Places to Visit in Port Louis, Mauritius
March 12 2020
March 12 2020
If the enchanting destination of Mauritius is not already on your travel bucket list, then it should be. Not only is this glorious destination synonymous with picture-perfect tropical island beauty, but it’s also exotic and interesting and offers discerning travellers a veritable plethora of exciting ways to discover the fabric of this intricate destination.
Dramatic volcanic mountains are the perfect playground for ambitious climbers, lush tropical jungles are excellent for explorers (and animal lovers in search of some rare bird sightings), unusual sites (both natural wonders and man-made structures) are sure to thrill those with a taste for the unusual while the pristine, flour-white beaches, next to cyan lagoons, make for the ultimate places to enjoy a little R&R in the sun.
If you’re the type of traveller that enjoys discovering a destination’s culture, history and novel facets, there’s something special for you in Mauritius as well; the bustling capital city of Port Louis in the northwestern region of Mauritius. Rich with beautiful architecture, history and authentic offerings, the colourful capital city is a must-visit and will reward you with special insights into this eclectic country that you would battle to uncover elsewhere.
Pressed for time and want to know which places you have to visit in Port Louis? Here are our suggestions:
Le Caudan Waterfront
A hub of modern boutiques, local artists, entertainment options and wonderful restaurants, starting your adventure at the commercial waterfront in Port Louis allows you to ease yourself into the exotic, fast-paced city. Here you can shop for something special, treat yourself to a meal or drink along the water, watch a movie or even try your hand at gambling. It’s also where you will find the Blue Penny Museum (a perfect stop for history lovers as it focuses heavily on the history of Mauritius, the culture here and the art) and the fabulous Craft Market where you can buy some special Mauritian gifts to spoil your loved ones with back home.
The central market
While a visit to the Craft Market at Le Caudan Waterfront is always fun, there’s nothing quite like visiting a local market for a true Mauritian experience, and there’s no better place to do just that than the Central Market. This authentic local market is lively and colourful (as well as hot!) with a huge array of things for sale. From fresh fruit and vegetables and street food from the sensational “food court” (where you can sample authentic Mauritian street food fare which is simply sublime) to spices, sugars, postcards, local crafts, clothing, tourist trinkets and much more—this is the place to shop to your heart’s content. It’s the kind of place where you can get some stunning items for bargain prices (but you might have to haggle a bit). Whether you plan on eating or shopping here or simply want to see it, the market is definitely worth a visit for a glimpse into the lives of the locals.
Le Champ De Mars Racecourse
Amongst the fascinating sites of Port Louis is Le Champ De Mars Racecourse. This racecourse was founded by Colonel Draper in 1812 and is deemed the second oldest racecourse in the world and the oldest in the southern hemisphere. What’s more, it’s still very much in use today.
On Saturdays and Sundays locals come out in their numbers to watch the races and place their bets and it makes for a fantastic and unique Mauritian experience. There’s even a fabulous VIP area that offers exclusive packages for a seamless day out or you can rub shoulders with the locals in the lively stands and even try your luck by placing a bet. It’s certainly an unusual experience, one you are sure to remember.
La Place d’Armes
From the Government House (a stunning French building that dates back to 1738) to the port runs an extraordinary coconut palm-lined boulevard that ends in La Place d’Armes. This incredible place is said to be one of the most iconic spots on the island and you can find statues that depict some key figures in Mauritius' history, such as that of the governor Mahé de Labourdonnais (who founded Port Louis) close to the port.
The Place d’Armes is also the banking district of the capital so it’s a great place to do some banking or exchange or draw some money. It’s also a good place to catch a cab.
One of the most important sites for many in Mauritius, a visit to Aapravasi Ghat, located next to the water and close to the port, is highly recommended. This historic site was in 2006 named a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was used in the 19th and 20th centuries as an immigration depot for indentured labourers brought in mainly from India. It’s said that during this time, some half a million people went through the depot where they were then sent to work on sugar cane plantations around the island as well as in Reunion and much further out.
Only a few of the original structures remain today (and are safe to be visited themselves), but not to worry, because the open-air museum that exists here has been thoughtfully and artfully created. At this historic spot, you can discover the depot’s history, its layout and the special meaning it holds for many Mauritians today.
A breathtaking place to relish panoramic views of the Moka mountain range and the amazing city of Port Louis, the Citadel, or Fort Adelaide makes for a great stop. This British fort was built in 1834 and was constructed to help protect the British from the French (who had previously colonised Mauritius). Because the Citadel has garnered such interest from visitors for its views, it’s been renovated to more comfortably accommodate tourists, and visitors can enjoy the historic spot for free.
Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Garden
The botanical garden in Mauritius is not technically in the city itself (it’s in Pamplemousses which is about a 20-minute drive away), but if you have the time, a trip here makes for an enriching experience. This gorgeous oasis is filled with amazing tropical flowers and plants, many of which you would struggle to find elsewhere. Baobabs, giant water lilies, medicinal plants and some of the local fauna are just some of the highlights of this magical place. What was once the private garden of a French Governor is now a phenomenal Eden and is best explored with the help of one of the local guides (you can inquire about this at one the kiosk).
Interested in exploring the wonders of Port Louis for yourself? Then get in touch with us to book a stay at one of our exceptional four- and five-star hotels for the ultimate home away from home, where you can relax in luxury after a long day of sightseeing.