The French-speaking Ivory Coast, Cote d'Ivoire, is a nation full of dance, art, community interaction, and delicious food. The country is a cultural journey of ethnic groups, vibrant dances, innovative music forms, and dance. This West African land overlooks the Gulf of Guinea with urban cities such as Abidjan, Grand Bassam, Bouake, and more. Explore fine galleries, national museums, glittering skyscrapers, UNESCO Sites, arid savannah among other attractions. Villages with a reputation as a cultural hub introduce you to dancing, weaving, ceramics, traditional arts and crafts using pre-modern techniques. Cocoa plantations with crisp mountain air, green peaks of the Toura Mountains, imposing Basilica, Grand Bassam, Mount Nimba are some of the popular attractions to see. Terrace restaurants overlooking the sea and gorgeous blonde beaches will leave you mesmerized as we guide you, so you make the most of your visit to the Ivory Coast of West Africa.
USEFUL INFO ABOUT COTE D'IVOIRE
Official Name: Republic of Cote d'Ivoire
Form of Government: Unitary presidential constitutional republic
Airports in Cote d'Ivoire: Abidjan International Airport Felix Houphouet Boigny | Bouna Airport | Ferkessedougou Airport | San Pedro Airport
The country is best connected with the following services available for travelers for mobile internet namely MTN, Moov, and Orange. You can buy a USB drive and boxes that are small Wi-Fi terminals and hence, easily movable. The small Wi-Fi terminals will allow you to connect to the internet anywhere from any type of supporting device such as mobile phones, tablets, laptops, etc. Prepaid and postpaid services are also provided by the service providers. The Ivory Coast's mobile telephony market is rapidly progressive. Abidjan International Airport provides 30 minutes of free Wi-Fi access in the arrival and departure lounge.
CALLING CODE: + 225 Fire brigade: 180 Ambulance: 185 Police: 170, 110, 111
The West African CFA franc is the Cote d'Ivoire currency. The currency code is XOF. The Cote d'Ivoire currency symbol is CFA and is broken up into 100 centimes. The nickname for the currency is cefa and franc. Here are a few important conversions of CFA to other currencies (updated on 10 Sept 2020).
Symbol: CFA Code: XOF
1 AED = 150.68 XOF (AED to West African CFA franc)
1USD = 553.43 XOF (USD to West African CFA franc)
1 INR = 7.55 XOF (INR to West African CFA franc)
1 Euro = 652.91 XOF (Euro to West African CFA franc)
West African CFA franc banknote denominations: 500, 1000, 2000, 5000, 10000
West African CFA franc bank coin denominations: 1, 5, 10, 25, 50, 100, 200, 250, 500
Please note that Travelers Cheques are NOT accepted in most places.
French missionaries were the first Europeans to arrive at the land called Cote d'Ivoire in 1637. The land was previously called the Ivory Coast or the 'teeth coast' due to the ivory trade that happened here. The country also exports cocoa and coffee while its economy is heavily based on agriculture. Many kingdoms existed before the Europeans came and built a trade in ivory and slavery. Ethnic groups such as Senufo founded the kingdom of Kong, the Ashanti Empire settled near Lac de Kossou. The Akan and Anyi people migrated and also established kingdoms.
Over time, explorers, traders, and French soldiers moved in from neighboring countries. In 1893, the country was in control of the French and became a French colony until 1915. Caption Binger, the first governor was an explorer and mapped the coastline of the country along with the Gold Coast. French had control of the country for many years until 1960. August 7th every year is celebrated with fireworks and military parades. Felix Houphouet-Boigny served as the first president until the year 1993.
After gaining independence, the economy grew with exports of cocoa beans which was the main crop of more than a quarter of the population. Coffee, tropical wood, pineapples, palm oil, and copra were also exported. The 2000s saw a lot of turmoil and disturbances with plenty of military coups, uprisings, and unrest. United Nation troops and the French have been trying to maintain peace in the country. The fighting and civil war ended in 2007, but the political tension remains.
