Home to intriguing architecture, voodoo practice, a 200-year-long history of slave trade, and palm-fringed golden beaches – Benin is an unspoilt destination for the most intrepid traveller.

Experience the slow-paced lifestyle of the country in the Portuguese-influenced capital city, Porto-Novo. Home to crumbling facades and architecture of French colonial rule, key attractions of this city include the Royal Palace, Musée da Silva and Musée Ethnographique de Porto Novo.

The bustling economic and political hub of Benin is found in its largest city, Cotonou. This crowded port city is a combination of urban energy and African charm, which is evident in its eclectic cultures of French, Islamist and animist. When you’re not gawking at the outlandish voodoo pieces strewn throughout the Dantokpa Market, grab a local beer at the buvettes (local pubs) or sunbathe on the golden beaches. Lake Nokoue is especially popular for birdwatching. The Artisanal Centre is a great place to purchase unique souvenirs.

Forty kilometres west of Cotonou lies the historical town of Ouidah. Steeped in African history, this was the centre of the Atlantic slave trade between the 17th and 19th centuries. Trace the Slave Route, lined with monuments leading up to the Door of No Return, a tribute to those who were kidnapped and sold.

Sandwiched between the border of Togo and the Atlantic coastline, Grand Popo offers a relaxing breakaway in the form of beach resorts, mangrove swamps and exotic birdlife.

Further north, you can explore the temple ruins and bas-reliefs of the Abomey Royal Palaces, a UNESCO World Heritage Site of the former capital of the Dahomey Empire. History-lovers should visit the World Heritage Site of Koutammakou, where the mud and clay tower-houses reflect the social and physical landscapes of the native Somba and Batammariba people.

Benin’s northern region is home to lush, green highlands where you can enjoy the best wildlife viewing at Pendjari National Park.

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