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The Republic of Guinea-Bissau, a small, little-known country in western Africa just south of Senegal, is an ideal spot for adventurers seeking off-the-beaten-path travel opportunities. Though it is one of the world’s poorest nations and has limited tourist facilities, Guinea-Bissau has much to be commended, too: gorgeous beaches, ultra-fresh seafood, and a local population known for being especially friendly and laid-back. A visit to Guinea-Bissau practically guarantees an authentic African experience, and adventurous travelers willing to make the trip can enjoy some real finds and relative freedom from tourist traps.

THE TOP 10. What to do in Guinea-Bissau

1. Varela: Just south of the Senegalese border, in the Cacheu region, this beach can be a challenge to reach, but its stunning views, pine forests, and remote feel make it worth the trip.

2. Bolama Town: Bolama Town, on the landward side of Bolama Island, provides a look back at the past grandeurs of the Portuguese empire. Crumbling mansions, decaying colonial buildings, and leafy avenues make a lovely backdrop for an evening stroll.

3. Praia da Bruce: This isolated beach on the island of Bubaque, in the Bijagó Archipelago, boasts pristine stretches of sand and shady cashew trees. Rent a bike and journey to the beach along Bubaque’s straight, forest-lined road.

4. Orango: One of the many Bijagó islands, Orango is home to stunning tropical beaches and a population of salt water–dwelling hippos.

5. Bafata: This small, picturesque town is a good spot for wandering among the red, Portuguese-style houses. Maimouna Kape, a hotel in the town’s center, also has a popular outdoor bar.

6. Local Fare: Feast on the country’s many specialties, like kaldo branco (fish in white sauce) and grilled king prawns while sipping the national beverage, cashew wine.

7. Fiesta: Soak up the sights at Bissau’s annual carnival, which takes place in February or March and draws people from all over the country to check out the fierce dance and music competitions.

8. Local rhythm: Tap into the Bissau-Guinean culture through gumbe, a samba-like type of music that is sung in Crioulo and reflects both indigenous musical traditions and Portuguese influences.

9. Move It: Seek out a performance of Broxa, the traditional dance of the Balante people. Near Mansôa, in the Oio region, Broxa dance troops travel from village to village dressed as warriors, dancing and playing centuries-old instruments.

10. Street Market: In Gabú, the country’s most significant eastern town, stroll along the street market in the early evening; there you’ll find everything from locally made crafts to just-picked fruit.  

In Guinea- Bissau the weather is hot and humid averaging about 80 degrees Fahrenheit (26.6 degrees Celcius) year-round. The monsoonal-type rainy season typically lasts from June to November, and the dry season runs from December to May.