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Whether you arrive via Murtala Muhammed International Airport or the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, it would be hard to miss the famed three statues welcoming you to the Nigerian capital. After acclimatising to the searing heat, your next 48 hours can be filled with points of interest and stories to tell friends and family for years to come. Here’s our definitive guide to getting the most out of all the cultural charm that Lagos has to offer over the following two days.
Best sought through friends or family based in Nigeria, or through a trusted referral, a tour guide will furnish you with all the needs you never anticipate and can’t get through conventional means. They’ll be waiting for you when you land with a car or an Uber, complete with air-conditioning and a port to charge your phone so you can Snapchat and Instagram to your heart’s content the moment you arrive.
A cute café tucked away in the famous Fola Osibo Street in Lekki, HSE is easy to miss (located behind Arabella’s Place) but worth seeking out. The café has a minimalist feel and is adorned with contemporary works of cool art, and offers a small but delicious menu of sandwiches, salads and soups, which you can wash down with a beer or some excellent port to set you up for the day. Afterwards, take a walk along Fola Osibo, or get into your car and enjoy Beat FM’s line-up of Afrobeat bangers as you navigate the hustle-bustle and traffic to the next spot.
Arguably the largest gallery in West Africa, Nike Art is a treasure trove of the art world. Featuring an astounding collection of contemporary African art across all forms, the four floors will take hours to explore. If you feel tired, take some time off in the adjoining shop for drinks, and don’t forget to buy some postcards or trinkets before you leave, such as waist beads or deliciously stately necklaces to help you become your own African queen.
Head to Eko Hotels & Suites’ open-air bar, where drinks are half-price during happy hour. Located in the same complex is Crossroads, a Tex-Mex hybrid restaurant with large circular tables and friendly waiting staff. Why not sample the excellent cuisine with a few marvellous margaritas, or simply stay at the bar drinking and lounging – just don’t overindulge and fall into the pool!
Take a walk or run across the Lekki-Ikoyi Link Bridge, a well-known tourist attraction that is a magnificent sight. Then take the weight off your feet and let your Uber transport you to your next location.
A former colonial institution and trading site refurbished into a park and concept space, Freedom Park is now a cultural site that houses its own arts and recreation centre. Here you can find vendors selling palm wine (a locally fermented alcoholic drink), as well as Veggie Victory, the first vegetarian restaurant in Nigeria, whose vegan suya (a vegan alternative to ‘suya’, which is a type of barbecued meat) is a knockout. Wash it down with Orijin, a popular alcoholic drink similar to beer. Depending on your tolerance, go for either the bitter, cider or non-alcoholic version.
Wind down the day and wait out the traffic in Ikoyi at The Jazz Hole, a charming store with a collection of records and books, and an in-house café with tasty sandwiches and freshly squeezed juices. The owners are a charming couple who will regale you with stories of Lagos’ past, before allowing you to browse through the comprehensive selection of music that will steal hours from your day.
The place most frequented by Lagos millennials, 355 Restaurant & Lounge combines Mexican dining, beer cocktails from their own specially made draft and its signature Wahalarita margaritas, with a lively yet cool vibe to ensure a stellar night out. Wednesdays are its busiest nights if you fancy some midweek madness.
However, if you’re in the mood for something more low-key, head to Lotus, which is cosier and presents a selection of alternative live music on weeknights to go with the food and cocktails.