Accra travel guide – What to do in Accra

Shopping

The Arts Centre/Centre for National Culture

This is less of a market and more of a bustling mini metropolis. Here you will find an array of stalls selling everything from wooden adinkra symbol carvings to an assortment of Kente-inspired clothing. As well as this you can find items ranging from serving bowls to fans and purses. One thing to be aware of when coming here is that you need to haggle – if you can it’s best to find a guide who knows the market well to take you around so that you can avoid paying astronomical prices. Expect to be approached and encouraged by every stall holder to look at their wares; some will sit and call you over whilst others will walk up to you with their t-shirts in tow. This is the best (and probably the cheapest) place to find souvenirs to take home for friends and family so make sure you make time to visit. Also be sure to bring cash as many vendors will not have card machines.

Global Mamas, Osu

If you are looking to do some socially conscious shopping, then look no further than Global Mamas. This shop is an NGO and sells everything from organic Fairtrade cotton batik clothing and household accessories to handmade earrings and Christmas decorations. A proportion of the sales of the store’s items are used to fund education programmes for the women (and their children) responsible for making all the goods on sale. This is another fantastic place to grab some souvenirs or do some shopping for yourself.

All Pure Nature, Osu

This store is a natural skincare lover’s dream. All the soaps and lotions in stock are made from natural ingredients and feature lots of ingredients which are unique to or are grown in Ghana. The shop is adorned with everything from moringa and baobab soap to pots of shea butter which have been lightly fragranced. I bought a couple of the soaps myself and I can honestly say I regret not buying more. They lather up wonderfully and leave your skin feeling beautifully soft. As well as a standalone store in Osu there is a slightly smaller All Pure Nature store inside Marina Mall.

The Shop Accra, Osu

This is probably the shop that stood out the most to me during my shopping spree in Accra. It is filled to the brim with artwork, clothing and accessories for those who want to buy trendy items which transition well from season to season. A lot of the items for sale are also handmade by craftsmen and women in Ghana. Some of the accessories I spotted would not look out of place in an Oliver Bonas or & Other Stories; these pieces instantly caught my eye! The shop also has an assortment of skincare, body care, homeware items, stationery and even a small café. It is truly a treasure trove of fantastic fashion that is both modern and traditionally Ghanaian at the same time.

Arts, History & Culture

The Kempinski Hotel and Gallery 1957

On the ground floor of the Kempinski Hotel in Accra is a fantastic free art gallery filled with works from internationally renowned Ghanaian artists. After wandering through the ever-changing exhibition head up to one of the many bars in the hotel, preferably the one by the pool that has a great view of the rest of Accra, for a cocktail and some freshly made plantain chips.

The name of the gallery is a reference to the year that Ghana became a country which was governed by its people and not by the British, its colonial oppressors since the nineteenth century.

Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum

This is a must-visit tourist destination in Ghana. Here you will find items that used to belong to Ghana’s first president and prime minister and the man who led the first African country to independence from its colonial oppressors in 1957. The museum within the mausoleum contains an abundance of information about his life as well as several photos of him with notable public figures from the past and present such as JFK, Queen Elizabeth II and Chairman Mao.

Aburi Gardens

It is said that Aburi Gardens was founded by a student of Kew Gardens in Richmond. Whilst these botanical gardens are not as large or as grand as Kew, they do hold an assortment of plant life. As is the case with a few of Ghana’s main tourist sites, these gardens were not particularly well maintained. Indeed, there were a few pieces of litter in and around all the beautiful trees and flowers. Greater maintenance is needed for sure, but it is still worth a visit.

Aburi also has a very cool and breezy microclimate and so if you need any respite from the hot and humid Accra weather a short trip to Aburi will help you cool off. Also – as we travelled up to the hills of Aburi our guide for the day showed us Bob Marley’s former home in Ghana.

Artists Alliance Gallery

If you are looking for artwork to decorate a house or authentic Kente cloth, look no further than the Artists Alliance Gallery. You will be able to find plenty of beautiful paintings and ornate large wood carvings for sale here. This large gallery even has a room dedicated to Kente where you can find out what each of the patters mean and choose your own hand woven authentic Ghanaian Kente cloth. I wasn’t allowed to take any pictures but rest assured this gallery is well worth a trip.

Jamestown

This historic part of Accra plays host to the Chale Wote Festival every year. Whilst trying to find my way to the Jamestown Café and other modern hipster places in Jamestown that I’d read about online, my sister, uncle and I were stopped near the lighthouse by a man who offered to give us a tour of the area. This is always something to be mindful about. Whilst people are very hospitable, looking like a tourist will always make people try and extract money out of you in some way shape or form. This is just as true in Ghana as it is in Brazil, South East Asia and quite frankly many tourist destinations around the world. I thought he might be able to take us to the modern part of Jamestown but he just took us on a short walk along the beach by the fishing boats and James Fort Prison.

We paid him 20 cedis for his time and we felt safe but the experience wasn’t anything to write home about. It was, however, interesting to see James Fort Prison. This was where Kwame Nkrumah was imprisoned shortly before becoming the first president and prime minister of Ghana.

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