Cote d'Ivoire is a country in West Africa with 600 km of coastline along the Gulf of Guinea. The country shares its borders with Guinea, Mali, Liberia, Burkina Faso, and Ghana. The north has the savanna plains while the western border is mountainous. The southern and western parts of the country are forested. Birdlife is plentiful and the three main rivers that run north to south of the country are the Sassandra, the Bandama, and the Comoe. The sub-Saharan nation is approximately square and has its highest point at Mount Nimba which straddles across the borders between the country and Guinea in West Africa. The Bandama River is the longest river and Lake Kossou is the largest lake in the country. Abidjan is the capital city of the Ivory Coast. Ivory Coast is located in West Africa in the northern and western hemispheres of the earth.
Abidjan, the capital of the Ivory Coast is also known as the 'Paris of Africa' for its vibrant and bustling art, fashion, and music scene. There is a wave of youngsters famous for breakthrough art that is recognized by the international market. The music of the Ivory Coast has influences of the various ethnic groups with a few Ivorian artists who have become famous internationally. Magic System, Christian Goh, Dobet Gnahore, Alpha Blondy are some of the globally acclaimed artists. Music genres have different varieties of music based on race and tribes such as Arabia, Pop, Zouglou, Couper Decaler among others.
Food and Drink
The cuisine of the country is influenced by the diversity of 60 ethnic groups with a diet suitable for their lifestyle. Agni and Abron groups live on cocoa and coffee plantations. Rice with peppery peanut sauce is enjoyed by Senufo people. They also cultivate yams, millets, and peanuts. Kulango people grow yams, peanuts, corn, and watermelon. The people of Cote d'Ivoire rely on grains and root vegetables as the main ingredients.
Must-Try Cote d'Ivoire National Dishes
Foufou (boiled cassava and plantains), Melon Fingers with Lime (melon dessert), Kedjenou (seasoned meat and vegetable sauce), Aloko (fried banana), Baked Yams, Calalou (vegetable stew), Chilled Avocado Soup, Cornmeal Cookies, Maafe (meat with peanut sauce), Land Snails, Barbecued Chicken or Fish
Must-Try Cote d'Ivoire National Drinks
Bangui (white palm wine or ginger beer), Coffee, Ground Ginger Root mixed with Orange/ Pineapple/Lemon Juices
Traditions and customs are colorful due to the diversity of the ethnic groups of the nation. The indigenous tribes come with their own unique identities and traditions. Discover through tales, customs, and festivals the warmth and hospitality of the Ivorian people. The ever-smiling faces welcome you with 'Akwaba' as you meet several people from more than 60 ethnic groups and cultural mosaics.
For the richness in the diversity of culture and vibrant ethnicity.
Visit the historical city of Grand Bassam, a World Heritage Site of UNESCO.
Be awestruck by the world's largest basilica.
Local cuisine is diverse with the richness of the land in the flavor and taste.
Legendary hospitality in a country that welcomes you with its rich diversity.
To explore the unique biosphere in the world with a visit to Tai National Park.
Cocoa farm expanse and its different processing stages of cocoa to chocolate.
Walk on the bridge of lianas that are mysterious bridges built in one night by the spirits of the forest.
For the beautiful beaches and wonderful bays that blend into the oceanic scenery.
To witness the religious and ethnic harmony of the beautiful West African country.
Cote d'Ivoire Weather | CIV Climate
The best time to visit the Ivory Coast is between December and February. The hottest months are March, April with temperatures as high as 34.4℃. It is the warmest time to visit with even the night temperatures at 24.2℃. Humidity levels are high all year and hence, the average temperature in the Ivory Coast varies little. The least humid month is January and the most humid month is August. Look at traveling between December 3rd and February 25th for ideal weather based on temperature and humidity. A pleasant temperature of 26.6℃ is expected between December and February, which makes it an ideal travel month. The seasons can be divided as warm and dry in November to March, hot and dry in March to May, and hot and wet from June to October.
Visit Cote d'Ivoire With Family
Visit Comoe National Park for its diverse terrains of the grasslands, savanna, and great stretches of the rainforest. Spend time by the fish-filled Comoe River and witness hippos, chimpanzees, yellow- casqued hornbills, and more.
Tai National Park is a National Park with a large area of fabulous flora and fauna in the primary rainforest, a World Heritage Site.
