Kempinski Blog Article

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1/20/2016
What to do and see in Accra
What to do and see in Accra

The capital of Ghana is a fascinating destination. A mix of new and old, shopping and entertainment, culture and cuisine await in a lively, bustling city where music fills the streets and the locals congregate at enormous open-air markets for their weekly shop. Whether it is your first time in Accra or not, there's always something new to discover: read on for our pick of the city's best.

Visiting Accra

Most visitors fly into Accra via Kotoka International Airport, conveniently located quite centrally in the city. There are daily flights to London Heathrow operated by British Airways, as well as numerous regular connections with other countries in West Africa. To travel to your hotel, simply take a taxi from the official stand.

Although Accra is a fairly large and sprawling city, most of the main tourist sites and places of interest for business are located within a fairly compact and walkable area. For longer journeys it is advisable to take a taxi – try to agree a price with the driver before you set off, as fares are mostly unregulated and tend to be charged at whatever the driver decides.

Alternatively, you could do what the locals do and get a tro-tro. These cheap, privately-owned minibuses serve as Accra's public transit system. They are often crowded, slow and in questionable states of repair, but you won't find a more authentic way to get around! The routes can be confusing for outsiders, but a driver's helper is usually on hand to shout out the destination at every stop.

Language is occasionally an issue in Accra, at least when conversing with those outside the tourist industry. English is the official language of Ghana and is widely spoken in shops, restaurants, and hotels, but locals might speak Ga, Twi or Hausa as their "primary" language. Despite this, in most cases you should be able to make yourself understood in English.

Looking for somewhere to stay on your next visit to Accra? The Kempinski Hotel Gold Coast City might just be the destination for you. Situated close to the State House, the National Theatre, and the Accra International Conference Centre, it is a great place to stay, whether you are in town for business or pleasure.

Bustling Accra

A city of some two million people, Accra is the most populous settlement in Ghana: in fact, along with Kumasi, it is one of just two cities in the country with a population over one million. It serves as Ghana's economic, industrial and administrative hub, and is home to many of both the country's richest and poorest residents.

Accra is a city of contrasts. Although the centre is quite compact and clustered around British, Danish and Dutch colonial forts, the population has expanded rapidly over the last few decades, leading to the growth of large, unplanned shanty towns. The city centre is fairly modern and ordered, while the outskirts are less so.

But this huge migration of people – not just from rural Ghana but from all Africa and the wider world – is all part of the character of Accra. It is a melting pot of many different African cultures and traditions, and one of Africa's increasingly important and influential world cities.

Accra's cuisine

Street food is all around in Accra, and while there are plenty of international restaurants where you can get your fill of everything from Chinese to American-style food, your visit really wouldn't be complete without trying out a few of the local dishes. Get an authentic taste of Accra in any of the "chop houses" – unassuming, usually family-run restaurants serving amazing food.

As a coastal city, seafood features prominently on Accra's menus. Try fresh-caught langoustines, mackerel, barracuda and more – usually grilled or barbecued and served with vegetables. Jollof rice, a spicy rice preparation with tomatoes and meat, is another must-try, often served with fried chicken.

Waakye, commonly served at roadside stands, is another popular dish. It is a wholesome combination of rice and beans, usually served with a spicy pepper sauce along with eggs, noodles, salad or stew.

Other staples that deserve a place on your plate include Shoko, a simple but delicious beef and spinach stew; peanut soup (especially with goat meat) and the classic Ghanaian favourite, plantains.

Must-sees

Accra might not have a wealth of famous monuments, but many of its best attractions are of a humbler nature – its beaches, markets and gardens are enough to satisfy most visitors.

Beaches

Labadi Pleasure Beach is Ghana's busiest beach and the place to go if you want to party – especially to reggae and "hiplife", a local fusion of hip hop, dancehall and traditional musical styles. Located on the south-eastern edge of Accra, it is also easy to get to.

For a more exclusive, luxurious beach experience, head to Bojo. It is about half an hour's drive from the city centre, and offers a more relaxing choice of blue waters and golden sands. Both beaches charge a small entrance fee if you are not staying in one of the affiliated hotels.

Makola market

For anything and everything you could ever need, the labyrinthine stalls of Makola market present a true Ghanaian experience. Fresh produce, jewellery, clothing and various souvenirs are all around, and if you are prepared to haggle you can snap up quite the bargain.

Keep an eye out for good examples of wearables made from brightly-patterned Kente cloth – Ghana is home to a flourishing fashion scene, and quality Kente clothing makes a unique addition to any wardrobe.

National Museum of Ghana

The National Museum is a must for anybody interested in the history, present and future of Ghana. It is divided into three sections, exploring Ghana's past, its traditions and its vibrant artistic and cultural scene. Particularly famous is the exhibition about the slave trade, a period of history that shaped Ghana perhaps more than any other.

However, the museum is just as well-known for its display of artwork, both historic and modern. There is a rich array of tribal artefacts and regalia, prehistoric tools and figurines, alongside a sculpture garden where you can see life-size statues of Ghana's leaders.

Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park and Mausoleum

Dedicated to the man who led Ghana to independence in 1957, this beautiful park is the perfect place to rest and reflect as you take in its sculptures and water features. The five-acre park is worthy of full exploration, while the mausoleum itself is one of the city's best-known landmarks and a striking piece of architecture in itself.

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