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Cotonou is Benin's capital in everything but name: a vibrant, bustling, full-on city, and very much the economic engine of Benin. As a first port of call, it can be a little overwhelming, but life can be sweet in Cotonou, with good nightlife, great restaurants and excellent shopping (ideal for end-of-trip souvenirs).

It's also the most cosmopolitan place in the country, which means a slightly higher level of creature comforts and a good place to stock up on essentials before venturing into more rural areas.

Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Cotonou.