Benin

Communauté Financière Africaine Francs (XOF)

French, Fon, Yoruba, Dendi, Aja, Bariba and more than 50 local languages

Top things to do

Top ChoiceGardens in Porto Novo

Centre Songhai

The Centre Songhai is a major research, teaching and production centre in sustainable farming. There are one-hour guided tours to visit the plantations and workshops. You can also buy the centre's produce –...

Top ChoiceBeninese in Abomey

Chez Delphano

This delightful maquis is a winner. Marguerite prepares exquisite Beninese cuisine in a jovial atmosphere. She also prepares crêpes in the morning, with freshly ground coffee and a mountain of fruit. Yum! Chez...

Top ChoiceEuropean in Route des Pêches

Bab's Dock

This hidden gem near the Route des Pêches is on the edge of the lagoon. Food is European in style but local in production. A secure car park is signposted from the route; from there, a boat takes you to the...

Top ChoiceMuseum in Ouidah

Zinzou Foundation Museum

This museum of contemporary African art, housed in a stunning 1920s Afro-Brazilian villa, displays paintings and sculptures as well as light, video and sound installations. It's a classy affair, run by the Zinzou...

Top ChoiceFrench in Cotonou

L'Atelier

Considered by some connoisseurs to be one of the most refined restaurants in town, with excellent French and fusion cuisine, and an ambience that's as optimal for business lunches as it is for a romantic evening...

Top ChoiceFrench in Cotonou

Chez Clarisse

This small French restaurant, in a pretty residential area next to the US embassy, is a perennial favourite that churns out excellent French and local specialties, such as fish with moyo sauce, as well as...

Top ChoiceBar in Cotonou

Le Livingstone

One of the most atmospheric spots for a drink is the terrace of this pub in Haie Vive, which serves as one of the biggest expat hangouts in town.

Top ChoiceBeninese in Cotonou

Maman Aimé

This is a super atmospheric Beninese maquis (rustic open-air restaurant) with little more than a few wooden benches and tables under a corrugated iron roof. Here you'll get a blob of pâte (starch staple, often...

Memorial in Ouidah

Route des Esclaves

The Route of the Slaves includes the slave auction plaza, the Tree of Forgetfulness (where slaves were branded with their owners' symbols and, to make them forget where they came from, forced to walk around the...

Market in Cotonou

Grand Marché de Dantokpa

Grand Marché de Dantokpa

The seemingly endless Grand Marché du Dantokpa is Cotonou's throbbing heart, bordered by the lagoon and Blvd St Michel. Everything under the sun can be purchased in its labyrinthine lanes, from fish to soap,...

National Park in The Atakora Region

Parc National de la Pendjari

Parc National de la Pendjari

This 2750-sq-km national park is one of West Africa's best for wildlife. Visitors may spot lions, leopards, elephants, baboons and hippos. The best viewing time is near the end of the dry season (November to...

Museum in Abomey

Musée Historique d'Abomey

Abomey's main and seriously impressive attraction (and a World Heritage site since 1985), this sprawling museum is housed in two palaces, those of the ancient kings Ghézo and Glélé. The museum displays royal...

Gallery in Cotonou

Fondation Zinsou

Named after the family that started it, this fantastic exhibition space seeks to promote contemporary African art among Beninese people through photography, paintings and sculptures. The chic boutique sells...

Church in Cotonou

Cathedral de Notre Dame

With its vibrant red and white stripes, this Catholic cathedral is not just a place of worship but also home to a small bookshop selling titles by regional writers as well as a handful of academic texts. The...

North African in Natitingou

Maquis Savanna

The chef, Guillaume, serves up French-Moroccan–North African fare such as Moroccan lamb and tagine, creamy hummus, excellent meats and river fish, all with a smile and remarkably attentive service. There's often...

Museum in Ouidah

Musée d'Histoire de Ouidah

Ouidah's main site is its Musée d'Histoire de Ouidah, housed in the beautiful Fortaleza São João Batista, a Portuguese fort built in 1721. It retraces the town's slave-trading history and explores the links...

Village in Ganvié

Ganvie Stilt Village

This stilt village, located in the lagoon of Lake Nokoue, was created for the Tofinu people to stay safe from slave hunters. It has become part of their culture and way of life. The teetering houses, schools,...

Market in Cotonou

Fetish Market

This market sells anything associated with voodoo, including varieties of tree barks and dried plants (both used in traditional medicine) and stalwarts for voodoo rites, such as dried animal parts, particularly...