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Accra is the capital city of Ghana with a population approaching three million.
English is the official language of Ghana, but not necessarily the first language for many people. The local language in Accra is Ga, but Twi (pronounced 'chwee'), Ewe (pronounced ayvay), Hausa, and English are also widely spoken. Accra has rich modern buildings and dusty shanty towns.
Founded in the 17th century by the Ga people, Accra became the capital of the British Gold Coast in 1877. Following Ghana's independence in 1957, Accra became the capital of the newly independent state.
Kotoka International Airport (ACC) is a major hub, with international connections from North America, Europe, Africa and the Middle East, along with internal connections to Kumasi, Tamale and Takoradi, and regional connections to virtually every West African country.
From the United States, Delta Air Lines operates daily flights directly from New York-JFK. From there, it is possible to connect to all major North, South, and Latin American cities, and the Caribbean.
Arik Air is a very cheap way to reach Accra from various locations in Africa. Air Namibia also connects Accra directly with Johannesburg and Namibia. Emirates also operates in the country and Turkish Airlines flys on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
British Airways operate a daily service to London Heathrow. KLM also operates a daily service to Amsterdam, and from there can connect to almost all European destinations. TAP Portugal has a direct service to Lisbon, Lufthansa runs a daily service to and from Frankfurt, and Alitalia has regular services to Milan; however, inbound services to Accra stop in Lagos first.
From the airport
There is an official taxi stand. Make sure you find it, if you want a regulated fare. Otherwise, expect to be taken for a very expensive ride. On the upside, though, the expensive/illegal car touts usually put you in a nicer car with a professional driver, and you get to skip any potential taxi confusion—you decide!
SUV or car with driver
The Travel Guide Agent Ghana is a new Tour company that rent out cars, minivan in Accra and Tamale and a few cars at the Accra and Tamale airport which can bring you direct to Mole National Park and also anywhere across Ghana.
Accra's best attractions are scattered across a relatively wide area, so if you can afford the modest prices the best thing to do is hire a car and driver to take you around. Travel companies offer drivers who double as well-informed guides, which helps as interpretive exhibits and brochures (if you can find them) leave much to be desired.
Though the city is fairly spread out, Accra is relatively safe to walk around during the day (and night, in many areas). Watch out for open sewers when walking the streets.
To flag a taxi wave your arm with your finger pointed down to the ground. On a busy street you will have many taxis driving past trying to offer you their service by honking at you. There are very few Ghanaian cabs with meters. Never get into a taxi without first asking the fare - you must negotiate how much you are willing to pay before you start the trip.
What to see
National Museum. Highly worthwhile, the National Museum offers visitors a look at Ghanaian history and culture from prehistory to the present. Cultural exhibits include clothing, thrones, carvings, paintings, pottery, and a variety of instruments and tools used in various rituals. Each of these is accompanied by descriptions of their significance and meaning, so you can learn a lot if you take the time read them! Historical exhibits feature some of the most influential and important parts of Ghana's history, particularly the slave trade. There is also a fascinating exhibit of the history of the Ghanaian currency.
Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park. The park was created to honor Kwame Nkrumah, who led Ghana to its independence from Great Britain and became the nation's first president. Voted as Africa's "Man of the Millenium", he is a highly important figure of the 20th century. In the park you can see a monument dedicated to him, as well as his mausoleum, where he is buried and a small museum dedicated to him. Various trees in the park have been planted by visiting dignitaries.
Independence Square. Also known as Black Star Square for the large black star located atop Independence Arch. The square celebrates Ghanaian independence from the British in 1957 and features an eternal flame first lit by Nkrumah himself in 1961.
W.E.B. DuBois Memorial Centre,. W.E.B. DuBois was a famous American author and Civil Rights activist who moved to Ghana near the end of his life feeling his efforts to create equality were all in vain and that America would never accept black people. Although the Centre itself is a research library, historical sites and monuments are scattered about amidst the learning centres. The most interesting of them being House Number 22, which is where W.E.B. DuBois resided when he moved to Ghana, and his grave.
Kane Kwei Carpentry Workshop, Teshie First Junction (along the road, by a TOTAL gas station). This is the workshop of Seth Kane Kwei who invented the famous design coffins in the 1950's which are carved into shapes that represent something important and relevant to the deceased person, such as a fish, airplanes, etc. You will likely meet Eric Adjetey Anang, grandson of Kane Kwei, who has owned it since 2005 and hear stories about these fantastic coffins. They are used for funerals in the region and are part of many public or private collections of contemporary art around the world.
The National Archives of Ghana.
The Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences
Artists Alliance Gallery, La Beach Rd (1 km west of La Beach Hotel). Artist-run gallery over 3 floors with sculptures, fabrics and paintings. Covers everything from cheap wooden artefacts for a few dollars to expensive paintings by top artists in Ghana. Big plus is being able to look, browse in a relaxed gallery without being hassled to buy.
Ghana's Central Library
Osu Castle. Built by the Danes in the 17th century, it has changed hands under many rulers before the Danes were finally able to stake claim to the area and the castle. Before it was claimed by Denmark, it was used for trading precious metals, but once the Danes took power, it became a place to store slaves prior to shipping them. Later it became the headquarters of the Danish Gold Coast. Since that time, it has been used as a government building and when Ghana gained independence in 1957, it became the Presidential House. It remains the seat of government today, although there is controversy because of its ties to the slave trade. Visitors are able to go to the castle however, armed guards stand outside and they typically don't allow photos to be taken. Rules about pictures change sporadically, but it's best (safest) not to try.
Labadi Beach - One of the most popular beaches in Accra for tourists. Located between two of Accra's most expensive hotels-- La Palm and La Badi Beach--this short stretch of the Atlantic Coast features several makeshift cafe-restaurants, lots of souvenir vendors, and if you are lucky (i.e. on good weather weekends) an amazing cast of characters who will entertain you with drumming, dancing, pony rides, and acrobatic performances. Some people actually go for a swim, but there's plenty to do on-shore. Don't miss it. (Warning: this is a prime-time venue, one highly "not recommended" after dark.) The beach is 'officially' accessible only from an entrance at La By-pass (Labadi Road) for a fee of GHC5.
Jamestown - Jamestown is the oldest part of Accra and remains an active fishing centre. It is similar in many ways to Zanzibar's Stone Town, though it has not yet been restored, so it is not typically highlighted on tourist itineraries. Despite this, for many visitors, it is one of the most memorable sights in the city and located the oldest hotel in Accra (Sea View Hotel) now reduced to a drinking bar. Jamestown is a short distance west from Independence Square; from the busy street the only real sights are the lighthouse, a prison building housed inside an old colonial fort(James Fort), and the old Customs House.
University of Ghana - Ghana's largest university is in Legon and is accessible by Tro-Tros to Madina. It's a very charming and quiet place with old trees, a botanical garden (although you should be aware there have been reports of muggings and violent crime taking place in the gardens) and many small buildings surrounded by green grass. The Cafeterias are open to anybody and serve typical Ghanaian dishes.
Nima Tours, Mamobi Gutter (Nima Roundabout). All day. Nima is one of the most impoverished areas in Accra, Ghana. Even though Nima routinely suffers from inadequate provisions of basic facilities, housing, water pipes, electricity, and drainage systems, the community continues to grow. Large number of migrant workers from rural Ghana & neighbouring countries find their way into Nima and make it their home.