Upriver from Banjul, explore Gambian colonial history by visiting the exhibition of the slave trade at Albreda and Jufureh - twin villages that were made famous by Alex Haley's novel Roots - then cross to James Island, mid-river, to see its ruined fort.
In the capital, visit the National Museum, which has some interesting ethnographic displays, then admire the colonial architecture in the area near July 22nd Square and climb to the top of Arch 22 for great views over the city. Shop in Albert Market, the city’s lively open-air bazaar, for an illuminating glimpse of daily life.
Birdwatching is the most popular pastime for visitors to The Gambia. Take a boat into the mangrove creeks of the Tanbi Wetlands around the mouth of the River Gambia, head south to the Tanji Reserve, or travel up-country to the world-renowned Bao Bolong Wetland Reserve to spot some of the country's many resident and migrant species.
Spend a day either sea-angling in the rich, cool waters of the Atlantic, creek-fishing inland near Banjul, or line-fishing from one of the beaches and hook a marlin, barracuda, ladyfish, snapper or giant grouper.
Go to the beach
Gunjur and Kartong are southern Gambia’s most pristine beaches and home to a number of excellent eco-retreats. Alternatively visit Kotu, the best beach along The Gambia’s main resort strip.
Enjoy the beautiful mid-river location of Janjanbureh Island in eastern Gambia, an excellent spot to unwind in an unspoilt rustic environment, with plenty of good places to walk or birdwatch in the vicinity.
Katchikali Crocodile Pool
Meet a friendly croc at this ancient site, sacred to the Mandinka tribe, in the coastal village of Bakau. The crocodiles, though wild, are well fed and docile. Fertility rites are sometimes held here.
Kiang West National Park
Trek through this stunning national park, the most diverse ecosystem in The Gambia, to see more flora and fauna than anywhere else in the country.
Go to a live session from one of The Gambia's many excellent local bands, or a concert featuring stars from neighbouring Senegal, home of Youssou N'Dour, Baaba Maal and many other West African greats.
Makasutu Culture Forest
Join a cultural tour of this beautiful forest park, learning about local medicinal plants and woodland fauna, then take a boat trip by dugout canoe and enjoy a spirited display of local-style music and dance in this award-winning eco-attraction.
Soar over the fields, villages, creeks and beaches of the coastal region in a microlight. Short airborne tours and longer trips can be arranged from the microlight base at the airport.
Music and dance lessons
Book a few lessons with a dance teacher, a master of the kora (The Gambia's national instrument) or with a drumming teacher who may help commission a djembé (drum) from a local craftsman.
Take a long-distance boat trip on the River Gambia, the dominant feature of the country. The River Gambia National Park is the most beautiful stretch of riverine vegetation. Look out for monkeys leaping through the riverside foliage, spot pelicans and hippos, or just relax and enjoy the peace of the wilderness.
Wassu stone circles
In eastern Gambia, catch sight of the fascinating circles of standing stones around Wassu, the most ancient man-made structures in the country, which date from 1200 years ago. The origin of these megalithic circles, which stand between one metre and two and a half metres tall, is shrouded in mystery but they are thought to mark the prehistoric burial grounds of a society long-since vanished.
Watch a wrestling match
Borreh (wrestling) is The Gambia’s national sport. The artform was dying until it was revived under President Jammeh and now features in most national events and festivals. Similar to Greco-Roman wrestling, contests, played out against a theatrical backdrop, are ferocious and frequently bloody.