Basic Facts about AccraAccra is the capital city of Ghana in West Africa. Almost 2 million people live in Accra, making it Ghana's most populated city. Accra has been Ghana's capital since 1877 when the British ruled this part of West Africa. Before that, Accra was a collection of Ga villages established in the 17th Century.
Accra is a sprawling city, with a mixture of modern buildings, shanty towns, occasional castle and lively markets. The central commercial hub is around the Makola Market (pictured here). Just south of the market is the Atlantic ocean (Gulf of Guinea). Accra's shanty towns are mostly to the west of the city center. East of the city center and north towards the Kotoka international airport, is where you'll find most of the hotels, embassies and smarter residential areas.
The most common languages in Accra are English, and Ga.
Travel to AccraAccra is one of Africa's safer capitals. It's easy to get around Accra by tro tro or private taxi. Most of the areas are quite walkable, but it is hot and humid, so stay hydrated with the readily available coconut stands and water baggies. At night it's best not to walk alone on the beach. You don't really need a private guide, but if you are traveling alone it's always nice to have company who knows where to go and what to see. Check out Jolinaiko Eco-Tours for exceptional rates and service, I had a flawless vacation thanks to them.
Best Time to Visit Accra?
Accra gets very hot and humid, (check Accra average temperatures) so the best time of year to go is really during the dry season from November to April. It's still going to be hot, average temperatures range around 85F year round, but you'll avoid the humidity to a certain extent along with the bugs. As far as festivals and events, it feels like every weekend is festive in Accra, so there is no specific week or time of year that is essential not to miss. More about Best Time to Visit Ghana...
- Makola Market - Bring along a sense of humor, and leave your camera and valuables behind, Makola market is fantastically hectic. Everything you ever thought could possibly be bought or sold can be found here. Unlike some of the bars in Accra, this is a place teeming with women.
- Labadi Beach - My first Accra experience was at Labadi beach. I'd just come off a long haul flight from the US and wanted to get a late lunch. I navigated the a tro tro system with some local help, and headed to Accra's most popular beach. I settled down to an ice cold Star lager, followed by delicious fried fish and spicy jollof. What a start to a vacation!
- Oxford Street, Osu - It's hip and happening on Oxford Street (Cantonments Road) in the upmarket area of Osu. Some of Accra's best restaurants, bars and shops are on this drag. Stalls selling fake rolex watches, pirated CD's and football shirts line the street, traffic is bumper to bumper, all adding to the general exuberant atmosphere.
- The National Museum has wonderful displays about Ghana's culture and history including the slave-trade, and Ashanti Kingdom. The museum is open daily from 9am - 5pm.
- Artists Alliance Gallery - If you are at all interested in contemporary art or fine art, you will be blown away by the Artists Alliance Gallery. I spent half a day here, and could not got enough. Huge metal sculptures mix with antique Asafo flags, kente cloth, furniture, and fantastic masks. One of Ghana's most respected artists, Ablade Glover is responsible for this three story treasure-trove.
- More details and sights in Accra; More sights in Ghana.
Accra Travel InfoHotels are plentiful in Accra, check out Trip Advisor's hotel listings and reviews. The Lonely Planet Guide has the best selection of budget hotels. Here's my personal selection of favorite hotels in Ghana.
Restaurants and Bars -- You can eat good Indian food in Accra as well as traditional Ghanaian fare and of course lots of fresh seafood (even sushi). Check out these restaurant reviews. For fast food head to Osu. For live music check out this list of venues.
Getting around Accra
The best way to get around Accra is to take a tro-tro (shared taxi) or private taxi. Taxis are easy to flag down just make sure you agree to a price before you head to your destination.
Sources and More Info
- Best Sights and Attractions in Accra, Ghana
- Average Temperatures and Rainfall in Accra
- Best Time to Visit Ghana
- Basic Facts About Ghana
- Accra Guide from Ghana Tourism
- Ghana Travel Information
- Ghana's Top Attractions
- Ghanaweb - an online resource for anything and everything about Ghana
- Daily news from Accra's Daily Mail.