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Travel Guide Africa Cote d'Ivoire Abidjan

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Introduction

Although inland Yamoussoukro is the official capital, Abidjan (the former capital) still is by far the biggest city in the country, with the estimated number of people living here officially around 3 million people but 4 to 5 million inhabitants could be the case as well. Most of the economical and financial activity in the country takes place here. Although the city has been getting safer during recent years, it is always wise to keep an extra eye out and try not to walk when it is dark, but rather take a taxi.

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Neighbourhoods

  • Le Plateau: the financial district with highrise buildings
  • Cocody: an upmarket residential district
  • Adjamé: slum area
  • Treichville
  • Marcory
  • Abobo-Doume
  • Yapougon
  • Boulay Island
  • Port Bouët

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Sights and Activities

Abidjan is sometimes referred to as the "Paris of West Africa". During the long and stable rule of the Ivory Coast's Godfather Felix Huphouet-Boigny the city of Abidjan has flourished. However, the political instability and the civil war of the past decade have taken their toll on the city. Neglect, low maintenance of buildings and public space and the mass exodus of foreigners have given the city an atmosphere of "lost glory". Nowhere is this to be seen better than in the famous Hotel Ivoire. Entering it is like taking a trip to the 1960s; since its construction there have been no significant changes or modernisation to its interior and furniture. Too bad though that its massive swimming pool has weeds growing on the bottom instead of blue waters.

The public zoo is very nice. It really is a beautiful place with loads of interesting animals for just CFA 200, well worth this small sum. Also don't forget a trip to Bassam, Abidjan's no. 1 beach.

  • St. Paul's Cathedral
  • Cocody Municipal Museum of Contemporary Art
  • National Library
  • National Museum

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Weather

Abidjan is hot and humid yearround, with temperatures around 30 degrees Celsius on most days. February to May is a bit hotter, when even nights are very warm at 26 degrees Celsius on average. Although the rainy season lasts from May to October, there generally is a peak in May/June and another in October, while in between it is relatively dry. Abidjan is wetter than places more to the east along the coastline of West Africa, but towards the west rainfall keeps increasing.

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Getting There

By Plane

Air Ivoire is the national airline of Cote d'Ivoire and is based at Félix Houphouët-Boigny International Airport (ABJ) near Abidjan. International destinations include Accra, Bamako, Conakry, Cotonou, Dakar, Douala, Libreville, Lomé, Monrovia, Marseille, Niamey, Ouagadougou and Paris.

Other cities served with mostly their respective national airlines are Algiers, Tripoli, Brussels, Nouakchott, Casablanca, N'Djamena, Johannesburg and Tunis, and a few other cities in neighbouring countries in West Africa.

By Train

The only train connection to Abidjan is from Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso with stop-overs in Bouake and Bobo-Dioulasso as well as some smaller cities. While a possibly interesting ride that should take 36 hours, the schedule is quite unreliable and journeys are known to have taken a much longer time. There are about two weekly departures. Abidjan Railway Station (Gare d'Abidjan) is situated in the central Le Plateau-district, next to Place De La Republique.

By Car

The roads to Abidjan are quite good despite their maintenance not being kept up as much as it should as of late. Traffic lights all but disappear once outside of Abidjan though, so be advised that driving outside of the city can be "active". It's important to note that whether in a private car, taxi, or gbaka (the shared minibuses) you will be stopped at various official (and unofficial) checkpoints where they will delay you at the very least and try to shake down a bribe at the worst. Abidjan also serves as a terminus for long haul bus lines from Bamako, Mali, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, and Accra, Ghana.

By Bus

Although most borders are open now, it's still only relatively safe to travel to and from Ghana. There are buses to Accra from Abidjan and sometimes onwards to Lomé in Togo. Still, there is supposed to be a bus between Abidjan and Bamako in Mali as well.

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Getting Around

Abidjan is quite spread out so walking can take a lot of time and bicycle riding isn't the safest choice (except nearer the water in Zone Quatre). However, there are many options to get around via motor transport.

By Car

There is a complex system that is comprised of two types of car taxis. The first type that most visitors will encounter are the orange (or red-orange) ones. These are legally able to operate anywhere in the city and you will most likely be able to ride solo in them. They are also the most expensive. A ride from the airport will run most people (especially non-Africans who speak little French) about 5,000 CFA, even to districts that are just 3 km away. If willing to haggle a lot (the drivers will often complain that they have to pay a fee to pick up passengers there, which is a lie) you may be able to get it to 3,500 or 2,500 CFA. A ride between two distant districts such as Zone Quatre and Plateau will be about 2,000 CFA.

The other type of taxi is color-coded to operate in a specific neighborhood, such as the green taxis you'll see in an area such as Koumassi and Treichville. Yellow taxis in Cocody municipal areas, Blue in Marcory, Yopougon and Abobo. These are significantly cheaper, but will most likely have to be shared and of course the distance they can travel is limited to a single neighborhood.

Travel books often make allusion to some taxis having meters. If they do (and this is rare), they are never working and you always, always agree on the price prior to departure. According to Africa Travelogue, they can only be found at the Zone 4 (Industriel) areas, because of the High level of the Expat community of Europen travelers living in Zone 4.

By Public Transport

There are several bus routes throughout the city. They are cheap and decently reliable, although they are often incredibly crowded due to insufficient numbers. Some of the bus stations can be overwhelming though, such as Adjame which, for those new to travel in West African cities will be a lot to handle. There is also the threat of pickpockets in these crowded areas.

By Boat

If you just need to cross the lagoon and can make use of one of the ferry routes, by all means take it. While the lagoon is polluted in some parts, it's still a wonderful ride and gazing at the Abidjan skyline from the water at sunset is delightful.

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Eat

There are many places to eat Ivorian food, most of them on the sidewalk or on a small road side terrace. Make sure that you ask about the price before you sit down, in order to avoid lengthy discussions about the price when they try to overcharge you after the meal. The staple foods in the Ivory Coast are rice, cassava, yam and bread. Bread is usually eaten at breakfast or as a supplement to the meal. The cassava (manioc) can be eaten cooked whole, as a mash called plakali, mixed with banana (foutou) or in crums (atchiki). Fish is usually the cheapest meal. European cuisine can be found in the wealthier neighbourhoods such as Plateau, Cocody, Deux Plateaux and Zone 4.

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Drink

The number one place to go out at night in Abidjan is Princess Road in Yopougon. There are many bars to just relax and drink and also loads of dancing with live music or deejays. Don't forget to order some fried spicy chicken; they prepare it for you right on the street!

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Sleep

View our map of accommodation in Abidjan or use the form below to search for availability (Travellerspoint receives a commission for bookings made through the form)

Booking.com

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Keep Connected

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

The country calling code to Cote d'Ivoire is 225.
To make an international call from Cote d'Ivoire, the code is 00.

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Accommodation in Abidjan

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This is version 6. Last edited at 12:50 on Dec 7, 17 by Utrecht. 21 articles link to this page.

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