With unspoiled golden beaches, a sub-tropical climate and a friendly welcome that’s guaranteed for all visitors, it should come as no surprise that the Gambia has long been one of the most popular tourist destinations in Africa.

Gambia sunset

Although best known for its beach resorts, the country has many exciting spots to see and experience, including spectacular nature reserves and bustling towns that are rich with history and culture. Whether you’re someone who prefers to be pampered in a luxury resort or someone who knows how to pack light and get off the beaten track, you can be sure to find something for you in the Gambia.

A modestly sized country on the west coast of Africa, the Gambia has a coastline of 50 miles, almost all of which is made up of sandy beaches. One of the most popular resorts is Kololi, which until a few decades ago was a quiet fishing village. Now you can find modern hotels, bars and restaurants within a short stroll from the beach. Relax in one of the thatched huts that line the shore, and be sure to buy some fresh fruit from the beach-side stalls, before heading off to explore the town’s craft market when it gets too hot for sunbathing.

Gambia’s other main beach resort is Kotu. A little less developed than Kololi, Kotu allows visitors to combine a beach holiday with the opportunity to see some of Gambia’s natural wonders. In addition to the beach, the area has many natural lagoons that are ideal for a cooling swim, as well as mangroves and creeks that attract a vast array of different bird species. Indeed, away from the coast the Gambia has a diverse ecology that attracts visitors from all over the globe. The national parks at Kiang West and Abuko offer a chance to see some spectacular wildlife, including baboons, hyenas, crocodiles and hippos.

Gambia’s small size also means that exploring its inland towns is accessible and easy. Take a day or two to explore the historic island town of Georgetown, or try to snag a bargain in the colourful markets of the capital city Banjul, before heading back for another day of beach-side relaxation.