Gambia holidays

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. 

Things to do

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.  

What should I pack?

Whether you’re taking your holiday to the Gambia in the dry or the rainy season, sunscreen is an absolute must. Mosquito repellent is also crucial; while the night-time nippers are less prevalent in the dry season, they’re still out and about. During the wet season, the increase in humidity sends their numbers up, so pick a room with a bug zapper and a mosquito net for an uninterrupted night’s sleep.

While the Smiling Coast is famous for its friendliness, it is a relatively conservative country. Save your swimwear and skimpies for the beach and keep covered up in public. Light and airy clothes, perhaps made from linen, cotton or bamboo, offer further protection against the sun, help to keep you cool, and minimise the potential for causing unintended offence.

For men, it’s a good idea to pack some smart-casual clothing. While you might spend most of your mealtimes at your hotel or at one of the beachside snack shacks, you might also want to visit one of the country’s excellent restaurants. If you do, smart trousers and a shirt are the best way to ensure you’re not refused entry.

Plug adaptors are a good idea for those who bring their gadgets with them.

ore Travel Guides

We also have travel guides available for destinations including: Banjul Beach | Bijilo | Brufut Heights | Kololi Beach | Kotu Beach

Map of Gambia

world_map
30 ℃

Enjoys a subtropical climate, with swimsuit weather all year round.

View live forecast

6 hours

Banjul (or Yundum) International Airport (BJL).

Gambia 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. 

Fast facts for Gambia

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 https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/the-gambia

Holiday destinations related to Gambia:

 

 

Getting around Gambia

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’.

Events in Gambia

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.

Gambia safety and security

Do I need a passport?

Gambia passport requirements state that British citizens must hold a full UK passport, which is valid for at least the duration of their stay. For further information on entry requirements, visit: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/the-gambia/entry-requirements

Do I need a visa?

If you’re taking Gambia holidays for less than 28 days, you do not need a Gambia visa. On arrival, your passport will be stamped, stating the date by which you must leave. If you intend staying any longer than that, then you’ll need to apply for an extension. To read more about visas, head to: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/the-gambia

Should I get travel health insurance?

You should have comprehensive travel health insurance whenever you travel abroad. It protects you against the financial cost of unexpected events, such as illness and accidents. With a good policy behind you, the cost of things like medicines, medical treatment and even returning to the UK can be covered. However, it’s worth reading through yours to check what is and isn’t included, especially if you’re planning on doing any sports such as scuba diving.

Any other tips?

  • While the locals are very friendly, it’s always worth asking permission if you want to take a photograph of someone.
  • The markets can be overwhelming to begin with and as a tourist, you’re likely to attract some attention. Don’t be afraid to say ‘no’ to anyone trying to sell you something you don’t want, or to the locals who might offer their services as guides. Be polite, but firm.
  • Avoid using tap water for anything other than washing. Drink bottled water, avoid salads that have been washed in tap water or fruits that have been peeled and then washed, and dodge ice cubes in your drinks at all costs.
  • Where possible, use the green tourist taxis. Do check on the price before you travel; while these taxis operate on fixed prices, it’s always better to double-check.

 

Gambia weather

Temperature: 30 (°C)

When’s the best time to go?

It might be the smallest country in West Africa, but what the Gambia lacks in size it more than makes up for in character. Expect the warmest of welcomes from the locals, golden beaches, clear waters and spectacular nature reserves. The cuisine is fresh and fantastic and there’s even the chance to visit authentic Gambian villages, such as the ones found at Cape Point. In short, the best Gambia travel advice we can give you is to book your tickets as soon as possible.

However, while the ‘Smiling Coast’ is well known for glorious weather and a sunny attitude, there are times of the year that might be preferable over others.

For a cooler climate and minimal chance of rain, book your Gambia holiday between October and June. This is the dry season, when temperatures average from around 24-28°C. If you like things hotter, the months between July and September see temperatures climb into the 30s and, occasionally, the low 40s. However, this is the rainy season so expect some hefty downpours, especially in the afternoon and evening.

Best hotels in Gambia

Popular Gambia holiday resorts

Similar destinations