Undoubtedly the primary motivation for staying in Mopti is the position relatively near to Djenné and the Dogon Country, two of the undoubted big attractions in Mali. However, that does not mean that the city itself is without merit. On the contrary, it is an interesting place that is home to several appealing sights.
Having grown to current proportions only in fairly recent times, it is perhaps unsurprising that there is not a great quantity of venerable buildings around. Nevertheless, the oldest district, known as Komoguel, which is located just to the east of the modern centre across a bridge, is pretty traditional and fairly atmospheric. The district's main draw is definitely the Grand Mosque, which is an attractive, if not overly awe inspiring, example of the local mud brick religious architectural style dating from 1935. Typically, non-Muslims will find it difficult, but not necessarily impossible to gain entry, but is possible to appreciate the beauty of the structure from the flat roofs of some neighbouring residents for a small fee.
Close to the place of worship is the larger of city’s two markets, which is where traders sell locally produced commodities. Meanwhile, the other is in the newer part of town, and will probably be of more interest to tourists. All kinds of traditional items are available in the tightly packed bazaar, including pieces of bogolan mud cloth, Fulani jewellery and Dogon handicrafts.
However, the real heart of Mopti is the bustling harbour on the Bani, close to the meeting point with the Niger. It is a constant hive of activity throughout the day, with boats arriving, departing, loading and unloading cargoes including slabs of salt, spices, vegetables, people and livestock. Perhaps the single best vantage point from which to observe the fascinating scenes unfold is the terrace of Bar Le Bozo. It is also one of the best places to organise a trip on the river, which is definitely a highly recommended activity.