The country's capital, Bissau (pop. 125,000), retains a strong Portuguese feel and a pleasantly laid-back attitude. There are relatively few cars in the city, but you're better off seeing things on foot anyway: Most of the action is on or near Avenida Amilcar Cabral. Check out the covered central market, walk along the Geba River (pronounced ZHAY-bah), tour the presidential palace, and spend some time at the National Museum. You'll also see some beautiful, pastel-colored colonial-era houses with iron balconies. Just north of downtown is the Young Artist's Center, the best place in town to browse for arts and crafts. Nightlife centers around a few discos, including some that specialize in the lively music of the Cape Verde Islands (another former Portuguese colony). We suggest a one-day stay—unless you are taking day trips to Canchungo (kah-SHOON-goo) or Cacheu (kah-SHAY-oo). There's not much to see in those towns, but the drive is pleasant—rows of palm trees line the road, and you'll experience Guinea-Bissau's tropical charm at its very best. (Make sure you have plenty of time; a short ferry crossing along the way may entail a wait for the tide to rise or for enough cars to justify taking the boat across.) If you want to see the interior of the country, there's a ferry that goes up the Geba River to Bafata. As with Canchungo and Cacheu, the journey is more interesting than either destination. The ferry stops at many small towns along the way and passes some picturesque jungle scenery. 40 mi/60 km northeast of Bubaque.

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