Benin Travel Facts

By | March 18, 2022

Benin is in West Africa. It is considered a developing country and borders Togo, Burkina Faso, Niger, Nigeria and the Gulf of Guinea. Benin is one of the poorest countries in the world. It is not considered a safe travel destination.

Capital City Porto-Novo
Size 111.622 km²
Resident 10.598.500
Official Language French
Currency CFA-Franc
Time Zone UTC+1
Telephone Area Code +229

Source: Destination Explorer

Fast facts to know

  • A third of Beninese live below the poverty line.
  • The country has poorly developed infrastructure and high national debt.
  • Widespread and practiced voodoo (photographing = bad idea!).
  • At the time of the royal palaces of Abomey, the kings ruled here very cruelly and encouraged the slave trade.
  • Increased vigilance is advised when traveling into the country.
  • Half of the Beninese belong to Christianity, a quarter to Islam.
  • Diverse art scene.

Exciting cities in Benin

  • Porto Nova
  • Cotonou
  • Port city of Ouidah
  • Water town Ganvié (“African Venice”)
  • Abomey
  • Ketou

History of Benin

  • Part of the Kingdom of Dahomey since the 17th century.
  • From 1805 occupied by the French under Napoleon.
  • Later protectorate of France and then part of the Federation of French West Africa.
  • Independent from 1960 as Republic of Dahomey.
  • In 1974 Marxism-Leninism became the state ideology.
  • 1975 renaming to the People’s Republic of Benin.
  • 1990 Abandonment of Marxist-Leninist doctrine, founding of a presidential democracy.

Climate & travel weather in Benin

  • Tropical weather, consistently warm all year round, high humidity.
  • South: hot and humid climate with 2 dry and 2 rainy seasons (May – June / October – November).
  • North: Influenced by the Sahel zone, only one rainy season (June – September).
  • Recommended travel time:
    • Drying times:
      • South: December – March & July – August.
      • North: November – February.
      • In rainy season many roads impassable.

Ideas for trips in Benin

  • Traditional equestrian games in Nikki.
  • Observe African wildlife in the national parks.
  • Voodoo-Feste in Ouidah.
  • Ruins of the Royal Palaces at Abomey.
  • Market in Adjarra.
  • Völkerkundemuseum in Porto Novo.
  • Royal residence in Ketou.

Eating & Drinking in Benin

  • Heavily influenced by French cuisine.
  • Traditional cuisine is very spicy and based on corn and cassava.
  • Couscous, rice, beans are also served.
  • Yams (root vegetables) as a staple in the north.
  • Close to the coast: Fish and seafood popular.
  • Street vending widespread.
  • Beef, pork and chicken are very popular, but goat and turkey are also often featured.
  • More exotic meats: opossums, snakes or monkeys.
  • Local pubs call themselves Buvettes.
  • Beers, whiskey and palm wine very popular.
  • Land of delicious fruit juices.
  • Typical dishes:
    • Accra Funfun (Fried White Bean Balls).
    • Lamb shoulder in peanut sauce.
    • Peul-Kase.

Particularly scenic

  • Beautiful coastal scenery with lagoons and white beaches.
  • National Park W (World Heritage).
  • Pendjari-National Park.
  • Atakora mountain range.
  • Kudou-, Tanougou-, Koto-Wasserfälle.

Benin Travel Facts