Bata Cathedral © John and Mel Kots
Bata is the largest city in Equatorial Guinea, situated on the Atlantic Ocean coast of Rio Muni and the travel hub for the mainland. This interesting city was the capital of Equatorial Guinea under Spanish rule and this legacy is still very evident in the architecture and atmosphere of the place. Although Bata was once severely dilapidated it has been brought to life by the oil boom of the country and received an injection of foreign interest during the African Cup of Nations, which Equatorial Guinea and Gabon hosted in 2012. The city is known to be colourful and charming, with a vibrant nightlife, a number of wonderful markets, and some of the best hotels in the country. Tourists will only need a day or two to explore the place, strolling down the wide streets, bartering furiously at the markets, and enjoying some of the great local bars and restaurants. Most visitors simply use the city as a base from which to explore the mainland as it is a transport hub with an airport just north of the city and a port with ferries sailing to Malabo and Douala, among other destinations. Bata is the perfect base from which to explore Equatorial Guinea's pristine coastline, as there are beautiful sandy beaches stretching to the north and south of the city and tourists usually find this paradise almost completely deserted.