Although it certainly lacks major tourist attractions, and at times may seem altogether asleep, Bissau is a fairly pleasant city. Surely if you’re coming to Bissau you’re not likely looking for a big ticket sight or museum but are rather on the way to the Bijagos or are perhaps on route for Conakry anyways. As I found, upon my visit to the capital of Guinea-Bissau, the city might seem crumbling and bordering on dilapidated, but it is a refreshing bit of calm in comparison to the hassles of neighbouring Senegal and nearby Gambia. You might not be drawn to stay in Bissau for a long period of time, but chances are the sleepy nature of the city might have you spending a few more days than you planned without even realizing it.
Time Needed: 2-3 Days
Backpacker’s Budget: 40-50USD
Things to do and See in Bissau
As I mentioned, you are not likely to find days worth of museums and sights in Bissau. However, a couple days wandering the streets is certainly enjoyable. Be warned that anything government related cannot be photographed, and that includes the old fort which is now a military base. People in Guinea-Bissau in general are much more camera shy than others in the region as well.
- Colonial Bissau: The old town has some interesting architecture set up by the Portuguese and a Catholic church that is an oddity in the region. You’ll also find the fort in this part of town. It only really takes about an hour to walk through this part of town.
- The Port: The port is mayhem and a little bit disgusting to walk through if you have bare feet and it’s the rainy season. There are fish for sale, among other things, and people are so busy they likely won’t even notice you. When the tide goes out, the port isn’t deep enough to support the boats and they all sit in the mud, it’s a fairly strange sight.
Where to Eat in Bissau
Lots of decent eats in Bissau, and if you like Portuguese influeneced food you’ll find it here. You’ll also find a smattering of Lebanese and French cuisine. Interestingly enough, there aren’t all to many options for good west African food.
- Oporto: Near the supermarket, the food here is good and the portion sizes are massive. They also have wifi at times, although it seems to be stolen from next door.
- Samartiana: A local favourite, food here is cheap and has a much more African feel than other places in town.
- Hotel Kalliste: If you’re looking for pizza this is a good place to grab it. The prices are slightly high, and they’ll charge you to use their wifi, but the staff is really nice and the food and atmosphere is fairly good.
Where to Stay in Bissau
There are few safe budget options in town. However, the Pensao Creola where I stayed was very good. Although, like everywhere in town, it was slightly over-priced at 15,000CFA (30usd) a night for a single room without a bathroom, it was safe and the staff is really helpful. The only other option in town for backpackers that I know of is the Aparthotel Jordani which is about 50USD a night.
Getting out of Town
The gare is outside of town but any taxi will get you there for about 200CFA. From there, you can catch sept-place taxis or transporte misto basically anywhere in Guinea-Bissau as well as Ziguinchor or Dakar. To get to Conakry is likely a 20-24 hour voyage as is the trip to Labe, Guinea.
Back to the Guinea-Bissau travel guides