What To Do in Accra – Best Free Tour in Accra, Ghana

Come to central Accra and get into the thick of it – people, traffic, color, noise, smells, heat – a stimulating, sensory feast full of new, unpredictable and often funny sights and sounds!

Our hostel, Agoo Hostel sits a just north of Ring Road – a semi-circular dual carriageway round central Accra, Ghana’s capital city on the Atlantic Ocean. We organize an orientation tour for our guests, who want help finding their bearings. This is our route. Whether you’re in the capital of Ghana for a few days or for longer, this tour, will give you a taste of what there is to see and do in the city.

Lounge at Agoo Hostel in Accra Dorm at Agoo Hostel in Accra

Start the tour through Accra in Nima

We start on foot with a short visit to Nima – the vibrant, fascinating neighborhood just to north of the hostel Agoo. For new visitors to the area, Nima might seem like a jumbled shantytown, but look inside and it’s a lively, dynamic, colorful community with lots going on. The main roads are lined with schools, mosques, churches, markets, bookshops, fabric shops, handicraft shops, hairdressers, forex bureaus, offices and banks. Market days are especially busy when farmers and traders from outlying villages come to sell their produce.

NIMA Neighborhood

From the Market to Kwame Nkrumah Circle

After Nima we head back south past Nima Police Station to Ring Road Central and walk to Kwame Nkrumah Circle (or just “Circle”), the crossroads between Ring Road and the main road from Kumasi to Old Accra. It’s also a bustling transport hub if you are travelling out of the capital.

Passengers like sardines – the Trotro the Minibus

Here we pick (take) a trotro (passenger mini-bus) and set off to Makola Market located in the center of Old Accra. We’re squeezed into the battered old vehicle with our fellow passengers like sardines sharing seats with local workers and shoppers. If we were worried about the state of the trotro, we laugh nervously at our driver’s commitment to getting us to Makola as fast as possible navigating the busy traffic and brave pedestrians on our way. Once there, we pile out and take a moment. Phew! That was actually great fun! We’ll have to do it again!

If we survived, let’s explore Makola market

The market is an exhilarating, bright, noisy whirl of people and crush of stalls. You can’t stand still, you have to go with the flow of the market even though it’s hot and the sun is beating down!

One of our guests wants to look for some local wax printed African cloth, so we weave our way through the maze of stands, past booths selling everything – vegetables, fruit, fish, giant snails, household utensils, cleaners, tools, clothes, shoes, sunglasses, herbal medicines, local beads – and eventually find the gorgeous African cotton fabrics we’re looking for. We help our guest choose her cloth, showing her how to bargain for better than the first price.

Makola Market in Accra

From Makola to Jamestown Streets

From Makola we make our way towards the coast through the streets of Jamestown to the Accra Light (a lighthouse 28 m tall with a visibility of 30 km) and James Fort towards Ussher Fort, the former colonial administrative seat in Accra. Both of these forts are part of a UNSECO World Heritage site and they, with the Lighthouse, are sometimes open to the public.

ACCRA LIGHT Tower

It is sad to see that the buildings in Jamestown and Usshertown have been neglected and are in a sorry state of repair, where the inhabitants live under dire conditions. However the areas provide evidence of Accra’s colonial past with Jamestown and Usshertown being the oldest continuously occupied districts of Accra.

FISHING BOATS JAMESTOWN

They also remain local fishing communities, where we are fascinated to watch fishermen build their wooden boats and bring in their catch for the fish to be sold or dried by the women for sale later. We are amazed how traditional life carries on just along from the offices of multinational companies, banks and the trappings of modern Accra.

TOUR GROUP IN JAMESTOWN

Get some Typical Food from Ghana

By now we’re hot, thirsty and hungry, so we walk across a large dusty truck park/football pitch off High Street to Osekan, a breezy outdoor “spot” (bar) built on the rocks jutting out into the pounding waves of the Atlantic Ocean. It’s a great place to enjoy a local Star beer or mineral water with chicken and jollof rice or yam fries served with shito or hot pepper sauce. The location also provides a great view back towards the Lighthouse, along the coast towards Labadi Beach and out at sea to watch the huge cargo ships coming and going to Tema.

ACCRA SEAFRONT

Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park and Art Centre

Once refreshed we walk next door to visit the peaceful Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park honoring Ghana’s first president and one of its founding fathers. Set in landscaped gardens, this is the spot where Nkrumah declared independence from the British in 1957 and his remains lie in his Mausoleum in the Park. There is also a Museum, which contains some of Nkrumah’s personal belongings.

Next up is the Arts Centre – a warren of stalls, where we find an extensive selection of African crafts, textiles, instruments and antiques. This is not a place for a quiet browse. The Arts Centre is full-on with clamoring vendors hustling to sell you their good and the wonderful selection of artifacts – drums, art, pots, textiles, wooden carvings, masks, jewellery. Our guests make a mental note to come back to buy their souvenirs to take home.

Independence Square and seat of government

Along the road, with the backdrop of the blue sky and ocean, we come to Independence Square, Independence Arch and Black Star Gate. The Square is vast and serves as a place for major national gatherings. Otherwise like today, it’s virtually empty and provides a wonderful sense of space.

Crossing behind Independence Square in the direction of Osu, we pass Accra Sports Stadium, home of Hearts of Oak football team on our left. On our right we glimpse Osu Castle, known simply as the Castle, which is the seat of government in Ghana. The country’s National Assembly is situated on the other side of Accra Sports Stadium.

GROUP OF CHILDREN

Check out the best Nightlife in Accra

At this point we grab a taxi and drive about a mile to Oxford Street, the bustling, modern shopping street in Osu, where day and night something happening. It’s in this area where many of Accra’s best restaurants, bars, shops and supermarkets are found.

OXFORD STREET OSU

We get dropped off at Frankie’s, about half way up the street, to buy a delicious soft ice cream for refreshment. Around us are a number of the larger stores and supermarkets. We tell our guests that they should come back to explore Oxford Street’s side streets, where there are smaller shops selling lovely things to take home like handmade shea butter products and bags made out of recycled materials. They should also return in the evening to check out local restaurants such as Buka and bars, like The Republic Bar and Grill.

OSEKAN CHEF MAKING KEBABS in Accra

Along the main drag especially at the northern end near Danquah Circle, there’s plenty of fun African clothing and knickknacks to look at or buy as souvenirs – Ghana football strips to local print dresses. Here street vendors come up to us cheerfully offering to sell an array of goods from fish, banana, sunglasses, watches and telephone scratch cards.

Trotro Time back to the Agoo Hostel

At Danquah Circle, we are on the Ring Road again feeling like old hands at this Accra-travel thing and hop on another trotro for another super-fast, crazy trip back to the hostel. As ever our guests are of full amazement at their experiences on the tour and no doubt wondering what their next adventure in the Accra might be.

Interested in a Tour around Accra?

We know you are urging for an awesome tour around Accra now! For an in-depth visit of Nima, contact Charles, a resident, who conducts brilliant tours of the area. You can simply find him through http://ghana-nima-tours.yolasite.com.

And what can you do on Saturdays in Accra? On Saturday afternoons a tour of Jamestown by locals can be booked through Jamestown Walking Tours right here http://jamestownwalkingtours.wordpress.com.

Have you ever been to Accra? Share your experiences with us!


 

This post was provided by Agoo Hostel in Accra. Find more information about Agoo Hostel and backpacker accommodation in Accra here.


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