Benin Things to Do

  • The ever picturesque Beaches of Benin
    The ever picturesque Beaches of Benin
    by Lennyx
  • A great place for picnics and fun
    A great place for picnics and fun
    by Lennyx
  • Things to Do
    by Lennyx

Benin Things to Do

  • VISA AT THE BORDER

    Visas for most passport holders are available at 10,000 CFA on main border points. I entered at Hilakondji, the main land border between Togo and Benin. I did get hassle from some fat woman (who barely fit in her) uniform. She started with "You should have gotten a visa before you arrived here". Had the B.itch stopped watching the TV (wildlife...

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  • ganvie - the venice of africa

    Ganvie in Benin (West Africa) is a unique village built on Lake Nokoué, just an hour north of the administrative capital and Benin's largest city, Cotonou. About 20,000 people live in Ganvie. It's commonly believed that the Tofinu people settled here around 400 years ago and built their lake village to escape slavers who came from the Fon tribe and...

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  • visit hippos in lokossa at lake doukon

    Lac Doukon is 109 km east of Cotonou. Here, visitors can see hippopotami, many species of birds and aquatic plants, and enjoy the daily life in an African village. Visitors will have the chance to explore the area by walking around the lake and taking traditional canoe. You will be able to find food and lodging in the city of Lokossa. Take the...

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  • visit historical museum of abomey

    very impressive and large museum for dahomey..ask for the guide Rose who explainsin French everything very clear

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  • The Tata Sombas

    The Tata Somba region is slightly South of Natitingou in the Atakora Hills. Here you will see the unique group of people called the SOMBA whose lifestyle is hardly touched by the modern world and who live in 3 storey houses called TATAS. The houses were originally built for defence purposes – against raids by the Dahomey slave traders and by...

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  • Pendjari National Park

    Pendjari National Park is in the far North West of Benin on the border with Burkina Faso over 600km from Cotonou. The nearest large town is Natitingou, 80km south.The park was created in 1961 and made a UNESCO world biosphere site in 1986. It covers a total area of 2750 sq km and you can see a large variety of animals and birds, except for Giraffes...

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  • Dassa Zoume Catholic Pilgrimage Site

    Dassa Zoume is in Central Benin, North of Abomey and Bohicon and is on the route to the North so if you are travelling on a Sunday it is worth a stop to visit the Catholic sanctuary and pilgrimage site. There is a modern Basilica, built in 2002 and services are held outside so it is very busy with crowds stood under colourful awnings listening to...

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  • Porto Novo

    Porto Novo is actually the capital of Benin, but has been overtaken in size and population by Cotonou which is the commercial capital with the port and the airport. Porto Novo can be visited in a day from Cotonou as it is only 30 km and 45 minutes drive to the East close to the border with Nigeria. As prices in Benin are much higher than in Nigeria...

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  • Ganvie, Town on the Lake

    Ganvie is another must-see on a visit to Benin. 25,000 people live permanently on Lake Nakoue in houses built on stilts. The whole life of the town is lived on and in the water and a trip to Ganvie is absolutely fascinating. The town was established here during the slave trade. The local King took advantage of a rule that states the Kings of...

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  • Abomey – City of the Kings

    Abomey is about 100km North of Cotonou and it takes under half a day to get there by car. The road is good all the way and you can stop at Allada, original home of the Dahomey (the old name for the Kingdom of Abomey) Kings, and Bohicon along the way. The name Dahomey was derived from French meaning "in the belly of Dan" because of the origins of...

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  • Ouidah - Slavery, Voodoo and Pythons

    Ouidah is just 40km from Cotonou and the roads are very good so it is easy to get to. It is one of the main tourist attractions in Benin as it has a lot of history and there is much to see there - SLAVERYOuidah was the main port in West Africa for shipping slaves to the Americas. You can visit the Old Portugese slave Fort with its excellent museum,...

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  • Relax on the Beach at Grand Popo

    Grand Popo is along the coast 85km from Cotonou and has an endless sandy beach which stretches all the way to Lome in Togo. The town is spread out along the road which runs parallel to the beach and is very quiet and laid back. It is a great place to relax and chill out for a few days by the sea.There is plenty to do in Grand Popo if you can be...

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  • The Fetish Market

    You may get the opportunity to visit a Fetish market while in Benin or Togo. If you are a vegetarian, animal rights person or sensitive about animals it is wise no to go!Some of the tour companies are considering not offering this to tourists any more because of the reactions of the tourists. I asked to go because my curiosity always gets the...

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  • Visit a Village

    If you get the opportunity, it is always worth visiting a rural village to see how different the villages are to the towns and cities. It is better to go with a local guide or at least a local person who knows the village so they can introduce you and translate. It is also better if you can visit a village where they don't get many tourists so you...

