Abidjan, Ivory Coast - Stein Travel


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Welcome to Abidjan

Abidjan was once the proud and flourishing capital city of the Ivory Coast, and a jewel in the continent of Africa's crown; however, years of civil unrest and a lack of maintenance have seen the city slowly move away from the reputation it once held as the 'Paris of West Africa'. For those travelling to Ivory Coast, Abidjan will more than likely be your first introduction to the country. The city is testament to what the country once was and what it could be again. This is evident in the sites such as the Hotel Ivoire, which was constructed in the sixties and hasn't changed significantly since then. Visitors can take a trip down memory lane as the hotel's architecture, furniture and decor are all reminiscent of styles that have long-since passed. Abidjan is arranged along the coast and the shores of a lagoon. Some sites in the city include a popular beach area known as Grand Bassam, the public zoo, a rainforest park in the city called Park du Banco, and Saint Paul's Cathedral.


Abidjan, and the rest of Ivory Coast enjoys a tropical monsoon climate. Temperatures in this coastal city tend to remain in the region of 70°F to 90°F (20°C to 30°C). Abidjan experiences the majority of its rain during the monsoon months from May to July. October and November can be wet months but the average rainfall for the rest of the year remains minimal. Humidity generally reaches about 80, particularly from January to June when temperatures tend to remain constant at 86°F (27°C). The best time to visit is during the cooler and drier months between November and January.

Eating Out

Leaving your hotel at night is not recommended; however, if you do decide to have an early dinner or a late lunch then the best area to head to is La Plateau, which has a small selection of restaurants.

The official language of Ivory Coast is French but more than 60 native dialects are spoken.

The official currency is the CFA Franc (XOF), divided into 100 centimes. The CFA Franc is linked to the Euro. New notes were issued in 2004 and only those issued by the Bank of West African States ( Banque des États de l'Afrique de l'Ouest) are valid currency. There are a few ATMs in Abidjan but most will accept only Visa cards. It is unwise to use an ATM that is not guarded. Credit cards are accepted in the larger hotels and better restaurants. Most shops require cash. Travellers cheques are accepted in banks, as well as some tourist orientated hotels and restaurants.


Markets can be visited in both Adjambe and Treichville, they are best visited during midmorning before it gets too hot, humid and crowded.

Located about an hour away from Yamoussoukro, the Parc National d'Abokouamekro (Abokouamekro National Park) is an up-and-coming Ivory Coast tourist attraction of great promise. Covering over 21,000 hectares of verdant grassland, criss-crossed by rivers and punctuated by towering trees, Abokouamekro National Park is also an important game reserve, offering refuge to the region's threatened wildlife. Gaze in wonder at the seemingly-endless rolling green vistas, and be on the lookout for rhinos, giraffe, buffalo, hippos, monkeys and more.

Once the picture of innovation and modernity for Abidjan, the Hotel Ivoire is now an empty shell of what was. The hotel complex used to include more than ten tennis courts, a casino, grocery store, curio stalls, a bowling alley, nightclubs, sauna, restaurants and swimming pools. However, Hotel Ivoire as it stands today is testament to the ruins of civil instability in the country. The swimming pools are empty and have weeds growing where the water used to be, restaurants are closed and very few guests choose to stay in this eerie sixties-decorated hotel.

A decent little museum, certainly worth checking out, the National Museum of Abidjan is centrally located in the city's Le Plateau region. The museum has a special focus on Ivorian art, showcasing statues, masks, jewellery, tools, carved doors, tom-toms and musical instruments from every region of the country - with a large proportion of the artefacts on display being carved from gleaming ivory. Please leave a donation on your way out of the museum, to contribute to the upkeep and maintenance of these cultural treasures.

Situated at the northwestern edge of the city, Parc du Banco offers tourists a glimpse of the country's rainforests. The park has a number of walking paths and trails, as well as a lake and a huge array of towering, liana-strewn trees. There are still some examples of wildlife in the park but they are shy and difficult to spot. Visitors to the park are advised to exercise caution as it has been known to be a hide-out for criminals in the past. While en route to the park keep an eye out for the continent's largest outdoor laundrette, just before the entrance to Parc du Banco.

Designed by Italian architect Aldo Spirito, and covering a massive 14,625 square feet (4,500m square), this cathedral is Africa's second-largest church building and can seat more than 3,500 people. Pope John Paul II inaugurated the cathedral in August 1985. The tower itself is said to be a figure of St Paul, while the buildings behind the tower represent his robes. The interior of the cathedral includes a number of beautiful stained-glass tableaux. The building also offers spectacular views of the city.

Tourists to Abidjan looking for a little entertainment should head to the area of Treichville, a small commune located in the southwest of the city. Full of bars and restaurants, as well as a race course, swimming pool and sports park, this is the area of the city in which you are undoubtedly most likely to run into other tourists or expats based in Abidjan. While you should check with your hotel on the safety situation before stepping out at night, Treichville is certainly the place to go if you want to sample some of the city's surprisingly vibrant nightlife. The Living Room, located in the bustling area known as Crossroad France-Amérique, is a popular place among locals and tourists alike.

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