Cotonou, the city of the Benin Republic, is home to the most spectacular scenery and recognizable icons in Africa.
As one of the largest cities, Cotonou boasts many tourist destinations ranging from museums, monuments, beaches, and mosques.
We selected the top 16 must-see destinations best for a private and family vacation from so many tourist attractions in Cotonou.
1. Fidjrosse Beach
The Fidjrosse beach, located in Fidjrosse town in Cotonou, Benin Republic, is amongst the world’s most stunning, long, and huge beaches.
Fidjrosse Beach is a beach in Cotonou, Benin Republic, serving as a family-friendly recreational and relaxation area.
The Fidjrosse Beach, a stretch of golden sand sloping into the ocean, has abundant palm trees as shade.
Fidjrosse Beach offers vacationers clean blue water, soft sand, and a buzz of happy people easing stress.
Activities at the beach
- Relaxing and unwinding near the beachside
- Walking tour around the beach
- Beach volley
- Water sports, such as snorkeling
- Live music performance
2. Lagune de Cotonou
Lagune de Cotonou, also known as Cotonou Lagoon, is a breathtaking lagoon section in the Benin Republic, close to Pont Martin Luther King and Dantokpa Market.
With variants of spelling, the lagoon has an approximate terrain elevation of seven meters above sea level.
Notable Attractions at the Lagon
Visitors to Lagune de Cotonou have the opportunity of exploring other nearby attractions, which include;
- Lake Nokue
- Kotonu Lighthouse
- Dantokpa Market, and
Pont Martin Luther King.
3. Fondation Zinsou
Foundation Zinsou is a museum and an exhibition center for African artists, education, and social development.
Founded by the Zinsou Family, Foundation Zinsou is a modern art spot in the Cadjehoun neighborhood of Cotonou, Benin Republic.
The exhibition center has pieces of art ranging from abstract to traditional, naïve genres, and conceptualist.
Zinsou, named after the family that created it, promotes African art through paintings, photography, and sculptures.
Attractions at Fondation Zinsou
- The venue is a vital resource for culture and art in the Benin republic
- It houses the wax fabric exhibit
- There are artistic heritage related to Africa
- Beautiful art books and café with wi-fi access
Programs at the center
- Dance performance
- Public art events
- Artist’ talks
The Foundation Zinsou works every Monday to Friday, from 8:30 am to 7 pm, and Saturday from 10 am to 7 pm.
4. Obama Beach
Obama Beach is a pristine beach with mild waves opposite the US embassy in Cotonou, Benin Republic.
Obama Beach is among the rated attractions with beautiful ambiance, good sand, and a favorable environment.
With sparkling blue seawater and pure white sand, Obama beach in Cotonou is a sight for tourists to behold.
The beach at the center of the city is quite entertaining, allows magnitude, and is suitable for horse riding.
The working hours in Obama Beach are from Sunday to Sunday, from 12:00 pm to 7:45 am.
Services at Obama Beach
The Services at Obama Beach, the horse riding beach, include dine-in, takeaway, and delivery.
5. The Dantokpa Market
Dantokpa Market, a de facto central market beside the West Coast of Africa, is the largest open-air market in Cotonou.
The Dantokpa Market, known as Tokpa, is among the tourists’ top attractions in Cotonou, Benin republic.
Dantokpa market, covering more than 20 hectares, is one of the authentic markets with bright colors and smells.
With a commercial turnover of more than a billion CFA Francs per day, Dantokpa is economically important to the Benin republic.
Activities obtainable at the spot
- The market is remarkable with its access to interact with female sellers
- It also permits goofing around with men in the electronic section
- Dantokpa market has a spice section suitable for tourists.
The Uniqueness of the market
Tourists view the unique market through the overload sounds of taxis, motors, and bicycles.
The scenes and images in the market are picturesque.
The sight of goods sold during fetishes, religious rituals, and talisman is worth
checking out by tourists.
Dantokpa market is an ideal place to purchase local gifts and taste local food and drinks.
What do tourists enjoy the most at the market?
