capital city of Mauritius

Port Louis is the capital of Mauritius, and with around 150,000 inhabitants the island nation's most populous city. Sitting in a bay surrounded by mountains, Port Louis is a lively and modern city also with charming districts from colonial times.

Understand edit

Port-Louis at dusk

The city of Port-Louis has played a leading part in the struggle between the French and British occupation (1735-1935) and was considered during that period as "the star and the key of the Indian Ocean". There are many historical places and buildings to visit. It is also one of the best place to learn about and appreciate more the Mauritian cultures and traditions, and by far the best shopping destination on the island.

Still, overseas visitors to Port Louis are mostly businesspeople, as most tourists visiting Mauritius are more interested in the beaches and nature elsewhere on the island. In a way, this is true for the locals too, as people from the city relocate to the hills outside the city. On the upside, this means that the city is not overly touristy, and except for the traffic jams at rush hours Port Louis retains a small-town feel.

Port Louis, together with the rest of Mauritius, was part of the British Empire from the Napoleonic Wars to the country's independence in 1968. Still, old Port Louis is a "French" city as the British didn't change much in the city built by the French colonisers. In fact, when the British had conquered the island they even left the administration in the hands of the French inhabitants that remained. Sidewalk decorations, parks and many buildings are remnants from the French era.

One of the main attractions, the Aapravasi Ghat, is mainly from the British era, though. This now-ruined complex is where Indian indentured labourers entered Mauritius in the 19th century (a bit like the Ellis Island outside New York). More than 70% of Mauritians nowadays have Indian ancestry, meaning this is a really important site in the history of the island.

Get in edit

By plane edit

1 Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport (or simply International Airport) (MRU IATA), just southwest of Mahebourg, is the main point of entry to Mauritius. There are flights from major airports in Europe, eastern and southern Africa, the Middle East, and South, East and Southeast Asia.

From there, you have three options to reach Port Louis; by rental car, taxi (MUR 1800) or bus (route 198)[dead link]. If you drive yourself, head north-west and follow the signs for "Port-Louis". Port Louis is at the opposite side of the island, about two hours' drive away.

By bus edit

The bus station at the Immigration Square.

There are two bus stations in the city. Buses to and from cities to the north and east, such as Trou aux Biches, Grand Baie and Pamplemousses stop at the 2 Immigration Square bus station, northeast of the central market. Buses from cities to the south and west, such as Mahébourg, Curepipe and Quatre Bornes use the 3 Victoria Square bus station in the south of the city.

There aren't really any schedules, but buses depart and arrive quite frequently and you'll rarely need to wait for more than 15-20 minutes. Usually the first buses depart at 6 AM, and the last at 6 PM, city buses do run until 8 PM, though. Depending on the distance, an intercity bus ticket costs about MUR 15-30 (as of 2020) - express buses and buses with AC are more expensive, however.

Here is a list of the island's bus lines.

By boat edit

See also: Mauritius#By sea

The harbour is mostly for freight, but the ships of Mauritius Shipping Corporation take passengers from Madagascar and Réunion.

Get around edit

By foot edit

The city sprawls more than 8 km across but the main attractions are within walking distance.

By light rail edit

Metro Express network map

Since 2020, Port Louis has a small light rail network named Metro Express, that connects suburbs to the city. The service opeates daily from 6 AM to 10 PM in intervals of mostly 12-15 minutes.

By bus edit

Intercity buses from the both bus stations to other parts of the island have some stops elsewhere in Port Louis. See the link in Get in by bus above for routes and schedules.

By taxi edit

Taxi rides within the city normally costs MUR 10-50, a bit more during nighttime. Avoid taxis during rush hours in the morning and afternoon.

By car edit

Driving is not the best way of getting around as traffic can be a little chaotic. If you arrive into Port Louis from elsewhere by car, park it at the marina or at your hotel. Street side parking is allowed for two hours ar most.

Renting a car can however be a good idea for trips to other parts of Mauritius. Car rental in Port Louis is a straightforward process, with many international companies like Hertz and Europcar available in the capital.

