Port Louis Tourist Attractions and Sightseeing
(Port Louis, Mauritius)
There are plenty of tourist attractions in and around Port Louis. Some of them are cultural sites like the vibrant Central Market, while others are of a natural bent, such as the Royal Botanical Gardens of Pamplemousses. The Domaine Les Pailles, a combination of the two, is a wonderful place to spend an afternoon in the Port Louis area and shouldn't be missed.
Then there are the beaches of Mauritius
. Certainly the highlight of any trip to the island, Mauritius
boasts a large number of spots with squeaky white sand and inviting blue sea. You can choose from bustling destinations like Grand Baie, where there is great dining, nightlife and shopping to go with the amazing beach and variety of water sports. Tourists looking for peace and quiet should try the long stretch of sand at Flic en Flac Beach. Both of these attractions are just minutes from Port Louis and easily reached by bus or car.
Travel a little further around the island and the beach options increase exponentially, or nearer to home, check out the island's horse racing track (the Champ de Mars Racecourse) for fervour and relaxation of a different kind.
Address: Farquhar Street, Port Louis, Mauritius, MU
Prepare to have your senses assaulted in a good way when you visit Port Louis' lively Central Market. This is the best place on the island to witness the colourful locals in their element. Once you pass through the wrought iron gates that were erected in 1844, you will find a bustling realm of Muslims, Indians, Creoles and others, all hawking their goods. Its location near the harbour makes it easy to stop by for a look any time, but it is best to visit the Central Market early in the morning, before the day heats up. This is the place to come for souvenirs, handicrafts, fruit and veg, herbal medicines and T-shirts.
Open hours: Monday to Saturday - 05:30 to 17:30, Sunday - 05:30 to 23:30
Champ de Mars Racecourse (Hippodrome)
Address: Port Louis, Mauritius, MU
Tel: +230 211 2147
The oldest horse racing track in the southern hemisphere is the ideal place to spend an afternoon betting on the ponies. Founded in 1812, the Mauritius Turf Club was and is still a favourite attraction for the locals during the horse racing season, which runs from May until late November. Most races are held on Saturdays, and entry is free unless you want to sit in the stands. If you are here in September, check out the Maiden Cup, the biggest racing event of the year. Interestingly, the Champ de Mars Racecourse began its life as a training ground for the military, while in 1968, the independence of Mauritius was announced here to cheering crowds. If you visit, look out for the Malartic Tomb and the statue depicting King Edward VII.
Open hours: Saturday - 09:00 to 18:00
Domaine Les Pailles
Address: Bell Village, Port Louis, Mauritius, MU
Tel: +230 286 4225
Once a vast 3,700-acre / 1,500-hectare sugar estate, the Domaine Les Pailles cultural centre and nature park is now one of the premier tourist attractions on Mauritius. You can easily spend half a day or longer exploring the facilities that include a working ox-powered sugar mill, a real rum distillery, a spice garden, a children's playground and more. Five very good restaurants are on site, as well as a casino, a jazz club and a horse riding centre. It is possible to tour the site by miniature train, horse carriage or jeep.
Open hours: daily - 10:00 to 17:00
Royal Botanical Gardens of Pamplemousses
Address: Route Cotiere, Port Louis, Mauritius, MU
Tel: +230 263 6987
Just to the north-east of Port Louis are the Royal Botanical Gardens of Pamplemousses, one of the island's top attractions. These gardens, which were first planted in 1735, are filled with the most exotic tropical plants imaginable. The floral scents of fruit and spice trees fill the 59 acres / 24 hectares of the Royal Botanical Gardens, creating exactly the kind of scene you would expect on a tropical island like Mauritius. Rare ebony, mahogany and pandanus trees add a touch of grandeur to the gardens, being highlighted by the huge pond.
Open hours: daily - 09:00 to 18:00
Company Gardens (Jardins de la Compagnie)
Address: Chaussee Street, Port Louis, Mauritius, MU
What started life as the vegetable garden of the French East Indian Company has evolved into the most attractive public park in Port Louis. Towering banyan trees provide the canopy for dozens of statues by local sculptor Prosper d'Épinay, while there are also a selection of relaxing benches and water fountains. The Jardins de la Compagnie is a wonderfully calm place to hang out during the day, but avoid the park after dark, as a more unsavoury crowd moves in to do their business.
Open hours: daily - 24 hours
Address: Off Immigration Square, Port Louis, Mauritius, MU
As you tour the area, you may well spot signposts to the Aapravasi Ghat, a notable cultural attraction worth searching out, being conveniently close to the Mauritius Postal Museum
. This collection of buildings lies alongside the waterfront and once operated as the principal immigration depot for the whole of Mauritius, seeing large numbers of Indian labourers. Interestingly, it is estimated that just under 70 percent of Mauritians living on the island today will find that their ancestors once passed through the Aapravasi Ghat. Although this site may not be brimming with interest, it makes for a pleasant place to stroll around and in 2006, was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Open hours: daily - 24 hours
Muslim Quarter (Plaine Verte)
Address: Plaine Verte, Port Louis, Mauritius, MU
The Muslim Quarter of Plaine Verte is to be found next to the citadel and is packed with character, offering something quite different to the glitzy high-rise structures and towers in the city centre. The construction of these buildings was often slightly haphazard, with little attention to detail. It is the vibrant atmosphere that is the main draw card for tourists, with the winding alleyways, the shops lining Papillon Street and the plentiful bakeries all adding to the overall appeal.
Open hours: daily - 24 hours