4 Top Rated Tourist Attractions in Benin

Jul 22, 2021

Benin is one of the least visited countries in the world, with relatively few visitors per year. As a relatively untouched destination, it is a choice that is easy to understand. The terrain is mostly flat and scattered with huts, villages and market towns, and the fauna consists mainly of lizards and birds.

For most tourists, however, Benin is still best known for its stunning natural attractions, in particular the world-famous, unspoiled Crater Lake. Although a frequent target of European and American tourists, the location is still under-exploited, and is in a more peaceful location than many popular European and American tourist destinations.

Beyond Lake Nokoué and Crater Lake, the top attractions in Benin include many of the cities and towns in the hinterland. It is here that visitors to Benin will find beautiful rivers, dramatic waterfalls, sprawling markets, and bustling public squares.

With a legacy of rich and colorful history, Benin still holds many secrets to be discovered. As with many parts of the world, this country's natural beauty and untouched nature can still be a destination to savor for those who want to slow down and get to know this world-class destination just a little better.

Cotonou

Photo of Cotonou
Cotonou: en.wikipedia.org

Stretching for only a few miles along a tropical coastline where turquoise waters and white sandy beaches meet is the peaceful and beautiful city of Cotonou, Benin. This port on the southernmost point of the Gulf of Guinea has gradually evolved from a humble trading center in the colonial era to the political, economic, and cultural hub of Benin. On its riverbanks, large homes, along with innumerable small shops, cafes, and market stalls stand side-by-side with bars, hotels, and restaurants of all sorts. This city has a well-established transport network, with good road and subway links, and a variety of ways to connect to the rest of the world through the busy international airport. Hands-on cultural experiences in Cotonou include the opportunity to visit the Benin Museum (also known as the "House of Mankind"), housed in the colonial Rohan Palace, and the many other museums and galleries in the city. After a morning exploring Cotonou's streets, enjoy a buffet breakfast at one of its many buffet restaurants, including any of those lining the riverbank at Parc de la Pointe. Then spend the afternoon visiting the splendid fish market, fruit market, or just the colonial-era Hounganla market (famous for its vibrant little boutiques, arty fashion shops, quirky crafts stores, and great little eateries), before ending the day with dinner at a restaurant by the river, watching as the lights of the city drift into the quiet night.

Porto-Novo

Photo of Porto-Novo
Porto-Novo: en.wikipedia.org

Porto-Novo is a tropical town on the Gulf of Guinea with a grid-plan central town surrounded by the sixteenth-century mosques of the city's Moorish past. The area is popular for diving and fishing. The place has an interesting history: originally a settlement for slaves brought to the country by the Portuguese in the 16th and 17th centuries, the town became independent following the abolition of slavery. Today, Porto-Novo has a lively center, a fun Saturday market, and the wonderful Delta-Udjue Roundabout (Poto-Poto).

Ouidah

Photo of Ouidah
Ouidah: en.wikipedia.org

Situated in the south of the country on a long stretch of coastal Atlantic waters, Ouidah is the original West African port city, founded in 1592 by Songhai kings. Today it's a lovely, traditional seaside town of low-rise, single-story buildings. The place is less crowded and more laid-back than other West African cities and its markets are full of colorful fruit, stews and spices. At the Port of Ouidah are pleasant beaches, restaurants and bars. The historic city of Benin is an easy day trip from here. One of the biggest tourist attractions is the Nok-doku Museum, which is dedicated to the history of the African and African-Caribbean peoples. Although known for its diamond trade, it is also an ethnographic museum with its own languages and an interesting collection of masks, statuary, dance and musical instruments.

Abomey

Photo of Abomey
Abomey: en.wikipedia.org

Abomey is the capital of the southern region of Dahomey, in the former French colony of Benin. The site of royal power and culture for thousands of years, Abomey is an ancient city with an interesting collection of 17th and 18th-century buildings, many of which have been restored, although some dating back to the 11th century remain underutilized. Founded in the 10th century AD, Abomey reached its greatest power during the 15th century, a period of time when Benin was at its most powerful. These palaces reflect this Golden Age when the city was visited by Portuguese, Spanish, French and English traders. Today, most of the palaces are used for religious services, although they still serve a magnificent reminder of the former greatness of this great capital city. Abomey is well-connected by road to Cotonou, the economic center of Benin. It is located 75 km south of Cotonou, which can be reached via the Abomey-Nkonki road, on the Abomey-Nkonki highway. The Togo-Benin border lies 75 km north of Abomey, reached via the Bonon-Togo highway and the Akpého-Bonon highway.