Five Top Tourist Attractions To Explore in Accra
Initially, I was a bit uncertain about flying slightly over 6 hours to visit Ghana from the UK. Not when I’d lived in Nigeria for years and that was literally 45 minutes away from Ghana. Perhaps, I slightly looked down on the destination – or better still hoped to visit when it could be a much easier (and cheaper) travel. But I’m glad I snapped out of that real quick – we had an absolutely great time.
Before I delve in, a bit of travel behind-the-scenes- (you know we often have those). When we got to the airport we realised that the flight from London was actually very full and so Tee had been bumped up to business class. I guess they didn’t realise all three of us were flying as a family. Anyway, as a good husband should, he offered his seat to me – so I could literally chill.
But barely an hour into the flight, it seemed like our son was clearing missing me and refused to be consoled by his father - so they sent for me! And long story short, I switched seats and gave up my upgrade to the person who sat next to them. What struck me most was that I was so much happier being back in the economy cabin with both of them, the upgrade just felt so lonely and quiet alone. There's definitely a lesson there about people and not possessions / finer things in life being the most important. But just so we’re clear – if I were travelling alone or all three of us were upgraded, I’d definitely prefer that! And although happy to be back with them, as a foodie, I wished they'd at least been okay till after the mains were served - so unfair how vastly different it can be.
On to the tourist attractions we explored:
1. Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum / Memorial Park
Did anyone like me initially think a Mausoleum is some kind of museum? It’s actually more of a tombstone. This one is a memorial for Ghana’s first president and freedom fighter. It was at this location (which was once a British polo ground accessible only to white folks) he declared Ghana an independent nation. The gallery inside which you should check out too provides lots of information about his early life, education, fight for freedom and presidential achievements. There are also lots of relics from his life. I found it very enlightening and inspiring. His wife Fathia, who was Egyptian is also buried beside him.
2. Independence Square or Black Arts Square
This is pretty much a public square flanked by the Accra stadium and the Kwame Nkrumah Park. But there are a couple of monuments that make for a good photo op. Thanks to our local guide, we were able to climb to the top of the Black Star Gate. Co-incidentally, we visited on the 1st of July 2018 – exactly 57 years after the structure was commissioned.
3. Fort Christiansborg
Commonly referred to as the Osu Castle, but is actually named the Fort Christainsborg. It was built by the Danes in the 1600s, and has been occupied by several people after that including the British, and has been extended and rebuilt several times. Due to its location right by the shores, it was used for trading of gold, ivory and slaves. There were dungeons in the basement where the slaves were kept and also an underground tunnel of no return. In more recent times, It has been used by the Ghanaian government as the seat of government. Our tour guide provided lots of information about the castle and the various rooms. The castle also has a huge garden which was initially a plantation.
4. Centre for Arts and Crafts
This is a great place to stop particularly if you’re looking to buy a few handcrafted items such as paintings and carvings or textiles Perhaps because we went on a Sunday, it did seem a bit empty. Major tip: Bargain! Just when we thought we had bargained like crazy (and almost felt a tad bit bad), we stepped out to another shop and found the exact items cheaper.
5. Labadi Beach:
If you’re a beach buddy, the Labadi Beach is a good one to check out. It’s also called La Pleasure Beach, and is one of the busiest beaches in Accra. Likely to find some street food and drinks too.
You may also visit the James Town Light House which allows you to see the whole of “British Accra” from the top. Unfortunately, it was being renovated at this time, so we couldn’t go in. One other place I’d have loved to check out was the Legon Botanical Garden, although our local guide claimed the Aburi Botanical Garden was more fun. And well, not so much a tourist attraction, but a restaurant called Buka which provides a fusion of Nigerian and Ghanaian dishes was really good. For more upscale places, Urban Grill, Coco Lounge and Sky Bar were very cool.
Getting around with a baby
- Since we had a little baby (and had to use a buggy mostly) we opted for car hires and Ubers. We found our local driver to be very knowledgeable and he kept pointing out places to us. The Ubers too seemed quite affordable. The only thing to note is that the cars can be very tiny so if there’s a number of you or lots of baby luggage, you may have to request for a larger car.
- If traveling with a little one who needs a high chair, it’s advisable to take a travel booster seat as we realised that most of the restaurants did not have adequate high chairs and provision for babies.
- As expected though, out hotel provided a baby cot, so don’t forget to ask for one.
- We were also pleasantly surprised to find our brand of baby formula and other items that we typically use
- Generally found Accra to be very safe and we were occasionally out at night even with the baby
In all, these memories I have of Accra would forever be lovely ones of the people – so warm and genuinely kind. And of the food too - enjoyed it a lot. But as a Nigerian, do not ask me my thoughts on the Ghana Jollof.
Have you visited Accra or Ghana – I hear Cape Coast is so lovely and pretty bummed we didn’t get a chance to visit. Is this on your to visit list or it is ticked already?
pS: That "I Love Accra" lettering photo is on a building somewhere in Osu. We were literally driving past when I spotted it and asked to get down for a photo. There were cars parked in front, so couldn't get a shot of the "I", but this side shot did the trick!