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Where to Stay in Gabon in 2023 | Best Areas & Hotels

Where to Stay in Gabon in 2023 | Best Areas & Hotels

Gabon is a charming country in equatorial West Africa, with a population of no more than two and a half million people.

Boasting a charming coastline and myriad national parks, rainforests, and savannahs scattered through its large territory, it’s still an undiscovered and relatively underdeveloped tourist destination, perfect for those who are looking for a bit of adventure.

If you feel that you’re ready for this kind of trip, make sure to read our guide and find out everything about where to stay in Gabon.  

Why You Should Visit Gabon in 2023

A group of elephants walking on a land near the shore, where the sea can be seen at a distance.

Dominyk Lever/Shutterstock

Gabon is one of those countries that seems to have been inhabited forever. There’s proof of human activity on the territory of this equatorial country since the Neolithic and the Paleolithic period.

The modern history of the country, on the other hand, starts somewhere in the 18th century with the formation of the Kingdom of Orungu, which excelled in trading gold, ivory, and, sadly, slaves.

After that comes colonialism, the French, and the eventual independence in 1960. Modern Gabon is a democracy with multiple parties, albeit only de jure, and with only three elected presidents since the 60s.

Furthermore, recent events have greatly shaken the already fragile republic, with two coups in the past four years, one of which was a success.

That said, should things turn for the better, Gabon has plenty to keep prospective visitors interested and occupied, and although the future is uncertain, we truly believe that the country has the makings of a tourist hotspot.

Gabon got its name from the Portuguese navigators who sailed this part of the world. The Portuguese explorers found a similarity between the estuary of the Komo River and the gabão — a regular coat with a hood and sleeves.

The early presence of the Portuguese also left a significant mark on the culture of Gabon, as there are menu names, landmarks, and even restaurants that still feed on that influence from the 16th and 17th centuries.

But let’s stick to the present. Gabon’s natural beauty, its lush forests, its endemic and rich flora and fauna, and innumerable sublime natural parks are mostly what attracts tourists from all over the world.

The cities — even the capital Libreville — are mostly just a temporary stop on the way to places like Loango National Park.

Moreover, the coast of Gabon is about 500 miles long, a fact which results in numerous charming beaches near the cities. Most of them are located near the second-largest city in the country, Port-Gentil, but there are a lot of them that are completely unblemished.

Finally, Gabon is very close — much like Zanzibar is close to Tanzania — to São Tomé and Príncipe, a small island country that’s slowly becoming a major tourist destination.

Also a former Portuguese colony, with a charming capital and a national park which covers almost 60% of the country, it boasts plenty of luxurious resorts and hotels that guarantee a perfect African adventure.

The 3 Best Parts of Gabon

Gabon is large in terms of territory but small in terms of population and number of cities. Plainly speaking, only two cities in the country are suitable for tourists: the capital, Libreville, and the second largest city, Port-Gentil.

They’re surrounded by striking natural beauty and provide easy access to the nearby national parks, forests, and reserves.

São Tomé and Príncipe, on the other hand, is a small country near the coast of Gabon and a perfect extra for your adventure through western Africa.

The 3 best areas to stay while visiting include:

  1. Libreville: Located near the Gulf of Guinea and on the banks of the Komo River, the capital and the largest city in Gabon has the best accommodation options, and it’s a perfect option for first-time visitors to the country.
  2. Port-Gentil: The second largest city in Gabon is a lively and interesting place located in the westernmost part of the country, boasting plenty of beaches and national parks, and is the right place for nature lovers.  
  3. São Tomé and Príncipe: A small island country located 350 miles from the coast of Gabon, it has an up-and-coming tourist infrastructure, one of the largest national parks in the area, and plenty of beautiful and luxurious hotels and restaurants.  

The Best Areas & Hotels in Gabon

The accommodation options in Gabon are not great. Although the country is packed with fantastic nature and has a coastline of almost 500 miles, the tourism and the infrastructure are not as developed as they could be.  

The best and most reliable choice for staying in Gabon is the capital, Libreville. It’s the only place in the country where you can find both reliable accommodation options in the form of decent mid-range hotels as well as luxurious five-star lodgings.

