What To Do on a Layover in Accra

Independence Square | © Cdigitals/Pixabay
Independence Square | © Cdigitals/Pixabay
Photo of Rajaa Banda
9 October 2017

Accra in many ways is the perfect city for a layover of any length and one of the main reasons why is that the city’s airport, Kotoka International, is smack bang in the centre of town. An ideal jumping off point for those with only a few hours to soak up the action, here are some of the excursions travellers can enjoy during their layover in Accra.

Three hours

With such little time, grab an Uber from the airport or a local cab (be prepared to haggle) and head straight to the centre of things: Osu. Wander up and down Oxford Street to take in the mini street market with endless straw items, clothing, wood carvings, jewellery, and other colourful delights. Osu is perfect as it’s a 20-minute drive from the airport (without traffic) and has a great blend of Ghana street life filled with kiosks, containers, hawkers, and general chaos and Western culture.

If those three hours are in the middle of rush hour, then it’s best to stick around the airport and grab a locally inspired drink or a snack. Café Kwae is a good choice as it’s in Airport City and has delicious options and drinks such as the Fula Milkshake (based on a Fulani tribal drink made with corn) and Ghana-inspired cocktails (during certain hours). Just across Liberation Avenue is an airport residential area and travellers can relax in Cuppa Cappuccino or taste some local dishes at The Gold Coast Restaurant and Cocktail Bar.

Fabric vendor, Osu | Doug Wilkowske / Flickr

Six hours

With a little more time, relax a little and sample some Ghanaian cuisine in Osu. Head to Buka, Country Kitchen, or Au Grand Ecuyer. For fair trade gifts, shop at Global Mammas nearby or for some pretty waxed fabric, there are plenty of choices in Woodin and Vlisco. Spend more time exploring the vibes of Osu and take a journey along High Street to see a different aspect of the city and some of its oldest buildings towards Jamestown and Accra Central. Check out Ussher Fort, Jamestown Fort, the lighthouse, and get the old-new hybrid in this vibrant part of the city. For some seaside relaxation and a lovely aspect, head to Osikan and relax with a beer on a terrace perched atop of rocks. And for cultural offerings in the area, peruse the vintage photographs at the Deo Gratis Studio, explore the cultural history at Brazil House, take a tour with Accra Dot Alt, and take pictures of the street art.

Brazil House, Accra, Ghana, +233 024 893 9060

Grilled Tilapia with Banku | ©sshreeves/Flickr

Nine hours

Nine hours means enough time for a museum experience that acts as a cultural shortcut, so head to the Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum for a view of Ghana’s struggle for independence, its first leader, and for a more comprehensive history, head to the National Museum for a journey through Ghana in many different objects. For those who don’t like going to museums, there’s a good amount of time to do some beach-side lounging at Labadi. Listen to local tunes, grab a coconut (or something stronger), relax on a lounger, and watch the waves, horses, and beach locals go by. Simple food such as kebabs and rice and chicken are available, Tea Baa and its creative and locally inspired meals is only a five to ten minutes away by car.

Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum | lapping / Pixabay

12 hours

There’s time for visiting Osu, a museum, a jaunt down to Jamestown, and some shopping. For locally inspired crafts, check out the Centre For National Culture. A sprawling compound that spills onto the seafront, find hundreds of stalls representing Ghanaian art and craftsmanship including carvings, brass work, fabric, and accessories. Be prepared to haggle hard and to be slightly harassed by vendors, but it’s all part of the fun. In the evening, check out Republic and try some locally brewed drinks mixed with natural local flavours and hear either some live music or the DJs that perform most nights of the week. A good drink scene can also to be found at Shisha Lounge and for more street vibes, stick to Purple Pub on Danquah Circle and dance to the latest hits under the open sky. Close to the airport, check out any events happening at Alliance Francaise of Accra, which has an open-air amphitheatre where performances are held as well as a small art gallery and the Rotunda Restaurant for one last drink before departing.

Efya | ©Kwabena Akuamoah-Boateng/Flickr