Ghana’s capital and largest city is a fascinating place to visit. Whether you go for the food, the friendly people, the history, culture, or a combination thereof, you definitely won’t be bored. If you’re on the hunt for some of the best things to see and do while you’re visiting Accra, we can help. Read on for five things to add to your Accra itinerary that will have you experiencing the eclectic city like a local.
Weekends are beach days in Accra and many young people and families congregate at Labadi Beach on Saturday and Sunday. This is the top recreational beach in Accra as most of the beaches in the city are not developed and still along traditional fishing communities — and therefore used for fishing purposes. Locals enjoy Labadi because of the many restaurants along the seashore, and because the area is well maintained and cleaned each day.
The beach starts to get active in the early afternoon on both Saturday and Sunday, when you’ll see all sorts of people enjoying the sand, including families, young adults, expats, business travellers, pleasure travellers, volunteers, and kids — making for a very diverse crowd. After dark, the music volume goes up and there are often dancing programs and sometimes music at the different stages that line the beach. Ghanaians work very hard so there are not a lot of times where you’ll find a large group of people really letting their hair down and enjoying themselves in a grand way — but Labadi beach is a true Ghanaian party every Saturday, and to a greater extent Sunday night.
This street art festival takes place in late August at the tail end of the Homowo Festival that also takes place in August. The festival radiates out of the galleries and onto the streets of James Town, where High Street is closed off to vehicles. The festival highlights everything related to street art, from impromptu performances and murals, to contemporary art pieces, sidewalk art, graffiti, music, and even some sculpture and other crafts. The festival (if you happen to be in town for it) is a great way to see all of the creativity in Accra, and see the streets really come alive with people and music.
This one might sound a little morbid, but hear us out. The coffin carver in the suburb of Accra known as Teshie is known around the world for his craft of carving coffins into sculptures. These sculptures serve to show the life that the person being put to rest had inside them. The intricate coffin carvings can be anything from animals and cars, to airplanes, fish, and much more. The lifelike sculptures are made to take a body to the grave and are quite spectacular. Plus, seeing these sculptures can show us some of the differences in how death and life are viewed in different cultures.
This renowned marketplace smack in the centre of Accra should definitely be on your must-visit list, even if you just walk through it once. More of a shopping district than a typical market, Makola was first constructed in 1924 and is now one of the busiest spots in the city. Unlike other markets you may be used to in you travels, this one doesn’t have a sign, or a discernible sense of order — it’s more a matter of letting yourself be absorbed into what at first feels a bit chaotic. People, stalls, hawkers, and shops are not easy to navigate when you first set out, but as you explore, you’ll start to understand the pulse of the place, getting more comfortable among locals browsing and buying. Here you’ll find everything from jewellery and fresh produce to locally made handicrafts, tools, and even medicine.
In a metropolitan city it can be very tempting to go to the nice clubs and bars that cater to the international and expat crowd. But in the case of Accra, as far as nightlife goes, you’d be missing out on the local feeling by sticking to tourist-trodden watering holes. The great thing about “spots” is that they revolve around neighbourhood socialisation and will have groups of people sitting around, enjoying cold beer and talking or enjoying music, often with a few people dancing by themselves. You’ll be sure to find some interesting conversation and see something new. It would kind of defeat the purpose if we told you which one to go to because part of the fun is finding one with your flavour of music, and the size of crowd you like. There is a spot in Accra to appeal to everyone. The cooler nights are the best time to sit outside and get to know people in Accra, and spots are a great place to do this.