See edit

  • 1 Aapravasi Ghat (ex-Coolie ghat). When slavery was abolished in 1834, slaves that had been working on the island's sugar plantations were replaced by "free" indentured labourers from India. The complex whose present name translates to "immigration depot" in Hindi was first a French building but it was expanded over the years. From 1849 until 1923 more than half a million Indians arrived here, some to be shipped onwards to other parts of the British Empire, others to be settled on Mauritius. As ancestors of about 70% of the island's population has passed through here, it's a very important site for the history and identity of Mauritius. As the practice of systematically shipping Indians to the island ended, the complex was left to decay, used for other purposes and even partially demolished in the 1970s. In 1987 it was listed as a national monument and got its present name, and in 2006 it became a   UNESCO World Heritage Site.    
  • 2 Caudan Waterfront, Marina Quay, +230 211 9500. The Caudan Waterfront and its surroundings has a great collection of local souvenir shops and other foreign brand materials such as clothes, and spirits. In addition to the harbour of Mauritius, you will also find the cinema, game arcades, and local restaurants.    
  • 3 Blue Penny Museum (Caudan Water Front), +230 210 9204, . The museum is open from 10:00 to 16:30 from Monday to Tuesday, closed on Sundays and public holidays.. A modern museum dedicated to the history and culture of Mauritius and the famous legend of Paul and Virginia. The museum is also the owner of the two most famous stamps of the world: The Post Office Blue Two Pence and the Post Office Red One Penny. Both stamps are in display in the museum but they are lit only on the half hour for 10 minutes, first scheduled at 10:30 and last at 16:30.    
  • 4 Citadelle (Fort Adelaide), Sebastopol Street. Built in basalt by the United Kingdom in 1840 and named after Queen Adelaide, it is the only remaining fort from this period of the island. Once Port Louis had four forts, and its only thanks to conservation efforts this one didn't end up ruined. The fort is on the top of a hill at the foot of the Moka Range and its purpose was to both to spot oncoming enemy ships on the sea and fires in the city. A 30-minute walk from downtown, it gives a wonderful view of the whole city. The place can be unsafe to visit on your own. Free.
  • 5 St Louis Cathedral, Sir William Newton Street. The Catholic Saint Louis Cathedral is one of the oldest churches on the island, it was finished in 1933 but there has been a church on the place since 1752. Designed by de Cossigny in Gothic style, it was built under Sir Robert Farquar as a place of worship for the people in Port Louis. Today, the cathedral finds itself in the middle of a busy city centre, and it's said that people pass through for a few prayers among their shopping sprees. In front of the church is a KFC, on the left side there is the State Bank of Mauritius, Western Union and the Supreme Court. On the right side is the Intermediary court and the Pope Henessy Police Station while at the back of the church is the Citadel Mall. Numerous food stalls and offices lie near the Cathedral.    
  • 6 Jummah Mosque, Jummah Mosque Street. The main mosque of the city was built in 1853, and enlarged during the following decades. It's a rare proof of the skills of Indian, mainly, Tamil craftsmen, who also built temples and churches. It has a madrasa (Islamic school), and in the middle of the courtyard stands an Indian almond tree, that was there already when construction began. The mosque a haven of peace in the middle of this busy capital.    
  • 7 Travellers' Lane, Jardin des Compagnies. With travellers' texts ranging from Marco Polo, Duarte Barbosa to Ahmad bin Majid, as devised by poet and semiologist Khal Torabully, a travel writer born in Port-Louis.    
  • 8 Chinatown. A part of the old town is the Chinatown, where Chinese culture is alive. Here you can find shops selling products from traditional Chinese paintings, clothing and medicine to trinkets and second-hand goods as well as restaurants. Nevertheless the district gets surprisingly silent at night.
  • 9 Place d'Arms. Locals come to this square to sit down and take a break. It's surrounded by colonial French buildings, but also some high-rises. There are statues of important figures in the island nation's history like Queen Victoria, Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam, first prime minister of the island, Sir Veerasamy Ringadoo, first president of the island and Emmanuel Anquetil, second president of the Mauritius Labor Party. It's quite busy during daytime, also because of the traffic on adjacent streets but it's peaceful in the evening which therefore is the best time to visit.
  • 10 Natural History Museum, Jardins da Companhia, Chaussee Street, +230 202 0639. Founded in 1880 with an exhibit on the extinct dodo, a library with more than 50000 volumes, and a lot of objects showing the history art and culture of the island. It was separated from the now-defunct Desjardins Museum museum founded in 1842 and as such the oldest museum in Mauritius and oldest in all Africa.
  • 12 Municipal Council. City hall.
  • 13 Government House. Parliament.
  • 14 Sockalingum Meenatchee Ammen Kovil. Hindu and Tamil temple.
  • 15 Marie Reine de la Paix. Catholic church dedicated to Mary, queen of peace.
  • 16 Old council street (Rue du Vieux Conseil). One of the few car-free streets (more of an alley) of the city. Here you can admire the architecture of old Port Louis with less noise and traffic.

