Accra Travel Guide: Here’s What You Need to Know
Accra, Ghana, Quick Travel Facts
Best time to travel: October through March
Time zone: Greenwich Mean Time (GMT)
Noteworthy: Chale Wote Street Art Festival (August), AfroFuture Fest (December), Afro Nation (December)
Best for: First Timers (to Africa), Solo Travelers, Friends Trip, Families
‘Safe’ and ‘welcoming’ are two words visitors use to describe Accra, Ghana, making it the perfect place for Black people to visit. Accra, the capital and largest city in Ghana, is located on the coast of the Gulf of Guinea in western Africa. Named “Africa’s capital of cool” by the New York Times, Accra is known for its colorful textiles, contemporary art, popular nightlife and entertainment scenes.
Accra has served as Ghana’s capital since 1877 when it was transferred from Cape Coast. The city’s name derives from the Akan word Nkran meaning “ants,” a reference to the many anthills found in the countryside around Accra. From the 1500s until Ghana gained independence in 1957, Accra was the site for settlers from Portugal, The Netherlands and England. European settlers battled one another for centuries seeking control of the region as an outlet for trade, primarily 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 around the world come together in Accra for Detty December. The monthlong lineup of parties and events celebrates the end of one year and the beginning of another.
Play: Things To Do In Accra
Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park & Mausoleum
Dedicated to Ghana’s first president and the founder of the Pan-Africanist Movement, Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park is located in downtown Accra. Kwame Nkrumah is known for fiercely advocating for the unity of Africa. Nkrumah’s ideologies, in addition to his personal relationships with prominent civil rights leaders, are believed to have inspired civil rights groups like the Black Panther Party.
The site was once a polo grounds during British colonial rule in Ghana that forbid Black people. Nkrumah selected the location as his burial place to signify freedom for all Black people from exploitation and exclusion during colonial rule. The mausoleum, designed by Don Arthur, is the burial site of Kwame Nkrumah and his wife Fathia Nkrumah. Adjacent to the mausoleum stands a small museum that displays personal objects from various 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 Kwame Nkrumah Memorial park.
Some of the monuments include the Independence Arch, the Liberation Day Monument and Black Star Gate, also known as the Black Star Monument. Black Star Square is where all major national public gatherings and festivals, like Ghana’s Independence Day parade, take place.
Visiting Black Star Square is completely free and definitely worth a visit.
W.E.B. DuBois Memorial Center
In 1961, former President Nkrumah invited American sociologist, socialist and historian W.E.B. Du Bois to live and work in Ghana. There, DuBois embarked on 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 gained citizenship before his death in 1963.
The W.E.B. DuBois Memorial Center is a complex of four buildings including DuBois’ home, an administrative building, the Marcus Garvey Guest House bed & breakfast and the tomb 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 because it is situated approximately four hours from Accra by car, but it is worth the trip.
The massive commercial fort was built by European traders and is one of the most visited sites in Ghana. Cape Coast is the largest of the buildings that contain the legacy of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Today, the castle is a historical museum open to the public with a Ghanaian arts and crafts gift shop. Visitors to Ghana, especially Black travelers, journey to the castle in remembrance of the lives, origins and customs lost.
Erected by the Portuguese in 1482 as Castelo de São Jorge da Mina, Elmina Castle is another historical site that played a significant role in the trans-Atlantic slave trade.
Elmina was the first trading post built on the Gulf of Guinea and the oldest European building in existence in sub-Saharan Africa. The castle is located about four hours away from Accra, and is preserved by the Ghanaian government. It is also recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Similarly to Cape Coast Castle, Black Americans pilgrimage to the castle seeking reconnection with a long-lost heritage.
Gourmet: Best Restaurants in Accra
La Tante DC 10
Known locally as The Green Plane, La Tante DC 10 is a unique dining experience operating in a defunct Ghana Airways DC-10 passenger jet. 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 soup with fufu. The restaurant also serves a mix of special dishes suitable for the most selective tastebuds. An outdoor bar and dining area under the wings of the plane makes this an unforgettable restaurant experience.
Kōzo is an Asian fusion restaurant with a dreamy outdoor atmosphere in Accra’s city center.
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.
Begin your dining experience with one of their flavor-filled starters. They have an impressive list of signature salads, sushi, main entrees and desserts that will make your mouth water and leave you wanting more. Make sure to plan your attire accordingly because the restaurant upholds a strict dress code.
Jamrock Restaurant & Grill
As the name suggests, Jamrock Restaurant and Grill brings the flavor of Jamaican and Caribbean cuisine to Accra.
It ranks among the top places to eat, serving authentic dishes and mixologist-approved cocktails. The “soul food” menu offers traditional meals, like curry chicken, brown stew fish and oxtails.
Enjoy an afternoon or evening at the casual dining spot in 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 like lamb shank with smashed cassava and mango gravy are found here. Those with vegan dietary preferences are not forgotten. There is a special 3-course dinner crafted with vegans in mind.
Craft cocktails are available to complement your meal of choice.
Sit pretty in pink at the Instagram-worthy Rosé Garden, the perfect destination for all-day breakfast. You’ll find American staples like chicken and waffles on their food menu. The outdoor restaurant also serves sandwiches, salads, rice bowls, pasta and desserts. Rosé Garden also offers a dedicated kids menu for little ones.
For guests of drinking age, try one of their famous boozy towers filled with mimosas, manmosas, sangrias and more. Be sure to make reservations to avoid long waits.
Stay: Best Places to Stay In Accra
Kempinski Hotel Gold Coast City
Kempinski Hotel is a 5-star luxury resort close to the Black Star Square.
It is the largest hotel in the country and acts as a hideaway for guests. Rooms and suites are spacious and relaxing with a modern touch and large windows overlooking the property grounds.
Maintain your exercise routine in the hotel health club or try out the outdoor swimming pool. There is also a tennis court on the site.
Mövenpick Ambassador Hotel
On sixteen acres of palm-studded grounds sits the beautifully-designed Mövenpick Ambassador Hotel. The Mövenpick brand name is well-known around the world, and its Accra location does not disappoint. Located in the central district of Accra, the 5-star hotel offers guests a complimentary airport shuttle along with a warm Ghanaian welcome.
Relax in the lobby lounge or grab a bite at The Pool Bar & BBQ. Amenities include a large luxury pool, spa and gym. Spend an afternoon at the onsite luxury shopping center, filled with high-end goods from popular brands, after a long day of sightseeing.
Labadi Beach Hotel
Labadi Beach Hotel is notably one of the best places to stay in Accra. Some believe it to be the most high-end hotel in Ghana.
Guests of the hotel have access to an inviting pool, gym, luxury rooms and suites. The hotel also has a volleyball court, tennis courts and table tennis equipment.
Find refreshing beverages at two on-site bars or enjoy a meal at the hotel restaurant.
Get Away: Getting To and Around Accra
Kotoka International Airport (ACC) is the main airport in Accra. Major carriers with routes from the U.S. 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 to Ghana. Book your flight at least four weeks in advance of 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 transportation rates. Taxis are also available throughout the city. Renting a car is another method of getting around the city; however, with no street 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 the locals using the State Transportation Corporation 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 transportation system, each has its own fixed routes and times of service.
Explore Accra On Foot
Skip vehicles and Accra’s notoriously congested traffic altogether 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 decide to move around the city, always remain aware of your surroundings. Accra is one of Africa’s safest cities, but personal safety should always be top of mind when traveling.