Best places to visit in the GAMBIA
Planning a trip to the Gambia and wondering what are the best places to visit in the Gambia?
With a total area of 11,295 km2 and with a width of less than 50 kilometres at its widest point, The Gambia is Africa’s smallest country.
The tiny African country is a popular vacation destination for Northern and Western Europeans, especially the British, Swedish, Dutch and German. The Gambia is a fantastic winter sun destination with a long dry season, sunny skies, lovely weather and quiet beach resorts. All in all, it is the perfect destination to escape cold winters!
Despite the size, the country’s landscape is varied and tourist attractions are plentiful. In the Gambia, you’ll find golden beaches backed by palms, sleepy fishing villages, eco-lodges, national parks and reserves.
Sounds nice? Then you should pack your bags and head to the Gambia!
Check out our list of the best things to do in the Gambia before planning your perfect itinerary!
6 best places to visit in the Gambia
Banjul & Kachikally Crocodile Pool
Banjul is the capital city and one of the best places to visit in the Gambia.
The city is situated on St Mary’s Island (Banjul Island), at the mouth of the Gambia River.
Banjul isn’t a city rich in landmarks, but you can do a few amazing things there.
Join a guided tour around Banjul and surrounding areas, and learn more about the history and culture of The Gambia.
Visit the Albert Market which is one of the largest markets in the Gambia. There you’ll find souvenirs, carved wooden masks, fabrics, jewellery, food and, of course, a wide selection of fresh produce.
Take a cooking class to learn more about Gambian life and local dishes.
Visit the National Museum, where you can see cultural and historical artefacts like clothing, musical instruments, weapons and various tools.
Definitely do not miss the sacred Kachikally Crocodile Pool! It is not far from Banjul (around 12 km). It’s a very popular tourist attraction and offers the opportunity to touch West African Nile Crocodiles. Do not be disappointed by its small size, though. It’s a really small area with just a few crocodiles. But despite this fact, Kachikally Crocodile Pool is loved by so many travellers and is one of the best places to visit in the Gambia.
Abuko Nature Reserve
Abuko National Park is a small nature reserve.
In fact, it is one of the smallest protected areas in Africa.
Despite its small size, the reserve offers a good introduction to the country’s wildlife.
In Abuko Nature Reserve you can see a few primate species, crocodiles, lizards and more than 200 bird species.
The Gambia River
The Gambia River is a major river in West Africa, and a part of it runs through the Gambia.
It is one of the highlights of the country. Taking a cruise and sailing along the Gambia River is among the best things to do in the Gambia.
The best place to do this is the River Gambia National Park! Also known as Baboon Island, this beautiful nature reserve is a great place for seeing primates, reptiles and birds.
The Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Project (CRP) is a highlight of the national park. It is a rehabilitation centre established in 1979. This centre is the home to 100 chimpanzees living free on three of the national park’s islands. You have to go on an organised boat tour to see the chimps.
The Wassu Stone Circles
Eastern Gambia is home to one of the most fascinating landmarks in the Gambia — the Wassu Stone Circles.
The Wassu stone circles are made up of 11 stone circles, with the tallest stone being 2.59 meters tall. It is believed that these stone structures were associated with the burial mounds of kings in ancient times.
The Wassu Stone Circles are a part of a larger stone circle group, the Senegambian stone circles.
The Senegambian stone circles are the largest concentration of stone circles in the world and are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Senegambian stone circles can also be found in central Senegal.
Beaches of Gambia
Despite a mere 80 km of coastline and its small size, the Gambia have its beautiful palm-backed beaches with soft, golden sand and clean waters.
There are several gorgeous beaches to choose from. Just to name a few:
- Sanyang Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in the Gambia.
- Kotu Beach is known for its beach bars and luxurious hotels.
- Kololi is a former fishing village, now — one of the busiest beach destinations in the Gambia. It is a lively beach with resorts, bars, restaurants and good nightlife.
- Cape Point Beach is less busy, with low-key hotels.
- Bijilo is a quiet, unspoilt beach off the beaten track.
- Batukunku Beach is a wide, palm-fringed beach with basic facilities.
Bao Bolong Wetland Reserve
Bao Bolong Wetland Reserve is a national park located on the north bank of the River Gambia.
Covering 220 square kilometres, it is the Gambia’s largest national park and one of the best places to visit in the Gambia.
Bao Bolong Wetland Reserve have rich fauna and flora, and multiple ecosystems.
The park has 3 ecosystems: mangroves, salt marshes, and savannah. All ecosystems are within proximity of each other.
Bao Bolong Wetland Reserve is a great bird and wildlife-watching spot. The reserve you can explore by boat. You’ll cruise through the reserve’s creeks and thick mangroves.
Gambia travel tips
- EU citizens do not need a visa to enter The Gambia.
- There are two seasons in the Gambia: a rainy season (June to November) and a dry season (November to May).
- The temperatures in the dry season are pleasant, with fresh sea breeze and comfortable temperatures during the evenings (about 18° C).
- English is the official language of the Gambia.
- The Gambia is known for its eco-lodges. Staying in one is one of the best things to do in the Gambia. Eco-lodges offer a tranquil experience and focus on environmental sustainability.
- Despite the government’s attempts, the Gambia is still well known for its female sex tourism industry. Many women travel to the Gambia in search of romantic relationships with local men.
- Because of this reason, female travellers may encounter the infamous “Gambia bumsters” even if they are not looking for romantic experiences and sexual contact. You can meet them in bars, nightclubs and on touristy beaches. There are a few ways you can avoid the hassle from these men, such as pretending you are already taken, and not engaging in conversation in the first place.
- Combine the trip to The Gambia with a trip to Senegal. But first, you’ll need to make sure if you need a visa for a trip to Senegal.