Bars and nightlife in Accra and Ghana
This newly refurbished and chic bar has ushered in a new era of sophisticated socialising, and a return to the glamour of the hotel lounge bar. It reflects the contemporary style and sense of luxury that permeates the Mövenpick hotel itself. The resident mixologists can knock up a mean cocktail and there’s a good range of snacks and light meals.
SkyBar 25 is a members-only rooftop venue at the top of one of Ghana’s highest buildings, the Alto Tower, in the Villagio Vista complex. It’s made up of a bar, restaurant and rooftop pool. Don't miss the fantastic views.
Located in the iconic Villaggio Towers, the three colourful buildings that can't be missed is the trendy-yet-casual bistro-meets-sports-bar AM&PM. The menu has something for everyone. AM&PM is a down-to-earth venue for a relaxed time out with friends or before a party. A good place to start the day, weekend or evening.
Head to Rockstone's Office to see some local and visiting bands play live. Weekends are always happening, often with booming hiplife playing into the wee hours of the morning. Their terrace is a great spot for sipping cocktails and people watching.
Champs has long been one of Accra’s best sports bars – airing aall major sporting events on their large TVs. Bar menu includes typical sports bar fare, such as burgers and chicken wings. The only place to head to when you want to watch the 'big game'.
Firefly is a confident nightspot – the industrial chic of its whitewashed brickwork, dim lighting and edgy beats attracts a preened international clientele. A backlit bar glows with premium blends, with cocktail aficionados, spirit lovers and wine drinkers alike pull up stools to confer with chatty staff who sport braces and the odd jauntily angled hat.
Situated in Nyaniba estates, Plot 7, this converted warehouse space provides more variety to the Accra clubbing scene. With trendy inustrial decor, Plot 7 provides a welcome alternative to other clubs. Providng a range of music from Pop, Dance, House, Afrobeats and more.
Carbon heralds the arrival of London-style nightlife in Accra. The club has been conceived by after-hours visionary Nick House (the man behind Mahiki, Whisky Mist, and The Punch Bowl) in collaboration with Blacksheep, the interior design team responsible for Whisky Mist and Cuckoo Club. DJs from around the world visit, as well as fire performers and other artists.
Twist club and lounge is one of Ghana's longest exisiting nightclubs. Located in the heart of Labone, yo can dance all night long or watch others in people-watching-perfect booths.
Sai is the place that Accra has been crying out for: a wine bar that actually puts wine at the forefront of its offering. It also holds regular events too, including a book club and ‘Bottomless Bubbly’ for a couple of hours on Friday evenings.
Live music in Accra and Ghana
A hugely popular venue and probably the best place in Accra to see live music at the moment. This jazz club brings in the best musicians who either live here or are visiting the city. There is decent seating for the audience and a generous outdoor area as well.
The Accra-based arm of the French cultural centre offers a large range of artistic activities every week. It particularly excels in live music events, but there are also regular art displays and talks from international artists. One of the best venues in Accra for cutting edge cultural events.
This popular restaurant often has live bands, including highlife musicians. The food’s good, but the music’s better. Many sets start off with a mixture of reggae, and other (random) hits before returning with a highlife set that gets everyone up and dancing. The musicianship is usually excellent.
We’ll still keep recommending this bar as it remains one of the best bars in Accra right now, thanks to its relaxed approach to the good things in life: alcohol, fried food and really great music. It’s a tiny space that tumbles out onto the street when things really kick off, late on a Friday or Saturday. There’s always live music on a Wednesday too.
This German cultural centre has now been established in Ghana for more than 50 years and offers an impressive array of musical events, art exhibitions, dance and film nights. Links between German art and that of Ghana are given precedence, whether through sound installations, mixed media pieces, performance art, photography or painting.
Kristal Club is a night club located in Accra, Osu, the heart of city's night life. Kristal is the perfect location for your corporate parties, hangouts, events and networking exercises.
Reggae DJs play on Wednesday night near an open bar that is stocked with local and imported beers. There are occasional live bands, as well as acrobats and other entertainment. Reggae groups come from around Accra as well as from neighbouring countries. The beach draws a mix of international students, reggae lovers and rastafarians.
Top restaurants in Accra and Ghana
Despite some stiff competition – not least from Urban Grill, its stablemate in the same group – Santoku remains Ghana’s best restaurant, if not West Africa’s. Dining here is a world-class experience, with expertly trained staff and a blend of well-executed and inventive Japanese dishes that stretch well beyond sushi and sashimi dishes (although these are both fabulous). Santoku also serves some of the best cocktails in town, including ‘saketinis’, best enjoyed on their new, supercool terrace.
