If you’re planning a visit to Senegal, you may be wondering what to do in Senegal when you arrive. I’ve got you covered!
Senegal is a beautiful country on the West African coast. During the cooler dry season between October and May, temperatures range from 62 F to 80 F (17 C to 27 C).
There’s a fair amount to see and do throughout the country and the major cities in Senegal have great roads that lend themselves well to road trips and sightseeing. Still, it’s worth saying that Senegal is better for relaxing on the beach than for lots of hiking or sightseeing.
But before you head off or wrap up your planning, read our post on what to know about visiting Senegal (it covers how to dress, getting from the airport to your hotel, and so much more).
Now, let’s dive in to your Senegal itinerary!
7 Unique Things to Do in Senegal
Here are seven unique activities to do in Senegal:
Visit the African Renaissance Monument in Dakar
La Monument De La Renaissance Africaine is the tallest sculpture in all of West Africa and provides a stunning view of Dakar from the head of the man in the statue (yes, you go into the statue!).
The monument is free to see from the outside and you can climb up the stairs and walk around at the top. But to get into the museum inside, you’ll need to pay about $10-$15 US. This also covers a guided group tour (in French and English). We thought it was worth it.
Inside, there are several sculpture pieces and paintings depicting the history of Senegal and Africa. Our tour guide was informative, bilingual and eager to answer questions. We also had many kids on the tour, so it’s a great activity for kids too.
Go to Goree Island
Goree Island is well-known for its link to the Transatlantic slave trade of the 15th-19th century. You can visit Goree from Dakar or Saly. We recommend traveling from Dakar.
If you’re staying at a hotel, they can organize a trip for you. Otherwise, you can join a tour group like this one. You’ll visit the House of Slaves and roam around the small island. Most tours include lunch, so you won’t have to worry about that.
Surf on the beach
Senegal’s beaches have strong waves, but by far the strongest we saw were in Saly! If you like surfing, you can catch some untouched waves in Somone.
You can also surf in Dakar on Yoff (check out Malika Surf Camp there) and Oukam beaches. Most surf camps/clubs also rent surfing equipment and offer day rates so you can surf to your heart’s content.
The best time to surf in Senegal is the dry season, from October to March.
See the Pink Lake
Lake Retba, popularly known as La Lac Rose (or the Pink Lake), is a lake that has a pink hue at certain times of the day.
The pink color of this lake is because of the algae Dunaliella salina. While it’s beautiful if you catch it at the right time, It can be packed with persistent vendors, which detracts from the whole chill ambiance.
You can book tours online, but I really recommend going with a guide from your hotel. Most hotels in Saly and Dakar have tour agency connections, which we felt safer with. I’d recommend visiting from Saly, although the lake is pretty much in the middle of both cities.
See giraffes at the Bandia Reserve
@afomastravels Highlights of time in Saly, #Senegal We enjoyed the Bandia Reserve #traveltiktok #senegaltravel #travelafrica #coupletravel ♬ original sound – afomastravels
Senegal is not Kenya or South Africa, but we loved our time at the Bandia reserve. There are no big cats at this reserve (so no lions, tigers, cheetahs, or leopards).
However, we saw the most beautiful giraffes, zebras, and antelopes. You can also spot ostriches, warthogs, hippos, and rhinoceroses. We booked a private tour via our hotel, and it was less than 30 minutes away from the hotel in Saly (so, travel from Saly).
Our guide was friendly and knowledgeable, and the reserve was clean and well-kept. There’s also a restaurant which serves fantastic meals. We had a nice spaghetti bolognese and some grilled meats. There’s also a gift shop (which we didn’t love).
Enjoy a donkey ride in Saint Louis
Saint Louis has a quaint colonial vibe and the pace of living is very slow. This makes it the perfect city for relaxation and winding down at the end of your trip. Our best recommendation is to take many strolls, enjoy the surroundings, and eat lots of thieb at local restaurants.
To top things off, be sure to do a donkey carriage ride, which Saint Louis is well known for.
Visit Ngor Island
Ngor Island is a small island just 10 mins away from Dakar. It’s a great surfing spot, and the island is cute.
There’s not much activity on Ngor Island (like much of Senegal, honestly). We recommend it for a day of relaxing, eating seafood, looking at art, and maybe renting a car to drive you around if you’re tired of the beach view.
7-Day Senegal Itinerary
Seven days is good enough time to see Senegal. We were there for about 12 days but spent the last five days at an all-inclusive resort. Here’s a sample seven-day itinerary for your Senegal trip:
- Day 1: Arrive Senegal and travel to your hotel in Dakar (see my list of places to stay in Senegal)
- Day 2: Go to the African Renaissance Monument and visit Ngor Beach in the afternoon/evening
- Day 3: Eat lunch at Lagon 1 (see my list of places to eat in Dakar) and walk around downtown Dakar
- Day 4: Take a road trip to Saly and check into your accommodation
- Day 5: Go to Bandia Reserve and the Pink Lake
- Day 6: Take a road trip to Saint Louis and stroll around the town
- Day 7: Enjoy a leisurely morning in Saint Louis before returning to Dakar for your flight home
Ready for your Senegal trip?
Senegal is a small country still building its tourism muscles, but if you ask me, it’s better to visit now before it’s overrun by tourists in the future. The beaches are untouched, the museums are uncrowded, and the locals are friendly.
The country also neighbors the beautiful Gambia, which is $200 flight away on a good day – if you’re looking to bundle trips. You can also visit the gorgeous island of Cape Verde from Dakar when you book an Air Senegal flight to Praia.
Whatever you choose to do, I’m sure these Senegal attractions will make a great addition to your list of things to do in Senegal!
Got more questions about traveling to Senegal? Read my full Senegal travel guide.