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Built on a low-lying estuary where the Gêba River flows into the Atlantic, apart from the hectic traffic, Bissau is a low-key, unassuming capital. On the main artery from the airport to the center, sputtering taxis and toca-tocas jostle for space with SUVs sporting decals from international aid organizations. Crowds of shoppers at roadside markets have little more elbow room.

In the early evening, the fading sunlight casts shadows over the crumbling colonial facades of Bissau Velho (Old Bissau). Generators set parts of the town trembling at night, although, street lights or not, people get out of their homes and gather at ramshackle bars.

With few sights, per se, and a waterfront defined by several concrete jetties and decaying government ministries, Bissau is best appreciated by the friendly welcome of its residents and moments of cultural connection – through food and drinks and being crammed in the back seat of a car.

Top attractions

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