Bamako is a bustling city alive with West African culture and traditions. Shop at local markets and bazaars, listen to street musicians and visit one of the top museums in the country. Elegant jazz clubs and European restaurants recall the capital’s French heritage.
Things to do in Bamako
The streets of Bamako are lively and full of colour. Walking around the capital, you’ll see buskers playing traditional West African instruments like the “ngoni” guitar and the 22-string “kora” harp. Quench your thirst with fresh fruit juice sold by street vendors.
Shop like a local at Marché de Medina. The market is brimming with stalls selling everything from spices to second-hand clothes. Beauticians will lure you in with offers of hair braiding and temporary henna tattoos. Browse handcrafted leather purses, colourful ceramics and gleaming gold and silver at Maison des Artisans. The Fetish Stalls are a short stroll from the market and offer a glimpse of West African voodoo traditions. You’ll be fascinated by animal bones, monkey heads, claws, furs and dehydrated chameleons.
Musée National showcases a whimsical collection of wooden masks, colourful textiles and intricate carvings. Exhibits represent many of the country’s ethnic groups, including the Mande, Peul and Voltaic. The contemporary art galleries feature talent from Mali, as well as other African countries like Senegal, Mozambique and Ethiopia.
Bamako is the beating heart of Mali’s restaurant scene. Dine at lively restaurants decorated with colourful West African décor. Try local specialties like “poulet au coco” chicken coconut curry, “tiguadege na” goat in spicy peanut sauce and “labadja” spiced rice. You’ll also find great international restaurants serving wood-fired pizzas, handmade pasta and French wines.
Getting around Bamako
Taxis are a fast, affordable and comfortable way to get around Bamako, while many locals prefer motorcycle taxis. Trains travel between Bamako and Kayes several times a week. President Modibo Keita International Airport is a 30-minute drive from the city centre.