Ile de Gorée, Senegal
Early European settlement, historical architecture and meditative calm. Ruled in succession by the Portuguese, Dutch, English and French, the historical, Unesco-designated Île de Gorée is enveloped by an almost eerie calm. There are no sealed roads and no cars on this island, just narrow alleyways with trailing bougainvilleas and colonial brick buildings with wrought-iron balconies – it’s a living, visual masterpiece. But Gorée’s calm is not so much romantic as meditative, as the ancient, elegant buildings bear witness to the island’s role in the Atlantic slave trade. You pay a tourist tax of CFA600 at the booth to the left of the ferry landing. If you need a guide, you can arrange it there, but the island is easily explored independently.