Guide to the capital of Mauritius: what to see in Port Louis

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Compared to the capital cities of other countries, Port Louis in Mauritius is a very small city. But the diversity of urban landscapes and the incredible combination of modernity and artifacts from past eras make it interesting and worth a visit. Even the streets of Port Louis can tell a lot about the island’s history. We have prepared a guide to the capital of Mauritius: what to see in Port Louis, which areas to visit and how to get to the capital of the island on your own.

List of attractions in Port Louis, the capital of Mauritius

A bit of Port Louis history

The seaside town of Port Louis has been the center of civilization on the island of Mauritius since its founding in 1635 and was established in that capacity a century later, when the French colonialists made it the administrative center of Mauritius in 1735 and named the capital of the island after the French king Louis XV and used Port Louis as an intermediate port between their homeland and the Cape of Good Hope. To this day, many residents of Port Louis trace the branches of their family trees to the slaves whose labor was used by the colonialists.

What is interesting in the capital of Mauritius

Aapravasi Ghat or Immigration Depot – place of disembarkation and overexposure of newly arrived slaves in Mauritius

Now Port Louis has about 150 thousand inhabitants, and the vast majority of them are descendants of Indians who came here in the 19th century in search of work and a better life.

Such a colorful past of the city is the main reason why different cultures left their mark on it. Modern skyscrapers here combine with buildings built in the French colonial style, with concrete two- and three-story dormitory boxes and squat wooden huts. The Muslim and Chinese quarters can be considered separate cultural centers of the city, which live their own special and very active lives here.

2 main tours in Port Louis

If you like to explore new places while listening to the guide’s stories, visit these 2 main tours of the capital of Mauritius and discover the city and the island from different angles:

10 tours in Mauritius that are definitely worth a visit

What to see in Port Louis: a list of top 10 attractions

In Port Louis, you must see not only individual attractions, but also different parts of the city. The two most interesting areas from a tourist point of view are Le Grand Waterfront and Central Market. These are two completely different and opposite places in their content, making them all the more interesting to see.

City areas Le Grand Waterfront and Intendance Street

The area of Port Louis, located in the immediate vicinity of the city’s waterfront, is called Le Grand Waterfront and represents the most modern and well-maintained part of the city. Its development took into account the interests of the tourist industry, so the main tourist attractions of Port Louis are concentrated here.

What to see in Port Louis
Here you can walk along the main town street of Intendance, enjoy the view of the sea and go to some of the shops or restaurants that are very numerous in this part of Port Louis. The Le Caudan Waterfront shopping and entertainment complex is also located here, and most attractions and several museums, discussed below, are within walking distance.
Here is what the waterfront looks like in the photo:

Central Market and Craft Market

In the capital of Mauritius, there are two places where a wide variety of products and locally produced products can be found in a small space:

  1. Central Market, where you can buy almost everything, from fruits and spices to clothes “by the pound”. One of the most picturesque places in Port Louis.
  2. Craft Market, which is not really a market at all, but a department in the Le Caudan Waterfront shopping complex, where artisans and craftsmen sell the fruits of their labor. The chances of getting a truly authentic item, not brought from China or Madagascar, are much higher than at the Central Market, and this is the perfect place to get a few souvenirs to remember Mauritius.

Le Caudan Waterfront shopping and entertainment complex and colorful Umbrella Square

Le Caudan Waterfront – shopping and entertainment center, which consists of several buildings and is located on the site where the Frenchman Jean Dominique Michel de Caudan established salt production. It grew rapidly and began to include an astronomical and meteorological observatory, a gunpowder mill, and various small businesses.

Colorful Umbrella Square in Port Louis in Mauritius

The square in front of Le Caudan Waterfront is very Instagrammable – dozens of colorful umbrellas are hung over it. They not only cover the guests of the city from the sun, but also serve as an excellent backdrop for photographs.

Now, Le Caudan Waterfront has become a popular shopping destination, where you can buy almost anything, from clothes from world-famous brands to works of art from local artisans. There are also casinos, cinemas, restaurants and bookstores. Right on the shores of Le Caudan is the famous Blue Penny Museum, which talks about the development of the post office on the island and where two of the rarest stamps are exhibited.

