Bordered by Guinea and Liberia, Sierra Leone overlooks the Atlantic Ocean on the west coast of Africa. It centres around the storied city of Freetown, which was settled in 1787 as the “Province of Freedom” by former slaves sent from England. Today, Sierra Leone attracts visitors to its white sand beaches, offshore islands and wildlife-filled tropical rainforest.
Things to do in Sierra Leone
Whether you’re a nature lover or a history buff, Sierra Leone will satisfy your travel interests.
Learn about Freetown’s slave trade history. Overlooking a horseshoe-shaped bay, Freetown is the bustling capital of Sierra Leone and played an integral role in the transatlantic slave trade. See where former slaves walked to freedom at the King’s Yard Gate and visit the famous Cotton Tree that stands as a symbol of emancipation. Don’t miss the Sierra Leone National Museum, where you’ll find the only known photograph of Bai Bureh, who led an 1898 uprising against the British.
Relax on the Banana Islands. A short ferry ride from Freetown will take you to this idyllic archipelago, which comprises the islands of Dublin, Ricketts and Mes-Meheux. In addition to its beaches, Dublin Island is home to the ruins of a 19th-century church and an old slave dock. A stone causeway connects to Ricketts Island, which is covered in lush forest. Local dive operators offer excursions to explore the shipwrecks that litter the surrounding waters.
Explore the Gola Forest Reserve. Straddling Sierra Leone’s border with Liberia, the Gola Forest Reserve is one of the last remaining tracts of Upper Guinean Tropical Rainforest. It’s renowned for its thriving population of chimpanzees and is home to forest elephants and pygmy hippos. Join a guided trek to spot some of the reserve’s 49 resident mammal species, as well as Nimba flycatchers and Gola malimbes.
Getting around Sierra Leone
Lungi International Airport is the main aviation gateway to Sierra Leone and has flights to destinations across Africa and Europe. Poda-poda minibuses travel throughout the country, although renting a car and driver gives you greater freedom to explore Sierra Leone.