Port-Gentil, on the other hand, has neither quantity nor particular quality but can provide a budget alternative to Libreville.

Finally, São Tomé and Príncipe, the small island country near the coast of Gabon, has as many hotels, motels, and apartments as you need. The place is packed with large and beautiful resorts, and it’s the perfect place for a relaxed, luxurious vacation in Equatorial Africa.

1. Libreville

Locals dancing a traditional dance while where ceremonial clothing while their faces are painted white.

Libreville, Akanda Gabon – August 13 2021 : Traditional ceremony of Bwiti – Photo by YVAN PICTURES/Yoan Michel MBOUSSOU/Shutterstock

Libreville, like most of Gabon, has a tumultuous and hard history, full of ups and downs. Today’s capital of Gabon was first inhabited by the Mpongwe people, long before the French came.

Then there was — consequently — an American Christian mission, a slave trading site, and a major trading port for French Equatorial Africa. At the time of the independence of Gabon in 1960, it was a small administrative and trading center, and almost nobody could foresee its swift rise.

Today, it’s a major city with a population of more than 700,000 and the best option for visitors to the country. Libreville is located near the Gulf of Guinea, right on the banks of the 140-mile-long Komo River.

It’s surrounded by sublime natural beauty, and it’s close to Akanda National Park, which borders the city to the north-north-east. It’s also relatively close to at least two other parks, namely Crystal Mountain National Park and Lopé National Park.

As you already probably know, they’re the major attractions that not only Libreville but also Gabon has to offer to potential visitors.

Akanda National Park is definitely your first option since it’s unbelievably close. Its flora mostly consists of mangrove and beach habitats, and it’s also an important feeding place for turtles and a living place for numerous species of birds.

For something more attractive, you should travel to Lopé National Park, located deeper in the mainland. There are some interesting landmarks in the city as well.

They mostly consist of Christian religious buildings inspired by French Catholicism, like the L’Eglise St-Michel Libreville, or museums such as the National Museum.

Libreville is the only town in Gabon where you can find any reliable accommodation options of all types and sizes, from a luxurious five-star hotel to a budget-friendly and cheap two-star hotel. That’s why the capital is the most suitable option for first-time visitors.

Things to Do

  • The first thing you should do while staying in Libreville is to visit the numerous national parks located near the city. Akanda National Park is the first and obvious choice, but Lopé National Park is more attractive and interesting. It’s very tourist-friendly and part of the World Heritage List by UNESCO. Here you can see elephants, different kinds of primates, and plenty of ancient human remains first-hand.
  • Libreville has a truly rich religious heritage and plenty of beautiful and unique buildings that give a powerful representation of Gabon’s Christian majority. Aside from the L’Eglise St-Michel Libreville, we also recommend you visit the Notre-Dame de Lourdes, the Cathédrale Saint Pierre, and St. Mary Cathedral. There’s also the Hassan II Mosque, which shouldn’t be missed.
  • Libreville is a large city with plenty of shopping options, no matter if you’re looking for a souvenir, regular groceries, or some clothes. For all that, concentrated in one place, we recommend that you take a stroll to the Galerie Marchande Hassan Choucaire, the premier shopping center in the city. Whether you need clothes, cosmetics, or something to eat, you’re definitely going to find it.
  • Finally, it’s nice to explore the rich historical and cultural heritage of Gabon. The easiest way to do that is to visit some of the museums in the capital. The National Museum of Arts, Rites and Traditions of Gabon is the first and most obvious choice. It offers a wide range of masks, traditional art objects, instruments, and documents. If you’re more into politics, go to the Mausolée Léon M’ba, the monument to Gabon’s first prime minister and president.

Where to Eat

  • Roma Restaurant is a nice Italian restaurant and a grill located near the ocean. The restaurant is more on the upscale side, with slightly more expensive prices. It offers all the traditional Italian (and European) dishes in an interesting way, served in a romantic setting.
  • La Voile Rouge is the perfect place to have a beachside lunch or dinner. This French restaurant and bar located on the beach offers a wide range of recipes and a lot of seafood that come at a really mid-range price. We recommend the prawns with avocado.
  • L’Odika is the right place to savor the interesting and tasty Gabon dishes. Going strong since 1989 and keeping their prices reasonable, the restaurant is not only famous for its food but also for its ambience; namely, it’s located in a nice and lush open-air garden.

