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    Fly to Cotonou, Benin

    The Venice of Africa.

    Discover the floating city of Ganvie from a canoe as you're gently rocked by the waves of Lake Nokoué.

    Benin voodoo

    Benin, the cradle of voodoo.

    Immerse yourself in the astonishing natural splendour and discover the voodoo rites, full of music and dance, the essential highlights of any trip to Benin.

    Flights to Cotonou, Benin

    Benin, the former Kingdom of Dahomey, is a small country in West Africa with an area of 112,622 km², bordered by Togo to the west, Nigeria to the east, and Niger and Burkina Faso to the north. Its tremendous cultural richness attracts many visitors who come to discover its palaces, beaches, national parks and markets.

    Situated on the coast, between Lake Nokoué and the Atlantic Ocean, Cotonou is Benin’s largest city as well as its economic and cultural heart. Are you looking for excitement, colour and authenticity? With its markets, golden sand beaches and lively nightlife, Cotonou has everything you could want.

    So what are you waiting for? Book your flight to Cotonou today with Brussels Airlines and get ready to explore Benin.

    What to do in Cotonou and Benin?

    1. In Cotonou, lose yourself in the vast, colourful market of Dantokpa, the largest in West Africa. Take a tour of the snackbar-restaurants to discover the gastronomy of Benin and taste the national beer, “la béninoise”.
    2. Stroll along the endless stretch of soft, sandy beaches known as the Route des pêches and visit coconut groves by the sea.
    3. Discover the floating city of Ganvie, known as the “Venice of Africa”, from a canoe as you're gently rocked by the waves of Lake Nokoué.
    4. Visit the Royal Palaces of Abomey, the historical capital of Benin, located 135 km from Cotonou.
    5. Pendjari National Park is part of the largest protected nature reserve in West Africa. Covering 480 000 hectares, it is a dream come true for lovers of nature and wildlife.
    6. Delve into the history of slavery in Ouidah, especially with the visit to the Gate of No Return.

    Practical Information for your trip to Benin

    • Brussels Airlines flights arrive and depart from Cotonou Cadjehoun Airport, located in Cotonou, on the seafront.
    • Current local time in Cotonou:  
    • Currency: The currency is the CFA franc (XOF), which has a fixed rate (1 EUR = 656 XOF). Cash and cheques are the main means of payment.
    • Telephone calls and Wi-Fi: The country code for Benin is +229. In the cities, it is fairly easy to find Wi-Fi, but this may be more complicated in the countryside.
    • Electric sockets: The outlets have a current of 220 volts and are type C or F. If you are coming from the United States or England, you will need to bring an adaptor.
    • Travel information: A visa is required to enter Benin and will be issued within 48 hours, if you have a valid passport, a photo and a round-trip plane ticket. All information on visas and travel documents is available on the website
    • Vaccination: The international certificate of vaccination is mandatory, with proof of vaccination against Yellow fever. More health information is available on the website

    Dos and don'ts in Benin.

    • In the cities, taxis and motorcycle taxis (zémidjan) are the best way to get around. It's a good idea to negotiate the fare. You can travel between cities by bus or bush taxi. Bush taxis are not more expensive than buses.
    • Regarding bus travel, Cotonou has several bus stations: you will be able to check the schedules and departure locations there. Railway travel is currently limited to the Cotonou - Allada - Bohicon - Dassa - Savé – Parakou line.
    • The best way to protect yourself against malaria is still to avoid mosquito bites: sleep under a mosquito net, wear long sleeves and trousers at night, use creams, aerosol sprays and vaporisers to keep the bugs away!
    • Tipping, more commonly known as a "gift", is considered the standard payment for service you have been provided. However, you should avoid giving money to children. This common practice among tourists leads to family conflict and sometimes encourages children to drop out of school.
    • French is the official language, however, many national languages coexist in the country. But if you speak French, you will have no problem communicating anywhere during your trip to Benin. Among the national languages, Fongbe, the language of the Fon people, is the most prevalent, particularly in central and south Benin. Other languages include: Dendi (North), Yoruba (South), Bariba (North), Goun-Gbe (South), Adja (West), Ewe (Southwest).

    Here are a few phrases in Fongbe you can use with the locals:

    • Hello: A fɔn à ! / Kú d’é wú
    • How are you? A ɖo ɖagbe à ?
    • Fine, thank you, and you? Lanmɛ ce ɖò ganjí, awanou
    • Do you speak French/English? A se flansegbe / glensigbe wɛ à ?
    • I understand/I don't understand: un mɔ nu jɛ mɛ / un mɔ nu jɛ mɛ ă
    • Sorry: Gbɔ se à !
    • Goodbye: Bo yi bo wá
    • Welcome: Doo nú wè
    • Thank you (very much): A wà nŭ (kaka)
    • Excuse me/Please: Mi kɛnklɛɛn
    • My name is…: Un nɔ nyi...
    • No thank you: eho
    • Yes/No: een/eho
    • You're welcome: E su kpε ă

    Cultural events in Benin

    In order to allow tourists to fully enjoy the cultural abundance of Benin during their stay, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism provides a cultural calendar. It's a summary of major festivals and other cultural and arts events.

    Among the events not to be missed:

    • Voodoo Day (10 January): this is the national day for traditional worship and religions. Benin is the cradle of voodoo, which refers to a religion devoted to a set of deities that are present everywhere and in everything, which plays a very important role here. This festival is celebrated throughout Benin and especially in Ouidah.
    • The Kaleta Carnival and festival of Aguda arts (from 23 to 25 December in Ouidah): “Kaleta” means “masked person” in Portuguese. This carnival thus involves masked and costumed dances, accompanied by traditional music.

    When to go to Benin?

    The best season for visiting Benin is winter, from November to February. The climate is tropical in the South, with a long dry season from November to March, and a shorter one in July-August. In the North, the rainy season is from May to September. During the dry season, temperatures can reach 40 °C and the harmattan blows dry air. A trip between December and March will allow you to visit the North and the South of Benin under the best conditions.

    What to eat in Benin?

    Beninese food is spicy and primarily based on maize dough in the south of the country and yams in the North. It features several species of fish, such as tilapia, sea bream, carp and catfish. The most common meat is chicken, and shrimp and crab are the most popular seafood. Meat and fish are served grilled, fried or stewed in sauce and served with dough, rice or spaghetti.

    Benin specialities you must try:

    • Aloko: fried plantains
    • Talé talé: fritters made with ripe bananas and flour
    • Tchapalo: fermented drink made from maize and caramelised sugar
    • Bissap: iced, sweetened drink made from dried hibiscus flowers

    Avoid consuming uncooked vegetables, ice cubes and tap water.

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