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You’d never guess it but Porto Novo is officially the capital of Benin. However, with all the nation's infrastructure, jobs, opportunities and hopes based forty minutes down the road in huge Cotonou, the only people likely to remind you of Porto Novo’s capital status are the locals themselves. Capital or not, this is one of the most interesting cities in the country; it's a major center of Voodoo where little street-corner temples guarded by fetishes and splattered in gore stand next to bright market stalls piled high with fruit and vegetables. Porto Novo is also an old city, a fact reflected in a series of excellent museums portraying ...

You’d never guess it but Porto Novo is officially the capital of Benin. However, with all the nation's infrastructure, jobs, opportunities and hopes based forty minutes down the road in huge Cotonou, the only people likely to remind you of Porto Novo’s capital status are the locals themselves. Capital or not, this is one of the most interesting cities in the country; it's a major center of Voodoo where little street-corner temples guarded by fetishes and splattered in gore stand next to bright market stalls piled high with fruit and vegetables. Porto Novo is also an old city, a fact reflected in a series of excellent museums portraying everything from reminders of royalty to the ethnographic richness of Benin or just an oddball collection of old typewriters and classic cars. Finally, this is also a city of good looks; the central core is a mixture of fading candy-coloured colonial buildings, red dust streets and men and women dressed in day-glow-bright clothing. Out on the fringes of the town is the sparkling expanse of Lac Nakoué, the largest lake in the country and home to a "floating" village or two that can be visited by boat from Porto Novo.

Stuart Butler
About the Expert

Based in the French Basque Country, Stuart Butler writes guidebooks for Lonely Planet and Bradt on France, Spain, Norway and large parts of Africa and South Asia. He also works with numerous international surf magazines exploring the remoter coastlines of the world.

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Stuart Butler for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Porto-Novo (also known as Hogbonou and Adjacé) is the official capital of the West African nation of Benin. Porto-Novo is a port on an inlet of the Gulf of Guinea, in the southeastern portion of the country.
  • Language: Fon language, Aja language, Yoruba language and French
  • Currency: CFA Franc
  • Research: Wikitravel | Wikipedia
  • Weather: Daylight | Rainfall
  • Current Time:

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    October to March