Cotonou Benin is one of the best places to visit in Africa. Asides, from the obvious language barrier, it is a fun place to explore on a budget. So here is my travel guide to Cotonou to help you on your trip. I had help using the google translate app for ease of communication.
You can click here to know other travel apps you need. So, if you need a place to explore west Africa on a budget, opt for Cotonou. How do you plan a trip to Cotonou? Can Nigerians travel to the Benin republic without a passport? All these I will be answering while sharing my experience from Lagos to Cotonou by Road.
This travel guide to Cotonou is perfect if you’re traveling from Lagos. This guide will come in handy if it’s your first time visiting or if you’re re-visiting.
Ultimate travel guide to Cotonou from Lagos
In this travel guide, I will be as detailed as possible. Do you need Visa to enter Cotonou as a Nigerian? You do not need a visa for entry into Cotonou or the Republic of Benin. Cotonou is one of the visa-free countries accessible to Nigerians.
So, if you need a visa-free country to visit as Nigeria, opt for the Republic of Benin. Also, read my post on other visa-free countries to know as a Nigerian.
How to plan a trip to Cotonou, Republic of Benin
The Republic of Benin is a neighboring country to Nigeria. So, I chose to visit it first since it is nearby. There are several ways to access Cotonou. You can travel by road from Lagos through the Semen border.
However, I would not recommend this border as it is super stressful. The checkpoints from Badagry to the Semen border are a lot. This makes the trip a little slow.
I traveled to Cotonou from Lagos through the Owode border. Although this border is less stressful. It cost me about 5,000 naira to stamp my passport at the border. Other ways to travel from Lagos to Cotonou are via air or water ( Epe, Lagos). If you’d prefer to travel by air, click here to book your flight ticket. Also, note that you will require a covid test. ( All covid protocols will apply).
Do I need a Nigerian passport to access Cotonou? Yes, you do need a Nigerian International passport for entry into Cotonou. So, if you have not applied for your Nigerian passport yet, click here to know the process to apply.
You need a yellow fever card to travel to Cotonou Benin republic. This is a must-have you need to pack for a trip to most places in Africa. The process of getting a yellow fever card in Nigeria is quite seamless. So, it is advisable to have it handy to make your trip easy.
You don’t need a visa to visit Cotonou if you’re traveling from a west African country. However, if you’re not in west Africa you may need a visa to access this country. There are other visa free countries for Nigerian passport holders you can explore especially in Africa too.
How much does it cost to visit and where to stay?
It is quite affordable to plan and visit Cotonou. Below is the cost breakdown and detailed travel guide to Cotonou, Republic of Benin.
Cost of transportation from Badagry to Owode border: 3,000 naira per person. I took a bike to the Owode border. However, you can choose to travel by car to the Owode border.
Cost of transportation from Owode to Fidjirosse: 10,000CFA
I took a car to Fidjrosse as this fits with my Itinerary. Also, Fidjrosse is an urban city in Cotonou. It is very close to the international airport of the Republic of Benin.
I opted to stay at the La Guesthouse Casabella, Cotonou. This guest house I highly recommend. Their staff is very helpful. Although I had issues with the language barrier yet they made effort to communicate with me in simple English language.
You can stay for a few days to longer stays at this guest house. The cost of the guest house per night is 18,000CFA. There are similar affordable hotels in Cotonou you can stay. Click here to check and book hotels on a budget in Cotonou.
The major means of transportation in Cotonou were bikes. So, if you need to go anywhere in this city, you can get a bike easily anywhere. As stated earlier, Cotonou is a francophone country. However, I was able to communicate in Pidgin English & Yoruba languages. Also, you can use Google translate app for ease of translation from your language to French.
What to eat in Cotonou, Benin republic?
There are so many food options you can eat on your visit to Cotonou. Also, you can eat from several grade places like roadside food stores, low-grade restaurants, and luxury restaurants.
Since I stay in Lagos, I was familiar with some of their dishes. You can eat amala and vegetable soup, spaghetti with sauce or rice and tomato sauce. I have heard a lot about how they rarely eat pepper at Cotonou. Boy were they right? I avoided eating their tomato sauce stew. How can one eat stew without pepper in it? That’s the Nigerian in me talking. lol.
Fun places to visit in Cotonou, Benin Republic
There are so many fun places to explore in Cotonou. I made sure I explored beautiful places in Cotonou near me at Fidjirrose. Below are some of the beautiful places to visit in Cotonou.
1. Fidjrosse beach
This beach is one of the closest beaches to my hotel at Casa Bella guest house. It is a walking distance from this hotel to the beach. However, you can go to the beach on a bike for about 200CFA to Fidjrosse beach from Casabella’s guest house.
Fidjrosse beach is one of the most popular beaches in Cotonou. This ultimate travel to Cotonou is incomplete without mentioning this lovely beach.
Fidjrosse beach Cotonou is free to access to all. So, many tourists add this place to their top must-see places in Cotonou. Also, the beach water is so clear. You can take a walk at the beach, swim in the water, or enjoy a picnic with boo or your family. You can take great pictures close to the abandoned plane on the beach.
2. Shop at the popular Dantokpa market
Another place to explore on your visit to Cotonou is to shop at the Dantokpa market. The Dantokpa market is like the Nigerian version of the Idumota market.
Dantokpa market is a super busy market. You can shop for anything you need at this market. I felt so much at home at this market. This is because I met a few Nigerians and some Yoruba-speaking Cotonou Indigenes.
So, communication was bliss in this market. One thing worthy of mentioning in this travel guide to Cotonou is to buy a new sim pack. It was very difficult to make a call. My Nigerian MTN sim doesn’t work. The roaming fees will make you bleed dry as it was super expensive.
So, we had to recharge the mobile phones of indigenes to use their mobile phones. I will recommend you get a new sim card on your visit to Cotonou to allow you to stay in touch with your family and friends.
Other Best Places to visit the Benin Republic
There are so many fun places that are on my bucket list for my next trip to Cotonou. Although this travel guide to Cotonou will come in handy when you explore these other parts. Notwithstanding, I would visit them soonest. You can explore the famous Foundation Zinshou Located at Ouidah, Ganvie Floating village (Similar to Makoko in Nigeria), and Snake temple among others.
After my stay, I took a road trip to Ouando to see a friend before returning back to Nigeria via the Owode border. So, here is a round-up of my top best places to live in Cotonou.
- Ouando is a sub-urban town in Cotonou
- Fidjirosse is a high street town with so many foreigners
- Porto Novo which is the capital city of the Benin Republic
- Ouidah is a place rich in culture and so many beautiful places to see and explore
I hope you enjoyed this detailed ultimate travel guide to Cotonou from Lagos by road. Comment on other places in Cotonou you can recommend for a visit.
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Have a fun trip to Africa. Don’t forget to follow this list of what to pack for a trip to Africa. Feel free to comment below.