Only an hour away from Abidjan, Grand Bassam feels like it’s on the other side of the planet. The coastal city is part beach town, part working city. However, few travellers will manage to pull themselves from the beach, and I can’t really blame them. The sea is a little bit rough, and the sands might not be as perfect as one would hope, but that doesn’t stop Grand Bassam from being a great place to relax and take in some sun. There is great seafood, a decent vibe on weekends, and the views of the Atlantic Ocean are always beautiful. And the best part? Chances are you’ll feel like you have this place all to yourself!
Time Needed: 2-3 Days
Backpacker’s Budget: 40-50usd per day
Things to Do and See in Grand Bassam
Along with being a beach town, Grand Bassam is also a city of some historical significance. It was the old colonial French capital before a disease outbreak left them to leave the town behind for Abidjan. The historical past means there’s a little more to do in town than just the beach.
- Costume Museum: The costume museum in Grand Bassam is likely the best museum in the country, although that doesn’t say much. There are loads of different traditional outfits and masks from around the country.
- Colonial Houses: Though they’re run down, the old town has quite a few colonial houses of interest. There are also some older buildings such as the Palace of Justice which are worth a look.
- Beach: Yeah, there’s also the beach!
Where to Eat in Grand Bassam
Since I spent an entire week in Grand Bassam I managed to get a pretty good tour of the food scene, at least that in the tourist zone. If you’re looking for more traditional grub make a detour to downtown. There are also a couple supermarkets downtown if you’re looking to self-cater.
- Hotel Kebok: On the corner of the road that leads to the beach strip this place has the best pizza in town, although it comes at a steep price (between 6,000-7,000 CFA). The owner is a nice dude too and will make you feel very welcome.
- Café Bassam: A tiny outdoor spot on the strip, Café Bassam has really good food at better value. I had dinner for 4,000 CFA including a drink. Nice staff as well.
- Hotel Boblin la Mer: Where I stayed, the seafood as well as the Chicken Yassa is amazing. The prices might seem high until you see the massive portions. Bring a friend if you plan on finishing a meal.
Where to Stay in Grand Bassam
- Boblin la Mer: Well down the strip, but not too far to be unable to walk anywhere, this place is great. Staff is welcoming, there are beach chairs laid out and plenty of tables in the sand. The rooms are clean and have A/C and there is good wifi. Rooms are between 15,000-18,000 CFA.
- Hotel Kebok: This place is popular with the volunteer crowd and there is a really nice décor. You’re also in the center of the action. Rooms are between 20,000-30,000CFA.
Getting out of Town
- Abidjan: There are two ways to get to the big city. One way is by shared taxi which will take you to Gare Bassam in Treichville. The other is to catch the bus which takes people to Gare d’Adjame which is handy if you’re continuing to Yamoussoukro.
- Assinie: It’s a bit of a mission but possible in a couple hours. First, catch a shared taxi to Samo. From there switch to a car to Assouinde. From Assouinde you need to catch a pirogue to Assinie.
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