An industrial and modern city, Abidjan has a number of cultural offerings for business travellers as well as tourists en route to one of The Ivory Coast’s bountiful beaches. Notable spots include the Galerie d’Arts Pluriel, (Rue des Jardins) which is run by a local arts historian, and the Musée National (32 Boulevard Carde), which houses traditional artworks. The Cathedrale St Paul (Boulevard Lagunaire) is also well worth a visit.
The Marché de Cocody (Boulevard de France) has a top floor geared for souvenir-hunters, with intricate woodcarvings, masks, textiles, jewels, and timeless examples of Ivorian art. If you’d like a more local feel, though, head to Marché de Treichville on Avenue Victor Blaka. It’s in a Chinese-built building, but inside you’ll find a truly Ivorian market experience, packed to the rafters with everything from unusual foods to exquisite antiques.
Don’t miss eating at one of the many maquis dotted along the streets of Abidjan. Unique to the country, they’re a type of open-air restaurant serving simple but delicious braised chicken and fish dishes, cassava, and the ubiquitous Ivorian stew, kedjenou. On the opposite end of the scale is Aboussouan (Boulevard Giscard-D’Estaing), which takes these very same maquis dishes and perfects them into haute cuisine, pairing them with a selection of wine. English-language website abidjanito.com, provides comprehesive coverage of dining and nightlife.
Most good accommodation is found in the streets between the Musée National and the bottom tip of the Abidjan Plateau, where you’ll find the Novotel Abidjan (+225 20 31 80 00), which boasts an excellent view and all the business-traveller trappings. A more humble but no lesser stay is found at the Villa Anakao (Cocody Il Plateaux, +225 49 74 21 13), a boutique hotel with a handful of personalized rooms, with artwork handpicked by owner Caroline and her family.
HIP TIP Take a break from the shopping and nightlife of Abidjan and explore Banco National Park and its stunning wildlife; its previously difficult trails have now been upgraded. Don’t forget your camera!