Cotonou is Benin’s largest city and widely considered the country’s cultural and economic hub. It’s where you’ll find a majority of the country’s government buildings as well as a diverse array of shops, restaurants and attractions. Spending one day here is quite easy to do for less than $100.
Start with breakfast at Pili Pili for a scrumptious sampling of the famous pili pili chicken for only $5. Midday mean you’ll beat the mosquitos and scorching temps since seating is outside.
Kick off your exploration with a stop at Foundation Zinsou. This contemporary gallery features African arts and cultural exhibitions along with a café and bookshop that has an impressive collection of local works.
Next, swing by the Marche Dantokpa market for a rowdy, eclectic shopping experience. You’ll find a little of everything from African jewelry to foods. Those unfamiliar with these types of markets can find it a little stressful, but it’s a great place to find a few trinkets to take home. Be sure to check out the Fetish Market for the variety of African voodoo ingredients and artifacts. Set aside $20 to spend.
Stop by La Cabane du Pecheur during the lunch rush and have a sampling of its delicious wood-fired pizza while you enjoy views of the beach. A meal here will cost $10 at most.
Begin the afternoon by taking a peek at the Cathedral de Notre Dame, Cotonou’s answer to the famous cathedral in Paris. The vibrant red and white stripes of the church stand in contrast to the surroundings and make a picturesque view of downtown. Inside is a great place to escape the hustle of the city. Entrance is free.
Spend the rest of the afternoon unwinding at Fidjirossé Beach. It’s a favorite among locals and contains some incredibly beautiful scenery with coconut palms and white sand in abundance. It’s also a great place to sit and chat with locals.
For dinner, you’ll want to check out Le Prive. Easily the most popular restaurant in Cotonou, Le Prive is located in the heart of downtown and offers upscale dining with incredible French cuisine. Plan on dropping $30 for a meal here.
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