Saint Louis is an island in Senegal which used to be the capital of French Africa.  Things to do in Saint Louis include;

  • UNESCO world heritage site, Saint Louis Island
  • Nightlife and restaurants
  • Colorful Fishing Boats
  • Pont Faidherbe (bridge)
  • Trips to Djoudj National Bird Sanctuary (Bird watching)
  • Trips to La Broussarde
  • Bus from Saint Louis to Dakar

I would recommend staying on St Louis Island, it’s the safest place in St Louis area and tourists are welcome.  There are many good value hotels and restaurants on the Island.

UNESCO world heritage site, St Louis Island

Saint Louis, Senegal - UNESCO world heritage site

St Louis was the capital city of French Africa until 1902, therefore you’ll see lots of French colonial buildings.  Most cities that you visit with colonial buildings will have had them maintained in some way.  In Saint Louis, Senegal you’ll see what happens to French colonial buildings when they are not maintained.  The streets or houses are not paved and there is garbage everywhere.  There are nicer parts to Saint Louis Island but you’ll witness that a lot of it hasn’t been well kept.  I wouldn’t recommend walking up this street with your camera (above)!

As you walk around the island you’ll be approached by hecklers trying to sell their African art, Senegal t-shirts or a horse drawn carriage tour around the city.

Nightlife and restaurants on Saint Louis Island

As you’re on an island, fresh seafood is a good choice.  I highly recommend some poisson (that’s French for fish), lot’s of restaurants will be serving good value fresh fish.  It’s worth noting that the deeper you go into West Africa, the less likely you’ll be able to find the good quality food that’s served in the restaurants of Saint Louis.  If you decide to go out for a beer, La Gazelle is a good choice!

Hotel de la Poste

The buildings that have been well maintained and restored are found around the center of the island.  One of the buildings which still holds its charm from the French colonial days is the Hotel de la Poste.  As a result, the famous place to stay in Saint Louis is Hotel de la Poste.  As well as being the most respected hotel on the island they have a tour desk where you can book tours to La Broussarde or Djoudj National Bird Sanctuary (Bird watching).

Colorful Fishing Boats

Sunset in St Louis, Senegal
You’ll see many fishing boats moored around the island.  These colorful boats offer the best photography opportunities on the island.  Especially if you combine a colorful boat with a beautiful sunset!  I wouldn’t recommend walking around the island at night with your camera, but during the day I felt safe enough.

Pont Faidherbe (bridge)

Pont Faidherbe, St Louis, Senegal

The Pont Faidherbe bridge is over 500 meters long and joins Saint Louis Island to the mainland by crossing the Senegal river.  You will cross this bridge when entering and leaving Saint Louis Island.  I took a taxi to the long distance bush taxi rank which cost me 300-500 francs.  The taxi drivers will try charge you as much as possible, don’t be afraid to tell them no and that you’ll find another taxi.  They need the 300-500 francs more than they let on so will eventually take you and that price is probably too much anyway!

How to get from Saint Louis to Dakar

Bush taxi (Spet place) - St Louis to Dakar - 6000 Francs

The price of a bush taxi (Sept place) to Dakar is 5000 francs, plus another 1000 for each piece of baggage.  Did low cost airlines around the world get the idea of charging extra for baggage from the bush taxis of Africa?  Maybe!  The journey to Dakar takes around 4 hours by bush taxi and the traffic going into Dakar is pretty heavy.  I was arriving midday, well before rush hour and the traffic was still heavy.  Furthermore, the bush taxi does not go on the tollway.  The final destination of the taxi is the Beaux Maraichers Gare Routiere which is still quite a way outside of Dakar.

Dakar to Bamako via Tambacounda