The Caribbean is one of the most pristine vacation destinations in the world. Its glowing beaches and colorful cities attract millions of visitors each year. However, one nation that is often overlooked in Caribbean vacations is Haiti. The nation and its capital, Port-au-Prince, had a different route to development than many other island nations. However, this history only contributes to the unique factors that are available for anyone planning on vacationing there. Here are some of the unique sites in this global city along with amenities and ways to travel.
Main Attractions in Port Au Prince Haiti
The National Palace district is the main area of tourism in Port-au-Prince. This area has several prominent museums and historic sites.
This is a history museum that showcases Haiti’s unique role in the world. Haiti is the only country in the Western Hemisphere formed from a successful slave revolt. There are mementos and dedications to many of the leaders of the revolution and the national heroes of the country. Cultural exhibits help explain the critical role of independence in the current Haitian nation.
This National Palace district also contains the national museum of Haiti. The museum showcases Haiti’s history over the past two centuries and contains murals and mementos designed to reflect the island’s independent heritage. It also contains artifacts from important moments and political events in the island’s history. Most famously, the museum contains what is believed to be a part of one of Christopher Columbus’s voyages to Hispaniola in the 15th century. That would make it one of the oldest European artifacts in the New World.
Finally, there is Haiti’s national art museum. This museum showcases the work of Haitian artists both inside the country and in the diaspora. Haiti has produced a number of famed painters who showcase techniques inspired by French colonial rulers and indigenous and African cultures. There are also famed naive artists who learned their trade outside of the formal structures of Western art.
4. Hikes and Tours
Hikes and tours are an exciting way to pass the time in Port-au-Prince. The city is located in an exceptional area of mountains, hills, and lush vegetation. Palm trees and tropical plants flourish throughout the city and its surrounding areas. The city is only a short drive away from Parc Nationale De Visite. This tourist-focused national park contains several of Haiti’s larger mountains that visitors can climb. One of these peaks, the Morne du Cibao, is over 6,000 feet tall.
5. Circuit 9 Track
A raft of tourists has reached the top and seen the wide-ranging views of the country and the city below. Another option for tourists is the Circuit 9 Track. Circuit 9 is a car race track located in northern Port Au Prince Haiti. It has regular races and a jovial atmosphere surrounding its events.
Other Things to Do in Port Au Prince Haiti
Aside from the top 5 main attractions listed above, here are a few other places you can visit while in Port-au-Prince.
To the west-northwest of Port-au-Prince is an island called La Gonâve. Its capital, Anse-à-Galets, is the major attraction in the island. Visitors can go snorkeling and explore the colorful reefs and marine life of the island. There is also a sandbar near the island where people can dive, swim or simply relax.
2. Atis Rezistans
If you have a penchant for anything macabre or gory, Atis Rezistans is the perfect place for you. This museum and art gallery is home to many unique sculptures, totems, figurines, dolls and effigies that have undergone a little makeover using some metals, wood, and practically almost anything you can find in a junkyard.
This Haitian collective is a reflection of the artists’ vision and belief in death, rebirth, Christianity, occultism, Haitian Vodou, and almost anything that’s too gruesome for most people.
3. The Ruins of Port-au-Prince Cathedral
Also called Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption, the Port-au-Prince Cathedral is yet another architectural landmark in the city that is worth a visit. It was built between the years 1884 and 1914 and since then, the Cathedral’s cupola of the north tower served as the lighthouse in the harbor of Port-au-Prince.
Unfortunately, the structure was destroyed during the 2010 earthquake that hit the country. The remains of the Cathedral became a notable memory of what was once a beautiful structure of Catholicism in the city. In 2012, a proposed design for the Cathedral’s reconstruction was made public. In the meantime, the Cathedral’s ruins are what greets the curious visitors of Port-au-Prince.
4. Sans-Souci Palace
First off, Sans-Souci Palace is not in Santo Domingo. It is located in Milot, a commune in the Nord area of Haiti. The distance of the palace from Port-au-Prince is quite far, so from the city of Santo Domingo, you need to travel either by bus, taxi, or plane. While the travel may take up much of your time, the Sans-Souci Palace is still worth the effort and the hassle.
Guests can expect to see an architectural landmark with a backstory like no other. The palace was once the royal home of King Henri Christophe I of Haiti, one of the notable leaders of the Haitian Revolution. He was a slave that would, later on, establish his own kingdom and become a monarch himself.
5. Citadelle la Ferriere
Just about 5 kilometers from Sans-Souci Palace is a fortress that sits on top of a mountain in the Nord Department. Again, this area is further away from Port-au-Prince Haiti but remains to be one of the country’s top attractions.
As the country’s symbol of independence, you can find the structure in Haitian gourdes, postcards, and even stamps. It was nominated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982 and has continued to astonish visitors through its 19th-century architecture and inspiring history.
Where to Stay in Port Au Prince Haiti
This small inn is situated in a majestic 19th-century mansion detailed with Gothic gingerbread patterns. The inn is isolated and located within a massive garden. Visitors will enjoy the well-adorned pool and the trails around the estate. The hotel is run by a local businessman and musician whose band, RAM, plays there every Thursday night. Concerts held by RAM have become a way for locals to interact with traveling businessmen and powerful figures in the country.
This three-star hotel in the middle of the city has a garden, pool, and modern rooms with cable and Wifi. The hotel lies secluded from the rest of the city in a similar way to the Hotel Oloffson. It is located in the middle of the city and is within walking distance of the National Museum and a number of prominent cathedrals. Karibe Hotel provides four-star accommodations in a spacious, Colonial-style setting.
3. American Chain Hotel
American chains promise a similar level of comfort and amenities around the world. Port Au Prince Haiti is no different. The city has a Best Western and a Marriott located in its southern section. These hotels have American-style amenities and provide a degree of comfort and familiarity for tourists from the United States. They are particularly attractive to the inexperienced traveler who has only had a few international trips.
Places to Eat in Port-Au-Prince
Papaye serves French and Caribbean cuisine and is one of the top-rated restaurants in Port-au-Prince that is highly recommended by both locals and tourists.
One of the best in the city, Magdoos is a Lebanese restaurant that’s vegetarian-friendly and serves Lebanese, Middle Eastern, and Mediterranean cuisines.
3. Assiette Creole
Best suited for the young professionals, Assiette Creole boasts of delicious local cuisines for a reasonable price. The restaurant’s ambiance is more laid-back, making it the perfect location for a relaxing lunch.
4. Le Coin des Artistes
Craving for some seafood? Le Coin des Artistes will serve you some of the freshest catch straight from Haiti’s waters. If you want some live music while dining, visit the restaurant on Friday nights when both locals and expats come together.
How to Get to Port Au Prince Haiti
Port-au-Prince is located on the island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic. The border between the two countries is not porous. It is incredibly risky and difficult to access Haiti either across the Dominican border or by boat in an unauthorized cruise. Therefore, the only practical way to reach Haiti is through Toussaint L’Ouverture Airport.
This Port-Au-Prince airport has flights to numerous major American cities such as Orlando and New York. Practically any major airport in the world can connect a traveler to the city with only a few stops at the most.
Port Au Prince Haiti has everything that a Caribbean traveler might be looking for. It has culture, history, and rugged terrain which provides staggering views of both mountains and the water. The city has accommodations for all kinds of travelers with easy access from the United States. Make sure to book your reservation today in order to explore this gem of a vacation destination.
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