Conveniently situated close to the centre of Osu, Buka is, without question, one of the best lunch spots in the city – and more often than not has full tables to show for it. Set on the first floor, it gives a sense of escape from the throng. The food itself hinges largely on Ghanaian and Nigerian specialties – dishes include okra stew and eba (a dough ball eaten with stews).
Ghanaians tend to be fans of Indian food, and Heritage often gets pointed to as one of the best curry houses in the capital. The food is equally pleasing, being authentic, spicy and taken from a diverse menu of largely North Indian dishes. .
From the leather bar seating to the tilework in the private dining room, the attention to detail in Coco Lounge is quite amazing. Local artist Nana Anoff has installed pieces alongside thoroughly modern and brave design touches, as you’d expect coming from the same stable as design store La Maison next door, which also curated the restaurant’s interior. The tight menu of mains includes sandwiches, burgers and fish and chips. Plus there’s a wide range of salad dishes, rice bowls and that wood-fired pizza.
Urban Grill is one of those restaurants that breathes quality: the food, the décor and the ambience are all excellent. Essentially a high-end steak house, the meat is corn-fed and imported directly from Nebraska, then cooked over a charcoal grill to perfection. The best steak in Ghana.
Bistro 22 has a balanced menu with gourmet burgers as well as local fish dishes. The restaurant's leafy terrace out the back is the perfect spot for an evening dinner or a romantic date location.
Le Magellan is a good dining-out choice, particularly in the evenings when business colleagues, friends and couples convene to wind down at the end of a day. Service is polite and well-practiced, and both the menu – full of pastas, seafood and steaks – and wine list reflect the fact that this remains one of the more upmarket dining options in Accra.
La Chaumiere’s sophisticated French dishes have been catering to Accra’s discerning diners for more than a decade. It offers a smattering of North African flavours for good measure – dishes such as grouper with harissa and mint yoghurt – but the mainstay is classic and honest French cuisine, from a crispy niçoise salad to a wonderfully thick and sticky onion soup au gratin. It’s popular with visiting dignitaries.
Set in one of the most prestigious spots in the city, overlooking the Polo Club’s playing field, this restaurant has a beautiful atmosphere. It’s one of the most impressive buildings in Accra, making effective use of wood both on the interior and exterior. It’s also refreshingly understated. The recently revised menu is unswervingly Italian, with risottos, gnocchi and ravioli with spinach and ricotta. The steaks and the grilled fish are also excellent. Their service is attentive here as well.
Art and exhibitions in Accra and Ghana
This is one of the original workshops for the fantasy coffins that are now collected and exhibited as contemporary art all over the world. Caskets shaped as birds, fish, aeroplanes, shoes, beer bottles, cars and anything else that stretches the imagination are displayed as pieces of art, and sometimes sold as miniatures.
The hugely respected Ghanaian artist Ablade Glover established this renowned arts venue, which has become one of the most important of its kind in Ghana. There are three expansive floors of art displayed in cool marble galleries. Some are by established artists, such as Owusu Ankomah and George Hughes, whose paintings are reminiscent of Jean Michel Basquiat and Willem De Kooning, while others are by new and upcoming artists like Ebenezer Borlabie.
Loom’s Frances Ademola has a popular gallery that exhibits paintings and sculptures by a good selection of Ghana’s foremost artists, with a smattering of expressive Nigerian pieces. The modest space has been here since 1969, and is bursting at the seams with the work of nearly 100 artists.
The Nubuke Foundation is one of the most important art galleries in the city, dedicated to Ghanaian visual art, culture and heritage. It was set up to provide an artistic space for Ghanaian artists to show off their talents. It also holds vibrant cultural offerings such as poetry evenings, Saturday workshops, art walks, film and music.
Along the seafront near Black Star Square is the Arts Centre. Hawkers attack from all sides as soon as you arrive, but if you’re not exhausted by the scrum you can find carvings, baskets, drums, bags, beads, fabrics, sandals, sculptures, stools, rugs and occasionally antiques. Haggling is expected. There’s also an art gallery, which sells prints and paintings at reasonable prices.
This German cultural centre has now been established in Ghana for more than 50 years and offers an impressive array of musical events, art exhibitions, dance and film nights. There’s also a pleasant bar in the grounds.