Witness the Basilica of Our Lady of Peace of Yamoussoukro completed in 1990 for its historic splendor.
Visit the spectacular natural surroundings in the Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve and witness the attractive Mount Nimba.
Visit Cote d'Ivoire as a Couple
Explore the Parc National du Banco, a national park in Abidjan, and spend time amid rare wood tracks for walkers in the magnificent primary forest.
Spend time with your loved one in the rooftop terrace restaurant and dine under the stars to relish gastronomic delights at Bushman Cafe.
Spend time at the St. Paul's Cathedral and view beautiful stained glass in a peaceful ambiance.
Go shopping to the PlaYce-Marcory with an array of clothing stores, food, and snacks joints, beauty parlors, a supermarket under one roof.
Visit Cote d'Ivoire with Friends
Visit the Dipi Crocodile Farm, a popular attraction is Assinie and Assuinde to witness the Dipi crocodile. Don't forget to take a baby crocodile in your hand for a cutesy experience.
Go on to see the Palais Presidential, a government building where the president of the country lives.
Witness in Yamoussoukro, the largest cathedral in the world, and explore the political capital of the country with a guide.
Discover Bini Lagoon in the Bini Lagune Estate, a paradise of unique vegetation and ecology. Take the 7 km hike, a canoe trip, and a typical Ivorian lunch session at the edge of the lagoon.
Visit Cote d'Ivoire with Kids
Spend a day at the Zoo d'Abidjan and be among 355 animals in the 4-hectare expanse of ecology.
Look out for elephants, monkeys, chimpanzees, West African crocodiles, and more in the Assagny National Park situated on the coast between the Badama River and the Ebrie Lagoon.
Visit the botanical garden in JardinBotanique de Bingerville, a garden with plants, insects, a football ground, a nursery area, and more.
Visit the Assinie Beach for beautiful ocean views, sea breeze and sunset scenes.
What To Buy?
Ghanaian Kente Cloth
Artisan Craft Ware
Notre Dame de la Paix
The beautiful cathedral with splendid interiors influenced by African art is a must-see attraction in Yamoussoukro city. The artwork and Roman architecture will leave you awestruck and the resemblance to the Saint Peter Basilica is interesting to see. The Catholic minor basilica is dedicated to Our Lady of Peace and was constructed between 1985 and 1989. The colossal cathedral is a popular tourist attraction in Cote d'Ivoire. Best Time to Visit: December to March Entry Price: Based on the tour cost
Comoe National Park
The UNESCO World Heritage park is the biggest protected area in West Africa. A popular tourist place to visit in the Zanzan and Savanes district of the country, witness a range of flora and fauna as you spend time amid the beauty of the rainforest. The beautiful preserve is a Biosphere Reserve with diverse flora and fauna, interesting native wildlife, and beautiful landscapes. The terrain extends into grasslands, savannas, and rainforest home to hippos, dwarf crocs, chimpanzees, including exotic birdlife.