- Tourists enjoy attractive goods ranging from fresh fruits, live animals, talismans, and spices to electronics, clothing, and jewelry.
- The bustling atmosphere of the market is distinctive to tourists.
- Walking through the pulsating open-air market is an unparallel experience for tourists.
6. Artisanal Center
Cotonou Artisanal Center is a market at Boulevard Saint Michel, Cotonou, Benin republic, with an array of shops and stands selling traditional handicrafts.
The Artisanal Center is a market geared towards tourists, and it’s solely a spot for gifts and souvenirs.
Though Dantokpa Market is way bigger, souvenirs are hard to find than in the Artisanal Center, where it’s rampant.
Offerings of the Artisanal Center
The market set in traditionally styled houses with pastel walls and thatched roofs offer the following:
- Voodoo dolls
- Handmade puppets
- Carved wooden masks and batiks
- Lots of ornaments
Sightseeing in the center
The center serving as a sightseeing spot has paintings, hammocks, statues, trinkets, masks, clothing, bags, and table settings suitable for tourists.
7. Lake Nokoué
Lake Nokoué covering an area of 12,000 acres, has Cotonou sitting on the southern border.
Lake Nokue at the Atlantic department, south-east of Benin Republic, is the largest brackish water area in the country.
It’s an oval-shaped, brackish lake with riverine freshwater and seawater influx at the north and south.
The lake, 11 km long and 20 km wide, has a minimum of 78 species of fish worth viewing.
The lake attracts many cultural and eco-tourists as the middle of the lake hosts the village of Ganvie.
Attractions at the lake
- Bird watching
- Flora and fauna sightseeing
8. Bab’s Dock
Bab’s Dock is a private restaurant with European style at the rim of the lagoon in Cococodji.
Bab’s Dock is a restaurant 11 km from Cotonou with a beautiful cabin and a thatched terrace specifically designed for tourists.
The European-styled restaurant, made of local wood, is tucked away at the edge of a lagoon providing mental reset.
The serene environment allows travelers to unwind in the lush greenery calm water surrounding Bab’s Dock.
Things to know before visiting Bab’s Dock
- Bab’s Dock has two rooms accommodation per person, with each room having a king-size bed, bathroom en suite, and a toilet.
- The establishment also has a makeshift room atop each room.
- It’s only accessible on public holidays and weekends from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm.
- Tourists visiting for a day trip can drive there without prior booking.
- Bab’s Dock has a mini zoo on its facility with animals like tortoises, donkeys, and monkeys.
- Accommodation per night for one cabin room is #28,000 (45,000CFA).
- The tourism spot has a restaurant serving European-styled meals with prices around #3000 to #4500 (5000 – 7000 CFA).
How to locate the spot
When visiting Bab’s Dock, the easiest way is to find Eraven Shopping Center, the biggest mall in Cotonou.
Following the mall road and keeping the beach on your left, you will drive a few minutes to Bab’s Dock.
Parking space is available for tourists once you arrive, and then take a boat to Bab’s Dock with a charge fee of #1600 (2500 CFA).
Activities available in Bab’s Dock
The activities in Bab’s Dock that visitors can remember for a lifetime include the following:
- Sailing or kayaking across the lake
- Lying in the hammock close to the water’s edge
9. Cotonou Central Mosque
Cotonou Central Mosque is a major Islamic center of worship and the oldest and largest mosque in Rue des Cheminots, Cotonou, Benin Republic.
Cotonou central mosque is the center for Muslim devotees in Cotonou, Littoral, Benin republic.
The mosque, also known as Mosquee Centrale de Cotonou, is the most significant building at the core of Muslims.
Attraction at the mosque
The main attraction for tourists at the central mosque is exploring the breathtaking edifice structure of the mosque.
10. Cathedrale Notre Dame de I’lmmaculee Conception
Cathedrale Notre Dame de l’Immaculee Conception is one of the oldest and most famous monuments in Cotonou.
Located in front of Bayole Square, the catholic cathedral is worth a quick visit accruing its ambiance.
Why do you need to visit the cathedral?
With a history that stretches back decades, the cathedral is one of the most notable landmarks in Cotonou.
