10 amazing things to do in Accra for first timers

by Fay

The largest city in Ghana and one of the more recently popular destinations in Africa is Accra. Known for its bustling streets and an interesting combination of new, high-tech architecture juxtaposed against traditional dwellings.

If you are looking for a less-than-typical travel and tourist experience on your next destination, I do recommend that you spend some time in Accra. Not sure where to start planning? This list of the top 10 things to do in Accra will help get you started. 

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A brief history about Accra, Ghana

As mentioned above, Accra is the largest city in Ghana, as well as the most populous – with a population of over 4 million people. Founded by the indigenous Ga people in the 16th century, the city derives its name from the word for ants in the Akan language. This was due to the many anthills originally found in the area.

Soon Accra became a major trading hub, and as European trade grew in the area, so unfortunately did the slave trade. Following several hundred years of European rule, the city regained its independence in the 1950s. 

Today, Accra is the major economic power in Ghana. Its major economic sectors include finance, manufacturing, and insurance. In recent years, tourism has also grown as a major part of the economy as well.

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The Top 10 Things to do in Accra

1 | Jamestown

Jamestown beach in Accra
Jamestown beach

The Jamestown area is one of the oldest in Accra. Throughout this part of the city you’ll find many crumbling remnants of buildings from the colonial era, as well as the well-known Jamestown lighthouse. While in the area, I highly recommend visiting the tourist center there to get a short walking tour of the neighborhood.

The tour highlights the fishing village that is based there, and the way of life for the people who live there. I loved this experience as you were able to talk with the locals and get their insight as well. 

2 | W.E.B. DuBois Museum

W.E.B. DuBois Museum in Accra
W.E.B. DuBois Museum

For those of you who don’t know, W.E.B DuBois was an important figure in the American civil rights era. He is best known for his fight for equal rights for people of color in America and protesting racist practices such as lynching and Jim Crow laws. 

DuBois spent his final years of life living in Accra. This is in part due to the fact that the US government refused to renew his passport. The Ghanaian government welcomed him to the country with open arms though and he spend his last years working on an encyclopedia for the African diaspora. 

You are now able to visit what was once his home in Accra, as it has been turned into a museum and memorial to him. There is a short and affordable tour that you can take while here to learn more about his life and fight for civil rights for all.

3 | Kwame Nkrumah National Park

Kwame Nkrumah National Park in Accra
Kwame Nkrumah National Park

As mentioned in the overview section, Ghana received independence from the UK in the 1950s. Kwame Nkrumah was recognized as the leader of the Ghanian movement for independence, and became the first prime minister and president of the country. 

This beautiful site is both a monument to him and his role in freeing Ghana, as well as a mausoleum for him and his wife. It’s a really nice place to visit for a peaceful reflection of the journey Ghana took to reach freedom.

There is also a small museum right behind the monument where you can learn more about Nkrumah and his impact on the country.

4 | Oxford Street

Oxford street is a busy shopping center along one of the main roads in the Osu neighborhood of Accra. You’ll find a mix of outdoor souvenir shops and standard shopping malls along this road. I recommend stopping here to buy gifts for friends or some lovely African printed cloth.

5 | Center for National Culture

If you are looking for more artisanal options while shopping, the Center for National Culture is a place that you should designate at least a few hours to visit. This area is full of shops selling unique art sculptures, pictures, jewelry and more. I’ll note, I did find that this area typically had higher prices than other places in town. Be sure to bargain and bargain aggressively. Especially if you plan to purchase a lot of items.

6 | Skybar

Skybar restaurant in Accra
Dessert served at Skybar, Accra

Skybar is one of the premier restaurants and bars in Accra. It features delicious food and drinks, which are accompanied by sweeping views of the city. I recommend stopping here for a nice and vibey night out, as the music played is on point as well. Note, you will get turned away if you are not dressed appropriately, so be sure to put on your best clothes.

7 | Black Star Square

Black Star Square in Accra, Ghana
Black Star Square

Black star square is also known as Independence Square, and as that name suggests, it was built to celebrate Ghana’s freedom. Within this square you’ll find Black Star Gate and a stadium that can fit upwards of 30,000 people. 

If you visit in early March, you may be able to participate in the independence celebrations which occur on the sixth of the month every year. For those of you who love to capture the perfect instagram shot, this is one of the most iconic city symbos of Accra.

8 | Aburi Botanical Garden

So, this is a bit of a cheat as the gardens are technically about an hour’s drive outside of the city. But if you are looking for a nice escape from the business of the city for a little while, this is a great place to do that. It features large trees and a nice variety of plant life to help you feel disconnected from it all.

9 | National Museum of Ghana

For the museum lovers out there, this one features local and outside African archaeological finds, as well as an impressive collection of contemporary African art. It is the largest and oldest African art museum in Ghana, and is a great way to spend more time learning more about the city and the country too. 

10 | Labadi Beach Hotel 

Labadi Beach Hotel in Accra ghana
Ghanaian food in Labadi Beach Hotel

Number ten on our list is Labadi beach and one of the most popular luxury hotels in Accra. Here you can eat or drink with your toes in the sand, or just spend time walking the long beach. You should know that the coast on Accra is generally not safe for swimming due to the tides, but is still great for getting your feet wet. 

In addition, there are several nice restaurants on the hotel property, such as the Akwaaba Restaurant and the Terrace Bar. Both will allow you the chance to try some of the local Ghanian fare. 

Additional Travel Ideas in Ghana

If you have more time in Ghana to explore the country, I highly recommend that you also visit the following destinations:

Ada village in Ghana
Ada village in Ghana
  • Elimina Coast: On the coast, you’ll find several beach resorts and have easy access to both the Elmina and Cape Coast castles.
  • Kumasi: This area was formerly the location of the capital of the Ashanti Empire. It is the second largest city in Ghana and about a 5 hour drive from Accra.
  • Ada Foah: Ada is a village located along the Volta River on the southeast coast of Ghana. The town is known for its sandy beaches, tropical palm trees and indigenous wildlife.

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In Summary | The Top 10 Thing to Do in Accra

That wraps this post in the Top 10 things to do in Accra. I hope that you’ve found this insightful as you plan your trip to Ghana! To recap, here are the places mentioned:

  1. Jamestown
  2. W.E.B. DuBois Center
  3. Kwame Nkrumah National Park
  4. Oxford Street
  5. Center for National Culture
  6. Black Star Square
  7. Aburi Botanical Garden
  8. National Museum of Ghana
  9. Skybar
  10. Labadi Beach Hotel

About the author: Christen Thomas is the owner of the site travelwandergrow.com, where she provides travel guides, travel tips, and money tips so that you can always afford your next adventure!

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