Airport guide

Airports in Ivory Coast

A sophisticated culture; an abundance of French cafés, skyscrapers and elegant buildings in the towns and vast plains and plateaus in the countryside all characterise Cote d’Ivoire.

With a distinctive French atmosphere prevalent in the buildings, food and culture, Cote d’Ivoire, also known as the Ivory Coast, seems more “Western” than its neighbours. A view of Abidjan from the plane window on a flight to Cote d’Ivoire may be surprising: a mass of skyscrapers point upwards, and dark, well-made roads wind off across the country. Compared with much of West Africa, Cote d’Ivoire is well-advanced technologically. Venture outside the towns and the countryside is equally striking. The coast has beautiful fishing villages, the interior has numerous national parks and some stunning forested mountains, dotted with waterfalls. Beachcombing, hiking or spotting game are all possible for an intrepid traveler.

Bear in mind, however, that some governments advise against travel to the country due to an underlying threat from terrorism. Make sure you check the current travel advice before booking your flights.

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Ivory Coast climate

The coastal region averages temperatures between 73 and 80 degrees. Rainfall varies greatly in the country, fluctuating between the seasons and geographic locations. The rainforests are wet and humid, reaching temperatures as high as 90 degrees. The desert is the hottest and driest part of the country.

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Best Time to Fly to Ivory Coast

Peak Season:

Because of the cooler temperatures, November to March is the best time to visit. Two popular festivals take place during this period – the Fetes des Masques near Man and the Fete du Dipri in Gomon.

Off Season:

The least popular time to visit is the wet season, between May and November. Temperatures still remain extremely hot.

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Getting around Ivory Coast

Taxis are available from the airport at Abidjan to downtown and are much safer than the buses. Travel on the public buses or shared taxis is not advised for tourists.

Trains run daily on the line to Ougadougou in Burkina Faso from various points and the journey takes about 30 hours. Service is often slow or disrupted, though it is among the best available in West Africa. Most travel outside Abidjan is considered unsafe, and if needed should be carried out in convoy. There are many military check-points around the country, which can slow down your journey.

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Ivory Coast Travel Information

  • Visiting Cote d’Ivoire after spending any time in the surrounding West African countries can be something of a shock. Compared to Ghana or Burkina Faso, the Ivory Coast seems far more built-up and technologically advanced – even the construction of the roads seems better here. The apparent sophistication of the country can be something of an illusion though, as the violent riots of recent years showed. Travellers should take extreme caution when visiting the country and be sure to check advice from relevant foreign offices before their trip.
  • Abidjan is the country’s main city and administrative center, though not its official capital. Far more developed than the cities of surrounding countries, its resemblance was closer to a French town, with cafés and boulevards, before the unrest and riots of the late 1990s and 2000s struck.
  • Grand Bassam is a small city on the coast to the east of Abidjan, with a tropical and lush feel. Old and often crumbling colonial buildings and jungle vegetation are housed in the middle of a stunning lagoon. Finding a café – often on stilts in the water – and sitting back to watch the sun go down will offer one of the most peaceful and stunning views you’re likely to find in the entire country.
  • Yamoussoukro is the country’s capital and a lively city worth visiting (safety allowing). The city contains a giant Catholic basilica (consecrated by the Pope as a “minor basilica” though it is actually taller than St Peter’s in Rome) surrounded by lush jungle, which V. S. Naipaul described as one of the “wonders of Black Africa”.

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Melisse Hinkle
A New England native but explorer at heart, Melisse has lived in four U.S. cities, spent a summer in Hawaii, made her way through wine-producing regions in Australia and New Zealand, and traveled around Europe while studying abroad in London. She is the Content Manager for the U.S. and Canada at Cheapflights.
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    In-flight reading

    Finding the Centre

    V. S. NaipaulThis book contains the essay “Crocodiles of the Yamoussoukro,” written by Naipaul after his visit to Cote d’Ivoire in the early 1980s. The book gives an admiring review of the official capital of the country.

    Nine Hills to Nambonkaha: Two Years in the Heart of an African Village

    Sarah ErdmanErdman lived for two years as a peace corp worker in a small village in Ivory Coast. This book documents the village life – as it moves from ancient superstitions to a more modern world, with the threat of Aids and the arrival of mobile phones.

    Any book by

    Bernard DadiéThe most respected of writers from Cote d’Ivoire and West Africa, Dadie wrote the first play from the country in 1936 as well as some of the first novels. His books are more widely available in French, though English translations do exist. Easiest to find is An African in Paris.

    The Roots of the Military Political Crises in Cote d’Ivoire

    Francis AkindesA study of the causes for the uprising in past years and the increasing violence of the country. The book gives a clear background to the ongoing troubles. 

    Travel Tips