West Africa comprises 16 countries, all of which have something unique to offer to the rest of the world. This part of the world is endowed with a rich ecology categorized by strong biodiversity and many distinct regions. The Sahara Desert influences the climate of all these countries in one way or another. Apart from the weather, the region has a strong cultural diversity and rich history but the best West African countries to visit have something extra to offer.
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If you are a sports fanatic, you know West Africa as a football powerhouse, with countries like Ghana, Nigeria and Ivory Coast performing well on the continent and globally. Perhaps you may traverse into parts of Senegal, where you will experience a type of folk wrestling that you have never seen before. But, away from sports, if you intend to spend your vacation on a memorable safari, there are many scenic destinations in West Africa to give you the best time of your life.
Top 10 best West African countries to visit
These countries should be on your list if you have dreamt of travelling to the West. The scenery will give you a thrust of life like you have never experienced. The West African countries to have the time of your life are:
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Ghana is known as West Africa’s golden child because it is one of the most beautiful African countries. It is the best country to visit if you look forward to a relaxing vacation. The country has a diverse, authentic African culture and history. But, of course, the first place anyone would want to visit is the capital city Accra which is home to beautiful beaches, fascinating museums and luxury resorts.
The market places of Ghana also have a lot to offer. You can find African prints, jewellery, and other souvenirs to take home. Some of the places to visit while in Ghana include:
- Labadi Beach
- National Museum
- Kwame Nkrumah Memorial
- Artists Alliance Gallery
- Kakum National Park
- Elmina Castle
- Mole National Park
2. Cape Verde
You'd be spoilt for choice if you plan to make Cape Verde your destination. It is an archipelago out in the Atlantic made of 10 islands and several islets. The country is blessed with many spectacular views and rich cultural heritage. This is one of the most beautiful countries in the region. But, of course, the must-go-to destination is the salt lake, where you will enjoy a mud bath.
There are limitless beaches to explore if you want to travel to West Africa and Cape Verde is the destination. Here, you will find restaurants serving you the seafood of your life. The local markets are also worthy of mention because of their beautifully crafted artefacts. The top places to visit in the country are:
- The volcano Pico de Fogo
- Sal Island
- Palmeira Harbour
- Santa Maria
- Ribeira Grande
- Sao Vicente
- Sao Nicolau
3. Ivory Coast
The summer doesn’t get any better than the experience offered by Ivory Coast when travelling West. The country has breathtaking beaches ideal for sunbathing and other outdoor activities. This is the place to impress your friends with photos of the palm-lined beaches.
The cuisines available on Ivory Coast are unrivalled. It is known for traditional dishes like Kedjenou and poulet braise. The number one destination should be the Comoe National Park, the oldest park in Africa. Below are some of the top destinations on the Ivory Coast:
- Grand-Bassam UNESCO Heritage Site
- Abidjan City
- Basilica of Our Lady of Peace
- Man City
- Musee National des Costumes
- L’ile Flottante
- Banco National Park
4. Burkina Faso
Burkina Faso is the country to visit if you are an enthusiast of traditional architecture, African culture and wildlife. In addition, the country is an ideal destination for people seeking to explore more ideas and expand the scope of knowledge about Africa.
Its capital city Ouagadougou hosts the Pan African Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou (FESPACO), where African filmmakers compete for prestigious prizes. If your interest is in traditional mud architecture, you ought to find your way to the Senoufou villages. The top destinations to visit in Burkina Faso are:
- Sindou Peaks
- The Nazinga Park
- Cour Royale
- Grande Mosquee
- Niansogoni Village
- Domes de Fabedougou
- Grande Marche
Senegal provides a perfect blend of modernity and a laid-back atmosphere typical of West Africa's tourism. The country is among the economic powerhouses in West Africa. Its capital city Dakar has everything to find in a modern city.
Dakar is where Dak'art, the biennial of African Contemporary Art, is held and is among the major cultural events on the continent. If you want to experience authentic music, the Jazz Festival of Saint-Louis should be on your to-do list. Other interesting destinations in Senegal are:
- Pink Lake
6. The Gambia
The fact that The Gambia is the smallest country in Africa is enough reason for you to want to tour it. Golden beaches surround the country with scenic palms and picturesque lagoons.
