From the colorful central market to the beautiful creole architecture in the ancient town, there are some interesting things to do in Cayenne when visiting! Don’t know where to start? With this detailed travel guide, you will be able to plan the perfect itinerary for visiting Cayenne.
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Table of Content
- Things to do in Cayenne
- Things to do in Cayenne surroundings
- One last word about the best things to do in Cayenne
Things to do in Cayenne
I will be brutally honest. You don’t come to French Guiana for the city life. And yet Cayenne has a unique charm which is given by its ancient creole houses and its colored fruit market. When you are coming to French Guiana you can consider a day to walk around the city and visit all the main attractions.
With this in mind, if you are considering French Guiana for your next vacation and looking for the best things to do, check out also the reasons why French Guiana is worth visiting.
Wander among the ancient Creole homes in the old town
The charm of these ancient houses is undeniable. Often painted with bright colors, you can walk among the ancient houses and admire this unique mix between colonial architecture and Caribbean style.
For passionate photographers who want to capture the essence of these colored houses, consider touring Cayenne on the weekend. During the week the city is clogged with car traffic!
Enjoy a planteur at Place des Palmistes
Place des Palmistes, Palms Square, is the oldest and most emblematic square of Cayenne. Once a lawn where the grass grew very high, gradually it became the heart of Cayenne. Two statues were added through the years: the column for the Republic and a monument to Felix Eboué.
When visiting the square stop by one of the most iconic locations in Cayenne, Bar des Palmistes. This excellent restaurant which is also a hotel you should definitely check out, is one of the best in Cayenne. If it’s not time for a meal you can also enjoy a planteur, an alcoholic drink with fruits, or freshly made juice.
Visit the Musée des Cultures Guyanaises
Situated inside an ancient creole house, the museum itself is worth visiting especially to get an image of the daily life of the locals. In addition to French Guiana’s modern history and the arrival of many different ethnic groups, you will find also archaeological remains from the Amerindian and later the colonial period.
Entry to the museum is free, and during summer (from July to August), it hosts kids’ workshops. But unfortunately, the panels and information are only in French.
Immerse yourself in the colors of Cayenne Market
Kill two birds with a stone and enjoy the smells and colors of Cayenne’s market, while collecting souvenirs to bring back home. The market is divided into two parts. Outside you have the fruit market, where you can buy every kind of tropical fruit.
While on the inside you can find the artisans’ banquets and butchers, or treat yourself to one of the delicious Vietnamese soups. Among the easiest-to-carry-back-home items, there are for sure spices and wooden objects. But you shouldn’t overlook the rhum arrangés, arranged rum with fruits and spices.
Remember that the legal limit is 1 liter for alcohol exceeding 22%. You can learn more about French Guiana customs rules here.
Go hike on Montabo Trail
Just a few minutes from the city center, there is a nice trail you can complete in 1 H 30 to 2 hours. Montabo Trail is a nice walk in the lush forest surrounding Cayenne. Besides the many birds like herons, ibis, and seabirds, you can also see sloths and squirrel monkeys. If you are lucky, you may also see sotalia, a smaller pale rose dolphin that lives in river mouths.
The trail is very easy. It’s a linear path, although due to the almost absence of public transport in Cayenne, I’d recommend you to come back ways once you reach the end.
- Cayenne Cathedral is a nice monument to visit for a few minutes. As the surrounding buildings are low it dominates the view. The style is quite simple but yet nice to visit out of curiosity.
- Fort Cépérou has a beautiful panoramic view over Cayenne. Through the years it was the location of many battles for the control of the region.
- Cayenne Botanical Garden. Get lost inside the vibrant botanical gardens of Cayenne. Marvel at the wide variety of gorgeous hibiscus, stunning orchids, and glory bush blooms as you stroll through its pathways. Unlike in the forest trails, you will get to see many tropical flowers there.
- Place des Amandiers (Almond Trees Square) is a lovely location to admire the sunset and enjoy the ocean’s breeze. During Ariane 5’s take off it’s also the best location to admire launches from Cayenne. Although I would do the extra kilometers and go to Kourou to attend a rocket launch.
- Departmental Museum. Situated inside the ancient hospital the Musée Départemental Alexandre Francofonie, is a large museum that features some important items of the region’s history. The museum has potential but lacks real interest. If you are passing by it can be interesting to observe the remarkable building from the outside.
Things to do in Cayenne surroundings
Distances aren’t that long on French Guiana’s coast, and Cayenne is in a central position. With this in mind, down below you will find a series of locations you can easily reach after 1-hour drive or less.
Hiking the Rorota Trail
The Rorota Trail is just a few kilometers away from Cayenne, about 10 minutes by car. The hike is easy and will take you about 2 hours to complete.
This is one of the richest sites in terms of fauna nearby Cayenne. You will get to see agouti, squirrel monkeys, sloths, and yellow-handed tamarins. The Trail is very nice and you can easily combine it with the following activity.
Sunbathing at Rémire-Montjoly Beach
French Guiana is well known for its muddy waters. But even so, its beaches are great! Often wild and surrounded by lush nature, the beaches of Rémire-Montjoly are among the most beautiful in the region.
In addition to sunbathing on the beach (be careful though the sun at the Equator isn’t the same!), you can also enjoy the surprisingly warm waters. Despite the fact they are muddy, they are very clean as the pollution from boats is very low.
Day trip to Cacao village
Cacao is a thriving agricultural village that hosts the majority of people that have Hmong origins. If possible visit on Sunday as it’s the time of the local market. The delicious Hmong soup is a must-try together with Nam Van.
Without a doubt, the must-visit of Cacao is the Insects Museum. If you speak French wait for the guided visit with Philippe, his stories are very interesting! And he will tell you everything about his “babies”. Even people who suffer from arachnophobia will appreciate his spiders by the end of the visit.
For more details, check out the best things to do in Cacao.
Visit French Guiana’s Zoo
Just 30 minutes away from the city center, French Guiana’s Zoo opens its doors to the secret world of the Amazonian region’s animals.
During the 2 hours visit, you will get to know all the animals that are so difficult to see during your hikes in nature. Caimans, felines, primates, and birds are just some of the many species you will be able to see.
The zoo is very eco-friendly. It welcomes only animals that are native to the region, and many of these are found in nature wounded or are born with malformations. That’s also the reason why you may see some of them limping.
Day trip to the Salvation Islands (Kourou)
Above all, the Salvation Islands are the highlights of a trip to French Guiana. The incredible history of the prisons and the beautiful nature make them one of the best places to visit.
Not to mention that they are also the only location with crystalline waters in the area. Long story short you will not be disappointed! Although if you are planning to spend the whole day there consider sleeping in Kourou, as the catamaran to the islands is very early in the morning. The distance from Cayenne to Kourou is 50 minutes.
Check out the complete travel guide about the Salvation Islands.
Day trip to Guiana Space Center (Kourou)
You don’t need to be a space geek to be marveled by the Centre Spatial Guyanais. The FREE visit will lead you through a 3 hours tour that will let you discover European’s rockets launchpads.
And you get to take a selfie with the 1:1 Ariane 5 mock-up!
One last word about the best things to do in Cayenne
In conclusion, is Cayenne worth visiting? Absolutely, as long as you see it as part of a larger itinerary to discover the many beauties hidden in French Guiana.
Wanna know more about inspiration and day trips in French Guiana? I have been calling French Guiana my home for 10 years, and collected inspiring guides, facts, tips, and day trips. Steal our itineraries!
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