Top 10 things to do in The Gambia for first-time visitors

Updated on Jun 28, 2023 by Alastair McClymont

Blog > Top 10 things to do in The Gambia for first-time visitors

Are you visiting The Gambia for the first time? Here are some great things to do to ensure you get the most out of your holiday.


About The Gambia

Whether you jet over to immerse yourself in The Gambia’s world-class birdwatching, its golden sandy beaches or its exhilarating culture and vibrant atmosphere, there’s always something ready to captivate holidaymakers visiting The Gambia for the first time.

While it may be mainland Africa’s smallest country, The Gambia is big on attractions and appeal, promising to be one of most exciting and diverse destinations in the continent.

Here are our top 10 things to do in The Gambia for those embarking on their first holiday to the country...


Top 10 things to do in The Gambia for first-time visitors

Relax on an unspoilt beach

While many holidaymakers will flock to the Canary Islands or the Caribbean for their beach break fill, The Gambia offers unprecedented access to the sun, sand and sea; often just steps away from your hotel.

Many of the beaches are secluded and unspoilt, particularly the beach at the front of White Horse Residence, the perfect spot to witness the sunset.

Discover our beachfront hotels in The Gambia.


Meet wildlife in The Gambia’s nature reserves

Holidays to The Gambia will provide some great wildlife-spotting opportunities for those who have packed their binoculars.

Numerous nature habitats are dotted around the country, including the Abuko Nature Reserve and Kachikally Crocodile Pool.

Green Vervet monkeys are a common sight in hotel grounds, proving you’ll never be too far away from some Gambian wildlife.

Discover how to can enjoy a back to nature holiday in The Gambia.


Explore Banjul

A visit to The Gambia’s capital, Banjul, will add some history and culture to your African adventure.

Away from Banjul’s wonderful beaches there are interesting attractions to visit which won’t require you to don your swimming gear, including Albert Market and Arch 22.

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Embrace The Gambia’s fantastic birdwatching

There are few places in the world to match the quality of birdwatching in The Gambia; just ask Chris Packham, who returns there year after year!

You can embark on our exclusive tours led by his preferred guide in The Gambia, Malick Suso, ticking off some of the 600+ species of bird found in the country.

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Soak up the winter sun

Throughout the UK winter, The Gambia enjoys uninterrupted sunshine, promising the ideal winter sun getaway for those hoping for a dose of Vitamin D.

November to May provides the best weather conditions, with almost zero rainfall and temperatures well into the 30s.


Take a cookery class

Join a cookery class with Ida, starting the day in the colourful local fish market before helping prepare a traditional West African dish.

You’ll have the chance to learn more about Gambian culture from Ida, your enigmatic host, before sitting down together in her garden courtyard for lunch. Find out more

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Enjoy a dose of luxury

Whether it’s a dazzling property, upgraded flight service or the rejuvenating Coco Ocean spa facilities, holidays to The Gambia can be undoubtedly enhanced by a range of luxury perks.

Discover our full collection of luxury hotels in The Gambia.

Coco Ocean Resort & Spa


Stay in an eco-camp or lodge

From floating lodges on the River Gambia to stylish safari tents amid the excitement of a nature reserve, there are a number of accommodation options which will allow you to truly get back to nature.

Mandina Lodges is one of our most popular: made up of nine beautifully designed lodges built on and off the water, hidden in the African bush on a mangrove-lined tributary of the River Gambia.

Mandina Lodges


Visit a local market

The Gambia is home to several hustling and bustling markets, all providing a great insight into day-to-day Gambian life, as well as the opportunity to buy some souvenirs to bring home.

The craft market in Bakau is one of the best, where you can find beautiful woodcarvings for your sitting room.

Jon Banfield Feb 08


Take a cruise on the Gambia River

Holidays in The Gambia offer various excursions and experiences to visitors, including popular 4x4 tours.

For a more laid-back day, enjoy floating along the Gambia River on a pirogue from where you can witness local fishermen and aquatic birdlife.


Like what you see? Enjoy the real thing by booking your own Gambia experience with us, the destination specialists for over 30 years. 

Do you have any advice for holidaymakers visiting The Gambia for the first time? Share your expertise by commenting below.


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