Visiting Lagos, you’re bound to fall in love with the city’s vibrant nightlife, welcoming locals, and bustling streets. With a population of over 21 million, this Nigerian city hardly goes to sleep.
Lagos might be the smallest city in Nigeria by land mass but it’s the most populous. And that’s not the only unique thing about this city.
Eko, as Nigerians call it, was the country’s capital until 1991. It spans across two islands and the mainland connected by the longest bridge in West Africa. The island section of the city is home to notable monuments such as the National Theater, Tafewa Balewa square, the National Museum, and Freedom Park. There’s lots to see, eat, and experience when you visit Lagos, here are the top five fun things to do to make the most of your visit.
Lagos, Nigeria: 5 Fun Things to Do
1. Take a Walk in Freedom Park
Out of all the 300 parks in the city, Freedom Park should be at the top of your list to see. The park is now a memorial arts and leisure center but holds a dark past — it was previously late Queen Elizabeth’s Broad Street Prison during the colonial era. However, what was once a place of confinement has been turned into a monument of freedom and peace with band stages, a food court, a museum, and many more spaces which host events and concerts. If you’re at the park and see a gathering, get in there and make new friends. It’s kind of a thing to crash parties in Lagos, so no worries, you’ll be welcome. The beauty and serenity of this park also make it a great spot for photoshoots.
While the park is now a happy place, its history is still visible through art — sculptures flank the walkways and depict scenes of oppression and slavery which are part of the city’s history. Freedom Park is a place where hate and darkness were turned into a place of peace and love, while still acknowledging its past.
2. Explore Nature – Lekki Conservation Center
If you love nature then you’ll want to visit this conservation center. Established in the ‘90s, Lekki conservation center has been one of the city’s most popular tourist destinations. Covering about 193 acres of land, the conservation center is a wide stretch of thick vegetation with a huge variety of animal species such as crocodiles, mona monkeys, bushbuck, monitor lizards, peacocks, civet cats, snakes, giant rats, and tortoises. It was designed to serve as the animals’ natural habitat so they aren’t caged. The animals provide food and shelter for themselves by hunting in the forest and visitors are advised against feeding them.
One of the biggest side attractions of this place is the canopy walkway which happens to be the longest in Africa. It’s about 401 meters long and 22.5 meters above sea level so it’s a no-no for acrophobic travelers. The entire walkway is suspended by ropes which means you’ll need both hands free to maintain balance and you can’t hold your phone, camera, or a heavy backpack while you’re up there. The walkway is divided into sections so you can catch your breath at intervals and that’s the perfect time to take photos because the view at the end of each section is heavenly.
There’s also a tree house which is about 21 meters high. You can have a nice view of the vegetation, the children’s playground, and the picnic area from here.
The best time to visit the conservation center is from October to March when the park is dry and less muddy. Be sure to put on light clothing, preferably long sleeves. That way, you’ll keep yourself comfortable and still protect yourself from mosquitoes.
After your exciting adventure, you can relax in the picnic spots, gazebos, and family huts. There are also games and of course, spots where you can enjoy some of our delicious street foods like suya, boli, and roast chicken. Suya is a traditional barbecue dish made with skewered beef, chicken, or ram. Boli is roast plantain and can be eaten with a sauce, palm oil, or peanuts.
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3. Hit The Beach – La Campagne Tropicana and Landmark Beach
Lagos has over 30 beaches since the city itself is an island, and one of the top beaches is La Campagne Tropicana. It’s a luxury beach located in Eleko which is also home to Africa’s longest swimming pool — the pool is about 120 meters long with six bars alongside it to get a drink.
Arriving at the beach, you’ll be greeted by a sign on a wooden gate that reads ekaabo meaning “welcome“ in Yoruba. Then you’d get a free ride from the gate to the beach area.
The gate fee is about 6,000 NGN (about $15) per adult, 4,000 NGN ($10) for teenagers, and 2,000 NGN ($5) for children, and gives you free access to a table, a hut, horse riding, and a few other activities. One of the most recent facilities is a floating bed on water. referred to as Simi Rimi meaning “rest on water”. The bed offers comfort and views but is covered to protect you from the sun. To ensure safety there’s a lifeguard nearby on a boat.
Some other fun activities on this beach are shopping for native attire (ankara), exploring mangrove forests, fishing in the lagoon, and going on a boat ride.
Landmark Beach is also a great option. Aside from the fact that it houses the country’s first inflatable water park, it’s ideal for a fun time with your family. At Landmark beach, you can enjoy sporting activities such as volleyball, basketball, jet skiing, mini golf, and swimming. Swimming, however, is only allowed in the shallow part of the sea under the supervision of lifeguards.
4. Awaken the Artist in you – Nike Art Gallery
Your trip is incomplete without a visit to an art gallery. Nigerian art is daring and creative, with each artwork telling a story of our past and culture, so you can say that a trip to an art gallery is also somewhat of a trip back in time.
One of the best galleries to visit in Lagos is Nike Art Gallery. Founded by Nike Davies Okundaye in 2009, it started as a quest to transform the dilapidated craft scene in Lagos. Today it prides itself as one of West Africa’s largest holders of traditional African art with over 20,000 artworks. You’ll find all kinds of Nigerian artwork from sculptures to paintings, weaving, metalwork, embroidery, carvings, beadwork, and indigo-dyed fabrics (adire and batik). You can also purchase art here for a good price.
There’s a story behind every artwork and some of them are linked to some history of Yoruba towns. The gallery gives visitors the opportunity to book visits to them, so if you find yourself intrigued by a historic artwork, feel free to book a ride to its roots and feed your curiosity.
5. Attend an Owambe
There’s a common saying in Lagos that: Saturdays are for Owambes.
The word ‘owambe’ means ‘it is there’. Owambes are lively weekend parties that could be a celebration of birthdays, weddings, naming ceremonies, wedding anniversaries, memorials, graduation parties, and even funeral parties. They are unique to the Yoruba tribe as they are one tribe that loves to party. And trust me, these people go all out to ensure their owambe is the talk of the town.
There’s usually plenty of food, drinks, and loud music. Souvenirs are also a huge part of owambes. Consider it a “thanks for coming” gift or an item you can use to remember the party.
The best part about these parties is that you don’t need an invite to attend most of them. If you’re a visitor looking to enjoy the Nigerian culture, taste our local delicacies and make new friends, find your way to the closest owambe. Your tour guide can always help you find one!
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Featured image by Nupo Deyon Daniel on Unsplash