Fort Adelaide

Fort Adelaide, also known as the Citadel, is a fortress built between 1834–1940, with a wall that offers a picturesque view of the city and the harbor. Admission is free, just as in the Museum of Natural History. The fortress is made of dark, almost black stone, which is unusual. Around the perimeter of the viewpoint and in the courtyard, there are cannons, next to which tourists take pictures.

Fort Adelaide - one of the attractions in Port Louis

There are cannons in the courtyard of the fortress, nothing else to see

Almost nothing has been preserved of the interior of the fortress, but you can stroll around the premises or visit the souvenir shop. In addition to the sea and the cityscape, the Hippodrome, which is located in the immediate vicinity, can be seen from the viewpoint of the Citadel.

Port Louis - the capital of Mauritius

This is what the capital of Mauritius looks like from the Citadel

Museum of Indian Immigration (Aapravasi Ghat)

Aapravasi Ghat Museum – is by far the most important museum in the city of Port Louis and perhaps on the entire island of Mauritius. The museum tells the story of slavery on the island. I highly recommend visiting it. The exhibition is very interesting and well presented.

Museum of Indian Immigration (Aapravasi Ghat)

Armory square (Place d’Armes)

Armory square is located very close to Le Grand Waterfront and Le Caudan and is also considered part of the city center, not modern, but historical center. The buildings around the Place d’Armes are the best examples of French colonial architecture.

The Government House deserves special attention – an imposing building made of dark stone and wood, surrounded by a garden. You won’t be able to enter the building and see its interior, but you can admire the garden and the marble statues of Queen Victoria and William Stevenson, one of the governors of Mauritius. Another architectural building of interest to tourists is the House of Parliament, which in its appearance imitates the London Parliament.

Near the Place d’Armes there is also a natural history museum, a photography museum, a theater and two churches of different denominations.

Statue of Lenin

A very surprising landmark in Port Louis is the statue of Lenin, which you wouldn’t expect to see on an island in the middle of the Indian Ocean.

Statue of Lenin in Mauritius

“Field of Mars” Hippodrome (Champ de Mars Racecourse)

Why is it worth seeing the racecourse in the capital of Mauritius? It is the oldest hippodrome in the southern hemisphere and the second oldest hippodrome in the world. Until 1812, a field for military exercises was located here, and then its more than two centuries of sports history began. In 1968, Mauritius was declared an independent country on the Field of Mars.

Attractions of Port Louis in Mauritius

Horse racing is one of the favorite pastimes of Mauritians. Magazines with analyzes of races and horse performances are sold in shops

The hippodrome itself consists of several sectors, and entrance to the first one is free for everyone. To get to more convenient seats, men will have to pay 200 Mauritian rupees, while entrance is free for women in those sectors, too. Not only can you watch the races, but you can also bet on the outcomes.

Hindu Tamil temple (Kaylasson Temple)

All Tamil temples are built on the same pattern, and the Hindu Tamil temple in Port Louis is no exception. However, it is almost a unique sight, at least because it took more than 100 years to build.

It was founded in the 19th century, but the last works on its decoration were completed only recently. Its walls and interior are decorated with numerous statues, reliefs and ornaments, all handmade by artisans. Every detail is painted in one of many bright colors, which gives the temple a wonderfully cheerful look.

Jummah Masjid

Jummah Masjid is considered to be the main mosque in the country. Its construction in its present form – a white and green building, whose architecture combines Islamic, Indian and Creole traditions – began in 1878, when interested parties bought the land around an ancient mosque, the Mosque of the Arabs. During its construction, the work of Indian workers and materials brought from India were used extensively.

Unlike many other existing mosques, foreigners are also allowed to enter the Jummah grounds, although not everything is available for viewing.

