Eco-friendly travel guide to Benin advises how to be a responsible tourist. Learn how to travel in a sustainable way and how to respect the local people and culture. Make your trip green by supporting locally owned hotels, organic restaurants and other businesses. Read more on how to protect the environment by making conscientious choices and how to travel green in Benin, Africa.
- Air quality: 2 / 5
- Bus connections: 4 / 5
- Train connections: 3 / 5
- Hitchhiking: 3.5 / 5
- National parks: 5 / 5
- Outdoor activities: 5/ 5
- Locals' English level: 2.5 / 5
- Safety: 3.5 / 5
- Accommodation: US$50 - $150
- Budget per day: US$80 - $230
- 1 Responsible Travel
- 2 Air Quality and Pollution
- 3 Respect the Culture
- 4 Top 10 Places to Visit
- 5 Explore
- 6 Eat
- 7 Drink
- 8 Activities
- 9 Accommodation
- 10 Regions
- 11 Cities
- 12 Getting There and Moving Around
- 13 Sustainable Shopping
- 14 Recycling
- 15 Work and Study Abroad
- 16 See Also
The Benin Republic is in the western region of Africa, and French is the official language. Many things attract people to this country, including the fact that it has one of the most stable democracies in the region.
By responsibly traveling to this country, you must treat people the same way you want to be treated. The locals of this place are friendly but will not tolerate disrespect from foreigners.
Understandably, it may be that the poverty level in this country is higher than in your home country. However, you should not see anyone as lower than you or flash your wealth in their faces.
By dressing appropriately and patronizing local businesses, you are also engaging in responsible travel.
Air Quality and Pollution
It is normal for a foreigner to be concerned about the air quality in their destination city as it helps them plan their next line of action.
The Benin Republic ranks poorly when it concerns air quality as many activities that promote pollution are ongoing in the country. This is not to say that it is not a livable place, but you should be conscious and cautious as a foreigner.
You might have issues since you are not used to living in this place. There have been plans to curb pollution in the country, but none have been effective. As a foreigner, you can contribute to helping them if you have any plans.
Respect the Culture
We earlier mentioned that you must treat others the same way you want to be treated in the Benin Republic. It helps to understand that the locals value their privacy and do not like when people are intrusive.
If they do not permit you to do something, ensure to avoid it. It is not right to take pictures of the locals without their permission. In the country, it is believed that exchanges should only be made with the right hand. Thus, this is also a sign of respect.
It will come in handy if you can also learn some of the local gr3eetings. However, it is a sign of respect to be civil.
Top 10 Places to Visit
Here are some of the top places to visit in the Benin Republic:
• Historical Museum of Abomey (Abomey): It is a museum that comprises 12 palaces. Thus, you are sure of learning about the royal rulings. It gives an extensive historical knowledge of the Dahomey Kingdom. If you did not know, Benin Republic was formerly called Dahomey.
• Dantokpa Market (Cotonou): People say that it is the largest open-air market in West Africa. It is no shocker that this place is usually busy. After all, it is almost impossible not to get what you desire in this market.
• Lake Aheme: It is the second-largest lake in the Benin Republic. People visit this place when they want a break from the hustling and bustling as you can self-reflect and hear your thoughts. The environment is conducive.
• Pythons Temple (Ouidah): It is helpful to understand that there are diverse religious practices in the Benin Republic. Visiting this temple helps to understand the religious practice of the Ouidah people. Typically, you will learn about how people worship pythons.
• The Door of No Return (Ouidah): The Benin Republic shores used to be known as the slave coast. This place serves as a memorial arch on a beach of the slave era. It details the inhumane treatment that happened during that era.
• Place Toffa (Porto-Novo): It is safe to call this place a public garden or park. It has a unique statue, making it easily identifiable. If you are looking for where to relax, you should visit this place.
• Kota Falls: It should not be shocking that a waterfall would be amongst the top tourist attractions in the Benin Republic. After all, it gets a high inflow of visitation from foreigners. You get to appreciate nature at this place as the environment will leave you in awe. You will always have a refreshing and pleasant visit to this place.
• Basilica (Ouidah): It is the Catholic church in Ouidah and was dedicated in 1989. Interestingly, it is opposite the Python Temple.
• The Museum of the Zinsou Foundation (Ouidah): This museum is dedicated to showcasing artworks. We know that you would like this place because the exhibitions will unknowingly put a smile on your face. Some restaurants also surround this place, so you can eat while exploring and having fun.
