Have you ever been to Porto-Novo? I guess I should ask, have you even heard of it before? I haven’t. I found out about it by accident with a 419 SPAM email I received over the weekend. The sender was from Porto-Novo.
Since I was unfamiliar with it, I thought I would research it. It seems like a nice destination. Here is a little info in case you’re looking for a new and different venue for your next trip. Porto-Novo is the capital of the West African country Benin. It’s a French-speaking locale, a total of 42 square miles off the coast of the Gulf of Guinea and adjacent to Nigeria.
Although Porto-Novo is the capital, it lacks an international airport. So when traveling there, you’ll have to fly into Cotonou, the nearest airport, and take a taxi to Porto-Novo, which is about a 45 minute ride. Of course, you could always rent a car, but only do that if you plan to drive yourself everywhere you go during your stay. The cost of renting the car isn’t worth it if all you plan to do is drive to the hotel and back to the airport.
The city is filled with many attractions and landmarks, from museums and mosques to stadiums and open market places. One of the most popular attractions in Porto-Novo is Museé Ethnographique de Porto Nov. This museum is located in a French colonial building and features art, exhibits, and displays that center on the Guélédé people, a sub-set of the Yoruba ethnic group. Some historians attribute the origin of voodoo to the Guélédés. Another popular attraction is Palais Royal du Roi Toffa, the home of one of the greatest kings of Porto-Novo, a ruler who served prior to the revolution before Porto-Novo’s name changed from Hogbognu and Ajace.
Although there are several hotels available, there currently aren’t any hostels in Porto-Novo, for all of you thrifty travelers. But the good news is, the Saint Francis Xavier Catholic Mission Church has beds for rent for a nominal donation – the expected donation is the equivalent of what you might expect to pay for a hostel. Check it out.
Porto-Novo is a beautiful city in a beautiful country, and if you tire of traveling to the many commercialized tourists places in the world, consider an off the beaten path place like Porto-Novo.