Accra, Ghana is full of energy and chances to connect with both the city and its people. Frenetic, bustling markets, new community spaces like skate parks and creative spaces for artists to gather plus a nightlife with a great music scene, you can’t help but connect with the people and culture of Ghana.
Community builder Sandy Alibo and musician Pure Akan show you how to connect with the people, music and culture of Accra.
Sandy Alibo: I’ve lived in Ghana since 2016, and launched a collective called Surf Ghana to empower youth through surfing and skateboarding. I recently helped build Freedom, the first skate park in Ghana, located in Accra. I have a passion for connecting and inspiring travelers, native Ghanaians and the diaspora through board sports.
Pure Akan: I go by the name Pure Akan, and have lived the majority of my life in Ghana. To me, it is home – a place where visitors are received well, and the gateway to Africa. I’d describe my country as a place full of color, humor, music and culture.
Why we think you should visit Accra
We both think Accra is a home away from home for everyone. Come check out Ghana’s progressive art and culture scene as you connect with the welcoming, kind energy everywhere here. And look out – a lot of people who visit end up moving here. Below are our shared suggestions of how to get the most out of Accra.
Connecting to Accra’s people in its community spaces
Freedom Skatepark was the first skate park to open in Ghana in 2021 © Jack Pearce/Lonely Planet
Sandy: One place to connect with people in Accra is at the skate park I founded. People around the world came together to create a new playground to empower and celebrate youth. The facility provides skateboards and sneakers for anyone who wants to learn. And we’ve had singers like Kendrick Lamar stop by when passing through town.
Pure Akan: Jamestown is the city’s oldest neighborhood – and it is all about creativity. You’ll find art on walls, on the street and on houses. Everybody knows everyone here, and this is really where you can see the culture of Accra come to life. Wander around for yourself and check out the fishing community, the lighthouse and the boxing gyms that have produced many champions like Azumah Nelson.
Accra’s most iconic monument is the Independence Arch in Black Star Sq, which was built to celebrate Ghana’s independence from Britain.
Sandy: Accra moves fast. So when you are ready to slow down, head to the Aburi Mountains, one of the best places to visit in Ghana. Ghanaians come here to get in a workout, enjoy quality time together and enjoy a view of the city. And it’s only one hour from Accra.
Pure Akan: As the sun sets, there’s no better place to experience Ghana and its wonderful chaos than at Labadi Beach. It’s beautiful – but it’s not just a place to relax. There’s so much more going on. You can get a drink. Go horseback riding. Watch the many performers. And experience Accra’s magic.
Connecting to Accra’s culture through the markets
Kantamanto Market is the largest in Ghana © Jack Pearce/Lonely Planet
Sandy: Kantamanto Market is the largest secondhand market in Africa, if not the world. For some people, the markets can feel overwhelming – but they are part of Ghanaian culture and perhaps the best way to understand the dynamic of the city.
Here, you can understand the social and economic impact of fast fashion on the world.
Coming to the market helped convince me four years ago to stop buying new, and start purchasing only from African designers. One shop I love because it celebrates African designers is Lokko House. Founded in 2008, this concept store promotes Africa’s urban art, fashion and creative culture.
Pure Akan: Everywhere you look in Accra, you will see people selling things. Even in traffic, you can buy anything and everything. This street economy is how a lot of people earn their living and do their shopping.
Sandy: Seventeen kilometers outside of Accra, you’ll discover some of Africa’s natural treasures at Shai Hills Reserve, a wildlife sanctuary with animals like antelopes, plus incredible views of the landscape. You can even tour the reserve on a motorbike. It’s a great adventure for families too. There’s rock climbing, hiking and luxury campsites for overnight stays.
At the Noldor Residency (under the Institute Museum of Ghana), you can get a feel for the Accra’s buzzing contemporary art scene. This program is an incubator that introduces incredible up-and-coming African artists to the global art market.
Connecting to Accra through music
Accra’s nightlife and music scenes are a vital part of the community © Jack Pearce/Lonely Planet
Pure Akan: You can’t talk about Ghanian culture without talking about Ghanian music. If you’re lucky, while you’re in town you’ll get to see me and other artists perform. If you want to party in Accra, you have to come prepared. Events normally start around 3pm and can last into the next morning.
Sandbox is a really beautiful beach club that has a view of the Atlantic Ocean, with tons of food and upscale cocktails to enjoy. It’s also a great place to watch the sunset.
Sandy: Once the sun sets, it’s off to Bôndai, an eclectic international restaurant. But there’s more to one of Accra’s finest restaurants than the food: the place also celebrates contemporary Ghanaian artists by displaying a permanent art collection on the walls. The exhibitions pair just great with cocktails prepared by some of the city’s best mixologists.
Pure Akan: Known for its drinks using locally distilled liquor, Republic Bar is a home for both locals and travelers. Try a Kokroko, a popular cocktail in Ghana that blends a sugarcane-based spirit with hibiscus, lime, mint and brown sugar.
Palm Moments is a favorite for both of us – a restaurant and a bar where Accra’s creatives meet.
Sandy: Here, they care about the food, the community and the people. They know how to bring people together and their gatherings spill out onto the street.
Pure Akan: This a place to connect, where people bring their energy.
If you need a double dose of energy, head to Jamestown Coffee and the connected Alley Bar – a cafe by day that turns it up at night. As its name suggests, Alley Bar is an alleyway that’s been transformed into a bar. We both think these might be the best clubs in the city.
Front Back is like a museum, with walls covered in art that you can buy. They’ve got great drinks and the party goes on and on and on…
Now that you’ve heard our recommendations, it’s time to make your way to Accra yourself.