Best Time to Visit: December to March Entry Price: 2000 CFA francs
Waterfall in Man
La Cascade which means 'The Waterfall' in French is a beautiful cascade to visit and is one of the loveliest waterfalls in the Ivory Coast. Visit the waterfalls during or shortly after the rainy season for amazing views as the water dries up in the summer. You could swim in the waterfalls or take a hiking expedition with an English-speaking guide. Visit the fascinating town as well. Meet locals taking their fruits to the market and mingle among the village folk. Best Time to Visit: May to November Entry Price: CFA 400 (one day tour of Tsavo East National Park)
Enjoy the African sun and lay back on the lounge chairs at one of the many fabulous beaches in Grand Bassam. Stay at one of the fancy beach hotel resorts and enjoy a full day of sunbathing at the sandy beach of Abidjan. Explore the old colonial part of the town as well and take in the pleasure of a stay in the luxurious oceanfront hotels. The seaside of Ancient Bassam is a very popular tourist spot, especially on weekends. Look out for strong currents during the swim so you have a safe and fun-filled holiday. Best Time to Visit: Summer months Entry Price: Free
The beautiful World Heritage Site is located in the southern part of the Tai National Park. Watch the different animals as you trek up the mountain trail that is not very high at 396 m above sea level. Home to chimpanzees, bongos, snakes, forest buffalos, dukes, and elephants, the rough path around the mountain is a popular thing to see as a tourist. Witness amazing views of the mountain over the beautiful canopy of a rainforest. The mountain is sacred for the Patokola people as well. Best Time to Visit: December to March Entry Price: Based on the tour
Feel the serenity and indulge in the local culture here in an African village, a unique tourist experience. The locals welcome you warmly and offer local food and drink to give you a wonderful experience. Although the village is very poor on the north side of the country the villagers ensure you have a lovely day as you enjoy the quiet solitude away from the rush of the city. Best Time to Visit: December to March Entry Price: Free
If you can make time, here are few more places to visit in the Ivory Coast,
Reserve Naturelle du Banco
Jardin Botanique de Bingerville
Musee National des Costumes
Zoo Nationale D`Abidjan
Most Popular Regions and Cities to Visit in Cote d'Ivoire Abidjan
Abidjan is the de facto capital and the economic hub of Cote d'Ivoire. The city overlooks the waves of the Atlantic Ocean and is filled with shiny skyscrapers. The local life comes alive in Abidjan`s neighborhood and the vibrant tropical mood of West Africa sets in. The street food shops, art galleries, local markets, and chic bars make up the character of the city.
Visit For: Galerie Cecile Fakhoury, La Pyramide, Parc du Banco, Cathedral St Paul, Marche de Cocody, Musee National Museum
Yamoussoukro is the capital of Cote d'Ivoire in West Africa. The city is known for its famous Basilica of Our Lady of Peace of Yamoussoukro with its spectacular stained-glass windows and a huge dome. It lies to the north-west of the country's cultural hub, Abidjan. It is also home to the Presidential Palace, a popular tourist attraction.
Visit For: The Basilica of Our Lady of Peace of Yamoussoukro, Reserve de Faune, Presidential Palace, Le Brennus, Maquis le Jardin, A La Bella Pizza.
This is the second-largest city in Cote d'Ivoire and is subdivided into the Vallee du Bandama District, Gbeke Region, and Bouake Department. The city is located about 50 km from the country's largest lake, Lake Kossou. The city is famous for masks, Dahomean fabrics, bronze wear, and Senufo fabrics. It is the seat of the Roman Catholic bishop and home to the textile research institute. Visit For: La Promenade Entertainment Park, St. Michael's Cathedral, Bouake Festival, The University of Bouake
The beautiful resort town is famous for its palm-lined beach that stretches along the majestic Atlantic coastline. The town is an old French colony popular for the National Museum of Costume. Witness the display of traditional dress in the museum that was once a governor's palace. The Farafina Beach and Pont De La Victoire are worthwhile travel attractions. The historic town is situated in the south-east of the Ivory Coast.
Visit For: National Museum of Costume, Pont De La Victoire, Farafina Beach, Lighthouse Grand Bassam, Village des Artisans
The city is famous for the La Cascade Waterfall surrounded by a bamboo forest. The large rocky outcrop overlooks a town called La Dent de Man which means the 'Tooth of Man'. The monkey forest is a wooden area where monkeys live, a fun tourist attraction to visit. The bamboo forest is the habitat of beautiful dragonflies and colorful butterflies. Man consists of 29 villages such as Daine, Gagouin, Bigouin to name a few.
Visit For: La Cascade Waterfall, La Dent de Man town, Mont Tonkoui
Other Places to See in Cote d'Ivoire
Carnival in Bouake
The colorful festival is a week-long carnival and a popular event in the Ivory Coast. It is similar to the Mardis Gras festival. This week-long event with performances is watched keenly by many tourists and locals. The festivities are celebrated with colorful floats, fares, masked balls, beauty pageants and more. It is also called the 'Carnival Forum Fare of Bouake'. Location: Bouake Date: March to April
Fete du Dipri
The event happens in April in the town of Gomon. People gather to perform rituals to drive away evil spirits from the village. The event starts at midnight and continues until the next day in the afternoon. This traditional festival is a religious ceremony to exorcise the community of any evil spirit, an eccentric sort of celebration.
