Bissau

Travel Guide Africa Guinea Bissau Bissau

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Introduction

Bissau is the capital and largest city of Guinea Bissau and has a total population of roughly 400,000. It is located in the west of the country and is the administrative and economic heart of the country, as well as being a major port city in the Geba River estuary which flows into the Atlantic Ocean. It has been the capital since the country's independence in 1974. The city itself is not particularly interesting or developed and it lacks decent infrastructure and facilities for travellers. Yet, it has a charm of its own like many other West-African cities have.

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Sights and Activities

  • Presidential Palace (Palácio Presidencial). Bombed-out during the civil war. Reconstructed in 2013 with Chinese money, serves again as president's seat.
  • Bissau Velho - the old Portuguese colonial centre. Not much life there nowadays, but still a nice place to walk around. Don't miss the prison with pink flowers painted on its front (At the corner of the fort, close to the harbour).
  • Porto Pidjiguiti - walk out the little port and talk to the fishermen, watch the pelicans and see the city from a distance. The Pidjiguiti port was the site of the Pidjiguiti massacre on 3 August 1959, where police shot down some 50 striking dockworkers. This became the beginning of the active resistance against the Portuguese colonial power. There is a monument shaped as a gigantic black fist commemorating the massacre.
  • Mercado de Bandim - Bissau's main market.
  • Fortaleza d'Amura - old Portuguese fort, containing the mausoleum of national hero Amilcar Cabral and tombs of other revolutionaries. Inside is also Amilcar Cabral's car. Can be hard to get in, but possible, if you make friends with the soldiers or get a permission.
  • National Ethnographic Museum (Museu Etnográfico Nacional) (On the university campus, opposite "Lenox de Bairro"). Open mornings only, it has a small collection of Bissau-Guinean wooden masks and statues, baskets, cloths etc. The staff is very helpful and good at explaining the purpose of the different items, and connecting it to traditional spiritual beliefs

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Events and Festivals

  • Annual carnival

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Weather

Bissau has a hot and humid tropical climate with temperatures around and sometimes well over 30 °C during the day most of the year. Night time temperatures rarely dropping below 22 °C. The rainy season lasts from June to October with most rain falling from mid-July to September. The hottest months are February to April when temperatures can rise above 35 degrees. The best months are probably November to February with sunny and dry days and still not overly hot.

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Getting There

By Plane

Osvaldo Vieira International Airport (OXB) near Bissau receives a number of international flights, among which are those with the national airline Guinea Bissau Airlines. International destinations to and from Bissau include Dakar (Air Senegal International), Lisbon (TAP Portugal) and Dakar, Lisbon, Praia, Sal with TACV Cabo Verde Airlines.

By Bus

A sept-place (7-seat shared taxi) from Ziguinchor, Senegal costs CFA$4,000. Additional CFA$1,000 for a normal sized bag. The trip takes 2.5 to 3 hours, depending on border formalities.

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Getting Around

Shared taxis are cheap and plentiful. Stop taxis and tell them where you want to go (or tell the passing taxis by pointing), and they will either accept "na bai" (I'm going), or decline "não" (no) if people, already in the taxi, are going to another part of the city. Prices are more or less fixed, and you'll normally not get cheated, except when you're an obvious foreigner and taking a taxi from the airport or Hotel Bissau Palace.

Group travel is cheaper, for example: 1 person 300 FCFA, 2 persons 300 FCFA, 3 or 4 persons 600 FCFA.

There are also minibuses "toca-tocas" going on fixed routes, you'll pay 100 FCFA a person for the ride, but the buses are often very crowded!

