Freetown still shows signs of its history as a point of return for liberated slaves. The capital of Sierra Leone therefore has much to appeal to those interested in history.
Freetown, which is situated on a peninsula in the Atlantic Ocean, is the economic and administrative centre of the country and also has one of the few natural harbours in West Africa. Freetown was founded in 1787 and then became the home of liberated slaves. This history is still obvious to visitors to this fascinating city. For example, Freetown is divided into a number of districts that were created when each nationality of slaves founded its own district.
Fort Thornton, which is now the presidential palace, and St. George’s Cathedral are highly recommended as historic sights. You should, of course, also pay a visit to one of the large number of churches and mosques.
SLEEP In the heart of Freetown, with panoramic ocean views, The Hub hotel (6 Regent Road, thehub-hotel) offers a gym, infinity pool and sushi bar. If you’re after luxury, try Country Lodge Complex (51 Hill Station, countrylodgesl).
EAT Roy’s Restaurant (Lumley Beach) is a Lebanese-run Freetown institution. It’s not fancy, but its position – perched on an elevated deck – offers a superb vantage point from which to watch the sunset. Dine on fresh fish and pizza, and finish with an apple-infused shisha pipe as the night draws in.
- Dip into the cultural heritage of Sierra Leone at the Sierra Leone Museum (Siaka Stevens Street, www.sierraleoneheritage.org). Knowledgeable guides bring the artifacts to life at this tiny but fascinating museum with background stories of ‘secret societies’ and masquerade traditions.
- Take time to rummage for souvenirs around Big Market (Wallace Johnson Street). This jumble of stalls is packed to the gills with an array of arts and crafts as well as everyday local household items.
- Just 40 minutes from frenetic Freetown, take to the hills and trails of Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary (Regent-Bathurst Mountain Road, Western Area Peninsular Forest Reserve, www.tacugama.com) to observe our furry relatives in this rainforest reserve. Stay for the weekend and combine the guided forest walks with some downward dogs at their yoga retreats.
Avoid the lengthy (from 90 minutes to three hours) taxi ride to town from Lungi Airport by taking the Sea Coach Express
speedboat across Tagrin Bay. The 30-minute boat crossing costs SLL184,000/€39 and can be booked in advance – see www.vsltravel.com/getting-to-Sierra-Leone/airport-transfer.html