The Abuko National Reserve will give you a taste of the wildlife thriving in the country. If the destination does not quench your thirst for wild animals, you can also visit Gambia National Park and Bijilo Forest Park. Interesting destinations in the Gambia include:
- Kachikally crocodile pool
- The Albert Market
- Wassu Stone Circles
- Old Town
- Brufut Beach
- Sanyang Village and Beach
- National Museum of Gambia
Nigeria is dubbed the "giant of Africa" for a good reason. It is the most populous country on the continent and also the biggest economy. In addition, it is known for its subtropical climate, ideal for summer vacations. Furthermore, the country has wide beaches and an excellent array of cultures.
There are many things to see in Nigeria, including stylish restaurants, modern shopping malls and exciting craft markets. One thing you will fall in love with about Nigeria is the lively nightlife. This is the country to go to if you are looking to party. The best places to visit include:
- Ikogosi Warm Springs
- Yankari Game Reserve
- Olumo Rock
- Obudu Mountain Resort
- Idanre Hills
- Lekki Conservation Center
- Gashaka Gumti National Park
- Kainji Lake National Park
- Port Harcourt
- Okomu National Park
Togo stands out as one of the few countries in West Africa with white sand beaches. The scenery is picture-perfect, and you wouldn't want to leave the country once you set foot in it. However, once you land in the capital city, the first place you should visit is the Grand Marche Bazaar.
This is a perfect destination for people eager to learn about the history of Africa. The Monument de I’independence provides good insights into the colonial rule in Togo. The national museum is another place to interact with the people's heritage. Other places in West Africa you might be interested in visiting include:
- Togo Mountains
- Keran National Park
- Palace of the Governors
- Nok and Mampoug Cave Dwelling
- Lake Togo
- Fosse aux Lions National Park
- Abdoulaye Faunal Reserve
- Fazao Malfakassa National Park
Benin is also known as the Land of the Ancient Kingdom of Dahomey. Although small, the country has ethnic diversity and rich history. The landscape is nothing less than scenic, but still, there is much more to see. You will be taken down memory lane as you walk through the slave routes that have become a major tourist attraction.
The Royal Palaces of Abomey, which served as the capital of the former Kingdom of Dahomey, still exist today. You will find a museum where the kingdom's history is preserved. It is a crime to leave Benin without a visit to the Lake Nokoue, Ganvie stilt houses nicknamed the Venice of Africa. The top places to visit in the country include:
Not sure where to stay during your Ghana trip? Here are the best 5 star hotels in Ghana you should check out.
- Porto Novo
Like many other West African countries, Guinea-Bissau is tiny but has many interesting tourist destinations. The Bijagos Archipelago has 88 small islands and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. If nature is what you seek, you will be enchanted with the country's wild, lush, and varied landscapes.
Since it is made up of islands, you can expect Guinea-Bissau to have several beautiful white sand beaches. The protected areas have thriving wildlife, including saltwater hippos and sea turtles. Interact with locals who have stuck to their traditions. The must-visit places include:
- Saltinho Waterfall
- Igreja Catolica da Bissau
- Joao Vieira Island
- Bolama Island
- Dulombi-Boe National Park
- Lagoas Cufada Natural Park
- Rubane Island
- Orango Island
- Bubaque Island
Frequently asked questions
- Which West African country is best to visit? Due to its many attractions, Ghana stands out as the best West African country to visit.
- Is West Africa worth visiting? Yes, the region is home to several sandy beaches, scenic waterfalls, breathtaking mountains, fascinating cultures and many other attractions.
- What is the most visited country in West Africa? Ivory Coast is the most visited country in West Africa.
- Which country in Africa is most visited by tourists? South Africa leads as the country most visited by tourists in Africa.
- Which is the most beautiful country in West Africa? Cape Verde is the most beautiful country in West Africa, thanks to its spectacular views and rich culture.
- What is the most beautiful city in West Africa? Accra, Ghana, is the most beautiful city in West Africa.
- Who is the giant of Africa? Nigeria is the continent's giant of Africa because it is the most populous country.
West Africa is home to Ghana and Nigeria, the most populous countries in Africa. With a big population comes a lot of cultural diversity. Apart from the people’s heritage, the region has some of nature’s most beautiful scenes ranging from mountains to rivers and beaches. The only problem is for you to decide the best West African countries to visit from a list of many worthy competitors.
Yen.com.gh shared an article about visa-free countries for Ghana. They do not require a visa for you to enter them. A passport holder could enter the country's borders without a visa or obtain a visa via an electronic Travel Authorization, eTA, or arrival.
Ghanaian passport holders have been given access to many countries across the globe without a visa. This has made it possible to travel outside the country for many reasons, especially for business and tourism.
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