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Eat

  • Recidencial Coimbra has a good buffet every night at CFA 2000-7500 including starters, main courses, desserts, wine and water.
  • Hotel Malaika. Has a nice restaurant inside, but also a roof top restaurant for drinks and fast food style meals.
  • O Bistro - Belgian owned restaurant next to Mavegro, delicious food.
  • Hotel 24 de Setembro. Good restaurant, and excellent service, but somewhat overpriced.
  • Hotel Kalliste - Has an open air restaurant right on Praca Che Guevara (known as "Praca Bayana" by most cab drivers). Excellent pizza and live music most nights, though relatively expensive (CFA 4000-5000 for a small pie).
  • Papa Louca Favorite place for pizzas and shawarmas. Very fair prices!
  • Le Grimaldi Restaurant of Hotel Kalliste in the Bayana roundabout, very tasty food and nice atmosphere.
  • Centre Culturel Franco Bissau-Guinéen open for lunch, has a nice courtyard for eating your morning croissants and espresso, or a good lunch.
  • Bate Papo very good for breakfast with croissants, pastries and sandwiches, coffee, natural juices etc. Located next to "Meteorología".
  • Dom Bifana good steak-restaurant next to the parliament, having a live gazelle and a crowned crane in the restaurant.
  • Dragon Chinese restaurant uphill from the Bayana roundabout. It is a nice change, once you get tired of Portuguese and Lebanese style food.

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Drink

There are quite a few discos and nightclubs, one nightclub popular with expats is X-Klub. The club has pool tables and a small dance floor.

Discos include Plack, Bambú, Sonhos, Orio etc.

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Sleep

Hotels in Bissau are generally overpriced. There's hope that prices will lower as new hotels are about to open.

  • Pensão Central, Avenida Amilcar Cabral, ☎ +245 201 232. This Pensão, is a good first stop, with clean rooms (shared toilets howewer) available at CFA 10,000. It's a few meters away from the port.
  • Pensão Creola, Av. Domingos Ramos 37, ☎ +245 663 30 31. Run by a Swiss-Bissau couple, this hostel is good value.
  • Hotel-Residência Proquil, Rua 2, Nr. 5-6, ☎ +245 67 87 117. Check-in: 13:00, check-out: 10:00. In Bissau-Velho - all rooms with own bathroom, partly air-condition, ventilator, some rooms with freezer, all rooms with own veranda, best cost-performance ration in Bissau-Center, nice and typical guinean atmosphere - rooms from CFA 12,500-20,000.
  • Hotel Kalliste (Former Casino/Galeão), Praca Che Guevara. Set in an old Portuguese colonial style building, that is repuditly under renovation. If that is not the case, you'll be pleased to know that the interior is in a much better shape. CFA 40,000 to 60,000 per night.
  • Hotel Libya (Former Hotel Hotti Bissau/Sheraton), Avenida 14 de Novembro, ☎ +245 251 251. Former Sheraton hotel that is now under Libyan management.
  • Grande Hotel, ☎ +245 21 3437. Undergoing renovation, so it might or might not be open
  • Hotel Ancar, Av. Osvaldo Vieira nº10 (in the center of Bissau), ☎ +245 320 76 33, fax: +245 320 76 35, ✉ info@hotelancar.com. This hotel was renovated in 2009. Has air conditioning, free breakfast and free wireless Internet (Wi-Fi). Singels CFA 50,000, doubles CFA 60,000, suites CFA 10,000 more.
  • Appart Hotel Diarama, Av. Pansau na Isna, ☎ +245 671 60 00, ✉ hamsaf@hotmail.fr. Clean hotel in quiet location. Friendly Lebanese owner. Prices include a simple French breakfast. Ask to see the room, bargain and expect CFA 40,000 for a double.
  • Hotel Malaika, Rua Justino Lopes, ☎ +245 3207474.
  • Azalaï Hotel 24 de Setembro, Avenue Pansau Na Isna, ☎ +245 322 45 05, ✉ 24desetembro@azalaihotels.com. Fairly well maintained hotel, with rooms in better shape than the outside. On-site hotel and restaurant.

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Keep Connected

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

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Contributors

as well as Hien (3%), hasbeen (1%)

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This is version 6. Last edited at 9:44 on May 24, 19 by Utrecht. 5 articles link to this page.

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