I went to Afrochella in Accra, the capital of the West African country Ghana. Afrochella is a yearly one-day festival, celebrating Africa’s diverse culture. The festival features cuisine, contemporary art, music and creative entrepreneurs from all over Africa. During this amazing celebration, I was able to deeply connect with the Ghanaian people, culture, music, traditions and food. Throughout my week-long stay, I learned the ins and outs of the city and found the best things to do as a tourist in Accra, Ghana.
Here is my list of things you must do in Accra, Ghana:
Take a Tour Around the City
Visit the Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum and memorial park located in downtown Accra, the capital of Ghana. Dedicated to Ghanaian President Kwame Nkrumah, the memorial complex was dedicated in 1992 and sits on the site of the former British colonial polo grounds in Accra. Designed by Don Arthur, the Mausoleum houses the bodies of Kwame Nkrumah and his wife Fathia Nkrumah. The building represents an upside-down sword, the Akan culture symbol of peace and a black star to symbolise unity. The Independence Arch in Accra, Ghana, is part of the Independence Square which contains monuments to Ghana's independence struggle, including the Independence Arch, Black Star Gate, and the Liberation Day Monument. Independence Square is a must-see attraction as it is one of the largest city squares in the world. Heavily guarded by several soldiers, you’re prohibited from taking pictures up close of the arch without permission. However, you are free to take pictures in the general area around the arch.
Visit Cape Coast and Elmina Castle
Once one of the world's most important slave-holding sites, neighbouring castles Cape Coast and Elmina provide sobering insight into the workings of the African Slave trade. Go on a local guided tour, where you will visit the dark, damp dungeons which housed slaves that waited for two to 12 weeks to be shipped off in the East-Atlantic Slave Trade. Although these castles represent a horrific past, they stand as a reminder of an unforgettable history that must never be repeated.
Visit Makola Market
Makola Market is Accra's largest open-air market. Upon arriving at the market, you will immediately be taken over by the sights and sounds of the hustle and bustle of locals buying foods, textiles and goods. Overwhelming at first, Makola market is the best place to really take in the ambience of a West African market. There is a wide array of products sold in the market and the surrounding streets like jewellery made from locally handcrafted beads and Ghanaian kente cloth. Dominated by women traders, the market is your one-stop-shop for fresh produce, manufactured and imported food, clothing, shoes, tools, pots and pans and more. As you enter the market, it is best to have an idea of what you want to purchase and the price range you're willing to pay for those items, haggling with the local merchants is your best bet to get unbeatable prices!
Try Jollof Rice and Red Red Stew
There's no way you can go to Ghana, let alone West Africa and not try Jollof rice! Jollof rice is one of West Africa's most popular dishes. Originally from Senegal region, this staple food is a one-pot rice dish. Jollof rice traditionally consists of rice, cooking oil, vegetables such as tomato, onion, red pepper, garlic, ginger and scotch bonnet. There are many seasonings to enhance the flavour like salt, seasoning stock cubes, nutmeg, herbs, curry powder and dried thyme. To complement the rice, white meats such as chicken, turkey and fish are often served with the dish. My absolute favourite dish is Red Red Stew (African Stewed Black-Eyed Peas). When I say this dish tastes like heaven, I mean it! Red Red Stew is a simple dish consisting of black-eyed peas in a tomato stew with white rice and plantains. It can be eaten vegetarian with no meat or similar to jollof rice with any type of meat. These dishes will set your taste buds on fire, feed your soul and leave you with a full belly.
Enjoy the Nightlife
The nightlife in Accra is always on and popping! You will dance the night away with spots like Carbon, Sky Bar and Labadi Beach and more. Carbon is a luxury lounge-club high above airport city offering a magical, mysterious world of luxurious hedonism, stylish surrealism and neo-nightclubbing, where surprises await at every turn. Sky bar is Accra's premier rooftop venue, offering breathtaking views of the city from the tallest building in West Africa. Sky bar brings you a unique entertainment experience you will never forget. Labadi Beach is one of the most happening beaches in Ghana. Also known as the La Pleasure Beach, Labadi Beach is famous among the tourists because of the several beach parties that are organised. They have an abundance of drinks, food and live music that will keep your body moving into the early morning.
Enjoy the Local Cafes
If exploring the nightlife isn't your cup of tea, I highly suggest visiting some of Accra's gorgeous cafes. Accra's has many cafés around the city that are perfect for catching a quick bite, taking some Instagram worthy photos or checking your email while enjoying a relaxing coffee. Concrete Jungle is a calming lush green oasis away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Located in Osu, Ghana, with a wellness centre attached, Concrete Jungle has a unique space for creative spirits looking to relax away from the city while enjoying the soothing greenery. Gold accents and quirky chairs, this Jungle quickly became one of my favourite cafes to visit with my girlfriends due to its "Instagramable" aesthetic. Café Kwae is another local gem with cosy vibes and comfortable space that feels like home. Simple, fresh food, Café Kwae offers thoughtfully curated wholesome and delicious meals, locally sourced and made with love.
Jamestown is the oldest neighbourhood in Accra, but don't let that keep you from visiting this town full of life and history we must never forget. A vibrant town with old colonial buildings, clapboard houses and iron shacks. Jamestown is on the Atlantic Ocean currently serving as a busy and colourful fishing harbour. Historically, Jamestown originated as a community that emerged around the 17th century, British James Fort. Known for its whitewashed lighthouse with beautiful city views, popular boxing gyms and Chale Wote Street Arts Festival. Jamestown is a centre for arts and culture. It is recommended that you go on tour with a local guide to get the full experience of Jamestown.
Visit the Arts Centre for National Culture
The Accra Regional Centre for culture is tourist heaven! This is the place to find souvenirs and gifts for all your friends and family. The art centre has everything from woven kente cloth, wooden sculptures, beadworks, leather bags, brass African bangles, earrings and other fashion accessories, to the latest in African Attire fashion and good-quality handicrafts from all over Ghana and Africa. The arts centre not only offers several types of goods but also offers a bead making and African drumming class. The African drumming and bead making classes are perfect for the solo traveller or large group looking to get a quick taste of Ghanaian culture without going far outside the city of Accra.
About the Author
MONIQUE L. SPEARMAN is a freelance multi-faceted writer, curator and creator. Blending a passion for content creating, social media marketing, photography and travel, Monique created her blog website RaineyAmore.com in the spring of 2017 as a hobby. Raineyamore.com is a lifestyle, fashion, beauty and travel brand that encourages men and women from around the world to live their best lives, out-loud. Inspired by the aesthetics of different cultures, Monique wants to show the world, "Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it!"