Location: Gomon Date: April
Fetes des Masques
The Festival of Masks is one of the most popular festivals in the country. The annual event is held in November where the villagers wear colorful masks and costumes. The event is held in the northern town of Man to pay homage to the forested spirits. Location: Man Date: November
The annual event happens on August 7 to commemorate the country's freedom from France. The day is celebrated with lots of cultural activities, colorful parades, lively performances, and a whole lot of festivities.
Location: Ivory Coast Date: August 7
Islam Related Festivals
The Ivory Coast being predominantly an Islam country, festivals such as Eid-al- Fitr, Tabaski, Ramadan are vastly observed by families. The event dates are based on the lunar calendar and hence vary year to year. The major Muslim festivals are celebrated with pomp and joy in the country.
Location: Ivory Coast Date: Lunar Calendar Dates
All travelers must have a valid passport to apply for a Cote d'Ivoire visa. The passport needs to be valid for at least six months beyond the date of return. The passport must have at least one blank page as well, another Cote d'Ivoire visa requirement.
Visa-on-arrival/eVisa/ Visa free entry
Citizens can obtain a visa online with an e visa procedure. The website allows for payment of visa fees and applications are also provided online. The eVisa requires a scanned photo, passport, and credit card details of the traveler. Visa has to be processed at least 48 hours before departure.
Visa can also be obtained from the nearest Cote d'Ivoire embassy with the required documents. Citizens of the following countries are exempt from visa;
The central African Republic
Types of Visa and Validity
The Ivory Coast e-visa is a multiple entry visa valid for 90 days after travel. You can stay for a maximum of 90 days in the country. The cost of e visa application is $ 84 and the standard time for the process is 7 working days.
Visa on arrival allows you to stay for up to 30 days and can be picked up with your biometric visa on arrival. You can use it for a single-entry visa valid for 90 days from the date of issue. The Government of Ivory Coast asks travelers to apply for a pre-approval letter before departure so that they can be provided with their biometric visa on arrival at one of the airports in Abidjan.
An Ivorian transit visa is issued by the immigration department or the Ivorian local visa office for travelers who wish to transit through the country to proceed to a third country.
Multiple entry visas are valid for 1 month up to 3 months at the discretion of the consulate.
Ivorian buses are comfortable and modern, with each bus company having its bus station. The bus stations are located near the highways that connect you between main cities. At least one bus company is always there that will take you to the de facto capital city Abidjan daily.
Air Cote d'Ivoire is the national carrier of the Ivory Coast and is the flag carrier. The company is based in Abidjan and operates a network covering destinations in West and East Africa. There are internal flights between Abidjan and San Pedro.
Major Ivorian cities have their taxi services. Abidjan and Bouake taxis are orange in color while you find white taxis with green and orange stripes in Yamoussoukro. The fare has to be negotiated in advance except in Abidjan's taxis. In general, fares range from 500 to 1500 CFA francs.
Bush taxis are like shared taxis that start only when the taxi is full. The bush taxi operates in the local and urban lines. These are easy to locate but arrive with very irregular schedules.
Cote d'Ivoire has a single train line of some 1200 km stretch. SITARAIL manages the railways in the country and connects Abidjan to Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso. The express train is clean and it is a good idea to take the first-class seats that are more comfortable.
Flying into the Ivory Coast is possible on major airlines such as Air France, Brussels Airlines, Emirates, Ethiopian Airlines, Royal Air Maroc, and more. The Abidjan Felix Houphouet-Boigny International Airport caters to many airline routes as well as the domestic airline Air Cote d'Ivoire. Abidjan Airport is the hub with other sister aircrafts such as Air Burkina and Air Mali also operating in synergy.
You could try the Virtual Cruise Advisor to pick on a cruise ship itinerary that visits the Ivory Coast. Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Azamara Club Cruises, Silversea Cruises, Oceania Cruises are some of the fabulous cruise experiences on offer. Discover cruising to the Ivory Coast to reach Abidjan also known as 'the Manhattan of the tropics.
Rail travel is very limited with the only existing railway that connects Cote d` Ivoire with Burkina Faso. There is an ongoing USD 1.4bn rail project in the pipeline for the future of the metro network in Abidjan.
