A small seaport located on the River Gambia, Banjul has a low-key nightlife but brims with energy and colour during the day. There are a few restaurants and various nature parks within reach, while the large local markets offer the chance to barter for African crafts. A taste of authentic Africa, this holiday will give you the perfect Gambian retreat where you can relax on a palm–fringed beach and soak up the tropical sunshine.
As the capital city of The Gambia, there’s a long history dating back to the colonial era, marking the 200th anniversary of its official founding in 2016. Visit the city's museums and two cathedrals to learn more about its history and culture. Banjul Beach is also a popular base for day trips to Gambia's inland natural attractions such as the Abuko Nature Reserve.
Banjul, Gambia is hot all year round, although the nights are noticeably cooler in the winter, which is a little sunnier, too. The area can experience intense heatwaves from around March to May, when temperatures can occasionally exceed 38°C.
The nearest airport is Banjul International Airport (BJL), around 30km from the main resort. It’s served by London Gatwick, Manchester, and Birmingham on a seasonal basis, so it's a good idea to check flight dates before you book your accommodation.
Book a Thomas Cook holiday to Gambia’s Banjul Beach and experience the infectious rhythms and good vibes of Africa’s heartland for yourself.
Spend some time at the Banjul Gambia National Museum during your holiday, where you can learn all about the history of this nation, such as the colonial period, the liberation and growth of Banul, and West Africa's archaeological history. Or visit the Kachikally Museum and Crocodile Pool in Bakau, where you can see a sacred crocodile pool used for fertility rituals.
Home to the large and vibrant Albert Market, you’ll find great local produce, wooden masks, and locally made fabrics. It is named after the British royal Albert, Prince Consort, who was Queen Victoria's husband. If you're looking for some quality hand-crafted souvenirs to take home with you, this is an excellent place to visit.
This hotspot has a wonderful large white sandy beach that's overlooked by exotic palm trees and luxury hotels. Dip your toes in the water, go for a swim, or relax on a sun lounger and soak up the sun. As always, make sure you apply sun cream regularly during the day, as UV levels are very high in the Gambia. Enjoy the glorious views and stay until the evening to watch an amazing sunset.
One place you'll have to visit is the Abuko Nature Reserve, which is the first designated wildlife reserve in the country, just south of Abuko town. Welcoming tens of thousands of visitors a year, it's also The Gambia's leading tourist attraction, with beautiful bird species, crocodiles, snakes, lizards, and other exotic animals. You can get here by taxi via Westfield Junction, although the easiest way to explore the park is to book an organised tour, which will take a couple of hours.
If you receive an invitation to visit a compound during your holiday, you'll learn about the country's unique way of life and traditions. You may also have the opportunity to try a delicious Gambian dish such as Domoda meat stewed in groundnut purée, or Benachin rice with vegetables. While the vast majority of the Gambian population follow Islam and do not drink alcohol or consume pork, Islam is not the official religion of the country. You'll find alcohol and pork are still sold in tourist-oriented supermarkets.
Nature Lovers: Because of its wonderful natural scenery and exotic birds, this destination makes an ideal base for nature lovers.
Sun Seekers: For pristine white sands and plenty of tropical sunshine, Banjul Beach is the perfect escape for sun seekers.
Bargain Hunters: You can find a wide variety of local goods at the craft market or ‘bengdulalu’ shopping areas if you're looking for some souvenirs.
Language: The languages spoken in Gambia are English, Mandinka and Wolof, among many others. English is actually the official language, which is taught in most schools and is used for official purposes.
Currency: The currency used in Banjul Gambia is Dalasi (D).
Local time: Banjul Beach is the same time as GMT/UK time.
Fly to: Banjul International Airport. Transfer time to Banjul Beach is about 50 minutes.
Flight time from UK: The Banjul Beach flight time is 6–7 hours.
Tourist Information: Further Gambia tourist information can be found at www.visitthegambia.gm
Visa & Health: Before you travel, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/gambia for recommendations and advice on visas and health for your holiday to The Gambia.
Temperature: Low 30s (°C) by day all year round.
Best time to visit: Winter and spring if you want to avoid the wet seasons.
Banjul, Gambia has a very warm climate, with daytime temperatures normally exceeding 30°C all year round. The hottest period of the year is February to April, when it can often reach 35°C or higher, while the wet season from around June to October is very humid and sticky with warm nights. From December to February, the nights are much more pleasant, cooling down to around 16 to 17°C, so this is the best time of year to explore the destination. Rain is also rare from November to May, when humidity is much lower.
Weather in Banjul Beach
By bus: Buses in this area come in all colours, shapes and sizes, and can be hired for groups and tours. They’re an excellent choice for bigger families travelling to Banjul and can be arranged from your hotel reception.
By taxi: Taxis can be found near your hotel, so look out for these green cars. They might be a little more expensive than other taxis, but they’re regulated for your safety so are well worth the extra cost during your holiday. Make sure to always agree a price with the driver before you set off.
Roots Homecoming: Every other May. This biannual festival in the town of Albreda brings descendants of Gambian families from all over the world to their ancestral home to discover their roots with music, shows and a celebration of all things uniquely African.
Bob Marley Day: This area celebrates national Bob Marley Day with a fantastic beach festival, but there are regular theme nights and beach parties throughout the spring, including an African King & Queen Banquet and a Masquerade Ball.