Libreville Budget Hotels

  • Hotel Hibiscus Blvd Triomphal is a very pretty and very cheap two-star hotel located near the center of Libreville. The rooms in the hotel are spacious and have flat-screen TVs and comfortable balconies. The hotel also offers a restaurant and bar, as well as nice breakfast in the morning.
  • Hotel Hibiscus Louis is another more than great two-star budget hotel that offers much more than its price. It has no less than two swimming pools on the premises, a spa and wellness center, and a bar and restaurant. The rooms are comfortable and have private bathrooms, flat-screen TVs, and desks.

Libreville Mid-Range Hotels

  • Hotel Impérial is a decently priced, comfortable three-star hotel located a little further off from the center of Libreville. The hotel is mostly suitable for couples and offers air-conditioned rooms with private bathrooms. Again, there’s a bar and restaurant on the premises and full breakfast in the morning.
  • Hotel Adagio is a beautiful three-star hotel with a great location, not very far from the ocean and the South African Embassy. Every room in the hotel has a private bathroom and a flat-screen TV, and some of them have a sitting area. There’s a fitness center on the premises, if you feel like working out, and a bar, if you’re in the mood for a late-night drink.

Libreville Luxury Hotels

  • Hôtel Le Cristal is the first of the two five-star hotels in the capital of Gabon and a perfect match for everybody who’s not only looking for the natural parks of the country but also its luxury. Located on the beachfront, the hotel also boasts an outdoor swimming pool, a bar, and a fitness center on the premises.
  • Radisson Blu Okoume Palace Hotel, Libreville is another five-star, particularly suitable for couples and visitors who are looking for some peace and quiet. It offers a large and beautiful outdoor swimming pool, a restaurant and bar on the premises, and exclusive rooms and suites.

See All Hotels in Gabon

2. Port-Gentil

A peaceful beach with calm waters, where native umbrellas can be seen on the shore.

Hassen B/Shutterstock

The history of Port-Gentil is very long and very short at the same time. The Portuguese seafarer Lopo Gonçalves sailed near Cape Lopez as early as 1473, but the first settlement was established as late as 1873.

After a number of significant transformations and economic developments, Port-Gentile slowly emerged as the second largest city in Gabon, with a population of 135,000 people.

Located on the western point of Gabon and close to the fifth largest river on the continent — the Ogooué River — this small, lively city is a good alternative to the capital of Gabon.

The town is mostly known for its interesting and lively nightlife, a couple of great sandy beaches, some interesting landmarks, and numerous national parks in relatively close proximity.  

All Port-Gentil landmarks are concentrated around two things: the Cathédrale Saint Louis and Musée de la Ville. The first is one of many — but the most beautiful — Catholic churches in the city built by French influences.

The second boasts artifacts from the long and interesting traditions of Port-Gentil and Gabon, including items from both the colonial era and before the Europeans set foot in this part of Africa.

But, as we all know, ultimately, people visit Gabon for the stunning beauty of its nature and the numerous national parks scattered all around this scenic country.

The closest one is Wonga Wongue National Park, and it offers some perfect places for animal observation and even relaxing on the beach. A little further off, but more famous, is Moukalaba-Doudou National Park with its savannas and rainforests.

Port-Gentil is a lovely and interesting city that offers plenty of interesting experiences, memorable landmarks, fun clubs, and tasty restaurants. However, the accommodation options are not so great.

Simply put, there are not many hotels, apartments, or other kinds of accommodation available in this small city. That’s why Libreville is the most reliable option in Gabon. Either way, if you’re set on Port-Gentil, here’s what you’re in for.