• Musée en Plein Air de Parakou (Parakou): You should know that entrance into this museum is not free. However, it is worth it as you get to understand the lifestyle of the people better.
The Benin Republic is a small country but has a lot to offer. There is a certain traditional setting to this place that usually piques the curiosity of any foreigner.
We would advise that you do not hesitate to visit this place as you get to explore different areas and have fun. Their culture is amazing and would leave you with broad smiles as you learn about it.
It is helpful to be open-minded in the Benin Republic as that is the only way to have fun. The more you explore different areas, the more you get to enjoy the country. You may sometimes not feel like leaving at the end of your trip.
When people think about exploring a new country, one of the first places that come to mind is the city parks.
After all, you can relax at these places and possibly get to make new friends. Thus, we set out to research the city parks in the Benin Republic to make recommendations.
Sadly, there are no city parks in this country. Thus, if that was your idea of exploring, you need to find another option. This should not make you sad as there are other things to do in the country. Exploring should not be limited to visiting city parks alone.
It is helpful to understand that the Benin Republic is not a big country, so you do not expect to see excess places. However, they have adequate tourist sites to keep you busy during the holiday.
There is only one National Park in the country, and it is the Pendjari National Park.
• Pendjari National Park: It is a peaceful place that brings you closer to your environment. Some people might want to call this place a zoo because you get to see animals. The environment is conducive, and you get to have an amazing view. Since it is a wildlife reserve, you get to see some animals you have never seen before, like antelopes, elephants, lions, and much more.
We would say that you should not have high expectations when it concerns beaches in the Benin republic. After interactions with some foreigners, we understand that their idea of exploration is by visiting different beaches. However, there are no many beaches in the Benin Republic.
Plage De Fidjrossè (Cotonou) is the only available beach in the country. Thus, you are sure that it will be busy anytime you visit it. After all, you are not the only one who wishes to visit a beach.
However, this beach promises fun activities, especially if you are social and outgoing. When you relate with the locals, you can join them in different water activities.
Some of the landmarks in the Benin Republic are:
• Place Toffa (Porto-Novo): Typically, we will describe this place as a public garden. However, it has a massive statue that is hard to miss. Thus, it classifies as a landmark as people use it when they want to give directions. After all, a landmark can be a statue or building that is popular and clearly visible. This statue ticks the boxes and qualifies as a landmark.
• Basilica (Ouidah): It is the catholic church in Ouidah. It is hard to miss this building as it is tall and visible. Thus, qualifying it as one of the landmarks in the country.
Museums are things that are not lacking in the Benin Republic, so you are sure of seeing them in abundance.
Some of them are:
• Da Silva Museum (Porto-Novo): If you are looking to learn about the Benin Republic history, this is one of the best places to visit. You get to learn a lot, including getting stories about the slave era. You are sure to leave this place with adequate knowledge.
• Alexandre Sènou Adandé Ethnographic Museum (Porto-Novo): We can see that this museum is specialized. Thus, if you are in the ethnographic field, it is a perfect place to visit.
Many people say that eating the different local meals when they go to a new place is one of their journey highlights. Thus, we know that we have to highlight some of the Beninese meals you can enjoy in the country.
If you are a lover of pancakes, you need to eat the local version called Massa. It is made from millet flour and delicious. Some people are not able to differentiate between this meal and regular pancakes.
Atassi is another delicious traditional meal in the Benin Republic. It is a combination of rice and beans. You should know that most of these local meals are usually colorful.
There is no better place to enjoy any of these meals than to visit a traditional local restaurant. It comes in handy that none of the cities are void of these restaurants.
These local restaurants are usually conscious when it comes to serving tourists as they ensure that they make an impression. They prepare these meals excellently so that you will only have positive reviews.
When you check through the menu, you will see different options. If you are a foodie, you will not have any issues in this country. If you are confused about the meal to choose from, ask a local to make a recommendation.
Some people identify as vegans, so we know that their meal preferences will be different. These people are usually curious to know if they can find restaurants that can satisfy their meal preferences.
We will like to assure you that you can find vegetarian restaurants in the Benin Republic. We are not saying that it is as common as regular restaurants, but we know that you will not have difficulty locating one.
We can also assure you that you will enjoy the various local delicacies as these vegan restaurants will prepare them in a way that suits your preference. Thus, this should not disturb you when visiting the Benin Republic.
It will interest you to know that there are some meals called street food. Some people are familiar with this term, while others are not. These are easy meals that you can get on the streets, so we would highlight some of them that you can find in the Benin Republic.
