Why Accra? After all, the Ghanaian capital is constantly snarled with traffic, humidity, and the constant clamor of everything from roosters to the blaring stereos of tro tros, the private minibuses that throng the streets.
Yet the city has an undeniable hold on its 2.3 million inhabitants. Ghana became the first sub-Saharan African colony to gain independence in 1957, and ever since has seen swathes of young African entrepreneurs and creators flocking to the capital to find their fortune.
Their efforts can be seen around the city, from mixed-discipline gallery La Maison to folk art at Wild Gecko or Kane Kwei Carpentry. At night, the city has a reputation for its buzzing dance scene. Head to Carbon Nightclub for a reputable London transplant, or Republic in Osu for locally-grown ingredients.
As well as a thriving creative hub the city has a plethora of historical sites, often with tragic backstories. As the last port of call during the slave trade, the myriad castles and forts dotted along the coastline were the last views many had of their homeland before being put on ships to cross the Atlantic.
The sites now serve as respectful reminders of this dark period, with other architecture, such as the mid-century Independence Square, also speaking to the city’s complex history. “Accra stay by plan” is a popular expression that encapsulates the capital’s constant movement – that the city will keep going with or without you, so you’d better get on board.
One of the finest establishments in the city, Santoku is Japanese dining in a truly contemporary setting. Hubert de Givenchy attended to the interiors, whilst chefs from the iconic Nobu in London were flown in to assist with the menu’s creation, which includes pan-fried scallops and slow-cooked beef.
Looking for a Sunday brunch? Head to Independence Avenue and the Mövenpick, which every Sunday hosts brunch at its in-house Sankofa Restaurant. There’s live cooking, a swinging house band and unusual options such as beetroot salmon with chocolate or green tea seabass.
Head to this contemporary spot in the Labone district for a reassuring mix of continental favourites – the restaurant is known for its gourmet burgers and classics such as lobster pasta – as well as local delicacies, like shrimps in ginger butter. Al fresco dining is via a charming outdoor terrace.
A football game
Michael Essien, Sulley Muntari, Abedi Pele. Some of the best footballers in the world have come from Ghana, and connoisseurs of the game must take in a local match, preferably between rivals Kumasi Asante Kotoko and Accra Hearts of Oak, to take in the atmosphere generated by some truly dedicated fans.
Accra’s Artists Alliance Gallery
A seminal figure on the West African art scene, Ablade Glover paints vivid canvases awash with the colour of Accra. He has since created a space that celebrates artists of the region, the resulting space a treasure trove of antique Asafo flags, kente cloth and fantastical sculpture.
Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park
One of the most iconic sites of Accra, head to five acres of landscaped gardens for some peace in the midst of the chaos. Dedicated to Ghana’s first president Kwame Nkrumah, a mausoleum holds his remains and is accompanied by a museum dedicated to the life of Ghana’s founding father.
Accra Marriott Hotel
For ease of access to the airport look no further than the Marriott, which opened this year in the urban development, Airport City. Not that you’d know it from the green surroundings, pool and three dining venues – all designed so that the business traveller might feel as if they are on vacation.
Kempinski Hotel Gold Coast City
Close to the city’s National Theatre, as well as an international conference centre and the beach, Kempinski has 269 luxury rooms that it claims are the largest of any hotel in Accra. With an infinity pool and some traditional stylings, this offering will appeal to most travellers.
Tang Palace Hotel
Similarly situated as the Marriott, this Chinese-inspired hotel offers ease of access to the airport, which is just 3km away, as well as details to ensure a truly memorable stay – everything from bouquets of freshly-cut orchids, to the lavish chandeliers and the attentive staff.