The Perfect Weekend in Freetown
Surrounded by verdant rainforest-covered mountains and the blue waves of the Atlantic, Freetown is a city unlike any other, with bustling streets, colorful markets and wide sandy beaches just a quick drive from the city centre. The Sierra Leonean capital is less than a 6-hours flight from many European cities including Paris, Brussels, and London, making it perfectly suited for a short city break or to be used as a base for a longer itinerary around Sierra Leone. Even a weekend is enough to get an idea of what Freetown is all about – just follow our itinerary to make the most of it!
The journey from Lungi airport to the city might very well be one of the most spectacular in the world, a boat trip taking you to Freetown port sailing past the city and its mountains – make sure you have your camera ready if it’s still daylight when you land. If you are into nightlife, we recommend staying in the Lumley Beach area, full of beach bars and restaurants like Roy’s, where you can enjoy a delicious Lebanese dinner before enjoying a few drinks right on the beach. By all means, dance the night away if you want to – but there’s so much to see and do in Freetown you might want to save some energy!
Start your morning with a hearty breakfast before moving onto exploring the centre of Freetown. Depending on your interests, you might want to visit a museum: the Sierra Leone National Railway Museum includes old trains and exhibits from the country’s railway system, whereas the Sierra Leone National Museum is perfect for those interested in culture and history. You can find more information in our post about Freetown museums. Other interesting sights are the Cotton Tree, a huge tree older than the city itself, Big Market where you can pick up some locally-made souvenirs, and the Fourah Bay College, one of the first public universities in Africa destroyed by a fire in 1999. A morning should be enough to check out all these sights – we recommend going with a guide and driver, as Freetown traffic is notoriously hard to navigate. You can also ask your guide to take you to a local place for lunch, or make your way to a restaurant like Balmaya or Tessa’s, both of which specialize in Sierra Leonean food. You can spend the afternoon visiting Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary, where chimpanzees are rescued and rehabilitated before being reintroduced to the wild. There are regular tours taking you to see the rescued chimps, guided by rangers who will share more information about the process and the dangers faced by these animals in the wild. Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary is in the hills surrounding Freetown, about half an hour drive from the city. Accommodation is also available in simple cottages surrounded by the rainforest, and special events like yoga and movie nights are organized. If you want to escape the city traffic, you can also opt to stay at Tacugama during your weekend in Freetown.
There’s nothing like a beach day to spend your Sunday. Freetown Peninsula is home to an array of beaches, so you can easily choose the perfect one to suit your needs. Tokeh Beach is home to an exclusive beach resort where you can enjoy lobster with your toes in the sand before heading back home, Sussex Beach is perfect if you want to go diving, whereas Bureh Beach is ideal if you are into surfing. However, we recommend spending your Sunday in Freetown at River N.2, probably the most beautiful beach in the Freetown Peninsula. It is about an hour drive from the city, so if you set off early enough you should still have enough time to relax, enjoy the beach and have lunch before heading back to the airport for your flight home. River N.2 is located at the estuary of a small river creating a lagoon, with shimmering turquoise waters surrounded by fine sandy beach. Not only is it a place of great natural beauty, your visit will also benefit locals – River N.2 is run by a community association, providing employment opportunities to women and offering an education to local children. The association runs the beach guesthouse, restaurant and handicraft market. If your flight back home is early, but you still want to squeeze in some beach time, then Lumley Beach is the place for you. It may not be as spectacular as the others, but it’s a wonderful urban beach, and on Sunday it’s full of locals strolling, running or playing sports on the beach. A great place to say goodbye to Freetown – until next time!