Amongst the numerous options, Akara is the commonest street food to find in the Benin Republic. It is made from mashed black-eyed peas, onions, eggs, spices, and salt and fried together. The result is usually delicious and appetizing.
Another street food you can enjoy in the Benin Republic is Yovo Doko. It is similar to regular pastries, so you should not have second thoughts.
We would be biased not to mention drinks since we have already talked about Beninese foods. You should know that drinking is a regular system in the country, and the locals can use it as a way of welcoming you.
One of the non-alcoholic options in the Benin Republic is Bissap Juice. It is made from dried hibiscus flower and a good source of Vitamin C.
You should know that since alcohol is allowed in this country, they do not run out of beer options. Thus, you will see beer in different varieties.
Another local drink in this country is Tchapalo. It is made from fermented corn
It is common for foreigners to question tap water in the country they wish to visit. It will not make sense to visit the country in ignorance and drink the tap water when it is not portable.
If you wish to visit the Benin Republic, it will be in your best interest to avoid its tap water as it is not portable. Portable water has been an ongoing issue yet to be resolved in the country.
Foreigners are advised to stick to drinking bottled water when in the country or boil their water if possible. This way, you are protecting your health.
If you are familiar with the typical west African setting, you will know that fishing is one of the major activities in all its countries. Thus, you should be ready to engage in some water activities if you want to keep busy while in the Benin Republic.
When talking about water activities, we can also not fail to mention Kayaking. While we cannot say that Kayaking is popular in the Benin Republic, we can assure you that fishing is common, especially in Cotonou.
If this activity is strange to you, you will learn it while in the Benin Republic. However, if you are a pro, you are sure to connect with other pros.
Yoga is also another activity that piques the interest of people. It is also not surprising for anyone to ask questions about this activity.
If you visit the Benin Republic, we cannot say that you will see many yoga studios. This activity is not strange to the people, but it is yet to become as popular as other activities.
As a foreigner, you may be the person to influence your local friends when it comes to yoga. If you are lucky to see a yoga studio in the city you are staying, you can be sure to connect with other yogis and have a relaxing experience.
You should not think of visiting a new place if you do not have proper plans for accommodation. Everyone needs a place to stay when in foreign terrain, so accommodation plans are always essential.
It could be that you are traveling alone or in a group. You need to check for accommodation options that will satisfy your needs when in your destination country. It will be wrong to assume that a place will be comfortable and see that it only takes solo travelers while you are traveling in a group.
By doing due research, you are also sure to know how to plan your accommodation budget.
We have seen that some foreigners are usually concerned about the environment of any place they are visiting and wish to contribute their quota. Thus, we can say that they are eco-friendly.
In trying to contribute their quota, we see that they would not want to stay in any other accommodation option that a green hotel. After all, these places have facilities that contribute to the environment.
It is sometimes an enviable act, and we are always happy to assure them that they can find green hotels in the Benin Republic. It is always nice to be eco-friendly as it assures you of a conducive environment.
Hostels and Guest Houses
Some people say that they want an accommodation option that offers more warmth, and their choice is usually to stay in a hostel or guesthouse. These are also great options, but we know that not every country has the provision for such.
In the Benin Republic, it is possible to see a guesthouse, but seeing a hostel is slim. Thus, we would advise that you stick to only guesthouses.
There are many of such options in the country, so you choose depending on the city you are staying in or the amount to pay. We cannot say the cost as it usually differs.
We doubt that you will visit any country and not see apartments amongst its accommodation options. Understandably, it may not be in every of its city. Thus, it is dependent on where you stay.
If you are traveling to the Benin republic and wish to stay in an apartment, we can assure you that you would see different options. It is right for us to tell you that staying at an apartment may be more expensive than other accommodation options.
However, when you think of all that it has to offer, especially your comfort, you will realize that it is worth it. Thus, always remember that staying at an apartment is a feasible option in the Benin republic.
When it concerns places to stay in a new place, there is a system that allows you to have free accommodation, and it is called Couchsurfing. With this system, you do not need to worry about having an accommodation budget before visiting a new country.
The idea of this system is to have a website that allows locals and foreigners to connect. This way, a local can decide to play host to a foreigner.
It is right for you to know that this system exists, but we are not saying that you should always be dependent on it. After all, you do not know if you will be comfortable staying with the available local.
Some people say that you have not gotten a complete trip to the Benin Republic if you do not go camping. We are not here to agree with or negate their statement. However, we want you to know that camping is a feasible activity in the Benin Republic.
