Journaling The Journey

Freetown 3 Money Saving Tips & Best Tour

Best Freetown tour, Sierra Leone, Conakry ferry

Last updated on November 27th, 2023 at 04:42 am

Freetown is the capital of Sierra Leone and is located just north of Liberia in West Africa.  It can be a difficult place to get to.  Many of the guides online are just incorrect and do not tell you all of the information.  We provide time and money saving tips, guide information as well as the best Freetown tour (which is in a Tuk Tuk).  Make sure to read this prior to your arrival in the country to get the most out of these recommendations.

Getting in and out of Freetown

Getting in and out of  Freetown is not as simple as we thought.  In fact the airport for the capital city is actually located in a totally different town and area.  Therefore deciding on how to get here in advance is crucial to saving time and money.

Flying In and Out

Sierra Leone, Money Saving Tips
The 3-5 hour drive from Lungi Airport to Freetown was very interesting.

If you choose to fly in, you will be flying into the International Airport in Lungi (FNA) which is located either a taxi + a ferry ride away or a 3-5 hour drive away.  In addition, the airport charges you $25 USD to come into the airport and another $25 USD to leave via the airport.

The ferries run 2 to 3 times a day, based on flight times and cost $45 USD each way.  Expect to take the ferry 4 + hours ahead of your flight.  In addition, many of the flights arrive at night.  Therefore staying in one of the Airport hotels (not optimal) is necessary if you choose to fly in.


There are 2 private ferries running daily.  Seacoach Express and SeaBird Express.  As mentioned above, these are $45 USD per person per direction and they are comfortable, reliable and quick.  The only way to purchase tickets is to go to the terminal to buy them.  There is a bus shuttle that will take you from the airport to the ferry terminal and back.  However, communicating with these ferries is very difficult to find out schedule times, etc.,

PRO TIP:  Due to the poor communication with the ferries, here are a few What’s App numbers to gain schedule information:  Emmanuela: +232 75 023481 and VSL Travel Sierra Leone: +232 76 258258

Driving In

Driving into Freetown from the airport does take 3-5 hours depending on traffic.  However, it is quite scenic and since this option is direct from the airport to your hotel in Freetown, it may save you some time and frustration.  The quotes for this drive, that we received were $200 USD and more.  However, we found a great driver who speaks English and is a nice person and guide.  Our drive during the day took 3 hours and the cost was $80 USD from our Lungi Airport Hotel to our hotel in Freetown.

PRO TIP: The driver that we recommend for Sierra Leone is Alajy.  What’s App number: +232 77 436543

Conakry to Freetown Ferry

Conakry to Freetown Ferry
Our driver and tour guide (Jacklyn) at the Seacoach ferry which takes you to the aiport and also to Conakry.

For travelers heading between Conakry and Freetown, we strongly recommend utilizing the direct ferry service. This modern and reliable option eliminates the need to travel to and from Lungi Airport, saving you valuable time and money. Instead, you’ll depart from and arrive in the heart of Freetown, bypassing the lengthy airport transfer. In addition to avoiding the $45 USD one-way ferry fee, you’ll also save the $25 USD one-way airport tax.

The ferry which does this route is Seacoach Express (the same one that we recommend for the Lungi/airport to Freetown crossing).

Schedule & Cost

  • Every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday
  • From Freetown the boarding time is at 08:00
  • From Conakry the boarding time is at 16:00

The trip takes 3 hours and you should arrive at least 30 minutes prior to the boarding time listed above.  The cost is $100 USD per person one way.

PRO TIP: Seacoach Express Conakry Guinea What’s App numbers +224 61 100 3501, +224 61 100 3502

Money – How to Save It

Sierra Leone, Conakry to Freetown Ferry, Money Saving
The colorful market of Freetown.

The recommended way to get the best rate for your money in Sierra Leone is to exchange it on the black market.  Very few stores accept credit cards.  And even if they do, you will lose money in the exchange , as the official exchange is at least 10% worse than the black market rate.  The same goes for the ATMs.  In addition, ATMs do not always have money and then with the lower exchange rates and fees you will be losing quite a bit.

Therefore, we recommend that you bring either USD or Euros with you to get the best exchange rate.  The more you exchange, the better the rate that you will receive.  In addition, the notes should be clean, crisp ones that are from 2013 or newer.

So how does one find a black market currency dealer?  Well, it isn’t that hard and this is done very openly and casually.  Many stores will have a preferred exchange rate.  In addition, on the streets you will see many people with stacks of cash asking if you want to exchange.  Get a few quotes and take the best one.  Unfortunately you will not be able to exchange the Leones back to any foreign currency.  Therefore, make sure that you are not exchanging more than you need.

Best Tour Freetown

Best Freetown Tour, Conakry to Freetown Ferry Sierra Leone
One of the stops on the Tuk TukTour is the Freetown King Tom Cemetery.

Once you are in Freetown it is a bit of a maze of haze from all of the traffic exhaust and mayhem.  We found a great tuk tuk tour run by a local woman who during her tour explains the deep significance of the history of the capital and it’s culture and art.  In addition, this Tuk Tuk Tour takes passengers on a journey through the city’s historic center, highlighting key landmarks and sites associated with the slave trade.

As you may know, Freetown’s history is a complex tapestry of resilience, struggle, and triumph. In 1787, the city was founded as a haven for freed slaves, marking the beginning of a new chapter in Sierra Leone’s history. However, this chapter was also marred by the atrocities of the transatlantic slave trade, as Freetown played a significant role in the trafficking of enslaved Africans.

The company called Jacklyn Travel and Tours is run by Jacklyn.  What’s App: +232 76 615 170, email: [email protected]

Wrap Up

Conakry to Freetown Ferry Best Tour, Sierra Leone, West Africa
Woman walking above the large market near the port

West Africa is an interesting and chaotic place.  There is so much history and strife here.  We really felt it in the capital of Sierra Leone.  Unlike the colors and vibrancy of Benin (a country with similar slave trade horrors), here it was dirtier and dustier.  It was also much harder to get to, given the distance between the airport and the city.

In this post, we shared the various ways that one can save time and money to get in and out of the capital (whether by taking the Conakry to Freetown ferry or driving in).  We also talked about how to save money on the black market exchange as well as the best local woman run Tuk Tuk tour.

A visit to Freetown is an unforgettable journey into the heart of Sierra Leone’s unique cultural tapestry. From exploring its historical landmarks to delving into its vibrant traditions, this town offers a glimpse into the soul of this West African nation. As you wander through its streets, savor the flavors of local cuisine, and engage with the warm and welcoming locals, you’ll discover a city that embraces its heritage while looking forward to the future.

Have you been to West Africa?  What was your impression?  We would love to answer any questions which you may have and help you plan the best trip possible into this interesting and vibrant area of the world.  Leave us a question or a message in the comments and we will be happy to help.


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