Saturday, June 26, 2010

Calling all Ghanaians! Only 9 Hours In Accra. What To Do?

In exactly 2 days. At 9 am Ghana time, a man will arrive in Ghana. 
This man  knows nothing about Accra. However he says that he's not "a completely ignorant American tourist" and "he'd love to explore and learn more about the city" during the time he has.  Here we have a guy who genuinely wants to experience Accra for himself. He's willing to explore, he's willing to learn.  The only constraint is that he's only transiting in Accra, on his way to Johannesburg. Which means he's only in Accra for 9 hours - From 9 am to 6 pm.  
So, question is...
* How can he get around in Accra?
* What are the places of interest
* What/Who/Where should he avoid
* What must he see at all cost? 
* Anything else

Our 9-hour tourist is a friend of a very dear friend of mine. So we have to absolutely positively kick ass. Even if this guy never comes back to Accra, he should still be talking about his experience in Accra for a long long time.  Actually...forget that. Let's make him want to come back to Accra. Simple and tetia.
Now I live in Accra and as everyone who lives here knows, Accra is awesome. I know it, you know it, the whole world should know it. Including this guy. But we have only 9 hours. How do we make him "get" the amazing beast that is Accra? How?

We don't have a lot of time here. Plane lands on Monday morning...he leaves in the evening. 9-6 is ALL we have. Can't be sending him to Kakum! So...I begin, but I'm counting on you to help me here. I need you, people.

* How can he get around in Accra?
People in Accra get around without maps or addresses. I suggest you try to live like  us  in your time here.  So how will you know where to go? Well, I imagine that by the time you get out of the aiport, you will be hungry. Sadly, you would have missed the most authentic breakfast in town. The Hausa koko and koose which you would have been able to get at any street corner. But if you must eat,  you can try the next best thing...Try some waakye , a meal of rice, beans, tomato sauce, gari, taalia, wele and some boiled egg. You probably won't remember the names of all the things that go on it, so just ask the woman selling the waakye to give you bibiaaa bi (everything). You can buy it from the waakye spot infront of Aviation, opposite Shangri-la hotel.
How do you get there? Once outside the Kotoka International Airport, take a cab and ask him to take you to the waakye spot opposite Shangri-la. It is less than 10 minute ride. Don't pay more than 10 cedis. I'm guessing you will change some money inside the airport. $200 dollars should be enough for getting around but when in Ghana, you must not just come and see our beautiful city and go away. You must contribute your quota to the economy so plan to buy gifts for your family but you can change more money later in the day.

Now just in case you're not so keen on getting so local so case you want pancakes and eggs and not waakye, then when you take the cab at the airport, tell the cab driver to take you to Melting Moments at Labone. If he doesn't know where it is, tell him it's on the left turn after Morning star. You can google to find a telephone number for Melting Moments and here are all the places you can go to get free wi-fi

So to answer your question, you get around by taking cabs. Pay them the money they ask. You're gonna get ripped off anyway but taxi rates in Accra aren't terrible. So even with the special rate for you, you'll survive. You don't have enough time to learn to bargain so just embrace it. It is part of the experience.

* What are the places of interest

You should consider Big Milly's or Bojo Beach. They are very close to each other so you could even check them both out. It will take you about an hour to drive there and another hour to drive back so if you want to spend 2 hours there, then that takes 4 hours out of your 9 hours but it is totally worth your afternoon. Do it!!
When you get back from the beach, head to the Accra cultural centre on High Street. There, you will find someone who will decide to give you a tour of the whole place. It's up to you to buy or not, but it is well worth seeing. 

Within walking distance of the Accra cultural centre is the Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum. Just walk over and see it because it is dedicated to our first president ever...a great African leader. You should read up on Nkrumah

Once you've gotten the cultural fix, here are a few places to consider:

My favorite place to go on any hot afternoon is a little side shop next to MaxMart at 37 where they sell Smoothies. I always get a cup of freshly blended mango fruit. It costs $2 and it is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. Best mango i've ever had. Anywhere in the world. I promise. Worth every cedi.

