Accra is known for giving its guests a cultural experience of a lifetime. With an extensive restaurant scene, exhilarating nightlife and history that lingers through the city streets, running out of things to do in Accra simply isn’t possible.
While the beauty in Accra lies in the everyday interactions with people and blissful community-oriented spirit, there are sides to this city that are rarely mentioned yet add to its charm.
Here are our favorite ways to explore Accra.
The bustling Makola Market has just about everything anyone could need © Danilo Marocchi / Shutterstock
Get lost in a traditional Ghanaian market
The constant honking, smell of fresh fish being distributed, and crowding of colorful market stalls down several blocks will mark your arrival at the famous Makola Market.
An open-air market with any and everything you could possibly need, Makola is a commercial gold mine. Whether you need fabric, household cleaning supplies, or groceries, Makola Market has it all. The sweltering heat hits your face while trying to make purchases and dodging trucks as they aim to pass through the narrow roads filled with merchants – it’s all part of a chaotic yet exciting experience.
Visiting Makola Market is not for the faint-hearted; you’re bound to get lost, but allow yourself to explore every corner. After all, you never know what you’ll find!
Planning Tip: Leaving the market can be extremely difficult as tro-tros (mid-sized minivans) tend to back traffic up and down the roads, making it difficult for Ubers to find you. The easiest way out is to hop in a taxi already headed towards the market’s exit.
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See a French show at Alliance Française
The leading center of French language and cultural exchange in Accra, Alliance Française Accra is also known for hosting film screenings, performing arts shows and concerts. The plot of the performances varies, but the lineup usually displays a seamless balance between showcasing English, French and Ghanaian culture. You can plan on having dinner and a show with a stop at Mama Cuisine, the on-site restaurant.
Planning Tip: Stay updated on what shows are happening via their Facebook or Instagram. While some shows are free, others require you to purchase tickets online ahead of time.
Soak in views from the tallest building in Ghana
When it comes to ambiance, you’ll quickly learn that Accra does not disappoint, and it is apparent with Skybar 25, an upscale rooftop bar. The bar has high-class decorations and stunning views of the city from what is said to be the tallest building in West Africa. Have a luxurious dinner with a specially crafted cocktail while enjoying the tunes of the Kentos Music Band. This Ghanaian brass band frequently plays live music at Skybar 25.
Planning Tip: The bar is in one of the most popular buildings in the city, and tables fill up quickly. Set a reservation 24-48 hours before to avoid delays or being turned away.
The Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park and Mausoleum are a tribute to Ghana’s first president © Dereje Belachew / Alamy Stock Photo
Learn the history of one of Africa’s greatest leaders
Together, the Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park and Mausoleum make one of Accra’s greatest landmarks. The park was commissioned in 1992 to commemorate the life of Ghana’s first president, Kwame Nkrumah. Nkrumah was instrumental in leading Ghana to independence in 1957 and setting the tone for African unity on the continent with his ideologies.
The walk-through park includes sculptures, monuments, exhibits, and gardens to honor Nkrumah. Today, the site hosts his final resting place and is a great place to learn the history of Kwame Nkrumah and early Ghana.
Support local businesses at the Labone Green Market
Every Saturday, the Labone Coffee Shop hosts the Labone Green Market. Local business owners set up mini pop-up shops for the public. As this mini farmers market’s name suggests, the shops sell fresh, organically grown fruits and vegetables and gluten-free products. It doesn’t stop there; vendors also showcase batik, natural skincare options, baked goods, flowers and other wares available for purchase.
Planning Tip: Vendors at the market only accept cash. It’s best to bring a variety of bills so you are prepared to make purchases.
Recount the legacy of W.E.B. Dubois
Once a prominent civil rights activist and passionate Pan-Africanist, W.E.B. Dubois’s contributions toward the advancement of Black people have been notable. Toward the end of his life, Dubois chose to do some work in Ghana and died in the country in 1963. The W.E.B. Dubois Center for PanAfrican Culture is located in the center of Accra. It is his former home transformed into a museum, where each room takes you through the accomplishments and obstacles Dubois faced during his life.
Document your time in Accra with a photoshoot
A city with young entrepreneurs, a creative spirit running rampant and vivid scenery almost everywhere you look, Accra is a place where you’ll want to document your experience to look back on forever. Photoshoots in Accra aren’t just about the pictures but the experience of working with creatives in the city like AOD Photos, who are beyond talented and know how to bring creative visions to life. The creativity of the city is bound to show through your captured images.
Ghanaian fashion is known for its bold and beautiful prints © LindasPhotography / Getty Images
Work with a seamstress or tailor to bring your designs to life
Shopping for elaborate fabric schemes to have custom clothing sewn by seamstresses and tailors is a way of life in Ghana. After all, it’s how all the captivating fashions you see while exploring Accra are most likely created. You can purchase a range of beautiful prints at shops like Eunnan Fabrics and Shalom Fabrics, or head to a local market and see what you can find!
Global Mamas is a sewing organization in Ghana located in Ashaiman, about an hour away from the main city center. We highly recommend asking around for a local sewing business close to where you are staying or looking out for small shops that can be found near roadsides, where you’ll see sewers working and can ask for their phone number and rates.
Planning Tip: It will be helpful to run the designs for the clothing you want to make by a sewer before purchasing fabrics so that you don’t under or over-buy fabric (sold by the yard in Accra). It’s also best to do this activity towards the beginning of your trip if you aren’t staying long, as it can take time for your seamstress to custom-make your clothing.
Bar hop through all of Accra’s hottest nightlife venues
Accra’s nightlife reputation is starting to be recognized globally as one of the best in Africa, and it’s not without reason. Parties begin around 1am and can go on until it’s time to clock into work! Venues tend to have themed nights like Kruna Nightclub’s “Signature Saturdays,” known to be more hype than the other days. It’s common to hop from venue to venue in Accra, ending up at as many as five locations, so wear comfortable shoes!
Pottery classes are available for all ages at Happy Art Academy © Renate Wefers / Getty Images
Channel your inner potter with a pottery session
At Happy Art Academy, you are given a clump of clay and expected to make magic –with guided instruction from the pros, of course! The Academy runs pottery classes for all ages and assists visitors in making pots, bowls, jars, vases and anything else you desire while crafting your clay.
Planning Tip: The Academy often runs promos for large groups (10 or more people), so be sure to ask about any running discounts if you’re traveling to Accra with a group.
Visit the Independence Square
A tour of Independence Square is one of the first sights you should place on your Accra itinerary. The tour will provide you with a much-needed background on the history of Ghana’s independence.
Only gaining independence 65 years ago, in 1957, Ghana’s journey to freedom is one of pure inspiration. Just a few feet away from Independence Square are the Black Star Square, Liberation Day Monument and Independence Arch – all structures that have played their role in the history we look back on today.
Planning Tip: To grasp the importance of Independence Square, we highly recommend that you book a tour with reputable and knowledgeable tour companies in Accra, like Mooove Africa and Travel Time Africa, who can best explain Ghana’s history.