With their unspoiled nature and marvelous African jungle containing very rare trees, plants and animals, the surrounding areas of Abidjan are well worth a visit.
Abidjan is not the capital of the Ivory Coast, since this is Yamoussoukro, but it is the economic and cultural centre of the country. It now has a population of about three million and is still growing rapidly.
Abidjan is a city with two aspects. On one hand, there are the rich areas, such as the business centre Le Platteau, which is especially popular with French tourists. This district also contains the “Hôtel Ivoire”, Africa’s most famous hotel, which offers a full range of facilities, with a swimming pool and a casino. On the other hand, there are the slum areas.
SLEEP Located in a quiet residential area and surrounded by a tranquil tropical garden, swimming pool, tennis court and spa, Gaia’s Garden B&B (Rue des Jardins, gaiasgardenabidjan) is a lovely place to stay. The restaurant offers a range of French and Latin American-influenced dishes, along with traditional African cuisine.
EAT Restaurant Aboussouan (Corner of Boulevard Giscard d’Estaing and Avenue Delafosse) is the long-established home of Abidjanaise gastronomy. Expect an array of French wines and African-influenced cuisine.
- Only 3km from central Abidjan is the Parc du Banco, part of the Attécoubé community. Wander through the rainforest to the central lake or take a detour and walk along bush trails through ancient forests of immense tropical hardwood trees. Look out for the small river on the park’s edge where the fanicos (laundry men) work after collecting the laundry from the whole of the city.
- Looming over a lagoon, Cathédrale St Paul (Boulevard Angoulvant, Le Plateau) – the main Roman Catholic church in Abidjan – is an impressive modern structure. Designed by Italian Aldo Spiritom, it has beautiful stained-glass windows and is certainly worth a visit.
- The cosy Bidule Bar (Zone 4, Bietry, www.facebook.com/abidjan.lebidule) is a low-key lounge that’s popular among expats, travellers and locals. They serve a wide variety of cocktails (including great mojitos), accompanied by very good spicy tapas plates. Wine bar Kaiten (Rue du Docteur-Blanchard, Zone 4) is another popular place for an evening tipple.
Port Bouet International Airport is 16km from the city centre. Metered orange taxis can be found outside the airport exit. Taxis to the city centre should cost around CFA9,000/€14. Or ask your hotel about their shuttle service.