We do not like to hear foreigners say that they are bored when they go on holiday as there are many activities you can do.
To eliminate boredom when in the Benin Republic, you should go camping. There are different camping sites, and you can also create one.
It is always best to collaborate with the locals to have a pleasant experience.
Getting There and Moving Around
Since it has been established that you desire to spend some time in the Benin Republic, it is only right that you also know how to get there.
Some people feel that getting there is easy, but they realize that it is harder than they thought when the time arrives.
Some factors come to play when it concerns getting to your destination. You should always know that what works for A might not work for B. getting there is dependent on your present location.
A person trying to reach the Benin Republic from Asia will not have the same experience as someone who is within Africa. Thus, you should always research.
It is also right to know how people move around in the country. If you are at your hotel and wish to visit any tourist attractions, what means of transportation would be available?
It will be best if you research this before leaving your home city. If you cannot get answers, it should be amongst the first questions to ask the locals once you get to the Benin Republic.
Although we would help highlight some of the means of moving around in the Benin Republic, it is not out of place to ask the locals to provide better insights like the pricing and more.
It may be easy to guess that walking is one means of moving around in the Benin Republic. This means of moving around applies to many countries worldwide.
We have established that the Benin Republic is a small country. Its biggest city is Cotonou, its capital city. Thus, it would be easy to walk around in other cities, but you may experience difficulty covering distances in Cotonou.
Landmarks are usually helpful when walking around as it gets you to keep track of places to get not lost. Some people are scared to walk around in a new place because of crime. We advise that you should be cautious when walking around in the Benin Republic. It is a peaceful country, but crimes happen sometimes.
Using a bicycle is another means of moving around in the Benin Republic, and it is not debatable. When you are in the country, it sometimes feels like almost everyone has a bicycle.
People believe that it helps you get to places faster as you can use it anytime you desire. Cycling is a hobby for some people in the country, and you can use it as a means of bonding.
Some people believe that cycling is also a great way to relax, especially when you cycle in the evenings. You can get a bicycle from some of the country’s rental shops, and it is usually affordable. Thus, using a bicycle should also be on your list.
Since we have mentioned that it is possible to use a bicycle to move around in the Benin Republic, it is also right for us to talk about scooters as they are similar to bicycles.
This is a common way of moving around in some countries, but that does not happen in the Benin Republic. We know that you might question why since it is almost like a bicycle. However, you will realize that it is rare to see scooters in this country.
When you go to the rental shop, you will see bicycles only. Thus, it will be best if you do not have thoughts of using a scooter as a means of moving around in the Benin Republic.
Everyone can agree that using air is the fastest means of transportation worldwide. Thus, it should not be surprising that foreigners would desire to use air to the Benin Republic.
If this is on your mind, we can assure you that the country has an airport that receives international flights. However, you should know that you cannot get a direct flight to the Benin Republic from everywhere.
If you are in any West African country, it is sure that you can get a direct flight. Some countries outside Africa, like Paris and Amsterdam, have direct flights to the Benin Republic. Thus, you should check your location and see.
Even if there is no direct flight, it should not be an issue. You can use connecting flights, although it would mean that you would stop at different cities or countries before arriving in the Benin Republic.
Some people also ask if it is possible to use air to move around in the Benin Republic. Since it is a small country, we would not say that this idea is feasible. We are not saying that it does not happen, but it is not common.
Thus, it should not be on your mind. There are other means of moving around in the country.
If you like to travel by road, we know that you would not mind using a bus to reach the Benin Republic. It comes in handy that using a bus to this country is a feasible method.
However, you can only get a bus to the Benin Republic if you are in a country that shares a land border with the Benin Republic. Thus, it is normal to think that you can get a bus to the Benin Republic from any west African country.
However, you should know that there are sometimes disputes at the borders. Thus, it is advised to only use the road to this country if you are entering from Togo or Nigeria.
When it comes to moving around in the country, we would say that using a bus is the most common and reliable means. It is impossible not to see a bus that can take you to any destination you desire within the Benin Republic.
You can get a bus that operates intercity and intracity. It will come in handy if you know some French phrases so that you do not miss any important information when it concerns using a bus. However, some of the drivers understand English, so you are covered.
You will have no issues if the locals think that you are friendly as they will be willing to help you with interpretations.
If you are a lover of trains, we know that you will be curious to know if you can use a train to the Benin Republic.
Unfortunately, you cannot use a train to this country as it does not operate internationally. We are to saying that there is no railway in the Benin Republic, but you cannot get a train to it from other countries or cities.
