The busy capital of Port Louis is not every tourists choice as a place to stay. However, it’s full of cultural, religious and historical places of interest and worth a day trip if you are staying on the island of Mauritius. I spent a day in the capital with my driver Robin Kundoo showing me around. Here are my top things to do in Port Louis, Mauritius.
Things to do in Port Louis – The Citadel
Fort Adelaide Citadel Mauritius is certainly one of the top tourist spots of the capital, as it offers the best views of the city. You will have an excellent arial view of the Muslim quarter, harbour, racecourse and Cathedral. The citadel is free to enter and walk around.
Construction of Fort Adelaide started on 11th November 1830. It was built in honour of the wife of the King of England (William IV 1765-1837). The foundations were laid in December 1834 and it was finished in November 1840. There is debate about how and why the citadel was used. Some say that it was built to defend the capital of Port Louis, but others focus on on the concerns of 1300 English civil servants who needed a shelter from the 8000 French settlers’ descendants.
Kuan Fu Tea Factory Shop
The Kuan Fu Tea Factory shop is another one of the free things to do in Port Louis. You will be able to see how the famous Mauritian black tea is made. No photos are allowed inside the actual factory, but you can take photos and videos in the shop.
You will be taken through to the shop section where you will be invited to sit for a tea pouring ceremony. The tea is available to purchase. It’s slightly on the pricey side, but is said to have health properties and also makes good gifts as you can buy it presented in a special tin.
The Blue Penny Museum
Located on the waterfront, the Blue Penny Museum is popular with tourists as it is dedicated to the history and art of Mauritius. It gives an excellent understanding of the three colonial eras of Mauritius (Dutch, French and British) and displays an extensive postage stamp collection.
Port Louis Central Market
Visit the market for the hustle and bustle of the locals shopping for all sorts of fruit and veg. It’s a colourful delight for the senses downstairs with the variety of food stuffs on offer. Upstairs you will find the handicrafts market which is now heavily geared towards the tourists – if you are buying, make sure that you haggle!
With a high influx of Indian workers between the 1830’s and 1920’s brought along Hinduism. This included a large new Tamil community that resulted in some amazing temples in Mauritius. Hindus now make up around 50% of the population of Mauritius and Hinduism is the majority religion of the island.
There are two amazing Tamil temples in Port Louis that are free to visit. The first is Sainte Croix temple on the waterfront that you will find not far from the Blue Penny Museum. The second is Sockalingum Meenatchee Ammen Kovil (below) just outside the city, which is a Lingum temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, the destroyer.
St Louis Cathedral
Make sure that you stop by at St Louis Cathedral as it one of the oldest Catholic churches in Mauritius. Don’t miss the 18th Century obelisk fountain outside, and take a stroll in the gardens. The interior is quite simple and displays statues of the Saints and Biblical scenes depicted in the stained glass windows. Remember to visit Churches and temples with respect – dress appropriately and keep noise to a minimum.
Port Louis Waterfront
The waterfront is the perfect place to shop, eat and relax. You will find a number of ice cream parlours, juice bars and high end restaurants.
Again, make sure that you haggle with the shopping. Rum, pashminas and wooden handicrafts are popular. There are shops that sell bright and colourful Mauritian art, and even a casino if you fancy a bit of a gamble!
Find the Street Art!
The historical walls of the capital of Mauritius are now becoming awash with colour, showcasing the work of local and international artists. The Porlwi festival held in 2015 and 2016 attracted thousands of visitors from around the island. It is an annual festival with a cultural, touristic, educational and socioeconomic purpose. The Porlwi festival has kick started the relatively new Mauritian street art scene in port Louis.
Champ de Mars Racecourse
Did you know that Port Louis is home to the oldest racing club in the Southern hemisphere? The Champ de Mars Racecourse was a military training ground until the Mauritius Turf Club was founded in 1812, making it the second-oldest racecourse in the entire world! It’s regularly attended, with crowds often in excess of 20,000.
Visit the Champ de Mars Port Louis racetrack if you fancy a flutter on the horses. The most popular event of the racing season (late March to early December) is the Maiden Cup, run over a distance of 2400 metres. Races are usually 12-5pm on weekends and the dress code is smart casual. Book in advance to avoid disappointment.
Looking for other things to do in Mauritius?
While you are staying in Mauritius, I highly recommend that you take a Blue Safari submarine trip. It’s around half an hours drive around the coast from Port Louis and a fantastic way to see life beneath the ocean. I would also recommend that visit Pamplemousses Botanical Garden and take a Highlights of South Mauritius tour.
What to Pack for Mauritius
You’ll be spending a lot of time on the beach and so bikini or swimwear, flip flops and a sarong are essential items. Also don’t forget the Suncream and insect repellant.
You will feel most comfortable in loose fitting clothing so take a few cotton tops, cotton or linen trousers and loose fitting maxi dresses.
Many hotels in Mauritius have a dress code and some have a ‘white party’ and ‘black tie’ event, so be sure to pack a nice white and black formal dress for those occasions, along with some scrappy sandals with a low to mid heel.