Enjoying our tropical vacation in Mauritius, we loved swimming and basking in the sun everyday, but of course we had to get out and do more than just sit on the beach. One of the first things we did is go to Port Louis, the capital of Mauritius.
Every capital is the place to go for good restaurant, shopping, and museums. As we expected, there are plenty of cultural things to do in Port Louis, and we were looking forward to a day of exploring the city.
Port Louis Travel Guide
Even though there are plenty of places to visit in Mauritius, we started with Port Louis. Port Louis is the bustling center and capital city of Mauritius. There’s plenty to see in this mostly walkable city. In the downtown area, you can see beautiful colonial architecture harkening back to the time when Mauritius was a part of the British Empire, as well as enjoy the coolness of the some of the green spaces that boast huge Banyan trees.
You can also visit the always busy central market, eat a fantastic dinner, try your hand at gambling in the casino, or take in one of many small and informative museums.
Best Things to do in Port Louis
- Caudan Waterfront
- Blue Penny Museum
- Port Louis Central Market
- Place d’Armes
- Le Jardin de La Companie
- Aapravasi Ghat
- Citadel – Fort Adelaide
Caudan Waterfront and Blue Penny Museum
The walking area around the waterfront is full of fantastic shops and cafés. The largest mall will provide you with shopping experiences for all budgets. It’s a great place to go in the late afternoon for some relaxing and a good coffee.
The Blue Penny Museum is one of the most important sites on the island. It houses permanent and temporary exhibits that highlight the history of Mauritius. It’s most famous for the Blue Penny stamp which it was named, but beware the stamp is only open at certain times, so if this is the main reason to go, call first.
Address: Caudan Waterfront Mall
Opening Hours: Monday thru Saturday from 10:00 – 5:00, closed Sundays
Cost: 225 Rs per adult
Port Louis Sightseeing Map
Place d’Armes and Les Jardins de La Companie
The widest and grandes boulevard in Port Louis, the Place d’Armes is both busy and crowded most weekdays and yet a place to wander. There are statues of influential persons throughout Mauritian history throughout the center green space, like Sir Satcam Boolell, a former foreign minister.
Les Jardins de la Companie will provide you with some welcome shade from the many Banyan trees as well as a place to rest and watch the world go by.
We first headed over to the Aapravasi Ghat where 70% of today’s Mauritians’ ancestors first stepped on the island as indentured servants. The ghat is a now a museum chock full of information, both static and interactive.
A sobering, but important site, it’s a must-see when visiting Port Louis. Of course every school child goes, and it was fun to see what the school groups were interested in while we were there.
Address: Quay Street
Opening Hours: Monday thru Friday 9:00-4:00, Saturdays 9:00-12:00, Closed Sundays
Port Louis Central Market
Then we headed over to the Central Market, which is open daily and located across the street and a block down from Aapravasi Ghat, an easy walk even in the humid tropical heat. A two-story building, the top floor is basically for visitors looking for souvenirs.
You can buy stuffed dodo birds, sarongs, beach towels, and plenty of other souvenirs. We weren’t immune; after some serious haggling (don’t pay the asking price here, no matter what) we bought a t-shirt and sarong. Even after getting the price down 75% from the starting price we still paid too much, but at least they are usable items.
On the bottom floor of the market is where the locals go. It has many food stalls from butchers to produce, and then at one end are the vendors selling street food.
This was our main reason for going. We couldn’t wait to try two items, the dhal puri, a burrito-like fried bread wrap filled with curry and spices, and to chase it down a refreshing alouda, a flavored tapioca drink. We found them both and indulged. Our lunch cost about $7.00 for the two of us, and it was delicious!
Address: 9 Corderie St
Opening Hours: Monday thru Saturday 5:00-5:30, Sundays 5:30 – 11:30
More Museums in Port Louis
- Postal Museum – A small museum located in the post office building with lots of photos, stamps, and memorabilia from the island’s history.
- Address: Opening Hours: Cost: 150 Rs
- The Natural History Museum – Famous for its skeleton of one of the last dodo birds. They are said to have gone extinct in Mauritius.
- Address: Mauritius Institute Building Opening Hours: Monday thru Friday 9:00 – 4:00, Saturdays 9:00 – 12:00, closed Sundays Cost: Free
- The Bank of Mauritius Museum – If you love coins, check out this one out.
- Address: Sir William Newton St. Opening Hours: Weekdays 9:30 – 6:00 Cost: Free
- Museum of Photography – This museum exhibits cameras and prints.
- Address: Rue de Vieux Conseil et W.Churchill Opening Hours: Monday thru Friday 9:00 – 3:00, closed weekends Cost: 150 Rs for adults
For more information on Port Louis museums, you can go to this website.
Places to Eat in Port Louis
Local sit down cafés and restaurants are listed and recommended below. There are a number of budget opportunities, like the bottom floor of the central market and McDonald’s and Nando’s.
- Lambic Restaurant
- Arabia Café
- Namaste Restaurant
- First Restaurant
- Tandoori Express
- Le Bonne Marmite
After a full day of stomping the pavement in the vibrant capital city, we headed back to our resort for our sundowner cocktail, complete with local rum, and a dip in the infinity pool as the sun dove headfirst into the Indian Ocean. The next day we were in for a cooking lesson on how to make Mauritian curry. How fun!
Author Bio: Corinne Vail is a travel photographer, food lover, and a perpetual traveler who has been travel writing for over 14 years. For many years she lived overseas in Germany, Japan, Turkey, South Korea, and the Netherlands teaching the children of the US. military. She’s visited over 90 countries, and she’s not stopping anytime soon.