Do edit

Caudan Waterfront

Visit the Caudan Waterfront, a meeting place for teenagers and young lovers, which comprises a shopping centre, kiddyland and a huge food court catering for all tastes.

  • 1 Port Louis Theatre, Remy Ollier St. An old theatre, constructed in 1822 with 600 places. There are theatre performances in French and Creole English as well as jazz and classical music performances. To know about upcoming shows, check posters, read the newspapers or ask at the tourist information.
  • 2 Champs de Mars, Destaining Street. Horse racing track founded in 1812 and as such the second oldest in the world; and in 1968 this is the place where the island's independence was proclaimed. The racing season is between May and September, usually on Saturdays and it's a quite popular pastime with locals. To get a nice view of the races, climb to the Citadelle on the neighbouring hill. Free access.    
  • 3 Caudan Casino (Caudan Waterfront). At the waterfront there's a small casino with roulette, poker, black jack and slot machines.
  • 4 National Library of Mauritius, 59 Rue Mere, Barthelemy Edith Cavell St. Opened in 2000, this is the country's main library. Here you can explore Mauritian literature.    

Buy edit

Port Louis is famous in Mauritius for the low price of clothes sold there. Imported from China or India, or made locally, the articles sold in Port Louis really offer value for money. You can easily get something of your choice from the numerous hawkers found all along the streets in the city.

The Caudan waterfront (mentioned in See above) has a range of boutiques and a crafts market with handicraft made by Mauritian artisans that can be excellent souvenirs.

And if you want to have a glimpse of Mauritian life, go to the Port-Louis Market where varieties of exotic food, fruits and other items are sold. There you will meet Mauritians from all over the country who have come for shopping.

  • 1 "Bazar" of Port-Louis (Central Market). Literally translated as "The market of Port Louis" — here you will find a variety of local snacks and tropical fruits. These are the cheapest food you will find in the capital. Numerous shops sell handicrafts, and objects such as "goni" baskets. You will also find a lot of stalls selling pirate versions of TV programmes, films and games: they are cheap but of variable quality. Like all crowded areas, be wary of your surroundings and keep your belongings close to you. Food sold on the street may lead to health issues, but these are rare.
  • 2 Corner House (corner of Royal St and Bourbon St). A fabulous stationery shop, selling all kinds of wonderful pens, pencils and books.
  • 3 Winner's Supermarket, Sir Célicourt Antelme Street. Supermarket, part of a national chain.

Eat edit

A large choice of restaurants and a food court is available at Caudan waterfront.

Mauritian food is a mouthwatering menagerie of international flavours, with delicious Creole curries, cuisines from all over Africa, Southeast Asia and India, and an abundance of fresh seafood that has never been frozen or shipped on an airplane. Popular snacks include samosas and gâteaux piments ("pepper cakes"). China Town where you will find Chinese shops and restaurants, though this is mostly an option for lunch as most places there close in the evening.

Budget edit

  • There are fruit and snacks stalls at the market (see Buy above).
  • 1 Le Calife, Edith Cavell Street, +230 203 4561. Creole and Indian cuisine served in a pleasant environment. Halal biryani is the house specialty.
  • 2 Mystic Masala (At the seafront). A kiosk at the seafront with a few tables serving Indian food such as samosas and masala dosa and you can enjoy a lassi drink or alouda (a Mauritian cold milk-based drink). Servings are a bit small, but if you're still hungry you can order another one or try another dish.

