Accra, Ghana, travel fast facts
“Safe” and “welcoming” are two words visitors use to describe Accra, Ghana, making it the perfect place for people of color to visit. Accra, the capital and largest city in Ghana, is located on the coast of the Gulf of Guinea in West Africa. Dubbed the “beauty capital of Africa” by the New York Times, Accra is known for its colorful textiles, contemporary art, popular nightlife and entertainment scene.
Accra has served as the capital of Ghana since 1877 when it was moved from Cape Coast. The city’s name is derived from the Akan word Nkran meaning “ant”, a reference to the many ant hills found in the countryside around Accra. From the 1500s until Ghana gained independence in 1957, Accra was home to settlers from Portugal, Holland and England. European settlers fought each other for centuries seeking control of the region as an outlet for trade, mainly of enslaved Africans.
Today, Accra is the economic, political and communications center of Ghana. Black travelers of all ages visit Accra to experience Ghanaian culture and a sense of belonging. Travelers from all over the world gather together in Accra for Detty December. The month-long lineup of holidays and events celebrates the end of one year and the beginning of another.
Play: Things to do in Accra
Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park and Mausoleum
Dedicated to the first president of Ghana and the founder of the Pan-Africanist Movement, the Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park is located in the center of Accra. Kwame Nkrumah is known for his fierce advocacy of African unity. Nkrumah’s ideologies, in addition to his personal relationships with prominent civil rights leaders, are believed to have inspired civil rights groups such as the Black Panther Party.
The site was once a polo ground during the British colonial rule in Ghana that barred black people. Nkrumah chose the location as his burial ground to signify freedom for all black people from exploitation and exclusion during colonial rule. The mausoleum, designed by Don Arthur, is the burial place of Kwame Nkrumah and his wife Fathia Nkrumah. Next to the mausoleum stands a small museum displaying personal objects from different stages of his life.
Black Star Square
Also known as Independence Square, Black Star Square is a public space containing several monuments commissioned by Nkrumah to celebrate Ghana’s independence. The square is bordered by the Accra Sports Stadium and the Kwame Nkrumah Memorial park.
Some of the monuments include the Independence Arch, the Liberation Day Monument and the Black Star Gate, also known as the Black Star Monument. Black Star Square is where all major national rallies and festivals take place, such as Ghana’s Independence Day parade.
Visiting Black Star Square is completely free and definitely worth a visit.
WEB DuBois Memorial Center
In 1961, former President Nkrumah invited the American sociologist, socialist and historian WEB Du Bois to live and work in Ghana. There, DuBois began an ambitious project to create an encyclopedia of the African diaspora. At the age of 93, DuBois moved to Ghana to manage the project, where he acquired citizenship before his death in 1963.
The WEB DuBois Memorial Center is a complex of four buildings, including the DuBois home, an administration building, the Marcus Garvey Guest House bed and breakfast, and the grave of DuBois and his wife Shirley Graham DuBois. Visitors can explore DuBois’ personal library, a collection of his works and other personal items.
Cape Coast Castle
A visit to Cape Coast Castle requires planning, as it is approximately a four-hour drive from Accra, but it is well worth the trip.
The massive trading fort was built by European traders and is one of the most visited sites in Ghana. Cape Coast is the largest of the buildings containing the legacy of the transatlantic slave trade. Today, the castle is a historical museum open to the public with a gift shop of Ghanaian arts and crafts. Visitors to Ghana, especially black travelers, travel to the castle in memory of lost lives, origins and customs.
Built by the Portuguese in 1482 as Castelo de São Jorge da Mina, Elmina Castle is another historic site that played an important role in the transatlantic slave trade.
Elmina was the first trading post built in the Gulf of Guinea and the oldest existing European building in sub-Saharan Africa. The fort is located about four hours from Accra and is maintained by the Ghanaian government. It is also recognized by UNESCO as a world heritage site. Similar to Cape Coast Castle, black Americans make pilgrimages to the castle seeking to reconnect with a long-lost heritage.
Gourmet: The best restaurants in Accra
Aunt DC 10
Known locally as the Green Airplane, La Tante DC 10 is a unique dining experience operating on a defunct Ghana Airways DC-10 passenger aircraft. Located outside Kotoka Airport opposite Marina Mall, it is the first airplane restaurant to be established in Africa.
You’ll find Ghanaian favorites like jollof rice and goat fufu soup. The restaurant also serves a mix of special dishes suitable for the most selective palates. An outdoor bar and dining area under the wings of the aircraft makes this an unforgettable restaurant experience.
