Goree: The Touristic Island That Haunts Senegal’s Past

What you’ll find in this article

  • Approximate Costs
  • What to do & see
    1. House of Slaves
    2. Canon de Navaronnes
    3. Memorial Goree Almadies & Colonial Fortifications
    4. IFAN History Museum
    5. Church of St. Charles Eglise
    6. Mosque of Goree
    7. Henriette de Baithly Women’s Museum & Statue of Liberation
    8. Hostelleire du Chauvier de Boufflers
    9. Chez Tio

From being Africa’s largest slave-trade center between the 15th and 19th centuries, to becoming the biggest tourist attraction in Senegal. Goree’s old colonial buildings, beautiful narrow streets and paradaisical beaches will amaze you!

Goree is a small island off the coast of Dakar which is primarily known for being largest center of slave trade in Africa between the 15th and 19th centuries. This small car-free island was one of the earliest spots that European settlers inhabited. Well-preserved colonial buildings from the French era, narrow streets, small beaches, vivid flowers & trees. Despite its sorrowful past, Goree is the most popular touristic attraction in Dakar. The island is a small paradise with so much to see and do in it! As locals say: “It does not count if you do not visit Gorée.

The island consists of 2000 residents. It is spread over 28 hectars, which makes all the spots able to be covered in a day!

Most of the colonial buildings on the island are very well-preserved

Approximate Costs

Round-trip boat ticket: 5,200 CFA for non-resident adults, 2,700 CFA for African residents, 1,500 CFA for adult residents of Senegal.

Accomodation: AirBnB’s and bed & breakfasts vary around 20-35 Euros a night.

Food: 4000-6000 CFA per day would easily suffice.

Entrance to the island: Some visitors are charged a certain amount upon leaving the boat under the name of “entrance ticket to Goree”. It is something around 1000 CFA, which is not too pricey. It is an official process so do not feel suspicious. Personally, no one charged me anything so they probably did not notice me 🙂

Many small gems to discover in the streets

What to Do & See

1-House of Slaves

House of Slaves is the most visited tourist attraction in Goree Island. It was the slave market of the island during the colonial era, where merchants and traders used to stop by and purchase slaves. Now it is considered a memorial for the millions of victims of the slave trade.

The famous Door of No Return is the symbol for appalling slave trade and remnant of the dark past of the island. This was the door that slaves passed through before they were shipped to different lands and went to the unknown… By many, it is assumed that millions of innocent locals were sold here in Goree Island to merchants and traders.

Me at the entrance of the museum! Got photobombed by a bald head, but still I will leave it here.
The dark rooms where innocent Africans were held until they were sold as slaves

2-Canon de Navaronnes

Canon de Navaronnes is an old canon remaining from the French Colonial era. It is so massive that there is a big control room underneath the canon to it going 5 meters deep in the ground. Some locals sell their work and souvenirs along the way. Especially some women who sell souvenirs might become too clingy, just be firm and brush them off.

There are a couple of artists who live in small huts around the canon. The artworks they sell are artisanal, also the artists are very friendly and talkative. Take a moment and stop by the stalls and exchange some word with the artists. Especially do not leave their without having a word with my buddy “Freedom Revolution” who is a Rastafarian artist who lives on the left side of the canon. Yes, you didn’t hear it wrong, he introduced himself to me as “Freedom Revolution”!

The enormous canon remaining from the French Colonial Era
My man “Freedom Revolution”! Visit him!

3-Mémorial Gorée-Almadies & Old French Colonial Fortifications

Memorial Goree-Almadies is a monument erected a couple of meters away from the Canon de Navaronnes which adheres the resistance of the African folk during the slavery era. Aside from thememorial, there are old French fortifications and military structures scattered around the hill. Some locals and independent African artists live in these hundreds of years old structures. People will be very intrigued by the presence of a foreigner. They will approach you with curiosity, ask questions about yourself and perhaps will invite you to have tea with them.

He was very friendly and welcoming! We chatted a lot!
Old French Colonial Military Structures
Many people live inside the old colonial structures that had once been used for military purposes

4-IFAN Historical Museum

Human presence in Goree Island dates back to 5th century. It is one of the rich areas of Dakar in terms of history. IFAN museum (do not confuse with IFAN Museum of African arts) is a remarkable museum inside the fortress of Goree. In the exhibition, ancient findings in Goree, artefacts & information from the French colonial era. Moreover, you might as well climb to the walls of the old fortress and witness the picturesque view of the island.

Inside the fort

5-St. Charles Eglise Church

A beautiful and an old Catholic church in Goree island. Built back in 1833, this church is still an active place of worship. Entrance is free. It feels very peaceful to sit and look around. Highly recommended to see upon visiting Goree for it is among the top sites in the island. Not forgetting to mention that, Pope Benedict visited St. Charles Eglise a couple of years ago.

I sat for 2 hours, listened to music and rested my soul in this sacred place

6-Mosque of Goree

Mosque of Goree is an old center of worship which was built in 1822 and it serves as one of the oldest structures and religious complexes of the country. It is located near the southern hill of the island, a few meters away the small rocky beach. Recently, the mosque does not suffice due to increasing population of the island which chiefly consists of Muslim residents.

7-Henriette-Bathily Women’s Museum & Statue of Liberation

Having been founded in 1984, this museum has been working under the motto of “a tribute to all women”. In the museum, artworks and artifacts on the daily life of Senegalese women are exhibited.

In 2006, Statue of Liberation was given to Senegalese people to commemorate the abolition of slavery and to revere the victims of slave-trade.

8-Hostellerie du Chauvier de Boufflers

This restaurant is located in an amazing spot in the island. Right near the main beach, overseeing the beautiful Atlantic until the horizon. The staff is quite friendly and the atmosphere is pleasant, however, I didn’t really like the mixed seafood platter I had. The small bottle of French white wine I tried was beautiful tough. Moreover, there are so many cats around which makes the overall experience way more memorable! Maybe the food I had was not very fresh, however, still I recommend you to have a dinner once at that unique spot.

9-Chez Thio

The best spot to have food in Goree! A considerably decent menu, tasty food, cosy envoirenment and friendly staff! Chez Thio is also perfect spot to snack upon and take a quick rest. Find my man Valentino who is a great server. We talked a lot and I really found him to be a such an interesting character. Chez Thio has free wifi and it is one of a few premises that accepts credit card!

Goree Attractions on Google Maps

Argun Konuk
Argun Konuk

I am a Turkish travel & history enthusiast, sharing my travel experiences both in Turkey and different parts of the world!