Things to Do

  • One of the best things about Port-Gentil is the fact that the city is surrounded by beautiful beaches. Sogara Beach is the first and most obvious choice: it’s a white sandy beach with calm waters, great for both relaxing and swimming. Varela Beach is the second, more secluded, and less crowded beach near the city, presenting another nice choice for beach lovers.
  • Aside from the national parks near the city, Port-Gentil offers an interesting and charming trip practically to the outskirts of the town. Pointe Denis is a small island near the coast of the city, and it’s a popular destination for tourists and locals alike. You’ll find a beautiful lighthouse, plenty of places for fishing and relaxing, and a couple of decent restaurants.
  • Like most African (and especially Western African cities), Port-Gentil has its own very crowded and unbelievably lively open market called Marché du Rond-Point. Simply put, it’s the best place in the city for shopping, no matter the type of product you’re looking for. Souvenirs, memorabilia, clothes, fresh vegetables or seafood — they have it all.
  • Finally, there are two other interesting attractions in this lively city: sports and casinos. First, if you’re in the mood for golfing, we recommend the Golf Club de Port-Gentil, a very popular and visited golf club near the city. Second, there’s the well-liked Casino de Port-Gentil for some blackjack, roulette, or poker.

Where to Eat

  • Le Bistrot is a French restaurant located near the coast of Cape Lopez Bay, offering a nice sitting area and an excellent view of the ocean. The restaurant is owned by a Frenchman and offers all the traditional French recipes, as well as a decent wine list.
  • Le Galion is a suitable place if you want to taste, smell, and feel the atmosphere of the Mediterranean in the heart of Western Africa. The restaurant offers an interesting combination of traditional Spanish and Portuguese cuisines. We especially recommend the tapas and the octopus.  
  • Marina Social Beach is a traditional African restaurant located on the east coast of Port-Gentil. It offers plenty of barbeque and fast food options suitable for every meal of the day, from an early breakfast to a late-night bite. If you haven’t decided what to eat and you want a quick and cheap lunch, this is the place for you.

Port-Gentil Budget Hotels

  • Residence Hotel Lux Fairborn – Port Gentil is probably the cheapest accommodation option in Port-Gentil. No matter the cheap price, it offers some amazing stuff, like a car rental service on the premises. It also offers free Wi-Fi and free parking, professional and quick room service, and family rooms furnished with all the amenities, like satellite TV, private bathrooms, fully equipped kitchens, and terraces.  

Port-Gentil Mid-Range Hotels

  • RT GUEST HOUSE is a beautiful apartment with a private beach located on the coast of Port-Gentil. The apartment is furnished with air-conditioning, one bathroom, and one bedroom, offers an excellent view of the surroundings, and is very close to the airport. There’s also private parking and free Wi-Fi on the premises.
  • Residence Ema is one of the best accommodations in the second largest city in Gabon, located less than a mile from the closest airport. The apartment has free Wi-Fi and private parking, two bedrooms, a fully equipped kitchen, and a washing machine. It’s especially suitable for longer stays.

See All Hotels in Gabon

3. São Tomé and Príncipe

Aerial view of a beach where the portion of the land is covered with green fields and trees, where few houses and hotels are built.


Before you say goodbye to Gabon, we would suggest traveling to another country, which could be a nice supplement to your already adventurous trip to Western Africa.

São Tomé and Príncipe is a very small country — actually the second smallest country in Africa after the Seychelles — located around 350 miles from the coast of Gabon. It’s one of the safest, most peaceful, and politically most stable countries on the continent.

As it takes less than an hour and a half to travel from Libreville or Port-Gentil, it’s a really good idea to visit São Tomé and Príncipe as well.

What can we say about an almost unknown country in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean? Many things indeed, but the absolute first thing you should know is the fact that you’ll be traveling to a couple of quintessential Equatorial Islands.

Namely, São Tomé and Príncipe consist of two small islands, with the first being the official center and the place we wholeheartedly recommend. If you have enough time (and money), you can also travel to Príncipe.

People mostly visit São Tomé and Príncipe for two quite straightforward things: the beaches and the stunning natural beauty. Some of the best beaches in this part of Africa are located on these small islands.

Some of them are more developed and taken care of (the country is still in its tourist infancy), but others are forlorn — even Robinsonesque.

Although tourists mostly go to São Tomé, Príncipe is a beautiful place too, especially attractive for naturalists and nature lovers. There’s the stunning Bay of Needles, the main city of San Antonio, and the best hotel on the island called Roça Belo Monte.

Obo National Park, after the beaches, is perhaps the most popular attraction in this small country. The park covers around 60% of the country’s territory and boasts more than 700 types of plants, as well as nearly 150 species of birds.

