A historical port city, Lagos continues to attract many visitors each year thanks in part to its many beaches, delightful culinary options, and its vibrant nightlife scene. Here are some of the off-the-beaten-path activities and attractions tourists can enjoy during a visit to the Nigerian city.
Agidigbo tells the story of Lagos through music. It is both the instrument (a lamellophone) and the genre. To get a sense of what it felt like to live in ancient Lagos and enjoy its music, a trip around Campos, Isale Igangan, Isale Eko, and Lafiaji will more than satisfy the curious.
Although cosmopolitan, Nigerians love our own music, new and old. This is the spirit of Afropolitan Vibes curated by Ade Bantu, a Nigerian/German musician and producer. An open-air concert held on the third Friday of each month in Victoria Island’s Muri Okunola Park, Afropolitan Vibes has set itself up as one of the go-to places for the fun seeker. It is also a place to soak in the beautiful music of Nigeria, both contemporary and vintage.
A busy street on the Island, Obalende is well known for its nightlife and street food. Because Lagos is surrounded by water, there’s an ample supply of seafood, and Lagos’ cooks know how to get the best flavors out of the myriads of crustaceans and fish in the lagoon. The Suya (barbecued beef) joints on the street are also pretty good.
A relic of Lagos’ colonial past, the positive side of this legacy can be found in Ikoyi’s beautifully-designed homes. Its serenity is a foil for Lagos’ hustle and bustle.
Another neighbourhood that never goes to sleep, Ojuelegba is one of Lagos’ busiest streets. Its history and timelessness were perfectly captured by Fela Anikulapo-Kuti in his album (and album art) Confusion. Well known for its tiny shops that specialize in vintage-music sales (the patient can also find moderately priced vinyl records) and secondhand books, the street food—including fish and chips—here is really good as well.
Located on the Island near Broad Street (the business heart of Lagos), Balogun Market is a delightful place to mingle with the locals and shop for moderately-priced local fabrics and all sorts of bric-a-brac. Most colourful are the market women, who are not only business savvy but also fashion conscious.
Kamp Ikare is one of Lagos’ few resorts that shies away from the usual crowd. Located in Ikare Village, an Island off Victoria Island, it is only accessible by water and its appeal lies in its simplicity and home-like atmosphere.
One of Africa’s biggest-culture picnics, the Lagos Book and Art Festival is held annually in November and provides a week full of African literature, art, panel discussions, film screenings, and art exhibitions.
Held in Abeokuta (a two-hour drive from Lagos) in November, the Ake Art and Book Festival is a five-day cultural immersion. A melting pot of poets, activists, dancers, novelists, musicians, and artists, it is a whirlwind of panel discussions, plays, and concerts. All these held against a background of the biggest Adire (locally-made batik) market in Nigeria and Olumo Rock.
A boutique hotel in Ikoyi that also doubles as an artist’s haven (Bogobiri itself is a piece of art), the rates are a little on the high side, but not as expensive as some other hotels in the same location.
To enjoy the best of Lagos, come around November. Not only is the weather perfect around this time, tourists can also plan their itineraries around the art festivals.