What is there to see in Banjul, The Gambia? I took the time to visit and photograph a few Banjul attractions; read on.
The entrance to Albert Market has become the iconic landmark of Banjul. As a matter of fact, it’s the original entrance to the market the British created during colonial rule. What’s more, as you explore the market you’ll find more examples of British colonial architecture. Finally, you can ascend the Albert Market entrance for panoramic views of the surrounding area. Bring a camera with zoom and you have the perfect tower for people as well as market life photography.
Albert Market Viewpoint
It’s from the top of the entrance and the surrounding balconies where you get an idea of the size of Albert Market. Actually, it’s not so large but packed with people and stalls. I’m sure you must be aware of pickpockets as you explore Albert Market.
Selling Fish at Albert Market
I mentioned that from the Albert Market entrance is a top spot for people photography, here’s one such example.
St Mary’s Church
There are two major church / cathedrals in Banjul. Firstly, the Roman Catholic Church in the center of Banjul. However, photographed above is the St Mary’s Church. A friendly caretaker will invite you into the church if you wish to view it. Surely people gain permission to go in and pray but he gave me permission to simply go in and photograph. In fact, he loved my stained glass window photograph below.
Stained Glass Windows
The last thing you expect to see when you visit Banjul Gambia are stained glass windows.
Gambia National Museum
Visit Gambia National Museum to learn all about the history of the Gambia. Not only will you learn about the colonial history but also about pre colonial times and also about music in the region.
Banjul Central Mosque
So you’ve visited the cathedral, how about visiting Banjul central mosque? If any important Islamic leader comes to Banjul they will come to this mosque. However, if you choose to visit, it’s likely to be a peaceful experience. Even when I visited during prayer time I was welcome to explore the mosque.
Central Bank of the Gambia
Banjul is the smallest capital city in the whole of mainland Africa. For this reason, you can walk around in a few hours. Pay attention to the tallest building in Banjul which is the Central Bank of the Gambia.
Arch 22 is a major Banjul landmark but what is it? It represents the coup d’etat which took place on July 22, 1994. The armed forces overthrew a democratically elected government.
British Colonial Buildings
As you walk the streets of central Banjul pay attention to the British colonial buildings. Furthermore, as some are now shops you can enter them and inspect the interior.
Classic Cars in Banjul Gambia
Banjul Gambia is full of historic and classic cars. European countries often ship their unwanted cars to Africa. As a result, car enthusiasts will find several rare cars.
Colorful Fishing Boats on Banjul Beach
A spectacular photography spot in Banjul Gambia is on the beach adjacent to Albert Market. Here you’ll find several colorful fishing boats. Around sunset is the best time to visit when the fishermen have returned from their days work.
Fishermen in Banjul Gambia – Calamari
If you visit Banjul beach in the evening you’ll see several fishermen who have returned from sea. A group of fisherman I spoke to had returned with a boat full of fresh calamari. It’s hard to believe but the head fisherman told me it’s difficult to sell the calamari. What’s an in demand item of Europe appears to be available in abundance on the beaches of Banjul. Finally, around this part of Banjul is a people photography hot spot.
Bird Watching on Banjul Beach
Look out over the Gambia river at sunset to see bird life in action.
What to Eat in Banjul Gambia
A hearty meal is not always easy to find in West Africa. For a good portion of chicken and chips, I recommend Crown restaurant. It’s 200 dalasi for a half portion (above) or 400 for a full portion.
What to Drink in Banjul Gambia
Julbrew is the Gambian beer which you must try at least once. Additionally, you should try whichever seasonal fruit juice which is on offer.
Day Trip to Slave Island
The Portuguese infamously started the slave trade during the 15th century. They would kidnap locals from the banks of the river Gambia and take them to Slave Island for processing. Eventually, the slaves would be taken all over the Americas. A visit to Slave Island is a day trip from Banjul therefore must be organised in advance. Simply take the ferry over to Barra and haggle a taxi driver to take you which should be less than 1500 dalasi. Once you arrive, you’ll need a further 200 dalasi for the boat plus more for entry fees. It’s worth the effort to learn about the history of slave trade.
Day Trip to Fathala Reserve Senegal
Fathala reserve over the border in Senegal makes a good day trip from Banjul. In fact, you could even combine it with Slave Island. Simply take an early ferry over to Barra and haggle a taxi driver. Pay no more than 2500 for a return trip to both Fathala and Slave Island. No more than 1500, just to Fathala. Let me know in the comments which price you got. Finally, entry fee to Fathala is 10000 francs.
How to Travel from Banjul to Bissau, Guinea Bissau by Local Transport
Firstly you must travel south by taxi to Brikama which should cost around 400 dalasi. From Brikama take a shared taxi south to the border. This taxi will not only take you to the border but drive you through the Gambia checkpoint and onto the Senegal entry point. Once in Senegal, take another sept place taxi to Ziguinchor gare routiere. At Ziguinchor you must get a Guinea Bissau visa from the consulate. Thankfully this process takes around 10 minutes but will cost you 20,000 francs for a single entry visa. Once you have a visa return to Ziguinchor gare routiere and take a sept place taxi to Bissau. If you set off early from Banjul you should be in Bissau during daylight hours.
If you’re heading to Dakar Senegal read my Dakar to Banjul post and follow the route backwards.
Bissau to Conakry via Boke