Explore Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Explore Port-au-Prince the capital and largest city of Haiti. In this beautiful city, you will find Haiti’s museums, natural wonders, forts, restos, parks, and many surprises. It is also near a commune called Pétionville. This city is where a lot of Haiti’s development happens so be sure to visit!
The city is large and bustling, starting very early in the mornings. There’s been a lot of rebuilding and new construction since the 2010 earthquake, but in some places you may see rubbles or small tent cities. There is a large expat community as well, mostly aid workers and the like. There are a number of good places to eat and places to sleep, especially in the wealthy suburb of Pétionville but also in Port-au-Prince proper.
Port-au-Prince airport (PAP) is served by several major airlines.
What to see. Best top attractions in Port Au Prince, Haiti.
- The National Palace famously collapsed during the earthquake and offers one of Port-au-Prince’s most startling reminders of the quake’s power. By the beginning of 2014 the structure had been razed. One of Port-au-Prince’s many tent cities was located across the street from the site of the palace. The tent encampment has now been cleared and the site is again home to one of the largest parks in Haiti, the Champs-de-Mar.
- Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption Port-au-Prince’s largest cathedral is just down the road from the palace and is likewise a shell of its former glory. Residents continue to pray outside its broken husk, and funerals are frequently held in a plaza behind the main building.
- The Musée du Panthéon National Haïtien. Each period is divided into sections containing paragon items of that time: the anchor of the Santa Maria, Christopher Columbus’s flagship, is the centerpiece of the exploration age section.
- One of Haiti’s few national parks, Fort Jacques is outside of Port au Prince about 45 minutes up the mountain in the village of Fermathe. The weather is cool (you might need a light jacket some days) and the view is spectacular. You’ll get a great view down to the city from a preserved pine forest. The history of the fort is self-evident, but local boys will gladly show you around and practice their better-than-expected English for a couple of dollars (well worth it). They are also willing photographers for this beautiful setting. A great escape from the heat when the beach isn’t in order.
- Pétionville, a wealthy suburb with lots of nightlife, bars and restaurants.
Marche de fer (Iron Market) A densely packed market of vendors selling everything from crafts such as voodoo paraphernalia to fresh food. It is a challenging, stressful, and maddening place to walk through as throngs of desperate merchants grab you and tight huddle of shoppers, stalls, and moving goods impede your every step, which requires you to swim through humanity. You will find a breathtaking inventory of hand crafted art: sculptures, masks, staves, paintings, globes, tea sets, coconut belts, etc.
Village Artistique (Artist Village). Though technically Croix des Bouquets is not Port au Prince, it is so connected with the city (only separated by a river) that it might be considered a suburb. The iron artisans here recycle old iron drums (containers) and make stunning art pieces. In the neighborhood of Noailles you’ll recognize the location as you see dozens of metal art pieces hanging outside of the homes of the artists, and signs advertising the shops. The artists have collaborated in making a beautiful and quaint little area including ornate streetlights and an enormous metal-working-woman sculpture. Prices are the best you can find, and the experience of seeing the work being done is priceless.
Often there will be roadside vendors as well selling really nice handmade crafts. There are some near the UN base and on the Pan-American Highway.
There are at least two banks with ATMs: Scotiabank and Sogebank. Even the ATM is closed on Sundays. Banks here close very early, even on the weekdays.
Eating out in Port-au-Prince is surprisingly expensive.
Everywhere you go in Haiti, there is delicious food available. Safety is always a concern when eating street food, but you can get recommendations from trusted locals. Delicious snack foods include banana chips (“papita”) a recognizable by the yellow product carried in baggies in a basket on heads of vendors. Fruit is also widely available and generally speaking, the thicker the peeling, the safer. Fritay is a general term for fried food, and generally consists of pork cubes (grio), goat (“kabrit”) or chicken (“poul”) with fried plantains (“bannan”) and a spicy garnish called “pikliz.” Bottled and safe soft drinks and water are also easily found on the streets and are much cheaper than in stores. They are often frozen in salt water, so you’ll want to give the top a good wipe before taking a drink.
There are grocery stores all over town.
Traditional alcoholic drinks include the rum sour and Crémas, an alcoholic beverage made of coconut and vanilla. Rhum Barbancourt is the best local rum, the 5-star is the highest quality and 3-star is decent. Biere Prestige is the local lager and is quite good.
Bottled soft drinks are available on the streets for much less than in the stores, but be aware of the going rate, or you’ll pay more than you need to.
Only drink bottled water!
The Caribbean Lodge hotel is made out of shipping containers!
There are no cheap places to stay, just less expensive choices.