Gambia is one of the smallest African countries, but it packs in everything you need for a fantastic holiday. Also known as the ‘Smiling Coast of Africa’, couples and families with love the mild year-round climate (even in winter) and a warm welcome from friendly locals. If you’re looking for that perfect beach holiday for the whole family, or somewhere romantic to walk hand-in-hand with your partner at sunset, this destination offers up tropical beaches with pristine white sand, lush green nature reserves and glorious landscapes galore. Resorts like lively Kololi Beach and peaceful Bijilo have everything you need for laid-back holidays to Gambia.
Enjoys a subtropical climate, with swimsuit weather all year round.
6 hours flight time from the UK
Banjul (or Yundum) International Airport (BJL).
A base for wealthy locals and foreign dignitaries, the village of Cape Point has a refined, laid-back feel. Enjoy your Gambia holiday at its beautiful best on when relaxing on a lovely wide sandy beach and at the bird sanctuary. Further down the coast is Kotu, with its lively bars, restaurants, clubs and a casino. For a more low-key experience, play a few rounds of golf, relax on the beach, or take in the botanical gardens. The village of Kololi is a little further south, and the popular ‘Senegambia Strip’ buzzes with restaurants, beach bars and an amusement park.
When it comes to beaches on Gambia holidays, you’ll be spoilt for choice. From bustling Kololi Beach to secluded Bijilo, you’ll find plenty of places to relax and soak up the sunshine. While you’re there, you can cool off by taking a dip in the sparkling Atlantic Ocean. When you’re ready to get active, you can head off on safari. It may be a small country, but it’s rich in lush scenery and wildlife. You’ll discover a wealth of nature reserves ready and waiting to be explored. Holidays to Gambia will also take you to a region with a rich culture history. While you’re here, why not sample a slice of local life down at the market? And you can head to a museum to learn more about the country’s fascinating past.
Get out in nature
Beyond the beaches, you’ll find a wealth of stunning scenery to explore. This small country is home to forest parks, national parks and nature reserves galore, brimming with beautiful plants and wildlife. Dense and swampy Cape Creek sanctuary is one of the top places here for birdwatchers, with around 540 exotic varieties to spot, ranging from eagles and babblers to weavers and finches. Head north-west to Bakau to discover its famous botanical gardens, and the Kachikally crocodile pool.
Explore culture and history
You’ll want to leave lots of room in your suitcase for souvenirs. How about an African drum or a traditional kora guitar? There’s so much to explore in the bustling markets, like brightly patterned batik fabrics and intricate wooden carvings. Serekunda market and Albert market in Banjul are two of the best. And don’t forget to haggle! Banjul’s National Museum is home to a fascinating collection of artefact, showcasing the region’s archaeological history of the region. Over on the north bank of the Gambia River is Kerr Batch, where you’ll discover some of the country’s mysterious stone circles, as well as the Ethnographic Museum.
Relax on the beach
If you want tropical white beaches and exotic palm trees, then you’ll just love Gambia holidays. Sun-soaked resorts are dotted all along the coastline, and they’re all lapped by the glistening Atlantic Ocean. Kololi Beach is one of the most popular spots; it has pretty sand, welcoming beach cafés with a strip of bars and restaurants nearby. It’s not far away from the quieter resort of Bijilo, which is home to an unspoilt white-sand beach, and this is definitely the place to go if you want to get away from it all.
GAMBIA HOLIDAY RESORTS
HOLIDAYS IN GAMBIA
Safety and Security
For up to date advice on travelling to Gambia, please visit Safety and security - The Gambia travel advice
Gambia Africa is best for…
Sun-worshippers:If you love the beach, Gambia holidays will be right up your street. Soak up the tropical sun and enjoy the cooling breeze as you sit back with a cocktail in hand.
Explorers:Hop across the river and head to the Fathala Game Reserve where rhinos, warthogs, giraffes and monkeys await. Or, explore the Makasutu nature reserve in a dug-out canoe.
Couples:Whether you want to relax on an idyllic beach with your loved one or get lost in the forest, holidays he are perfect for two.
Language: English is spoken here, plus local languages and dialects.
Currency: The currency used here is the Gambian Dalasi (GMD). You’ll find a few ATMs in the resort, and some cards will be accepted. However, it’s best to take some cash with you in GBP and exchange it for the local currency at either the hotel or a local bank in the resort.
Local time:Gambia is the same time as GMT/UK time.
Fly to: Banjul International Airport. Transfer time to Banjul Beach, Bijilo, Brufut Heights, Kololi Beach and Kotu Beach is about 50 minutes.
Flight time from UK: The flight time to Gambia is 6–7 hours.
Tourist information: To learn more before you go off on your Gambia holidays, it’s worth visiting www.visitthegambia.gm.
Visa & health: For visa and health advice and recommendations, head to The Gambia travel advice
Weather and climate
Temperature: 30 (°C)
Enjoys a subtropical climate, which splits the seasons in two: rainy and dry. But it’s warm enough for a swimsuit all year round. July marks the beginning of the wet season, which runs through the summer and part of the autumn until October. Rainfall starts to ease off from November, and the temperatures start to climb throughout the winter and spring. Don’t be surprised to experience 33 (°C) highs at this time of year.
By minibus: They come in all colours, and hiring one is a convenient way for groups to get out and about and see the sights.
By taxi: You’re likely to find tourist taxis near your hotel; they’re green and more expensive than bush taxis, but are regulated. There should be a price board on display, so check the price and agree it with the driver before setting off.
By ‘bush taxi’: You can’t miss them, they’re yellow with a green stripe. Popular with the locals (and cheap), they’re a great way to zip around, but check the price before you get in first, so that you’re not being ‘taken for a ride’.
Kartong Festival:Early in February, this colourful celebration brings the sleepy village of Kartong to life; it’s a vibrant festival paying tribute to Gambian music, arts and culture.
Roots Festival:Every other May, this lively event comes to the quiet fishing village of Albreda. Inspired by historian Alex Haley’s book Roots, it explores the history and its role in the transatlantic slave trade.
Colourful parades:Street parades and symbolic ceremonies celebrate the rich West African culture with pomp and colour. Look out for trips to historic sites such as the museum in the village of Juffure, and to the UNESCO-listed Kunta Kinteh (James) Island in the Gambia River.