Port Louis Tourist Information and Tourism

(Port Louis, Mauritius)

Mauritius is an elegant, worldly multi-ethnic tourism destination, with Port Louis its cosmopolitan core. The capital city and economic hub, Port Louis is loaded with character and a slightly dishevelled appeal that makes it the perfect complement to the dramatic natural backdrop of the surrounding mountains and Indian Ocean. By day, the city is filled with commuters and tourists, although as the evening approaches, it becomes much quieter as many people head home, creating an altogether different atmosphere.

A decent amount of colonial architecture provides a structural ambience, while modern tourist developments like the Caudan Waterfront are where you will want to shop, dine and have drinks. There is plenty to do in Port Louis and this national capital does deserve to be properly explored, but don't neglect a day or two of driving around the island to see how the locals live on Mauritius.

Useful tourist information can be found at the information counter at the Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport, as well as at the Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority (MTPA), located at Victoria House, on St. Louis Street.

Port Louis Tourist Information and Tourism: Top Sights

The tropical sandy beaches of Mauritius are one of the main reasons that so many people choose to holiday on the island, with some of the best stretches of sand residing on the westerly coastline, often close to Port Louis. Just a relatively short drive to the north of Port Louis is Grand Baie (Grand Bay), which has become a major Mauritian tourist destination, with its spectacular white sands and beachfront activities, such as snorkelling, fishing and more recently, walking trips on the ocean floor itself, using specially designed glass helmets. Also close by and to the north, Pereybere Beach is known for its favourable kitesurfing conditions, and Trou aux Biches is a reliable bet for snorkelling. To the south is the seaside resort of Flic en Flac, a popular spot for scuba diving, with its shipwrecks and underwater caves. More information about Port Louis Beaches.

If you can drag yourself away from the beaches around Port Louis, then you will find that the capital does offer some good sightseeing opportunities and activities. Close to the harbourfront, the Central Market on Farquhar Street is a great place to visit when you first arrive, allowing you to get up close and personal with the natives and possibly even pick up a souvenir or two. The Muslim Quarter (Plaine Verte) is another particularly interesting part of the city to explore, as is the area around the Aapravasi Ghat - a World Heritage Site where Indian labourers used to arrive in the 19th century.

For leisure and recreation, there are a number of parks and beautiful gardens spread around Port Louis. Especially fine are the Royal Botanical Gardens of Pamplemousses, located on the north-easterly outskirts of the city and first landscaped almost 300 years ago. Now a public park, the Port Louis Company Gardens (Jardins de la Compagnie) originally came into being as the French East Indian Company's vegetable garden and now comes with water features, pathways, benches and lots of seasonal flowers. Considerably larger is the vast Domaine Les Pailles theme park, a former sugar estate which today functions as one of the biggest attractions on the island of Mauritius, comprising sugar cane plantations, a nature reserve, a rum distillery, play areas for children and a leisure centre, complete with restaurants and a casino. If horse racing is more your kind of thing, then an afternoon at the Champ de Mars Racecourse (Hippodrome) will be time well spent. More information about Port Louis Tourist Attractions.

Port Louis was first established during the 17th century, when the Dutch arrived and began to settle in this region, taking advantage of its natural port setting. Many disasters have struck the city over the centuries, such as plagues, fires and some serious storms, while the 20th century saw Port Louis rise up and rank amongst the leading financial centres in Africa. Today, Port Louis is still an important city, being separated by a busy motorway and centred around a leafy avenue named the Place d'Armes, which runs between the Government House and the harbourfront.

Many noteworthy buildings and landmarks remain in Port Louis, with the early 19th-century Municipal Theatre combining beautiful architecture with regular shows. When it comes to places of worship, both St. Louis Cathedral (Bourbon Street / Sir William Newton Street) and St. James Cathedral (Poudriere Street) stand out in particular, as does the Jummah Mosque on Royal Street. A leisurely afternoon spent strolling around the streets of the colourful Chinatown district will be memorable, with the Friendship Gate off Royal Street marking the beginning of this oriental neighbourhood. The Fort Adelaide citadel is another landmark to look out for on your travels, dating back to the mid-19th century and providing excellent views of the Mauritius coastline. More information about Port Louis Landmarks and Monuments.

As you would expect with a capital city, Port Louis is the best place for Mauritius museums and heritage information. The Blue Penny Museum showcases two of the world's most rare and valuable stamps, issued in 1847 and now each worth a small fortune. Another dream attraction for philatelists in Port Louis is the Mauritius Postal Museum, where you can purchase your very own souvenir postal order reproductions.

Tourists visiting the Natural History Museum and Mauritius Institute can expect to find stories of the ill-fated and now extinct dodo, a flightless bird that once called Mauritius its home, before the island was colonised and its days became numbered. Situated opposite the Municipal Theatre, the Photography Museum showcases historical cameras, prints and extremely old and rather fascinating photos of Mauritius. The SRS Memorial Centre for Culture and the neighbouring town of Moka complete the main cultural offerings available here. More information about Port Louis Museums.

Port Louis is located on the north-westerly coast of Mauritius and has good access to the entire island, meaning that tourists with a rental car will be able to explore at their leisure. Choose between day trips to the town of Curepipe and its extinct Trou aux Cerfs volcano, the wildlife sanctuary of Black River Gorges National Park, and the nature reserve known as La Vanille Reserve des Mascareigne, where giant tortoises and crocodiles thrive.

Lying on the south-westerly side of Mauritius and within comfortable reach of Port Louis is Chamarel, where the huge mounds of sandy earth making up the Seven Coloured Earth are nothing short of a geological masterpiece. The seaside town of Souillac may also appeal, with its principal highlights being the Rochester Falls and also the Gris-Gris Viewpoint. If you have the time, do hop over to the Ile aux Cerfs, an easterly island with gorgeous beaches, a luxury hotel resort and an up-and-coming golf course. More information about Port Louis Attractions Nearby.

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