Bissau City Tour
For a capital city, Bissau is relatively small, but there's still enough to keep you occupied for a half day tour. There's some interesting monuments such as the "fist of freedom", followed by the cathedral, the Presidential Palace, and plenty of colonial streets to satisfy your camera lens. In my opinion, the National Museum is very poor in comparison to other museums across West Africa. It's run-down and in need of a full renovation, so only worth going if you have time to kill.
The fort was built in 1753 and is surrounded by decomposing walls. It's the headquarters of the Guinean military and labelled as being completely "off limits" for visitors. However, pre-approval can be arranged. Within the grounds, there's some interesting sights like old radio equipment, weapons, vehicles, and memorabilia.
Cacheu is a small town located in the north western region of the country, close to the border of Senegal. An easy day trip from Bissau to reach what's referred to as "Slave Coast" due to its strategic location. Top highlight is the Cacheu Fort. Albeit a little neglected due to low tourism flow, it still has plenty of charm. You can then head to the Slave Memorial Museum which is much more modern and very informative. Worth noting that you may need a translator, as none of the info is in English. You can still see the Portuguese influence around the town from the colonial era.
A small town located in the central region of the country and regarded as the birthplace of the countries favourite son, Amilcar Cabral. The Amilcar Cabral Museum is definitely not worthy of the the sole reason to visit the town, but there's also some quaint streets with colonial architecture and handcraft sellers. in the centre of the town there's a large handcrafts market where you can pick up some local souvenirs. For photographers, head to the river, where you'll be able to take some great shots of everyday life.
Gabu is a small town located in the eastern-most region of Guinea-Bissau, with Senegal directly to the north. Similar to Bafata, it's a bit of a sleepy town, but still has some churches and impressive architecture. You can visit the city hall if you wish to pick up a local guide to explain more about the area. In my opinion, combine Gabu with another spot on your itinerary, as you don't need to allocate a huge amount of time here.
Witness a Political Event
Okay, so this one is more 'pot luck' when it comes to timing, but Guinea-Bissau take their politics very seriously and are said to hold more political events than any other country in West Africa. I was shocked to hear there's multiple events every week of the year. The streets come to life with the locals in what's an interesting format. The event starts with dancing, local entertainment and food, then revert to political speakers and votings, then it's back to dancing.
An easy walk from the centre of Bissau and a great spot to people watch. This is the 'hustle & bustle' area of the city where daily trades are carried out, cargo ships depart, and locals haggle over items for sale. If you're a photographer and like people shots, this is the place to be.
Hotel Imperio ticked the boxes for me. Centrally located on the main square opposite the presidential palace. The cost was $80 a night, so there’s definitely cheaper in the city, although I was mid-way through a long trip so wanted some comfort. Spacious rooms, clean, with decent facilities. Fast WiFi is available throughout the hotel.
Hotel Imperio wins the crown here too, thanks to their “Friday Night Sushi Session”. It's $30 a person, so there's definitely cheaper alternatives, but this is very good sushi, and an expat hangout. I was surprised to discover the chefs were actually Japanese and had been living in Bissau for over 20 years. The restaurant also has a nice panoramic view of Independence Square!
It was useful having a guide due to the travel distance between the above towns that I visited, although I wouldn't say it's essential. If you're on a short trip and sticking to Bissau, then it's easy enough to navigate yourself around the local attractions. I used the services of Rocky, who can be reached via Whatsapp on +220 262 6343 or Facebook via Rockking Silva Morgado.