Kōzo is an Asian fusion restaurant with a dreamy outdoor atmosphere in downtown Accra.
The inspiration behind the restaurant’s decor is modern and tropical Asian minimalism. Kōzo is a popular place to be for entrepreneurs and working professionals. The restaurant sources items for its farm-to-table menu from local farms to provide the freshest ingredients and support African farmers.
Start your dining experience with one of their flavor-packed starters. They have an impressive list of salads, sushi, mains and desserts that will make your mouth water and leave you wanting more. Be sure to plan your attire accordingly as the restaurant maintains a strict dress code.
Jamrock Restaurant & Grill
As the name suggests, Jamrock Restaurant and Grill brings the taste of Jamaican and Caribbean cuisine to Accra.
It ranks among the best places to eat, serving authentic dishes and mixologist-approved cocktails. The “soul food” menu offers traditional dishes such as curry chicken, brown fish stew and oxtails.
Enjoy an afternoon or evening at the casual dining spot in the cabana-style seating.
NsuoNam is one of the newest restaurants in Accra.
The fine dining concept is the brainchild of Edwina Akufo-Addo, who is the daughter of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo. Specializing in seafood and pan-African cuisine, hunger-inducing dishes such as leg of lamb with shredded cassava and mango gravy are found here. Those with vegan dietary preferences are not forgotten. There is a special 3-course dinner created with vegans in mind.
Craft cocktails are available to complement your meal of choice.
The Rose Garden
Sit pretty in the pink at the Instagram-worthy Rosé Garden, the perfect all-day brunch destination. On their food menu you’ll find American staples like chicken and waffles. The outdoor restaurant also serves sandwiches, salads, rice bowls, pasta and desserts. Rosé Garden also offers a dedicated children’s menu for little ones.
For guests of drinking age, try one of their famous drink towers filled with mimosas, manmosas, sangria and more. Be sure to make reservations to avoid long waits.
Stay: Best Places to Stay in Accra
Hotel Kempinski Gold Coast City
The Kempinski Hotel is a 5-star luxury resort near Black Star Square.
It is the largest hotel in the country and acts as a shelter for guests. Rooms and suites are spacious and relaxing with a modern touch and large windows overlooking the property’s grounds.
Keep up your exercise routine at the hotel’s health club or try the outdoor pool. There is also a tennis court on site.
Mövenpick Ambassador Hotel
On sixteen palm-fringed acres sits the beautifully designed Mövenpick Ambassador Hotel. The Mövenpick brand name is known around the world and its location in Accra does not disappoint. Located in the central district of Accra, the 5-star hotel offers guests a free airport transfer along with a warm Ghanaian welcome.
Relax in the lobby lounge or grab a bite to eat at The Pool Bar & BBQ. Amenities include a large luxury pool, spa and gym. Spend an afternoon at the luxury on-site mall, filled with high-end merchandise from well-known brands, after a long day of sightseeing.
Labadi Beach Hotel
Labadi Beach Hotel is especially one of the best places to stay in Accra. Some believe it is the tallest hotel in Ghana.
Hotel guests have access to a swimming pool, gym, luxury rooms and suites. The hotel also has a volleyball court, tennis courts and table tennis facilities.
Find refreshments at two on-site bars or enjoy a meal at the hotel’s restaurant.
Depart: Getting to and around Accra
From the air
Kotoka International Airport (ACC) is the main airport in Accra. Top carriers flying from the US to Accra include Delta, United, Emirates, Tap Air Portugal, Ethiopian, Turkish, Air France and Egypt Air.
March and September are the most affordable months for air travel in Ghana. Book your flight at least four weeks before travel to avoid higher fares.
Accra’s growing infrastructure means travelers will enjoy at least two comforts from home when it comes to getting around: Uber and Lyft.
DiDi Rider is the preferred app for many because of its affordable shipping rates. Taxis are also available throughout the city. Renting a car is another method of getting around the city; however, with no road signs in some areas and other cultural differences, this mode of transportation is recommended with caution.
For a more affordable form of transit, travel like a local using the State Transport Corporation’s bus system or privately owned mini-buses known as tro-tros. Keep in mind that both options, as budget-friendly as they may be, require patience and planning. As with any public transport system, each has its own fixed routes and service times.
Explore Accra on foot
Skip Accra’s congested vehicles and traffic entirely by exploring the city on foot if your destination. Although Accra lacks sidewalks in certain areas, walking is normal for local Ghanaians.
However, if you do decide to move around town, always be aware of your surroundings. Accra is one of Africa’s safest cities, but personal safety should always be top of mind when traveling.
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