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GUINEA-BISSAU TRAVEL GUIDE

Welcome to Guinea-Bissau, a small country on the west coast of Africa that is full of natural beauty and cultural diversity. Despite being one of the least developed countries in the world, Guinea-Bissau is home to a variety of stunning landscapes, including pristine beaches, lush forests, and vast wetlands.

 

As a former Portuguese colony, Guinea-Bissau has a unique blend of African and European influences, which is reflected in its food, music, and architecture. The country is also home to many different ethnic groups, each with their own traditions and languages.

 

While Guinea-Bissau is not a major tourist destination, it offers a truly authentic experience for those who are willing to explore its hidden gems. Visitors can enjoy bird-watching in the Bijagos Islands, trekking in the Cantanhez Forest Reserve, or surfing on the world-class waves at Varela Beach. In addition, the capital city of Bissau is a vibrant hub of activity, where you can sample local cuisine, visit historic landmarks, and shop at bustling markets.

 

Whether you are seeking adventure or relaxation, Guinea-Bissau has something for everyone. So pack your bags and get ready to discover this fascinating and welcoming country!

COUNTRY PAGE
  • Capital: Bissau
  • Currency: West African CFA franc (XOF), interchangeable at par with the Central African CFA franc (XAF)
  • Area: 36,120 km2
  • Population: 1,874 million (2018)
  • Language: Portuguese (official), Crioulo, African languages
  • Religion:Indigenous beliefs 50%, Muslim 45%, Christian 5%

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POSTS ON GUINEA-BISSAU

SEASONS AT A GLANCE

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Peak Season

Shoulder Season

Off Peak Season

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AUGUST

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Climate Chart with avergae monthly temperatues and rainfall

BEST TIME TO VISIT GUINEA-BISSAU

The best time to visit Guinea-Bissau is during the dry season, which runs from November to May. During this time, the weather is typically warm and dry, with plenty of sunshine and low humidity. This makes it the perfect time for outdoor activities, such as bird-watching, trekking, and exploring the beaches and islands.

 

From June to October, Guinea-Bissau experiences a rainy season, with high temperatures and frequent downpours. The heavy rainfall can make travel difficult, as many roads and trails become muddy and impassable. In addition, there is a risk of tropical storms and hurricanes during this time, which can cause flooding and other hazards.

 

While the dry season is the best time to visit, it is also the busiest time for tourism in Guinea-Bissau. If you prefer to avoid crowds and don't mind the occasional rain shower, you may find that the shoulder seasons of October and May offer a good balance of favorable weather and lower visitor numbers.

 

SAFETY IN GUIENA-BISSAU

Guinea-Bissau can be considered a somewhat risky destination for travelers, as the country has experienced political instability, crime, and occasional outbreaks of violence in recent years. Visitors should take precautions and be aware of their surroundings at all times.

 

Petty crime, such as pickpocketing and theft, is common in Guinea-Bissau, particularly in urban areas. Travelers should avoid carrying large amounts of cash or valuable items with them and should keep their belongings close and secure.

 

In addition, Guinea-Bissau has a high risk of malaria and other tropical diseases, so visitors should take appropriate precautions, such as using mosquito repellent, wearing protective clothing, and taking antimalarial medication.

 

It is also important to note that Guinea-Bissau is a drug trafficking hub, and travelers may be targeted by criminals looking to exploit them for drug-related activities. Visitors should be cautious when accepting food or drink from strangers and should avoid getting involved in any illegal activities.

 

Overall, while traveling to Guinea-Bissau can present some risks, visitors who take appropriate precautions and remain aware of their surroundings should be able to enjoy a safe and rewarding trip. It is recommended to check for any current travel advisories or warnings before planning a trip to Guinea-Bissau.

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GUINEA-BISSAU TRAVEL COSTS

The cost of traveling to Guinea-Bissau can vary depending on your travel style, duration of stay, and specific activities and accommodations chosen. Generally, Guinea-Bissau is considered to be an affordable destination compared to other African countries, although it is important to keep in mind that infrastructure and amenities can be limited in some areas.

Some of the common expenses you can expect while traveling in Guinea-Bissau include:

  • Accommodation: Budget guesthouses and hostels can be found for as little as $10-15 USD per night, while mid-range hotels typically start at around $40-50 USD per night.
  • Food and drinks: Street food and local restaurants are generally inexpensive, with meals costing around $3-5 USD. Western-style restaurants and international cuisine can be pricier, with meals averaging around $10-15 USD.
  • Transportation: Public transportation, such as buses and shared taxis, are the cheapest options for getting around Guinea-Bissau, with fares starting at around $1-2 USD. Private taxis and rental cars can be more expensive, with rates varying depending on the distance and duration of the journey.
  • Activities and tours: The cost of activities and tours in Guinea-Bissau can vary widely, depending on the type and duration of the experience. For example, a boat trip to the Bijagos Islands can cost several hundred dollars, while a guided tour of a local village may only cost a few dollars.