What to see in Port Louis in Mauritius

One of the photos I took while walking the streets of Port Louis

Museums of the capital of Mauritius

  • Blue Penny Museum – postal museum, which tells about the development of the post office on the island. The museum is housed in a building from 1868 made of black volcanic stone. The highlight of the museum are the two rarest stamps that you can see with your own eyes. The museum itself is small, the visit will not last more than 20 minutes.
  • Windmill Museum – a small museum housed in a real windmill built by the Dutch. It is located on the Le Caudan Waterfront promenade.
Windmill museum in Port Louis, Mauritius
  • Natural History Museum – the oldest museum on the island. Founded in 1842. Admission is free and the exhibition is very educational. On several of its floors there are exhibitions dedicated to the history of the island, as well as its animal and plant life and minerals. About 35,000 exhibits, which give an idea of the modern and extinct inhabitants of Mauritius, make up the collection of this museum. You will see corals, shellfish, stuffed birds, animals and fish. But the main pride of the museum is the exhibition dedicated to the Mauritian dodo. Here you can see the only restored skeleton of this extinct bird, and you can find out in detail how it looked and how it lived.
  • Mauritius Photography Museum – an extensive private collection gathered by Marie-Noelle and Tristan Bréville, which tells about the development of photography from 1840 to the present day. It shows the evolution of photographic apparatus (more than a thousand in total) and developing and printing devices, and it also depicts the history of Mauritius in events and faces. In the Photography Museum you will see not only ordinary photographs, but also daguerreotype images, plain and glass negatives, printed postcards and other ways to capture the surrounding reality on film or paper.

How to get to Port Louis on your own

Port Louis has a very convenient location. From here it is easy to reach any resort and any attraction of Mauritius and vice versa.

How to get to Port Louis by car

Of course, a car is the most convenient way to travel to Port Louis on your own without a tour.

You can take a taxi and ask to be dropped off at Le Caudan Waterfront. Most of the interesting places are located there.

Or you can rent a car and drive into the city on your own. The easiest and most convenient way to rent a car in Mauritius is the Localrent website, where all local rentals are displayed. I talk about the characteristics of transportation in Mauritius in this article →

There are both free and paid parking places in Port Louis. Paid parking is available near Le Caudan Waterfront. Here it is convenient to park and walk along the waterfront, visit several museums and shopping centers. Near Fort Adelaide parking is free.

Parking in Port Louis

Parking near Le Grand Waterfront

How to get to Port Louis by bus

It is in Port Louis that the main bus stations of the island are located, and there are two of them:

  • Place Victoria, which is responsible for transportation links to the southern and western parts of the island,
  • Immigration Square, which connects the capital with the eastern and northern regions.

All buses lead to Port Louis 🙂 To understand how to get to the capital of the island from any beach, you can use the Mauritius Bus Routes application or Mauritius Buses website. Select one of the stops in Port Louis from the Destination drop-down list, and your departure point from the Origin list, and the site will provide a route for you.

🚌 A detailed article on transportation in Mauritius →

What to see near Port Louis

If you decide to go sightseeing by car and explore the capital of the island, I advise you to visit these places:

  • Albion Lighthouse – one of only 2 preserved and working lighthouses in Mauritius.
  • Pamplemousse Botanical Gardens – a stunning botanical garden. Оverview of the garden tour →
  • Signal Mountain – the best place near Port Louis to watch the sunset. A car can be parked near the beginning of the trail. The ascent itself takes about 30 minutes. This place is loved by the locals. I talked about climbing in more detail in the article “Top 10 peaks of Mauritius for trekking and hiking
⭐ Here you can find a list of must-see places in Mauritius. There is also a large map of the island’s sights.

Tours to Port Louis from Mauritius resorts

Here are several tours around the island that include a visit to Port Louis:

  • Port Louis + North coast — a day trip that includes sightseeing of the capital of Mauritius and the northern coast of the island. The tour includes a visit to Caudan Waterfront shopping center and Craft market, Pamplemousse Botanical Gardens, Sugar Factory (Sugar Estate and Museum), Cap Malheureux church on the cape – the price is 50 Euros per person.
  • A trip to the capital – during a day trip you will see Pamplemousse Botanical Gardens, Sugar Factory, Port Louis (historic city center, Central Market, Fort Adelaide, waterfront) – the price is 120 Euros for 5h.

I advise you to choose one of the complex excursions, see the city, and then decide for yourself whether it is interesting to visit it one more time? If so, you can easily get to Port Louis by bus, taxi or rental car and see the other interesting places.