Cotonou, Benin Cruise Port
A bustling metropolitan scene and economic center, cruising to Cotonou, Benin provides plenty to see, do, and buy. One of the largest ports in West Africa, the largest city in Benin, and the seat of government, Contonou is in the southeast part of the country between the Atlantic Ocean and Lake Nokoué; it’s located east of Togo and west of Nigeria. Originally a small fishing village, the area was ceded to the French in 1868 and began to develop within a couple of decades. Thanks to its tropical climate, spending a day among the mangrove trees while enjoying exotic foods such as Poulet Yassa is the perfect complement to exploring the Marche Dantokpa, a large market where colorful sights are in abundance (but there’s actually not as much haggling over prices, as you might expect). Here are some of our favorite experiences while visiting the cruise port of Cotonou, Benin:
- For some history and religion, visit the Notre Dame de Miséricorde (Cotonou Cathedral) which is easily spotted, thanks to its bright red-and-white-striped tiles. Located near the Ancien Pont Bridge which separates the two sides of the city, it's the center for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cotonou which dates back to 1883.
- Immerse yourself in local culture at Fondation Zinsou, dedicated to showcasing contemporary African art and music. It's also a great place to find local crafts, clothing, and jewelry. When you need a bite, there's a café in the back that serves light fare such as coffee, lunches, and ice cream.
- More for walking and sunbathing than swimming, Fidjrosse Beach is a popular place to relax. With a picturesque view flanked by palm trees, grab a drink from a nearby kiosk and listen to the sound of the surf.
- If you enjoy haggling with vendors, the Artisanal Center picks up the slack left by the non-aggressive Marche Dantokpa. A large selection of local handicrafts includes items made from wood and textiles, masks, dolls, bone and stone carvings, jewelry, and much more. Bonus: there’s some shade here, so it's a good way to escape the sun for a bit.