Overall, a budget traveler could expect to spend around $20-30 USD per day in Guinea-Bissau, while mid-range travelers may spend around $50-100 USD per day. However, these are rough estimates and costs can vary widely depending on individual preferences and travel style.

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TRAVEL TIPS FOR GUINEA-BISSAU

Here are some travel tips for visiting Guinea-Bissau:

  • Plan your trip in advance: Guinea-Bissau is a relatively off-the-beaten-path destination, so it is a good idea to plan your trip well in advance. This includes booking accommodation, transportation, and tours ahead of time to avoid any last-minute surprises.
  • Take precautions for health and safety: Guinea-Bissau can present some risks to travelers, so it is important to take appropriate precautions. This includes avoiding walking alone at night, keeping valuables secure, and being aware of your surroundings at all times. It is also recommended to consult a doctor before traveling to Guinea-Bissau to receive any necessary vaccinations and to bring appropriate medications for tropical diseases.
  • Respect local customs and traditions: Guinea-Bissau is a culturally diverse country with many different ethnic groups, each with their own traditions and customs. Visitors should be respectful of local customs and dress modestly, particularly when visiting religious or traditional sites.
  • Learn some basic Portuguese: Portuguese is the official language of Guinea-Bissau, although many people also speak Creole or French. Learning some basic Portuguese phrases can be helpful for communicating with locals and making your trip more enjoyable.
  • Bring cash and be prepared to bargain: Credit cards are not widely accepted in Guinea-Bissau, so it is important to bring enough cash for your trip. It is also common to bargain for prices at markets and with street vendors, so be prepared to negotiate to get the best deals.
  • Respect the environment: Guinea-Bissau is home to many unique ecosystems, including wetlands and forest reserves, so it is important to respect the environment and follow any guidelines set by tour operators or park officials. Avoid littering and take care not to disturb any wildlife or habitats.
  • Enjoy the local cuisine: Guinea-Bissau has a rich culinary tradition that is influenced by African, Portuguese, and other European cuisines. Be sure to try local dishes, such as cachupa (a stew made with corn and beans) and seafood, which is plentiful and fresh along the coast.

REGIONS & HIGHLIGHTS OF GUINEA-BISSAU

Guinea-Bissau is a small West African country with a diverse range of landscapes, cultures, and traditions. Here are some of the main regions worth visiting and their highlights:

  • Bissau: The capital city of Guinea-Bissau is a bustling and vibrant hub with a mix of colonial and modern architecture. Visitors can explore the lively markets, sample local cuisine, and learn about the country's history at the National Museum.
  • Bijagos Archipelago: The Bijagos Islands are a group of 88 islands located off the coast of Guinea-Bissau, known for their pristine beaches, traditional villages, and unique wildlife. Highlights include the Orango Islands National Park, where visitors can spot sea turtles, dolphins, and monkeys, and the island of Bolama, which has a rich colonial history and beautiful architecture.
  • Cacheu: Located in the north of Guinea-Bissau, Cacheu is a historic town with a rich cultural heritage. Highlights include the 16th-century Fort Cacheu, which was built by the Portuguese, and the Cacheu River, which is home to many species of birds and other wildlife.
  • Gabu: Gabu is a region located in the eastern part of Guinea-Bissau, known for its traditional architecture, religious sites, and cultural festivals. Visitors can explore the ancient town of Gabu, which was once a major center of the Mali Empire, and attend the annual Festa de Tabanca, a colorful celebration of traditional music and dance.
  • Bafata: Bafata is a region located in the central part of Guinea-Bissau, known for its stunning natural scenery and cultural traditions. Highlights include the Tchon-ka Mountains, which offer hiking opportunities and breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape, and the village of Bissorã, which is famous for its lively market and traditional pottery.
  • Bolama: Bolama is an island located off the coast of Guinea-Bissau, known for its rich colonial history and beautiful architecture. Visitors can explore the charming town of Bolama, which was once the capital of Portuguese Guinea, and admire the colorful colonial buildings and palm-lined streets.

Overall, Guinea-Bissau offers a unique and diverse range of experiences for visitors, from exploring vibrant cities to discovering ancient cultural traditions and pristine natural landscapes.