This multi-faceted workshop-cum-art-shop emporium is foremost a workshop employing artisans who produce characteristically Ghanaian and West African goods. It’s brimming with handmade art objects, collectibles, homewares, furniture, handbags, musical instruments and other design products, many created through humanitarian projects in Ghana.
The National Museum is home to some of Ghana’s most absorbing historical finds. This museum gives you an opportunity to travel through the country’s history from both an archaeological and ethnographic perspective.
Gallery 1957 is a new gallery with a curatorial focus on contemporary Ghanaian art presenting a programme of exhibitions, installations and performances by the country’s most significant artists.
Artists take to James Town’s streets for this vibrant alfresco art festival that spans acrylic street painting, stencil work, side walk painting, chalk art and vast graffiti murals. Past events have also featured large art installations and photography displays, as well as live music, DJ sets and theatre and spoken word performances. The festival takes place along High Street James Town between the Light House down to Ussher Fort. One of the best events of the year.
Heritage and history in Accra and Ghana
The National Museum is home to some of Ghana’s most absorbing historical finds. The museum gives an opportunity to travel through the country’s history from both an archaeological and ethnographic perspective. Much of the display is dedicated to indigenous art and crafts: there are regalia, musical instruments and the all-important royal Asante stools.
A national park erected in memory of Osagyefo (the Messiah) Doctor Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana’s first president and one of its founding fathers. Built on a former British polo field, it was the point where Nkrumah declared independence in 1957.
William Edward Burghardt Du Bois was an African-American civil rights activist who became a citizen of Ghana in the 1960s. He was known as the ‘Father of Pan-Africanism’. The centre, where he and his wife once lived, and where they are now buried, houses his personal library, a small museum with a handful of personal effects such as his graduation robes.
This colonial-era lighthouse was built in the 1930s. It’s not a tourist attraction in the usual sense – no gift shops or ticket offices here – but stray within twenty metres and you’ll inevitably be accosted by a ‘guide’ offering to take you to the top for a few cedi (usually around GH¢5 each). If you’re willing to part with the cash, there’s a good panoramic view from the top of the (possibly not overly safe) spiral staircase.
The city was founded by the Portuguese in the 15th century, and the solid white bulk of the castle acted first as a fortified base for overseeing the export of gold and other goods before ‘market forces’ initiated a move into human trafficking. The Castle is now listed as a World Heritage Site, and gazing down today from its old ramparts at the late-afternoon hubbub of fishermen and red-dust footballers, it’s hard not to be stirred by the human cost of its past.
From a historical perspective, Elmina Castle is a key attraction. Like its Cape Coast equivalent, it has strong links with the slave years and is registered as a World Heritage Site.
With modernist and Soviet- influenced lines, the stands around Independence Square can seat 30,000 people. The vast area, built under Kwame Nkrumah, is designed for huge events and military marches, but it is usually empty except for a few soldiers sheltering from the sun. The only times the square comes alive are at commercial events such as concerts and fashion shows, which take place throughout the year.
Osu Castle is a constant and poignant reminder of the slave trade that was largely administered from the building and was often used to house slaves before they were shipped to the Americas.
Shopping in Accra and Ghana
This multi-faceted workshop-cum-art-shop emporium is foremost a workshop employing artisans who produce characteristically Ghanaian and West African goods.
The KIKI Clothing brand for women is synonymous with style, elegance and simplicity. Through the use of carefully selected West African-inspired fabrics, they create simple yet distinctive pieces with just the right level of detail.
This high-design store stocks clothing and accessories that incorporate African prints into wearable high-street trends: think statement jewellery, business chic and cocktail elegance. Since the brand was launched in 2008, the label has appeared on international runways and been stocked in both in Africa and across the world.
A design-savvy edit of home accessories, furnishings, art and decorative items can be found inside this vast and airy space, curated by Nada Moukarzel. You’ll find chunky sofas, gilded mirrors, reclaimed leather chairs, eye-catching artwork and some fabulous African-themed ornaments (some by local artists), all wonderful to browse.
The loosely defined borders of Makola Market enclose what might be seen as Accra’s most dynamic commercial hub. It’s certainly one of the most entertaining. Hot, noisy and insistent, it’s an initially bewildering sprawl of kitchenware, jewellery, textiles, shoes and anything else your cedi might conceivably buy, hawked from floors, racks, shelves, ceilings and head-perched baskets.
