things to do in saint louis senegal pirogue boats

The faded-coloured buildings are dilapidated and crumbling away, yet they tell stories of the past.

There are a number of things to do in Saint Louis to keep you busy for a few days.

Here are some ideas for where to stay, what to do, and what to eat during your visit to Saint Louis, Senegal.

First impressions of Saint Louis

The streets are dusty and narrow and you can walk around the historic city within an hour. It’s very quiet here and it has charm but this place is really in need of a little love.

It was sad to see that there is garbage everywhere, flattened water bottles on the streets under layers of thick dust and trash banked up on the side of the river.

things to do in saint louis senegal
The buildings are old, but always colourful in the city of Saint Louis Senegal
saint louis senegal the bridge
The Bridge in the background. You can opt for a horse can carriage ride around the town of Saint Louis.

You’ll still get the constant hassle from touts in Saint Louis as you likely would have experienced in Dakar, however, it’s not quite as persistent here.

But, there are many things to do in Saint Louis, so let’s talk about them.

things to do in saint louis senegal dilapidated buildings
Saint Louis Senegal. Many streets looks very similar to this.

Things to do in Saint Louis, Senegal

1) Old City Sights

In the Old Town, these sights are worth checking out; the Governor’s Palace, the Cathedral, the grand mosque, and Faidherbe Bridge (a road bridge over the Sénégal River which links the island of the city of Saint Louis in Senegal to the African mainland).

things to do in saint louis senegal streets
Things to do in Saint Louis. Wander around the historic Old Town and take some incredible photos

2) Mansions – A Must-see stop of things to do in Saint Louis

Walk around and see crumbling 19th-century French colonial villas with shaded courtyards and carved wooden balconies designed for the heat.

Some have collapsed; others are in a desperate need of restoration. Several are now boutique hotels.

3) Mupho Saint Louis

Museum and photography gallery celebrating and showcasing various Senegalese photographers.

4) Music

Jazz is popular here and you can find good music in the bars in town on the weekend.

5) Parc National de la Langue de Barberie

Open 08:00 – sunset.  Entry CFA 5000. The park is home to some of the best birdlife in the world.

6) The Beaches – Best things to do in Saint Louis

The Langue de Barbary stretches along the coast from Mauritania to Senegal, which shelters St Louis from the Atlantic Ocean. You can find nice beaches with warm water, soft sand and palm trees to enjoy.

There are resorts near the entrance to the National Park Langue de Barbarie, just south of the city where you can relax in the sun if you’ve done enough sight-seeing for the day.

crumbling buildings in Saint-Louis

Where to Stay in Saint Louis, Senegal

Budget accommodation isn’t found here, but there are a few good-value hotels on the island; view them here.

After exploring all the things to do in Saint Louis, it’s nice to return to a comfortable and clean room. These are our best hotel recommendations.

  • Siki Hotel: A great mid-range hotel in an excellent location. Rooms from $60 per night. A fantastic breakfast is included in the rate.
  • Natoose Lodge: Natoose Lodge features air-conditioned rooms and a garden. The property features garden and inner courtyard views. The apartment offers lake views, a sun terrace, a 24-hour front desk, and free WiFi is available throughout the property. Rooms from $110 per night.

Where to Eat in Saint Louis, Senegal

things to do in saint louis senegal
The popular Senegalese dish, Yassa Poulet. This must be on your list of things to do in Saint Louis, Senegal. So tasty!
  • Carillon du Lac: Good value local restaurant, that serves up a popular dish called Mafe at lunchtime for about CFA 2000. (4USD) Read more about Mafe in our AFRICA Food Map.
  • Ndar Ndar Music Cafe: A cute coffee shop in town that serves real brewed coffee (not instant coffee) and fresh juice. This place sells artwork and you can purchase some great African music too.
  • La Linguere: Great local food at affordable prices. Go at lunchtime for ‘plate of the day’ as it’s always the best value meal.  Try a local dish such as Yassa Poisson (fish) or Yassa Poulet (chicken) which is a dish made with onions, garlic, and lemon.  If you get a chance, try the national dish, Thieboudienne, a dish of fish, tomato, rice, and vegetables. Yum. These two dishes also appear on our list of the 8 most popular West African dishes you must try.
  • La Crepe Saint Louisienne: Sweet and savoury crepes here, delicious. Don’t miss this food stop! One of my favourite things to do in Saint Louis.
things to do in saint louis senegal crumbling buildings
Walking around, you will see many dilapidated buildings. Not really on my list of things to see and do in Saint-Louis Senegal.

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How to Get from Dakar to Saint Louis

Sept Place Taxi (7-seater shared taxi): The price of a shared taxi to Saint-Louis is CFA 5000, plus another 500/1000 for each piece of larger baggage.

Pay your fare to the man who is shouting the loudest and seems to have all the money in one hand.

He will give you a ticket with a written number on it, that number tells you which seat you have been allocated. 

things to do in saint louis shared taxi senegal
Things to do in Saint Louis, Senegal. We believe taking a shared taxi is an experience in itself. Try it!

How do shared taxis work?

Number 1 is the front seat (a good seat to have because you don’t have to have someone else sweat all over you for the journey). The other seats with numbers 2,3,4 are located just behind the driver. Seats with numbers 5,6 and 7 are the three back seats.

The car will most most likely be a very old Peugeot station wagon. It will be rusty as hell, have a windscreen with cracks, and terrible seats. And it will probably need to be push-started, but have faith that it will get you there in one piece.

NOTE: The price of baggage depends on the size, however, it’s always up for negotiation. The man loading the car will generally try to charge you much more than he will charge locals. Smaller bags (petit) cost CFA 300-500.

15-seater Minivan:  Another option is to take the 15-seater minivan which costs CFA 3200 per person. As a result, this can take quite some time to fill up. These vans are more likely to break down on the road, they’re a little squashy, much slower and they stop along the way.

Private Car: You can make arrangements with local taxi drivers to take you directly to Saint Louis. This is a good option if you’ve got the budget for it (150 USD) plus gas. If you’re heading to Saint-Louis from Dakar Airport, then you can book this private car transfer in advance.

How long does it take?

The journey to Saint Louis takes around 4 hours by shared taxi and the traffic getting out of Dakar is always heavy. Shared taxis leave from Beaux Maraichers Gare Routiere which is 10km from downtown Dakar.

If you’re up for an adventure (as we were), consider taking a shared taxi from Dakar as one of the things to do in Saint Louis.

It certainly is an experience you won’t forget, and sometimes that’s what travel is all about.

Recommended Day Tours from Dakar

If you’re interested in a relaxing break away from the big cities, why not book a cheap flight from Dakar with Skyscanner and visit Cape Verde?

This group of islands is just off the coast of Senegal and is full of Creole culture and music, not to mention it’s beautiful.

Find out more about Cape Verde and more importantly, what to eat in Praia when you get there.

What else would you add to our list of things to do in Saint Louis, Senegal? Let us know in the comments below.

Travel Tips for Africa

You may enjoy reading these 17 things you should know before travelling in West Africa if you plan on heading there.

Our Africa Bucket List has all the major highlights of each country so you can be sure not to miss anything.

We spent a lot of time in Africa, particularly in 2019 as we travelled overland through many countries. It was quite the adventure!

You can read about our travels in West Africa – 0ur Recap of 2019 for some flashbacks from the journey and some advice for those who wish to go too.