Aerial view of Dakar & coast

Dakar Airport (DKR)

Named for the river that runs along the eastern and northern border, the country of Senegal sits on the western Africa coast. Its capital, Dakar, is known for its French influences that distinguish it as one of the most European cities on the African continent. Located on the westernmost point of Africa — the Cap Vert peninsula — Dakar is packed with seascapes, museums and a monument or two that make it stand out from the rest.

Music, Museums and Must-Sea Views

The country of Senegal as a whole is well known as the place where the genre of music known as Mbalax first began. But Mbalax’s origins most specifically trace back to Dakar in the 1970s, when the sounds that were common to popular musicians of the time mixed with the traditional African stylings to form an eclectic new genre. The result, of course, was Mblax, which somehow combines sounds of Latin, soul, jazz and rock with the cultural sabar. Today Mblax can be found in clubs all throughout the city. If you can, catch a show from Youssou N’Dour and Orchestre Baobab who are famous for belting out jazzy tunes perfect for dancing the night away.

History is not lost on Dakar, either. Though its past is somewhat heavy, the Ile de Goree, which was once a station to the slave trade, combines what makes Dakar, and Senegal so interestingly beautiful — the sea and a story. The small, sparsely populated island is a UNESCO world heritage site and is home to three museums and a beach that is open to the public. For more history, visit the African Renaissance Monument — taller than the Statue of Liberty — that celebrates the end of slavery. And end your day with a sunset over the water at the Secret Beach, which is one of the most popular places for surfing in Senegal.

Stop for roasted peanuts on the streets, which remain a Dakar travel staple. Lots of other street food is also available, so be sure to sample the other nuts, fruits, bread stands and all that the streets of Dakar have to offer. The French influences make their way into the tastes of Senegal also. Try out Café de Rome, which has Sole Meuniere that is worth the trip to Dakar alone.

Ready to say ‘oui’ to a French-inspired getaway? You might also try Paris or Nice.