Trashy Bags is an initiative which was set up in 2008 as a means of recycling and reusing the endless plastic water and yoghurt wrappers deposited on the streets of Accra. The refuse is washed and treated before being stitched together to form bags and accessories. The project employs a full-time staff of around 60, as well as paying a legion of litter-pickers for their efforts.
This wonderful store is run by the NGO Women in Progress. Everything sold here is fairly traded and made in Ghana, mostly by women. Its clothes for men, women and children of all ages are absolutely gorgeous.
Elle Lokko is the epitome of urban cool. An exciting hybrid concept space fusing fashion with art, design, and culture, here you’ll find a diverse collection of creative and beautifully designed clothing, hand-crafted luxury shoes and bags, as well as natural organic beauty products.
A concept store with a myriad of high end clothing, accessories, art and décor pieces from across the African continent. Featured brands waiting here to tempt you include: 1981, Ann Milinery, Bello Edu, Caven Etomi, Totally Ethink, and others.
This luxury art boutique, set up by Kukua Ampah, has recently opened a branch at the Mövenpick Ambassador Hotel. Many of the elegant and creative pieces on show are bespoke and adapted by Kukua herself, incorporating the rich cultural influences of West Africa.
Sport and well-being in Accra and Ghana
Opened by Marcel Desailly in 2011, this sporting complex has an almost full-sized pitch, plus three five-a-side pitches. For swimmers, there is a pool and a children's pool. You can also play basketball or play football on floodlit pitches.
Pippa’s is one of the best gyms in Accra, with a wide range of Life Fitness equipment, air-con, satellite TV and a modern music system. It has a wide variety of activities on offer, including body combat, spinning, pilates, zumba and modern African dance. For the little ones there’s a tumble-tots class.
It’s been 80 years since Achimota Golf Club was first opened. Just 10 kilometres outside of Accra city centre, this is a friendly club that is happy to host visitors. The course is an 18-holer with a par of 72.
Bliss is a full service yoga studio at the luxurious Movenpick Hotel. Every type of yoga session can be found here. Popular with expats.
British national Brett Davies (aka Mr Brights) has devoted his life to surfing. After leaving a top rung job at the head office of Rip Curl several years ago, he decided to take the plunge and open up his own surf school in Ghana (the second love of his life). A formally trained surf coach and lifeguard means surfers can’t be in better hands to try out Ghana’s exhilarating waves. Beginners to advanced are welcome, as are children, with boards and equipment naturally provided.
Anyone interested in hobnobbing with the city’s elite can head to the prestigious Accra Polo Club (Liberation Rd, Airport Residential Area, 024 435 8922, Facebook page), located behind the Woolworths building. Originally founded back in 1902, the club is still going strong, attracting moneyed expats from around the world. The polo season starts in September and runs until around Easter. Matches are held every Saturday and Sunday from 3pm. It’s a good chance for anyone new to the sport to learn about polo – local spectators are talkative and will fill you in on the game’s rules and point system. The best bet is simply to turn up – there’s occasionally a charge, especially for the big matches. Several national teams visit Accra every season.
What started out as a grass roots project three years ago, has become an integral part of the annual Easter celebrations in Ghana. With amazing aerial displays, music and a jovial atmosphere, the festival get bigger year after year. The idea behind the festival is to have tandem paragliding jumps for visitors and local people so that they may see the natural beauty of the land in a minimal impact way. And with consistent thermals, trips are relaxing and enjoyable. The organisers want to create a special adventure for local residents of the area to have a go, an opportunity of a lifetime when their daily struggle is tediously hard. Trips are fully catered; complete with arranged hotel accommodation, transportation, meals and cultural immersion. Some pilots also coordinate their itineraries to stay longer, beyond the festival dates, in order to travel together and experience more of the beauty that Ghana has to offer. The festival has also helped local businesses as well with services such as taxi drivers, hotel owners, food vendors and souvenir sells earning more income from the event. http://www.ghanaparagliding.com/
This FIFA-standard venue hosts national team games and is the home of one of Ghana’s most popular teams, Hearts of Oak. Concerts and other public events are held here too. This is also where the biggest boxing bouts are held.
Family activities in Accra and Ghana
This is an impressive new minigolf course. The 18-hole golf course has the usual challenges and tricks, and the clubhouse serves snacks and refreshments. There’s also football and regular movie nights.
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This popular little play area – full of things to ride, bounce on and play with is a shady respite when shopping gets a little boring. It's well-equipped, safe and worth a trip in itself.
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