A weekend travel guide to Accra, Ghana, including where to stay, where to eat, and what to do.
Once labeled “Africa’s Capital Of Cool” by the New York Times, Accra has quickly become a top destination for travelers in West Africa. In 2019, the Ghanaian government launched “The Year Of Return,” an initiative encouraging Black members of the diaspora to return to and invest in the continent. It boosted Accra’s popularity ranking significantly, even receiving a stamp of approval from international superstars such as Naomi Campbell and Idris Elba.
While some metropolitan cities may heighten one’s desire for the calm countryside, Accra has a uniquely balanced energy that makes it ideal for varying tastes. If, for whatever reason, you have but a weekend to spend in this endearing city, here are a few mandatory items to add to your to-do list.
Where to Stay in Accra, Ghana
This charming boutique hotel could not be more evocative of its founder’s Ghanaian and Italian roots. With terracotta roofs, earthy walls tones, wax print bed linings, and rooms that overlook a verdant courtyard filled with palm trees, it seamlessly blends an Italian atmosphere with Ghanaian sensibilities. Known for its excellent customer service and an almost palpable cozy energy, this is the ideal place to stay if you are seeking out a classic hotel experience with all the perks.
Make like a local and book this incredible Airbnb in the residential part of Tesano, a quintessentially Ghanaian suburb that tourists often overlook. Designed by the owner, this airy home with modern decor and striking maximalist African details is perfect for the design-conscious traveler.
Fairly new on the Airbnb market, BlueGreenPaprika doubles as an Airbnb and artist residency. Designed with the minimalist in mind, this space is decorated with a palette of natural materials and earthy colors, embodying comfort, simplicity, and sustainability. At the same time, its bold pink and blue exterior will make you feel like you’re on a Luis Barragan property. The space also boasts a private swimming pool—an utter luxury in a notoriously humid climate.
Where to Eat Accra, Ghana
This light-filled, mid-century style charm was named Restaurant of the Year in 2016 by Ghana’s tourism board. Bistro 22 welcomes guests with a lush yet laid-back atmosphere; here, business lunches dominated by formal suits coexist happily alongside informal family gatherings featuring casual polo shirts (and the occasional screaming child). Comfy and elegant but far from fussy, this restaurant serves simple but delicious sandwiches and salads, as well as more elaborate seafood and pasta dishes.
A literal hole in the wall—one you might quite literally miss if you show up 30 minutes too early—Lytanan Chez Christine, often referred to as “the Ivorian spot behind Shoprite,” is an outdoor stand serving glorious Ivorian food. As its alias suggests, it’s located right behind the Shoprite building in Osu, a fact you won’t find on Google. Like any street joint worth a damn, their menu is limited to only what they do best—in this case, attieke (a side dish of cassava), alloco (fried plantain), well-spiced grilled chicken and fish, and avocado salads. The stand opens at 6:30 p.m. every day and is cash only, so be sure to show up prepared.
Pull up a seat in this laid-back outdoor restaurant in East Legon, Accra. As the name implies, this is a mandatory stop for travelers interested in diving into home-cooked Ghanaian food—unless you happen to have an invitation to a local’s house for dinner, of course. Even in that case, I would consider a quick lunch here. The set up borrows its easy-going style from the typical Ghanaian food joint, known as a “chop bar,” which is meant to bring homemade meals to dining out. Don’t leave without trying the fufu (starch dough often dipped in stew) and groundnut soup!
Where to Drink in Accra, Ghana
This incredible cocktail bar’s exterior architecture is modeled after the United Kingdom’s government headquarters on 10 Downing Street. Inside, however, it’s far from a sleepy government office; instead, podiums and formal decor are replaced by lounge seating and a decked-out bar. Whether you’re into classic drinks or prefer to be surprised by the mixologist, you’ll be in good company. Some even might go as far as to say this is the best cocktail bar in all of Accra.
It would be a shame to visit Accra without experiencing a live band. In the 50s and 60s, live music thrived in Ghana due to the increasing popularity of highlife music. While relatively little energy from those golden years still exists, +233 creates an environment that is quite reminiscent of those times. With a band on stage almost every night, the music varies from jazz and highlife to funk, R&B, and soul. This bar generally draws an older crowd—but they are a very lively crowd, to say the least. Pop in on Wednesdays when the Lipstick band performs live, and make sure to keep the bar’s chicken kebabs and a bottle of club beer on deck. Oh, don’t forget your dancing shoes!
Arguably the most snazzy bar in Accra, Front/Back explicitly celebrates art, design, and music from the African continent. Created in collaboration with over 40 creatives, it gives off an aura closer to “design magazine feature” than “run-of-the-mill Instagrammable space.” While the outdoor decor changes from time to time, the interior bar prides itself on being uniquely African, so you’ll never forget where you are. One thing to note: Front/Back members only, so do keep an eye on their Instagram account for nights when it’s open to the general public.
Located on top of the tallest buildings in Accra and known for playing a hearty dose of electronic music, Skybar is one to see. Admittedly, Accra is no New York City when it comes to skylines—so it’s no surprise that this is one of the only rooftop bars you’ll find in the city. It’s known to host celebrity guests like Yvonne Orji and Boris Kodjoe when they are in town, and one look will tell you why. Head over before 5:30 p.m. to watch the sunset over the city (and its endless traffic jams).
What to Do in Accra, Ghana
There is really nothing else like this neighborhood. Also known as the birthplace of Accra, this fishing town emerged in the 17th century. Currently, it’s one of the poorest and most densely populated neighborhoods in Accra—and while this might imply a lack of safety in some Western cities, that is far from the case here. Jamestown is super vibrant, maintains a strong communal feel, hosts art festivals, and is home to Ghana’s boxing culture, having nurtured many champions. Head to the lighthouse and find yourself a guide. They’ll show you everything from historic sights to food, culture, and architecture.
Cocooned inside the lavish Kempinski Hotel, Gallery 1957 has been a vital addition to the city since its launch in 2016. Named after the year of Ghana’s independence, this gallery focused on contemporary African artists hosts about 12 exhibitions each year and has played a major role in changing the conversation surrounding art and its importance in Ghana. Check their website before your trip for information on opening hours.
Where to Shop in Accra, Ghana
Founded by designer and curator Stefania Lokko in 2015, Elle Lokko was the first of its kind to open in Accra. This hip women’s concept store carries pieces from numerous forward-thinking brands from Ghana and other parts of Africa. Whether you’re looking for a stunning dress that will turn heads, a pair of comfortable yet unique everyday shoes, beauty products, accessories, or souvenirs, you’re likely to find it here. As it has continued to collaborate with artists and creative entrepreneurs, Elle Lokko has undoubtedly made its mark as one of Accra’s gems.
Established in 1924, this expansive outdoor market has everything you need, from food and fashion to electronics and homeware goods. Brimming with traders and buyers alike, it may be a tad hectic for first-timers, but it truly is like nothing you’ve ever experienced before. The colors, smells, and sounds of this vibrant market are so representative of the spirit of Accra.
If you’re seeking a more elevated shopping experience and are happy to splurge a little, you must head to The Lotte in Airport City. This modern concept store debuted just a year ago as a part of the Year Of Return festivities. It boasts incredible fashion, art, beauty, and homeware pieces by African artists and designers, including Studio Badge, Loza Maléombho, Christie Brown, Osei Duro, The Kokrobitey Institute, and more. The Lotte also offers a marketplace serving African fusion food and drinks, so that not only will your visit pique your cultural interests—it will refresh your taste buds, too.