We won’t labour too long with the introduction, as there is a cavalcade of Ghanaian magic to get through here. This is the ultimate list of the best things to do in Accra and Ghana, covering everything from history and heritage to live music, museums, markets and more. Accra is one of the most exciting cities on the planet right now, and there is so much to enjoy here that it can be tough to know where to start. Luckily for all visitors, we’ve got your back. Check out our guide to slang terms in Ghana, and then hit the big city for a magnificent experience.
The 45 best things to do in Accra and Ghana
With tips on everything from restaurants to museums and sightseeing – this is the ultimate guide to things to do in Accra
Bars and nightlife in Accra and Ghana
Located in the iconic Villaggio Towers 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 fantastic place to start the day, weekend or evening.
This 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.
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.
Best traditional food in Accra and Ghana
Although it is practically a roadside bar, Auntie Muni’s has earned a formidable reputation in Accra for waakye (waa-chey), a mélange of dark black-eyed beans and rice, with meat and some fish, often eel. Customers queue up at a netted bar to pick from ingredients. Stringy noodles, hard-boiled eggs, various vegetables and hunks of steamed meat tumble in the waakye (only available on weekends) like an ungainly salad. The hub of the assemblage is shitor, a peppery condiment made of chilli, dried shrimp and ginger.
Located in Osu, this bar does more than just keep you refreshed – the food served is a local hit too. The tables are always full, the music is loud, and the smell of freshly grilled fish welcomes guests. The most popular dish by far, evident from the long queues, is the banku and tilapia.
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.
The Accra-based arm of the French cultural centre offers a vast range of artistic activities every week. It 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.
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.
We’ll never stop recommending this bar as it remains one of the best bars in Accra, thanks to its relaxed approach to the good things in life: alcohol, fried food and 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 popular restaurant often has live bands, including highlife musicians. The food’s good, but the music’s better. Many sets start 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.
This German cultural centre has been established in Ghana for over 50 years and offers an impressive array of musical events, art exhibitions, dance and film nights. Links between German art and Ghana are given precedence, whether through sound installations, mixed media pieces, performance art, photography or painting.
Top restaurants in Accra and Ghana
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, Buka gives a sense of escape from the throng. The food hinges largely on Ghanaian and Nigerian specialities – dishes include okra stew and eba (a dough ball eaten with stews).
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.
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.
Le Magellan is an excellent dining-out choice, particularly in the evenings when business colleagues, friends and couples convene to wind down at the end of the day. Service is polite and well-practised, and both the menu – full of pasta, seafood and steaks – and wine list reflect the fact that this remains one of the more upmarket dining options in Accra.
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, authentic, spicy and taken from a diverse menu of largely North Indian dishes.
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.
La Chaumiere’s sophisticated French dishes have been catering to Accra’s discerning diners for over 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.
Art and exhibitions in Accra and Ghana
The National Museum is home to some of Ghana’s most absorbing historical finds. This museum allows you to travel through the country’s history from both an archaeological and ethnographic perspective.
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.
This is one of the original workshops for fantasy coffins that are now collected and exhibited as contemporary art all over the world. Caskets shaped like birds, fish, aeroplanes, shoes, beer bottles, cars and anything else that stretches the imagination are displayed as art and sometimes sold as miniatures.
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 selling prints and paintings at reasonable prices.
Artists take to James Town’s streets for this vibrant alfresco art festival that spans acrylic street painting, stencil work, sidewalk painting, chalk art and vast graffiti murals. Past events have also featured large art installations, photography displays, live music, DJ sets, and theatre and spoken word performances. The festival takes place along High Street James Town between the Light House and Ussher Fort.
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.
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, collectables, homewares, furniture, handbags, musical instruments and other design products, many created through humanitarian projects in Ghana.
Heritage and history in Accra and Ghana
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 are now buried, houses his personal library, a small museum with a handful of personal effects such as his graduation robes.
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.
The National Museum is home to some of Ghana’s most absorbing historical finds. The museum allows travelling 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.
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.
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 cedis. 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.
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