neighbourhood and everyone seemed happy. I was of course the only white person and tourist I saw here. The local shops were selling all sorts of things and there was also a bar here, but the strong gin was enough for me!

National Football Stadium

Believe it or not, the national football stadium is directly opposite the National Assembly. I had struggled to remember another country like that on my journeys. Nagorno Karabakh’s in Stepanakert was fairly close. At the time of my visit there was no match on and in fact the stadium was closed for redevelopment sadly, but we visited two other stadiums and also watched some Athletics.

At the National Stadium, there is a memorial plaque dedicated to a similar disaster to Sheffield’s Hillsborough where people perished in a crush as recently as 2009.

The reason that this made the Abidjan Travel Guide is because football is so important to people who live in the Ivory Coast. It’s a deep sense of pride for them.

 

Unique Lizards

Nature and wildlife should be on every list I think. Wildlife makes the Abidjan Travel Guide because it is rare to see unique animals or reptiles in a city. I saw an orange and black lizard at the National Assembly. Abdul and Dayo were laughing at me because they see this every day, but for a traveler, it is a new sight.

 

The Pyramid

The Pyramid is an odd looking one as we drive through the city centre. It was designed by an Italian architect and is called The Pyramid. The Pyramid is of historical relevance, hence, it made the Abidjan Travel Guide.

The Pyramid in Abidjan Travel Guide

 

 

Local Beer

Beer is well known in the Ivory Coast and so Dayo and I headed for a beer, or two. I tried the two main local beers – Ivoire and Bock. Both ice cold and refreshingly delicious. Resto Cave Le Krislay (in Marcory district of Abidjan) showed rugby while we drank our beers.

Abidjan Travel Guide

Beer in the Ivory Coast – Abidjan Travel Guide 

Ivory Coast was another stunnigator on a trip where I almost landed in Ghana without meaning to and I can’t wait to get back to Africa again.  Here are more photos of the city to give you an idea of what to expect. Hope you enjoyed this Abidjan Travel Guide.

A huge thanks to the Ibis Hotel Plateau, my tour guide Dayo Williams and my driver Abdul for a great time. Dayo can also help you organise a tour to Nigeria!

Jonny Scott Blair
Jonny Blair is a self confessed traveling nomad who founded and blogs at Don't Stop Living. He sees every day as an adventure. Since leaving behind his home town of Bangor in Northern Ireland ten years ago he has traveled to all seven continents, working his way through various jobs and funding it all with hard work and an appetite for travel. Don’t Stop Living, a lifestyle of travel' contains over 1,000 stories and tips from his journeys round the globe. He wants to show others how easy it is to travel the world, give them some ideas and encourage them to do the same but most of all he aims to constantly live a lifestyle of travel. He is currently based in Hong Kong and on Twitter @jonnyblair.
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