My other favorite place to go is Chez Julie on oxford street in Osu. It's next to a Pierre Cardin shop, and about 100 away from the Total fuel station. Now that I think about it, i like going to Chez Julie because of the people there. I've bought some unique crafts and a book or two so you might find something you like but if you really want to buy a t-shirt or an Ghana shirt, then since you're in Osu, you can get it anywhere on the street or take a little trip down the side street adjacent Koala shopping centre, to Global Mamas.

* What/Who/Where should you avoid
Accra is generally safe. There isn't much to fear here. Just don't get married to anyone who claims to love you at first sight. Unless, of course you also love them back:) Don't avoid anything.

* What must you see at all cost? 
The people. I will advise you to spend a whole hour just people-watching. Look at what they're doing. How they're walking. Acquire a mental picture of what a Ghanaian looks like. Look at Accra. Look at the roads, the buildings, the billboards. If you're lucky to find someone willing to speak with you, speak with them. But don't be so caught up in looking/seeing things you forget the people. The greatest thing about Accra is us. It's our energy.Our love for life. Just look.

Spend some time also listening to the radio. Radio is HUGE in Accra. If you get the chance, just sit, and listen to the conversations we have, and the things we worry about.
* Anything else
Read this blog. It has over 2000 opinions on all that there is to love about Ghana, Accra and Ghanaians. And all these perspectives are written by Ghanaians and Ghanaian wannabes. Start with the very last post...10 unusual ways to wear a Ghana flag, and work your way down. Enjoy!

Okay people....I've done my part. I'm counting on you to fill in everything I left out. 

And to our American tourist...Welcome to Accra. Leave it the same or better than you found it.


  1. You've made me want to go to Accra too! Sounds great!

  2. While he is at High Street, he should visit Osikan, the hideaway opposite Barclays and beside Elac. He can use 30 minutes just taking in the tranquil scenery.

  3. Love most of it, but i think a must see is the fishing beaches, with the fishermen n fish mongers, mending nets, buying n selling fish and all. he should also try to go to the more populated parts of the city, Nima, La, Teshie thats were you get to see Ghanaians at their best. the Main Markets like Makola, and Kameshie are a must see, there he'll get a lesson on bargaining and hustling Ghana style. If he can wing it I definately think his trip would be incomplete without a troski ride


  4. For waakye he could check out 'Katawodieso' inside Nyaniba Estates coupla steps from Vaniado, a little overpriced but nice nevertheless. whilst on the Oxford Street he could check out Monsoon on top of the Osu Food Court. Oh yea still in Osu he could check out Asanka Locals. If he happens to be on the High Street he could go down to Usher Town ask for the Brazil House, it has a museum for freed Brazilian slaves who found their way to Accra and settled in Jamestown, its got pictures, books and other novelties about freed Brazilian slaves and their famous descendants

  5. Love all the suggestions. I think Bojo Beach might be too far given the time he has but Osikan is a good place to go sit for a while. Going to High Street, Oxford Street and a few places in between should be perfect.

  6. This is a perfect post for even those who plan to stay longer than 9 hours Esi! Can't wait for you to take me for smoothies when I arrive!

  7. Printing this out. I'll be in Ghana in a few months. Can't wait!

  8. If I'm ever going to be be in Accra, I'll be definitely well informed, lol.

  9. Shouldn't the list be in order of moving to and from the airport? Also (not to spoil things) but the traffic should be mentioned

  10. Awesome post! Little caution,he must watch out for gadget (smart phone,camera and itouch) thieves..starting from the airport.It's unfortunate a friend, new to Ghana got robbed of Digital Camera at the airport going through immigration check few weeks ago.

  11. In other words Accra is like any other city--keep your wits about you!

    I definitely recommend the troski ride. A short one from Airport Junction to Tema Station will be instructive. And at about 10am, there should be very little traffic

  12. I love this post! I live in Accra but don't really know where to go for fun. I'm not into the whole night club thing because I don't drink and don't want to go along and be a wet blanket. This is really heplful. I will definately use this as a reference. Thanks for sharing!
    @ Anonymous July 01, 2010 1:56 PM "In other words Accra is like any other city--keep your wits about you!" Thank you!

  13. I really like this article. I think you have some great ideas. Kokrobite was a good idea, along with Global Mamas. I have included some of my own ideas and wrote about your post on my blog you can read it at

  14. He really ought to check out the Art Gallery on the Labadi Beach road. Lots of well known African artists display their works there.

    More Ghanaian discussions at