The forests are lush and almost impenetrable (without a guide), and there are plenty of stunning waterfalls and hellish volcanic landscapes (safe for exploring).

Things to Do

  • São Tomé and Príncipe may be small, but it still boasts its fair share of cities and villages. However, only the capital, São Tomé, deserves your time and attention. The city is small and very charming, designed in the Portuguese Colonialist style. The most important landmarks are the National Museum, the Presidential Palace, the cathedral, and the main square.
  • Whatever you do in São Tomé and Príncipe, you’re mostly likely to end up on some of the island’s fascinating beaches. Two of them stick out: first, Praia Piscina, located in the southern part of the island and likely the best beach in the country; second, Praia Jalé, which is quieter and less popular.
  • If you’re in the mood for something completely different that’ll provide you with a once-in-a-lifetime experience (and make you very popular at parties), visit Ilhéu das Rolas, the small island to the south of São Tomé. What’s so special about this place? It’s quite simple: here, you can put each of your legs on different sides of the equator!

Where to Eat

  • Casa Almada Negreiros is a gorgeous African gourmet restaurant located between the capital of the state and the Obo National Park, surrounded on all sides by lush rainforests. A 2022 Travelers’ Choice selection, it’s a great place to try the most famous African recipes in an authentic and local atmosphere.
  • Papa Figo is a very tasty and quite popular restaurant that serves some of the best seafood in all of São Tomé and Príncipe. Located right in the center of the country’s capital, Papa Figo prepares fish according to proven traditional Portuguese recipes.
  • Efraim Restaurant – Alei Coffee Shop is another African restaurant located further in the mainland, right next to the famous Museum of Coffee. It’s a 2022 Travelers’ Choice selection and a popular choice for visitors to Obo National Park as well. It serves all the African specialties and a lot of vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options.

São Tomé and Príncipe Budget Hotels

  • Jardim Botânico ME-ZOCHI is a very cheap two-star hotel located on the mainland of São Tomé and Príncipe and very close to the capital. Nonetheless, the hotel is quite nice and has a gorgeous outdoor swimming pool, as well as spacious family rooms with all the amenities and professional room service.
  • Hotel Central is an aptly named, decent three-star hotel located in the absolute center of São Tomé and Príncipe. Aside from the cheap price and great location, it has nice rooms with private bathrooms and flat-screen TVs. The restaurant on the premises, serves an interesting combination of Mediterranean, African, and Portuguese food.

São Tomé and Príncipe Mid-Range Hotels

  • Hotel Kenito is an almost unreasonably cheap four-star hotel in São Tomé that offers services and amenities of a much larger and more expensive accommodation. Particularly suitable for couples, the hotel offers an excellent view of the ocean, beautiful spacious rooms, an outdoor swimming pool, and a very famous breakfast.
  • SH Boutique Hotel is another great but not very expensive four-star hotel located in the center of São Tomé, a little bit further away from the coast, the beach, and the ocean. The hotel doesn’t have a swimming pool, but it boasts no less than two restaurants on the premises, a bar, and a spa and wellness center where you can relax after a tough day.

São Tomé and Príncipe Luxury Hotels

  • Pestana Sao Tome is the best and most luxurious hotel in São Tomé. Located on the coast of the ocean, less than a mile from the city center, it boasts a private beach area, an outdoor swimming pool, and plenty of other amenities and activities, like a spa and wellness center, a restaurant, and a bar on the premises.
  • Hotel Praia is another gorgeous hotel located on the coast of the ocean with an outdoor swimming pool. The rooms are spacious and boast a dining area, air-conditioning, flat-screen TVs, and balconies with excellent views of the surroundings. If you get hungry, there’s a nice restaurant on the premises as well.

See All Hotels in Gabon

Over to You — Book Your Trip to Gabon Today!

It’s not easy leaving the lush rainforests, the mighty rivers, and the untouched coastline of West Africa, but we’ve reached the end of this guide. Now, before we put the final dot, let’s do a quick recap of the three best places in Gabon.

🏆 Best for First TimersLibreville
🌳 Best for Nature LoversPort-Gentil
🥂 Most LuxuriousSão Tomé and Príncipe

So, with so much to see and do, what are you waiting for — book your trip to Gabon today!