Accra, Ghana’s capital, is emerging as one of Africa’s top spots for business, as well as a hot destination for enjoying the good life. Accra boasts some of the best restaurants on the continent, and accommodation catering to all tastes and budgets. The densely packed metropolis has managed to remain safe, and is immensely welcoming to visitors.
Arriving at Accra’s International Airport, gone are the days when hoards of taxi drivers and porters pushed and shoved to get your custom, accompanied by brilliant smiles and winning conversation, curious to see foreign newcomers. The arrival into Accra is now more organised, with baggage trolleys and official baggage handlers, and taxis positioned respectfully in the nearby designated area. This shift is a reflection of the city as a whole, which is a more tame and ordered version of its former self, but also far more ‘comfortable’ and less exhausting.
Accra is well on its way to being a modern city of the world, and at the current rate of change – malls springing up, hotels opening, the city becoming increasingly international – it won’t take long. The new Accra, hewn from the county’s rich natural resources, huge foreign investment and amazing entrepreneurial drive (Ghana women have been voted the third most entrepreneurial women in the world) bristles with self-confidence. Both leisure and business tourists in Accra can enjoy all the mod cons of international travel, from five star global brands to cute boutique hotels, home stays and even sofa surfing. It’s all here. You can eat like a true foodie, whether in one of the many world-class international cuisine restaurants, or local fare in the more down to earth hip spots.
Accra’s chronic traffic means that it can take much longer than it should to get from A to B, even when you’re not leaving the central areas such as Osu, Airport, Labone and downtown. Journeying further out into the semi suburban areas, such as East Legon, at the wrong time of day can take hours, as your car crawls at a snail’s pace.
Transport in Accra comes in the form of fancy 4X4s, to local taxis, to Trotro, which is Accra’s version of a bus – except a lot more rustic and certainly a bit of a tight squeeze. If you‘re new in town we suggest getting a driver, or chartering a local taxi for the duration of your stay.
Accra is not a city for traditional sightseeing. It does not boast world-class museums, however there are many things to do to keep you well occupied. It is certainly worth paying a visit to Independence Square and Kwame Nkrumah park, where you may pay homage to Ghana’s struggle for independence against colonial rule, and the movement’s leader (who became Ghana’s first president), Kwame Nkrumah.
Ghanaians are football crazy (youmay have seen the real die hard fans during the World Cup supporting their national team, The Blackstars). If you time your trip right, you might be able to catch a game at Accra’s football stadium.
The National Theatre, an interesting architectural structure in central Accra, is certainly worth a drive-by. Sometimes they put on theatre productions, or other cultural events.
On the coastal side of Accra, there are various beaches, the most famous being Labadi Beach. There is also the slum area of Jamestown, which has of late shifted towards the trendy end of gritty. Once a year Jamestown plays hosts to the colourful and quirky Chale Wote Street Art Festival.
When Accra gets the better of you and you need a breath of fresh air, head up to the Aburi hills, or towards Ada and Lake Volta for some watersports. Or dance the stress away in one of the city’s champagne stocked nightclubs.
Pop over from Abidjan on daily Emirates and South African Airways flights, and onto Lagos on Arik Air. The journey time to both cities is 45mins.