This should not bother you much as there are other ways of getting into the country.
Since there is a railway in the country, people are further curious to know if you can use a train to move around in the Benin Republic.
It is possible to use a train to move around, but we would not say that it is common or popular. It is helpful to remember that trains are slow, and people do not want any delay when it concerns reaching their destination.
If you do not mind using a train, you can do so in the Benin Republic.
Hitchhiking is another method of moving around in the Benin Republic. Through this method, you are sure of getting a free ride.
All you have to do is stand on the road and flag down a vehicle. There are high chances that the driver will agree to give you a free ride after discussions, especially if the car is free.
However, the language barrier is usually the problem. A person who speaks and understands French has a higher chance of getting a free ride.
Another means of moving around in the Benin Republic is to use a boat, especially if you wish to go to a lake city.
It is not a common method, but it is possible. The experience is usually pleasant as most of the rides are filled with friendly locals who share stories.
By using a boat, you get to experience the country from another view. We would advise that you take along a camera to capture moments as you move around.
We know that some people may keep a confused face when people mention sustainable shopping. However, it is an easy term that refers to patronizing local businesses when you are in a new place.
By engaging in sustainable shopping, you extend an olive branch of friendship to the locals, and they will receive you with a warm embrace.
It is one of the best ways of having a swell holiday as it allows you to buy things that remind you of the country when you leave. We know that it is impossible for a foreigner not to need food items during the course of their stay in a new place. We cannot specify the food item as needs differ in individuals.
However, you should know that patronizing the Benin Republic’s food markets is a way of engaging in sustainable shopping. After all, it is the locals who operate stands at these markets.
Each city in the country has a food market, so you should check them out.
The people of the Benin Republic do not believe in wastage. If a local has a cloth or item that they do not want to use again, they will prefer to sell it as long as it is still usable. Thus, you will see second-hand stores in the country.
There is nothing wrong with patronizing these stores, especially as it is also a way of engaging in sustainable shopping. One would not know the needs that gave rise to the person wanting to sell the item. However, you should buy it if you need it.
When you visit the Benin Republic, you will agree that the people are industrious and innovative. Thus, it should not be surprising to see eco-fashion items. It is an incorporation of reusable items to make fashionable wear.
We do not know if you have heard about eco-fashion before, but you should know that it has become a reigning trend.
We would advise that you purchase at least one eco-fashion item before leaving the Benin Republic as we know that you will not regret it.
Although we cannot say that there is an effective waste management system in the Benin Republic, we have to give accolades to them in recycling.
When you are in the city, you will see a system is in charge of recycling. However, you will also notice that there are more focused on plastic waste.
Still, it shows that they are innovative as they produce amazing items through recycling. You should support them when in the Benin Republic.
Although pollution is a major issue in the Benin Republic, we have noticed that there are structures in place when it concerns waste management. Thus, the problem could be that these structures are not effective or the people are not compliant.
Typically, the town halls are to handle waste management. We also see that some NGOs get involved.
It is still surprising why the rate of pollution is high in the country. However, you should also play a role in curbing it when you visit the Benin Republic.
Work and Study Abroad
If you ask some people why they choose to study in the Benin Republic, they will say that the country has a flexible education system.
When you probe further, you will realize that it allows its students to work while studying without any restrictions. This comes in handy, especially for people who are funding themselves.
If you have had concerns about working and studying in the Benin Republic, worry no more as it is possible. Thus, start making preparations.
We have earlier established that there is a flexible educational system in the Benin Republic. Thus, students in other countries who wish to school in this country can get the opportunity through a student exchange program.
It is something that depends on your present school as there needs to be an ongoing collaboration. Most of the schools in the Benin Republic accept exchange students.
If you use the student exchange program to school in the Benin Republic, you will also meet other international students.
Au Pair is a system where people can get jobs in different countries. These jobs are usually not luxurious but help you to stand on your feet.
It works in the Benin Republic, but it is usually not more than a year. The idea is to find a Beninese family and offer your services.
It could be in cleaning, child care, or whatever services the family requires. What matters is that you are paid for your services at the end. It is an easy way of getting a job.
Most African countries usually have volunteering opportunities, and the Benin Republic is not any different.
As a foreigner, one of the easiest ways of entering into the Benin Republic is to offer your services in any volunteering area.
It is always best to put your all into it as you are being monitored, and it might be your stepping stone to bigger opportunities.
Always ensure that people feel your impact in any area you choose to volunteer.