A stone’s throw from the Gulf of Guinea and the Atlantic Ocean, Ghana is home to some 24 million people. Its capital city of Accra, with steaming hot streets, thriving urban centers, eclectic markets and deep historical roots is the perfect place to begin exploring West African culture and traditions. Whether it’s delving into the slave trade, sampling savory local dishes or wandering the halls of national museums, there’s enough in this single city to fill three days with truly extraordinary travel.
Day One: Colonial Wonders
Start the day wandering the streets of historic Jamestown. The densely populated fishing village is home to a towering lighthouse built by the British in 1871. Climb to the top of this iconic landmark for epic views of the scenic coast. Explore old Fort James, a haunting former prison, before heading to the Bukom district to catch a local boxing match. Afterwards, head to Independence Square--known by locals at Black Star Square to snap some photos at one of the city’s most noteworthy landmarks. Well-manicured grounds, a towering fountain and an impressive arch are the hallmarks of this 30,000-seat venue built to honor a visit from the Queen in 1961.
Day Two: Historical Past
Spend the day discovering the nation’s complex history. Get a general overview of local culture and traditions while wandering the halls of the National Museum of Ghana. Its three main galleries highlight ancient art as well as contemporary work, helping travelers to understand Ghana’s growth and progress throughout the ages.
Next, head to the uniquely Accra Brazil House Museum of History. This empire-era house is an homage to the rich heritage of about 70 Tabom people who returned to Ghana after being enslaved in Brazil. Learn how they introduced the art of irrigation, architecture, blacksmithing and tailoring to their original nation as you explore the grounds.
Day Three: Markets and Old Fadama
Grab a creamy glass of traditional “palm wine”—a condensed milk and herbal concoction that’s loved by locals—to sip while combing through the stalls of some of Accra’s most popular open-air markets. Hit up the massive Makol, where hundreds of vendors hock a wide array of wares, from old car parts to handcrafted instruments and local art. Then head to the smaller Timber Market, where rickety stalls are packed with West African oddities like dried frogs and medicinal herbs used by traditional healers. Collect souvenirs for friends back home before heading out on a tour of Old Fadama (also called Agbogbloshie). This massive slum is home to some 40,000 struggling Ghanaians who live off of repurposed and reclaimed electronics often discarded here. Expert guides introduce travelers to innovative locals who are eager to share their stories—and their community—with visitors passing through.