True variety of ethnicity
Shows itself in diverse ceremonies
Behold the carnival and traditions
Dancing vivaciously with folkloristic passion.

The land of now
With easy know-how
Guinea-Bissau, time to visit now.
© Paul Stenning


It’s worth visiting Guinea not only for its natural beauty, but also for its extremely rich variety of folklore, handicraft and traditions.
Each ethnic group has different cultures and traditions, with has different forms for linguistic expressions, dance, music, handicraft.

Caritas danze 03Dance
Dance is truly a cultural expression, that changes deeply with the different ethnical groups.
Animistic cultures have always expressed their feelings trough dances of great aesthetical quality, with colorful choreographies.
They are not shows for tourists; dances are part of everyday local life during weddings, funerals, initiation ceremonies.

Music is mainly an african one. There are rhythms from Cabo Verde and Western Africa mixed with the “zouk” from Antille.
But the most common musical style is “gumbè”, city music typical of Guinea Bissau, born during the second world war.

q Bubaque GB 774
Sculpture is Guinean main form of art, varied in the different ethnical groups.
The highest level is found in the art of Bijagòs islands. Many works draw their inspiration from the marine creatures like sharks and great predators that for centuries have populated the people’s culture. In these islands, art melts with magical and religious beliefs. The polychrome little statues’ quality is so high that attracts collectors of the entire world.
Another important section is related to overworldly life and produces works that represent the ancestors and allow to communicate with them. For this reason, the statues must be made following precise rules. One peculiar kind is the one that represents Iran, a traditional worshipped creature, half bird and half man, which protects whom who worships it and retaliates upon whom who despises it.
There are also many ornaments used by dancers.

Coajoq loja comunitaria 07Coming from art and music, Guinea’s handicraft is rich of all kinds of traditions. Crafts are made utilizing many local resources: metal, stone, ceramics, shells, wood, bamboo, withe, fabric and others.

The typical african cuisine in Guinea Bissau presents an interesting variety of menus.
Among the ingredients you find mancara’s juice (peanut), palm oil, meat (pig, chicken and gazelle), rice and rice flour. And then, any kind of the freshest fish, grilled and provided by fishermen all over the coast, on the islands, and on all the many branches of the rios even inside on the continent.
Sea shells, oisters and shrimps are excellent too.
You can also find typical dishes of near by countries, such as Cachupa from Cabo Verde or Yassa from Senegal, arranged following the Guinean taste.
With fruits gathered in Guinea Bissau are made very good juices: from Baobab (cabaceira), from cajù (anacard), from tambarina (tamarind). With the same fruits, and also with mango, are made marmelades. And flours of vegetable origin are used to make drinks and curative teas.
Wine production is widespread; distillates are made from oil palm and caju, the last ones not always appreciated by Europeans.

Where to buy
Artistic and gastronomy works are sold by the people all over the country, in the markets and in the cities. Some ONGs have them produced and sold in their shops, so to help villages to gain with their work.

At different times of the year, there are many folkloristic manifestations.
Besides the various gastronomic feasts, the main events are:

Very important feast, very original and different from all other carnivals around the world. This event becomes a cultural and artistic manifestation that synthesizes the different ethnological groups’ beliefs, the animistic traditions, and Christian religion.

Varela tabanca luta 211

The Fanado
Traditional maturity ceremony for 25/30 years of age, hold in villages.

the Toca choro
Traditional ceremony in memory of a person.

La Luta
Traditional fighting, usually hold between January and March.

In order to know when the events are programmed and to book, ask for information at the address on page CONTACTS.

In the boxes at right there are some suggestions.
Details on Carnival or on manifestations that are held on particular times of the year are in the boxes on page THE CARNIVAL.

Guinea Bissau tourism Network for Ecotourism
Some suggested visits:

start: Bafatá
vehicle: car
length: 1 day
season: all the year

A little village close to Bafatá, where the inhabitants are specialized in building and in playing some musical instruments typical of “mandinga” culture.


start: many regions
vehicle: car
length: 1 day
season: mainly march

You can see a traditional ceremony performed in the villages to celebrate the adulthood (25-30 years old).
(more details in Portuguese)


start: many towns
vehicle: car
length: 1 day
season: mar - jul

You can visit a village where people produces palm oil by traditional method, using a machine built and tested in Guinea Bissau.

carnevale box

and other towns
Quinhamel, Cacheu in the continent
Bubaque on the islands

a big parade, with allegorical cars and people floating through the streets masked with animal heads, with the body painted or dressed with colorful clothes, dances, music, sale of foods, wine, beer ...


Location: Cacheu
Length: 2 days

Period: end of November
(ask for dates to the address indicated on page CONTACTS)

A festival that allows you to know the various aspects of the local cuisine in a festive atmosphere very well attended and with the opportunity to view performances and participate in guided visits.


Location: Bubaque Island

Actually cancelled.
If hopefully rescheduled, we'll inform on these pages.

Music, dances, crafts and traditional dishes and Biodiversity Fair in the heart of the Bijagós islands.