Residents have been worshipping on the site for years, making the cathedral one of the oldest in the country.
Attractions at the cathedral
- Clock tower
11. L’étoile Rouge
L’étoile Rouge is a significant crossroads in the center of Cotonou and a meeting point of five different routes.
L’étoile Rouge translating to “Red Star,” is a monument representing part of the nation’s history since 1975.
After adopting Marxism-Leninism as their political ideology in 1974, the monument came as a gift from Russia to Benin in 1975.
Though the Benin republic transitioned to democracy in 1991, the monument still served as a memory.
Activities in L’étoile Rouge
L’étoile Rouge currently serves as a relaxation spot and training support for people thirsty for sports.
Characteristics of the landmark
- L’étoile symbolizes the resistance of the people of the Benin republic
- The red star has a statue of a man holding a piece of wood, a gun, and a hoe above it.
- The spot is a sightseeing attraction in Cotonou.
12. Saint Michel church
Saint Michel church is a large Catholic Church in Rue 203, Cotonou, with lots of people going either in or out all through the day.
The church has a big hall for Anglophones and francophones at various hours for Sunday service and other sectors of prayers.
The pastel pink and green Catholic Church is more notable for its exterior decorations and works 24 hours every day.
Sightseeing elements at the church
- The exterior of the church looking like a pink gingerbread house is one of the things to behold
- It has our lady of victory that makes dearest wishes come true
- The church with small size concerts, little snack bar, and restaurants is worth viewing
- Saint Michel church, decorated with the colors of a Christmas party, is a good place for tourists to relax.
- There is a mini gallery at the church where Beninese art items are on sale
- Line-up of beautiful trees around the environment, serving as a shade to visitors.
13. Cotonou Cathedral
Cotonou Cathedral, known as the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Misericorde, is a catholic cathedral near the Ancien Pont Bridge.
The Cotonou cathedral is prominent for its unique burgundy and white hooped tiled architecture.
The cathedral with active white and red stripes is an escape from the bustle of Cotonou.
Appealing objects in Cotonou cathedral
- The main attraction for visitors to this cathedral is its art galleries and remarkable architecture.
- Another beautiful thing to glance at the church is a tower standing towards the left side of the church.
- The pretty stripes, sandstone, and cream-colored arches in the church are fascinating.
- Bookshops of academic texts and selling titles by regional writers make the spot more than a place of worship.
14. Grande Mosquee de Zongo
Grande Mosquee de Zongo is an excellent mosque among the largest mosques, and it’s in 9C4G+PGR, Cotonou, Benin republic.
The big mosque, situated in a busy environment, has modern facilities and massive space for prayer.
Attraction at the mosque
- The mosque’s beauty is the coming together of people from different nationalities to pray together.
- Flags of the Islamic nations of the world arrayed around the mosque
- A library for Islam and Arabic lessons.
15. Ancien Pont Bridge
Ancien Pont Bridge is a giant bridge-aqueduct in Cotonou, crossing the Lagune de Cotonou.
The 1928 stunning bridge is known for its significance, and it separates the two sides of the city Cotonou.
The bridge is among the landmarks and tourist attractions of Cotonou, Benin republic.
Why is the bridge attractive?
The Ancien Pont Bridge is attractive due to its modern touch grand construction in 1981.
The charming bridge gives a good view of the city of Cotonou just by standing on it.
16. Cotonou Friendship Stadium
Cotonou Friendship Stadium, known as Stade de l’Amitie, is a multipurpose stadium in Cotonou with facilities for athletics.
The stadium, a historic landmark, holds 20,000 people and is currently used for football matches.
The architecture, atmosphere, and history of Stade de l’Amitie, it has become a vital part of the soul of Cotonou.
Attractive activities at the stadium
- Jumping and throwing events
Tourist attractions in Cotonou are many, but the destinations listed above draw visitors from around the world all year round, and exploring them will indeed make your stay a memorable one.
Whether you are looking for unusual landmarks, monuments, historical buildings, breathtaking museums, and more in Africa, precisely in Benin republic, Cotonou got you covered.