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  • A Fa Reading

    Fa is the god or spirit of Fate and a Fa reading is a type of fortune telling that dates back thousands of years, performed by a specially qualified Fa priest using traditional materials of cowrie shells and beads. To get a Fa reading it is best to go through a local guide who will organise a reputable one. You need to take gifts and plenty of...

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  • Yoruba Masks

    The Yoruba “Guelede” masks all have a message or tell a story and were used in ceremonies to communicate with the ancestors. You can see them in the ethnographic museum in Porto Nuovo, but you cannot take pictures. There are many examples of masks and the exhibits are well laid out with descriptions (in French). There are different masks for day...

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  • Yearly Voodoo Culture and Arts Festival

    Every year on January 10th a Voodoo Arts and Culture Festival is held in Benin to celebrate the traditional religion of the country. The main festival is in the sacred forest of Ouidah where thousands of people come from all over the world. The first festival was held here in 1992 when the forest was opened to the public for the very first time,...

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  • The Kings of Benin

    The kings of Benin, were famous warriors and slave traders. They ruled over a very powerful kingdom which began with the original King from Tadu in present day Togo who settled in Allada, around the year 1600, and had 3 sons. Each son wanted a kingdom to rule so the oldest one stayed in Allada and the others travelled to Porto Nuovo and Abomey to...

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  • A Voodoo Ceremony

    A Voodoo ceremony is very interesting, and I felt very lucky to be able to see the one I did. It was held in a rural village outside Abomey and was dedicated to the Warrior spirit Cokou. It was organised by a local guide who went ahead to the village to ask permission and allow the villagers to make the preparations. He also paid for the required...

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  • Scrap Metal Sculptures

    In many museums and parks you will see sculptures made from scrap metal, with used car parts. They are very charming and lovely. Some of them are getting quite rusty as they were done quite a few years ago but this adds to their charm. You can see some good ones in the courtyard of the ethnographic museum at Porto Nuovo and in the sacred forest of...

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  • The Old Cars

    Benin is the West African hub for used cars coming from Europe and you will see many old relics driving around the streets. They are not as old as the cars in Cuba, and are mostly old European models such as Peugeot.You may even get a taxi that is an old Peugeot - I had one to take me to the airport and thought we weren't going to get there! Of...

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  • What do the flags mean?

    Travelling around Benin, you will pass many villages and houses with a flagpole and a white flag flying, or a black and red striped flag and may wonder what this means.When you see a white flag flying it is a sign that the village or the family of the house follow the traditional voodoo religion. The voodoo temples also have the white flag outside....

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  • History of the Slave Trade

    The slave trade is a big part of the history of this part of Africa. It lasted for around 300 years starting from the 16th century and during this time millions of Africans were transported from their homes to work in plantations in America, Brazil, Cuba and the Caribbean countries. The main port of departure was Ouidah and the museum and the town...

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  • The Legba - Voodoo Messenger

    The Legba can be seen at the entrance to the villages where the traditional voodoo religion is practised. He represents the messenger between the living and the spirit world and is carved from wood, and given food and drink by the villagers to keep him happy. Some are even protected from the sun by a wooden frame with a canopy. In return the Legba...

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  • Excellent Museums of History and Culture

    The museums I visited in Benin were excellent. The people are proud of their culture and history and it is very well documented with dates, photographs and many interesting exhibits in the museums of the main cities. All the museums I visited were located in historical buildings, either an old Palace (Porto Nuovo, Abomey) or slave Fort (Ouidah)....

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  • NERICA - New Rice for Africa

    The food shortage and harsh conditions of some of the African countries are well known. Many people are short of food, malnourished and unable to feed themelves, relying on aid. NERICA is a type of rice developed in the mid 1990’s designed to address the food shortage in sub-Saharan Africa and the growing demand for rice. It was created from a...

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  • Out on lake Nokoué to Ganvié

    Although the quay for embarcation can become rather overcrowded with hawkers, punters plus the guides and boatmen, once you've paid and got away this is a brilliant trip. A couple of hours on the water among the fishermen and the to-ing and fro-ing of the locals is very relaxing. Plus some great photo opportunitys. The village is actually built on...

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  • Ganvie Village - Benin (Village on...

    This is one of the best tourist attractions in Benin. It is close to the city of Cotonou and a very easy visit to make when you are in Cotonou. As soon as you reach this place you would be see the village in the middle of a lagoon.The history goes to say that the village was built to protect the tribe from the warring Fon tribesmen, who were...

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  • Grand Popo dances

    I had just crossed the border with Togo where I visited the incredible fetish market of Lome and the witches, when I stopped in Grand Popo village in my way to Gauvin and the so called Venice of Benin.As usual in Africa I observed the first rule to be welcome: I asked for Le Chef du village. He was an old man considered a Pope of the Animist...

