How to spend a day in Accra, Ghana's arty capital

Ghana’s beachside capital has become one of the most exciting places in Africa for artists and grassroot creative enterprises, with studios and galleries filling the gaps between raucous clubs and bustling markets.

By Ellen Himelfarb
Published 19 Mar 2023, 06:00 GMT
Street art on Brazil Road in Jamestown.

Street art on Brazil Road in Jamestown.

Photograph by Slawek Kozdras

10AM: Tour Jamestown Harbour

During the coolest part of the day, start with a morning visit to Jamestown harbour, birthplace of the slave trade, and watch fishing boats unload mountains of sardines. Designer and historian Allotey Bruce-Konuah (+233 243 703 387) leads private tours of Jamestown’s faded pastel streets. You’ll see the 17th-century dungeons where colonists kept prisoners before they were shipped off to slavery, plus the neighbourhood’s famous boxing clubs, painted with murals of historic champions.

12PM: Artisan Shopping

Walk the coastal road to the Centre for National Culture, a grid of artisan ateliers selling Kente-cloth dresses, beaded jewellery, sculptures and woven baskets for a few pounds apiece. At the far end, drum-makers lay out goatskins, leaving them to dry before stretching them over wood bases. Groups of schoolboys gather on the beach beyond to play football in the sand. 

1.30PM: Browse Osu

Explore the central Osu neighbourhood, full of lively bars and cool boutiques. Drop into Asabea’s Kitchen, down a nondescript alley, which a brightly painted patio and serves delicious goat and tilapia stews with banku (a corn-based dough) and fufu (a cassava-based dough), mashed cassava and plantain. Then, flip through racks of fashion by fledgling designers at Elle Lokko, in a stucco house on Lokko Road. If you can’t find anything there, swing by The Shop and order fresh mango juice while you size up batik shirts, embroidered cushions and baubles. 

3PM: Artists' Studios

Tour the artists’ studios around Labadi. Noldor Artist Residency, housed in a former pharmaceutical factory, has exhibition spaces across two floors and artists working in residence. Head over La Road to Artists Alliance Gallery, a seaside villa owned 
by artist Ablade Glover, who exhibits his work on the upper floors. Browse the work of more traditional artists here, and shop for authentic Kente fabrics, carved masks and jewellery.

An all-female student band playing soul classics at +233 Jazz Bar & Grill.

Photograph by Slawek Kozdras

5PM: Beach Bars

Get to the beach before the sun disappears. The Ghanaian Village Restaurant has an uninterrupted sea view, a stocked bar and a menu of gorgeous curries and stews. Or party with the flamboyant clientele at Sandbox Beach Club, designed in earthy tiles, concrete and indigenous wood by lauded architect David Adjaye. Next door is the infinitely calmer Ozzie’s Beach Palace. When it’s time to leave, call an Uber or walk up to La Road to hail a taxi. Few rides cost more than £2, but even Ubers will ask for cash payments.

6.30PM: Appetisers and people-watching

Grab a seat outside The Republic Bar & Grill in Osu for some grade-A people-watching. Order a fried yam appetiser, wash it down with a frozen cocktail or passion fruit caipirinha and enjoy the always-excellent playlist. The vibe is electric. 

8PM: Buka

Many restaurants stop serving after 9pm, so book into Buka at a civilised hour. Festooned with ferns and dripping with wisteria, it offers an extra bump of tropical atmosphere. You’ll want to order the groundnut soup (a beloved tomato and peanut stew served with or without slow-cooked guinea fowl) or the grilled fish with fried sweet potatoes. Prices here are above average for Accra, but you can still get dinner for a fiver. 

10PM: Hit the clubs

Head out on the town. The indoor-outdoor club +233 Jazz Bar & Grill (named for Accra’s area code) has live jazz, funk and soul most nights. The member’s club Front/Back is heaving with the arty glitterati most weekends. Follow the Instagram account to find out about open-door nights or ask your hotel concierge to put you on the guest list. If that fails, hail a taxi for Skybar 25.

Published in the April 2023 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)

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