Top Things to Do in Lagos

A vendor sells roasted meats at the Afrika Shrine Sunday jump night show, a legendary Lagos party
A vendor sells roasted meats at the Afrika Shrine Sunday jump night show, a legendary Lagos party | © Majority World CIC / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Sara Darling
13 May 2021

In Lagos – Nigeria’s largest, most action-packed city – life is lived outside. Whether meeting for a coffee in one of the city’s chic cafes or chowing down on traditional street food in a bustling market, the charm of this sprawling metropolis lies in soaking up the uniquely vibrant ambience. With that in mind, here is our list of the top things to do in Lagos.

La Campagne Tropicana Beach Resort

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If you’re on the hunt for authentic African hospitality, La Campagne Tropicana Beach Resort will tick all your boxes, with traditional chalets spread across acres of dreamy, palm-fringed, white-sand beaches. So vast is this resort, there’s even a lagoon and mangrove forest on-site. Beyond the hoot and toot of the city, this slice of paradise asks only that you fall into its lulling, tranquil rhythms.

Bogobiri House

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Bogobiri House
Courtesy of Bogobiri House / Expedia

A boutique hotel it may be, but Bogobiri House is really so much more than that. Opened two decades ago, the 16-room bolthole has emerged as the go-to hub for art lovers while also forging a reputation as a culinary hotspot. Throughout the establishment, chic bare floors, geometric four-posters and neon-bright African prints make for a chilled-out vibe. Prepare to settle in for a broad spectrum of entertainment, ranging from the weekly spoken word showcase to open mic live music, along with more established performers every weekend.

The COVA Lounge

Cocktail Bar, Restaurant, Nightclub, Cocktails
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Formerly known as Kudeta Lounge, this joint is filled to the rafters with Lagos’s Insta-glam crowd every night of the week. Situated up on the rooftop of the Mega Plaza Shopping complex, right in the heart of Victoria Island, this place is all billowing white curtains, high ceilings and a spacious terrace. Hence the sophisticated international feel, with music an eclectic mix. DJs play a selection of party tunes and Sundays are saved for live bands. Start your evening at the downstairs restaurant and head for the stars when you’re ready for a boogie.

Jet Ski Club

Sports Center
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The mission: to create a neighbourhood Members Club in Lagos. The result: Jet Ski riders club, unveiled in 2014. The concept was seen through with great success, and so you’ll find a place where friends gather for water sports; a place to hang with incredible views of the waterfront. The ambience in the bar and on the terrace is stylish yet unpretentious, with food and drinks paraded around from dawn til dusk. There’s a swim-up pool bar, an Italian pizzeria, and DJs playing for you on the weekend. If you’re not a member you’ll need to find one to escort you.

Football and lager at The Heineken House

Pub, Bar, Pub Grub
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In Nigeria, as in any football-loving nation, you can’t beat the atmosphere of watching a top team play a crucial match – and where you choose to catch the game can make or break your watching experience. The Heineken House, in the affluent Ikoyi area, is the undisputed hotspot for football fans. Friendly and big on food, drinks and banter as the game develops, the large TVs and ample seating give you a clear view of the action as you clink lagers with friends.

Dinner at The Yellow Chilli

Restaurant, African, $$$
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Nigerian pounded yam sliced served with banga Soup
© Prime Stock Photo / Alamy Stock Photo

The Yellow Chilli, in the business area of Victoria Island, is up there among the five best restaurants in Lagos, presenting a zippily authentic menu based on traditional recipes. The people behind it scoured the continent to create a diverse list. As befits its upscale charisma, local delicacies are done with flair. Try the seafood-and-diced-okra dish with pounded yam from the Nigerian Menu, or the distinctly non-African spicy goat curry.

Freedom Park

Park, Memorial
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Le Freedom Park à Lagos Island
© Frédéric Soltan / Getty Images

What was a grim place of incarceration in colonial times is now a spirit-lifting multipurpose arts and culture complex in downtown Lagos. While parts of the actual prison form a museum detailing the history of the British penal system in the colonies, elsewhere you’ll find a year-round hub of activities for the community. This means dining, exhibitions, concerts and live gigs. Some of the annual events to look out for at Freedom Park include the Eko Theatre Carnival, Black History Month commemorations, the Lagos Reggae Festival, and the Adire H8.

New Afrika Shrine/Felabration Heritage Festival

Bar, Nightclub, African, $$$
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Afrobeat musician Femi Kuti performs at the annual musical celebration in honour of Nigeria's music icon Fela Kuti at the New Afrika Shrine in Lagos, Nigeria, early October 17, 2016. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye
© REUTERS / Alamy Stock Photo

Once an iconic nightclub, New Afrika Shrine is a vital place of pilgrimage for any music lover. Founded in the 1970s by global Afrobeat icon Fela Kuti, it has been nurtured by his family and is now a sacred spot for anyone in Lagos who loves music, dancing, drinking and smoking. Tourists flock there throughout the day for great food and a taste of the ambience, but it really comes to life after dark. Aim to be in town when the annual Felabration festival takes place, in a throb of ganga and reggae.

Owambe party

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Nigerians need no excuse to stage an Owambe party, and if you check with the people around you you’ll find there is one pretty much every weekend – be it for a birthday, house-warming, naming, reunion, wedding or funeral. A typical owambe party is a blur of beautifully dressed Nigerians in matching attire and headgear, mountains of food and drink, live bands, loud music (mostly indigenous) and more fun activities. If you see one going on and have your best gear on, say hello and you’ll be welcomed to join in the festivities.

Eyo Festival

Historical Landmark
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Eyo Masquerades dancing at Tafawa Balewa Square, Lagos Island, Nigeria.

You can’t un-see an Eyo festival – otherwise known as the Adamu Orisha Play – a Yoruba festival unique to Lagos and usually taking place on a Saturday. Historically, an Eyo festival represents the community escorting a dead king to the afterlife and crowning a new one. These days, it’s a tourist attraction that sees thousands of white-robed figures in colourful hats and flowing ribbons snaking through town. They are believed to represent the spirits of the ancestors ascending to heaven and, since Lagos still has ceremonial monarchs (Obas), the festival is also an opportunity to pay respects.

This is an updated version of an article originally by Cynthia Okoroafor.

These recommendations were updated on May 13, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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