The road network spreads to over 85000 km to provide for international traffic with neighboring countries. The Trans-West African Coastal Highway is a link to Ghana, Nigeria, Benin, and Togo. There are also paved highways to landlocked Mali and Burkina Faso as well.
Medical facilities are available in Abidjan but are very poor elsewhere in the country.
Swimming is dangerous in the Atlantic Ocean due to strong currents.
Always follow travel guidelines on safety and keep away from Liberia and Guinea borders.
Avoid the wet months for travel. The best time to visit Cote d'Ivoire is from December to March.
North of Bouake and west from the Seguela Department and Guiglo are violence-prone areas.
Experience the lively markets of Treichville and witness the largest launderette in Abobo.
Carry travel documents and be abreast of all safety advice.
Keep contact details of family you could use in an emergency.
The local currency is hard to get and it is best you carry a stash of euros.
Credit cards are not widely used and there are very few ATMs.
Stay alert and abreast of all safety travel advice.
Counterfeit money is common, so be careful when transacting.
Sporadic violence is common in this diverse country, so keep away from conflicts or crowds.
To enter the northern New Force territory, paperwork has to be obtained for travel from rebel leaders.
Keep your travel documents and valuables safe.
Stay away from dangerous borders known for terrorist activities and violence.
Take precautions not to swim in the sea due to strong Atlantic currents.
Carry an insurance policy and keep your insurance identity handy.
Make sure your health insurance policy includes emergency air travel.
Medical facilities are poor, so carry your medical kit for emergencies.
Take vaccinations as recommended by WHO and CDC before travel that includes Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Typhoid, Cholera, Yellow Fever, Rabies, Meningitis, Polio, Measles, Mumps, Rubella, Tdap, Chicken Pox, Shingles, Pneumonia, Influenza.
Carry along medications for malaria prophylaxis and travelers' diarrhea.
Meningococcal vaccine is also recommended during travel between November to June.
Do not drink tap water and avoid unpasteurized milk products.
Always wash the fruits and peel off the skin before eating.
Avoid food that is not piping hot.
What to Pack?
Sunglasses, Beach Hat
Hand Sanitizers and Wipes
Water Purification Tablets
Personal Safety Equipment
Health Insurance Documents
Proof of Vaccination Certificate
Dress Code & Etiquette
Greetings are done with handshaking between men and women when meeting for the first time.
Two kisses on each cheek is a customary greeting between friends.
Bargaining is a done thing if the price is not written and fixed.
Tips are expected of about 10% to 15% of the bill price.
Handshakes are also a custom to say goodbye between people.
Do not give an opinion on the political scenes of the country, its customs, or traditions.
Photographs of government installations are prohibited.
Toasting etiquette during dinner is traditionally done by the host as a welcome gesture.
Make sure all glasses are filled before making the toast before the toaster stands up to raise the glass.
Ghana (700.9 km)
Ghana also popularly known as the Gold Coast is known for its economy relying on gold, oil, and cocoa. St. George's Castle, Busua Beach, Mole National park, Lake Volta are some of the many attractions here.
Burkina Faso (679 km)
Burkina Faso means 'Land of the Honorable People' and is one of the friendliest countries to travel. Explore the sites of interest such as Arli National Park, W National Park, Ziniare Wildlife Park, Museum of Manega among others.
Mali (1127 km)
The famous landmarks in the beautiful country are worth visiting such as the Mopti Mosque, the Great Mosque of Djenne, the Niger River, Dogon Country, and more. Visit the legendary attraction in the city of Timbuktu that is a great contribution to civilization.
The Ivory Coast is home to one of the largest churches in the world, the Basilica of Our Lady of Peace.
Les Elephants is the name of the national football team.
Didier Drogba is the nation's favorite son, an all-time top goalscorer in football.
The country won Olympic gold in Taekwondo in Rio in 2016.
The country boasts of golden beaches and Senufo cultural experiences.
Mount Nimba is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a lush mountain in Cote d'Ivoire.
Life expectancy in the Ivory Coast is at 53.3 years.
Grand Bassam was once a colonial trading post and is a UNESCO World Heritage town.
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