Mid-range edit

  • 3 First Restaurant, Angle Route Royale & Rue Corderie, +230 212 0685. Traditional Cantonese cuisine with a large menu, this restaurant particularly suitable for groups. Great food at reasonable prices have made it possibly the most popular restaurant in Chinatown.
  • 4 La Bonne Marmite, Sir William Newton Street 18, +230 212 4406. Described as one of the best restaurants outside the waterfront area, they have Creole, Indian and Chinese dishes on the menu and the staff is always friendly.
  • 5 Namaste, L'Observatoire, Le Caudan Waterfront, +230 5256 3864. Fine dining Indian vegetarian restaurant mainly serving North Indian food. Book in advance to get a table on the balcony, as they are the most sought-after.
  • 6 The Courtyard, Chevreau Street, +230 210 0810. Described as an European-style restaurant, it's built around a patio but also offers indoor dining. Local seafood dishes and Australian steaks on the menu.

Splurge edit

  • 7 Black Steer, Caudan Waterfront, +230 211 9147. Mostly steaks on the menu but also a few vegetarian options. Great views to the ocean.
  • 8 La Boussole, Suffren Hotel & Marina, Caudan Waterfront, +230 202 4900. Lighter dishes of the local and Mediterranean cuisine. Nice views from the terrace.
  • 9 Yuzu (Labourdonnais Hotel), Caudan Waterfront, +230 202 4000. Asian fusion cuisine. Different dim sum platters and dishes from East and Southeast Asia, some with a French or Mauritian twist.

Drink edit

Mauritian drinks include Phoenix Pale Ale, locally called spider beer (almost certainly because the feathers of the black phoenix bird in the logo looks like the legs of a spider). Many brands of cane rum is produced on the island, and its commonly drunk with cola and ice.

  • 1 Keg and Marlin Pub, Caudan Waterfront, +230 210 2051. An English-style pub. Try the local Mauritian beer, "Phoenix", and snack on a variety of food. As it is on the waterfront, it is relatively pricey.
  • 2 Sunset Café, Caudan Waterfront, +230 211 9137. Mainly a hangout for tourists, and somewhat expensive but it has a pleasant ambiance and good views of the port.

Sleep edit

Budget edit

  • 1 Bourbon Tourist Hotel, Jummah Mosque Street, 26 (1st floor, walk from the street through a tunnel to enter), +230 240 4407. 16-room hotel in Chinatown, looking more like a student dorm. Bathrooms are awful, though the rooms have AC, television and phone.
  • 2 Hotel Le Grand Carnot, Dr. Edouard Laurent Street (Chinatown), +230 240 3054. Budget hotel for backpackers.

Mid-range edit

  • 4 Tandoori Hotel, Jemmapes Street (next to the Victoria Square bus station), +230 212 0031. Noisy in daytime, quiet during the night. The rooms are comfortable, but there are no natural light in them. Some rooms are air conditioned, those are a bit more expensive.

Splurge edit

  • 7 Le Saint Georges Hotel, 19 St Georges St (opposite the French embassy), +230 211 2581. The rooms are nothing special, but they are clean and equipped with modern amenities. They have a decent breakfast and a swimming pool to relax in, as well as a bar and restaurant.

Stay safe edit

Crime rates have fallen over the years. Plus, there are police presence and camera surveillance at places with many tourists. Still there are some unsafe spots in town, such as the Citadel.

Cope edit

Embassies and consulates edit

Go next edit

Mont Choisy.

The capital is the transport hub for Mauritius and you can easily explore the island from here by bus or rental car. Nearby attractions however include:

  • Casela Nature & Leisure Park[dead link] (Flic en Flac) - About a half an hour from the capital, it's a park of 10 hectares which is home to 1500 birds, turtles, tigers, monkeys and other animals. It's a popular destination for families.
  • 17 Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Garden, 8 km north of Port Louis, in Pamplemousses.    
  • Mauritius Aquarium[dead link] (Pointe aux Piments) - home to 200 species of fish, invertebrates, live corals and sea sponges, all native to the ocean around Mauritius.
  • Domaine Les Pailles - A natural park and cultural center with something for visitors of all ages from pony riding to mountain safaris. The park has four restaurants.
  • Go to one of the beaches north of the capital such as Trou aux Biches beach to the north surrounded by cassuarinas, the 2 km long sand beach of Mont Choisy and Péreybère, a small beach between Grand Baie and Cap Malheureux. Some beaches are also suitable for scuba diving, such as Flic en Flac beach on the west coast and Trou aux Biches.
This city travel guide to Port Louis is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.