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  • Helping/watching fishermen

    Along the coast the fishermen do what fishermen do all over the world - work hard. If youre lucky, you get to watch the beautifully muscular Benin fishermen work. If youre luckier, you can pitch in, giving them a helping hand pushing the boat down the beach.

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  • UN car spotting

    Those huge spotlessly white four-by-fours, with pretty blue signs and enormous antenna, never stop to rescue you from the over-crowded bush taxi, and you never stop staring longingly at them.

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  • Around town, Cotonou

    Just walking around in Cotonou is fun - for a while. Theres a lot of interesting little things to see, but, unless you have a high tech built in air filter, the staggering pollution will make the whole exerience less appealing. Also, it can be HOT, so frequent cold drink stops are a good idea.

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  • Hanging with street kids in Cotonou

    Theyre asking for money, gifts and a snack - buy some food, talk, take photos/film with your digital camera and show them; that potentially pestering crowd turns into a happy lil bunch laughing and posing and doing all sorts of fun things.

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  • Ouidah, memorial in honour of the...

    At the end of the Route of the Slaves stands an impressive memorial in honour of the departed slaves. The beach here is a symbolic and historical site as central and final departure point of the slaves, boarding the boats to the Americas. Near this ''point of no return'' are some giftshops and a restaurant.

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  • Ouidah, Sacred Python Temple.

    In the centre of Ouidah, opposite the catholic cathedral, you find the ''Temple des Serpents'', one of the most famous voodoo sites in town.Snakes are important in the voodoo culture, because traditionally they were fetishes and a principal object of worship.Normally you can visit the temple and see the snakes and get some explanation about the...

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  • Ouidah, portuegese fort

    In Ouidah were at least six slave forts. The old portuegese fort, Fortaleza Sao Joao Batisita, built in 1721, is still there and can be visited. In the buildings of this fort you can find the historical museum or Voodoo Museum, but also workshops, giftshops and toilets.You can walk in the garden and climb the fortifications. From here you have a...

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  • Ouidah, Voodoo Museum

    The Musee d'Histoire d'Ouidah is also known as the Voodoo Museum. So, in this former Portuguese Fort, there are also all kind of mystical artefacts of the voodoo culture. I saw a lot of skins, skulls and other not always well recognisable materials of animals and plants.Also nowadays the practice of voodoo remains strong in Benin and Ouidah, and...

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  • Ouidah, Musee d'Histoire d'Ouidah

    The museum of Ouidah is located in one of the former forts of Ouidah, just south of the Grand Marche.Ouidah was one of the most important centres of slavetrading in West Africa, so the exhibitions in the museum concern for a major part the slave trade and the connections of Benin with Brazil and the Caribbean. Entrance fee is 1000 CFA, including a...

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  • Ketou, shops and stalls

    In the villages and small towns we passed, we saw a lot of colourful small shops and street stalls selling clothes, shoes and all kind of food.At these stalls we did mostly our shopping, buying bread, vegetables, fruits, spices and other food or we took a local snack here.I always enjoyed to stroll around and have a look at the local products in...

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  • Ketou, near the border with Nigeria

    When you visit Benin don't stay only at the beaches and in the towns, but visit also the countryside and the villages.I really enjoyed to travel in the countryside.The atmosphere there is very peaceful. The people in the villages are very friendly and the landscape is beautiful.Travelling can be very dusty. At the end of the day we looked rather...

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  • Ganvie, fishbreeding community

    The people of Ganvie live mainly of fishbreeding and fishing. The fishermen plant branches in the muddy bottom of the Lake Nokoue. When the leaves start to decompose, the fish come here to feed themselves. At that moment the men and boys of the village come to catch the fish in their nets.

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  • Ganvie, church not built on stilts

    Not every building in Ganvie is built on wooden stilts. In the middle of the village Ganvie you will find a small island with solid soil. Here at this island some buildings of stone, like the church and the school are constructed.This is also the only place in the village where you see the villagers walk around instead of moving by boat.

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  • Ganvie, fetching water

    In the centre of the Ganvie village we saw a lot of pirogues with all kind of containers.Here all the families of the village came to fetch their drinking water. The place, where they fetch the water is at the island, where the church and more buildings of stone are built.

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  • Ganvie, market on the water

    In Ganvie the whole daily life takes place on the water, so does all the transport. It looks like children learn to handle a boat before they can even walk.I swa a clinic, the postoffice, some shops, all on stilts on the water.There is also a floating market. The market women gather with their boats full of colourful vegetables, spices and other...

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  • Ganvie, living on the water

    The village Ganvie is established in the 18th century by the Tofino people. They tried to escape from the Fon people and the Dahomey kingdoms, coming from the north. Because of local customs the Fon people were not allowed to attack people in the water. So the Tofino decided to build their villages in the swampy lake. They constructed their houses...

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Benin Things to Do

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