WHAT TO SEE AND DO IN GUINEA-BISSAU

When visiting Guinea-Bissau, here are some of the best things to see and do:

  • Visit the Bijagos Archipelago: This group of 88 islands off the coast of Guinea-Bissau is a must-see destination, known for its pristine beaches, unique wildlife, and traditional cultures. Highlights include the Orango Islands National Park, where visitors can spot sea turtles, dolphins, and monkeys, and the island of Bolama, which has a rich colonial history and beautiful architecture.
  • Explore the capital city of Bissau: Bissau is a bustling and vibrant city with a mix of colonial and modern architecture, lively markets, and a rich cultural heritage. Highlights include the National Museum, which showcases the country's history and culture, and the bustling Bandim Market, where visitors can shop for local crafts and fresh produce.
  • Discover the cultural traditions of Guinea-Bissau: Guinea-Bissau is home to a diverse range of ethnic groups, each with their own traditions and customs. Visitors can attend traditional festivals, such as the Festa de Tabanca in Gabu, and explore historic villages, such as Bissorã, known for its traditional pottery.
  • Experience the natural beauty of Guinea-Bissau: Guinea-Bissau is home to a wide range of ecosystems, including wetlands, forests, and savannahs. Visitors can explore the Cacheu River, which is home to many species of birds and other wildlife, or hike through the Tchon-ka Mountains, which offer stunning views of the surrounding landscape.
  • Try local cuisine: Guinea-Bissau has a rich culinary tradition influenced by African, Portuguese, and other European cuisines. Be sure to try local dishes such as cachupa (a stew made with corn and beans) and seafood, which is plentiful and fresh along the coast.
  • Meet the friendly locals: Guinea-Bissau is known for its friendly and welcoming people, and visitors can enjoy getting to know locals and learning about their cultures and traditions.

Overall, Guinea-Bissau offers a unique and authentic travel experience for visitors, with stunning natural beauty, rich cultural traditions, and a friendly and welcoming atmosphere.

WHAT TO EAT IN GUINEA-BISSAU

Guinea-Bissau has a rich culinary tradition that is influenced by African, Portuguese, and other European cuisines. Here are some dishes you should try when visiting Guinea-Bissau:

  • Cachupa: Cachupa is a traditional stew made with corn, beans, fish, meat, and vegetables. It is considered the national dish of Guinea-Bissau and is often served at special occasions and celebrations.
  • Caldo de Peixe: Caldo de Peixe is a fish soup made with onions, garlic, tomatoes, and fish, often served with rice or bread.
  • Arroz de Marisco: Arroz de Marisco is a seafood rice dish made with shrimp, crab, and other seafood.
  • Frango a Cafrial: Frango a Cafrial is a spicy chicken dish marinated in garlic, onion, and other spices, then fried until crispy.
  • Bolinhos de Peixe: Bolinhos de Peixe are small fish cakes made with fish, herbs, and spices, then fried until crispy.
  • Pastel de Milho: Pastel de Milho is a savory pastry made with cornmeal, fish, and vegetables.
  • Coconut milk dishes: Coconut milk is used in many dishes in Guinea-Bissau, such as fish stews and rice dishes, giving them a creamy and flavorful taste.
  • Fruit: Guinea-Bissau has a variety of delicious tropical fruits, such as mangoes, papayas, pineapples, and cashews (which are actually fruits!). Be sure to try them fresh and in local dishes.

Overall, Guinea-Bissau offers a variety of delicious and unique dishes that reflect the country's diverse cultural heritage and natural resources.

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WHERE TO STAY IN GUINEA-BISSAU

For a first-time visit to Guinea-Bissau, choosing the right area or region to stay in depends on your interests, whether you seek cultural immersion, beach relaxation, or wildlife encounters. Here are some recommendations along with accommodation options in different price ranges:


Where to stay in Bissau:

Bissau, the capital city, offers a blend of colonial charm, vibrant markets, and cultural heritage, making it an ideal base for exploring the country.

Explore attractions like the Fortaleza de São José da Amura, Bandim Market, and the National Ethnographic Museum.

  • Budget: Residencial Central: Residencial Central provides affordable accommodations in a central location. Guests can expect simple but comfortable rooms and a convenient base for exploring Bissau. The hotel also offers complimentary breakfast and Wi-Fi.

  • Mid-range: Ledger Plaza Bissau Hotel provides comfortable rooms and modern facilities with a convenient location near the city center.

  • Luxury: Hotel Coimbra Bissau: Hotel Coimbra Bissau provides upscale accommodations with luxurious rooms and suites. Guests can expect amenities such as a swimming pool, fitness center, restaurant, and bar. The hotel's central location makes it convenient for both business and leisure travelers.


Tip: Consider staying in guesthouses or smaller hotels for potentially lower rates and a more authentic experience.


For hassle-free bookings, use platforms like Booking.com for competitive rates or Holiday Swap for unique homes worldwide. Ensure to book in advance, especially during peak seasons, and align your preferences with nearby activities such as surfing, snorkeling, or cultural exploration.

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DiscoverCars.com is a leader in online car rental bookings; we compare car rental deals from many companies so that you can choose which is best for your trip. 12Go connects the world door-to-door, from transfers to flights, under the same user-friendly ticket.

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