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Things to Do in Accra

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Makola Market
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43 Tours and Activities

Stationed in the heart of Accra, this bustling market’s kinetic vibe has an energy that’s uniquely its own. Whether it’s discarded car parts, fresh produce, pots, medicine, plants or giant land snails, Makola Market sells practically everything under the sun.

The market also holds some historical significance. Established in 1924, Makola was the first wholesale and retail spot in Accra, making it a staple of both community and commerce. In 1979, it was destroyed by the government in hopes of improving local economy, but was quickly brought back to life by citizens eager to trade. Today, Makola is one of the most popular markets in Accra and travelers claim it’s possible to get just about anything, from anywhere, in its hundreds of hot, crowded stalls.

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W. E. B. Du Bois Memorial Centre for Pan-African Culture
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36 Tours and Activities

The W. E. B. Du Bois Memorial Centre for Pan-African Culture is the former home and final resting place of American-born socialist, author, and civil rights activist, William Edward Burghardt Du Bois, who became a citizen of Ghana in his later years. Du Bois campaigned for African-American rights and was often referred to as the ‘Father of Pan-Africanism’.

The center, on the outskirts of Accra, was where Du Bois and his wife lived for the last few years of his life, and is where they are now both buried. Along with the couple’s mausoleum, the site features his personal library, as well as a museum with a number of Du Bois’ personal belongings on display. Surrounding the mausoleum is a restaurant, an amphitheater and a research institute dedicated to Pan-African history.

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Independence Square
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37 Tours and Activities

Known by locals as Black Star Square, Independence Square is located in bustling Accra and serves as a tribute to the nation’s inspiring past. Commissioned by Ghana’s first president in 1961 to pay homage to Queen Elizabeth II, Independence Square is the second largest city square in the world. Its well-manicured grounds, towering fountain, Black Star Gate and Independence Arch prove an impressive destination and popular backdrop for photos in the nation’s capital city.

Travelers who arrive near the March 6 Independence Day Parade can catch all the wonder from one of the square’s 30,000 seats. Visitors arriving other times of year still have a chance to see public gatherings and national festivals that take place at this hub of city life.

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Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum and Memorial Park
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The Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum in Accra holds the remains of Osagyefo (the Messiah) Dr Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana’s first president and one of its founding fathers. A national park was built in his memory on the site where Nkrumah declared independence in 1957.

Along with the mausoleum where Ghana’s first president and his wife were laid to rest, there are also a number of fountains and statues around the site dedicated to Nkrumah, as well as a museum tracing his life. This features photographs of him with various world leaders, plus a number of his personal artefacts, including his desk, bookcase, and jacket.

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Jamestown
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Travelers in search of Accra’s colonial past will likely find themselves in the streets of Jamestown, a densely-populated fishing village located to the west of Kwame Nkrumah Avenue. The towering lighthouse, built by the British in 1871, is a popular destination among visitors who flock to this part of town seeking a touchstone to history. But visitors say this once thriving neighborhood is now worn down—gripped by poverty, yet still vibrantly alive.

Travelers can climb to the top of the iconic lighthouse, then wander the parameter of Fort James, a former prison built by the British in the 17th Century. These nods to the past prove popular destinations, but visitors say it’s the energy of the town and the sense of community that make this once colonial enclave truly worth a visit.

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Ussher Fort Museum
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Some museums draw travelers with displays of indigenous artwork and historical artifacts but the Ussher Fort Museum, located in a former European stronghold, attracts tourists on a quest to learn more about the dark history of West African slave trade. Paintings depict images of the once accepted industry and relics owned by captors and slaves line the halls, haunting visitors.

Since 2007, the Ministry of Tourism and the European Union have worked hard to educate travelers and locals alike on the atrocities rooted in the nation’s history. Exhibits include heartbreaking artifacts like shackles, as well as model slave ships and an homage to abolitionists who fought to end the inhumane practice of slavery.

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National Museum of Ghana
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Opened on the eve of Independence Day back in 1957, the National Museum of Ghana has become a staple for travelers and locals looking to learn more about the rich history, colorful culture and unique traditions of a country and people in the midst of constant change.

Three major galleries highlight artifacts from ancient and contemporary Africa. Historic sculptures are displayed alongside the works of modern West African artists. Travelers can wander the halls decorated with traditional attire and handcrafted instruments, impressive and ornate chiefs’ regalia, and bronze statues from neighboring countries. A unique sculpture garden displays life-size 3-D images of Kawme Nkrumah, the nation’s first president, and other political figures. The library, conservation laboratory and education hall are also popular stops on a tour of the National Museum of Ghana.

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Salaga Market

Though slightly smaller in size than the iconic Makola Market, Salaga Market somehow harnesses the same energy and intensity of Accra’s largest center for commerce, but in much tighter quarters. Travelers say they can find anything under the sun—from herbal remedies used by local medicine men to handcrafted instruments, brightly colored jewelry, pots, pans and even building supplies.

Wander the stalls of this bustling marketplace and sample some of the steaming hot dishes prepared by the expert hands of local cooks. Then cool off with tall glasses of “palm wine”—a local concoction of creamy condensed milk toffee and pungent herbs that’s a favorite with the women here.

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Ga Mashie (Old Accra)

Better known by locals as Old Accra, the Ga Mashie district of the city is home base for Ghana’s Ga people, the original settlers of the capital. This relatively small geographic area is rich with national culture, history and heritage, including Ussher Town and James Town. These densely populated fishing villages may be economically deprived, but their iconic structures from the colonial era and kinetic energy make Ga Mashie a destination for travelers.

The district lies between the Densu River and the Chemmu lagoon, just north of the Atlantic Ocean. Visitors can explore the bustling fishing villages, where men are taught to weave nets and hallow canoes by hand. Or visit with the artisans, carpenters, masons and tailors who while away the day using ancient methods and long-perfected techniques. An afternoon in Ga Mashie puts travelers in touch with Ghana’s age-old traditions, right next to its thriving new economy.

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Old Fadama (Agbogbloshie)

Spanning about four acres (1.6 hectares) of wetlands just beyond Accra city limits, the slum of Old Fadama—also known as Agbogbloshie—is home to some 40,000 Ghanaians living in extreme poverty. While living conditions are challenging in one of West Africa’s largest slums, members of this innovative community use discarded machinery, appliances, and old computers to forge a living through creativity, ingenuity, and a positive outlook toward improving their neighborhood.

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More Things to Do in Accra

Brazil House Museum

Brazil House Museum

After being enslaved in the western world, a group of about 70 Tabom people returned from Brazil to their home country of Ghana in the late 1800s. Upon arrival they built this empire-era house as an homage to their rich heritage, difficult past and unique traditions. Today, travelers can visit this site where returning families reestablished themselves as members of the community, and learned local languages and traditions, despite speaking only Portuguese.

The home, with its fertile plots of mangoes and cassava, also serves as a museum, with halls that display artifacts and images from the past, as well as outline the impact of the Tabom people on modern-day Ghana. These once oppressed people returned to Ghana with skills and stories, and introduced the art of irrigation, architecture, blacksmithing and tailoring to the residents of Accra.

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James Fort

James Fort

Built by the British in 1673, the now decaying Fort James serves as a reminder of former colonial rule. The trading post operated as a prison until 2008, when local investigators discovered the structure, which was built to house just 50 people, was actually holding more than 1,000—sometimes 90 inmates to a single room.

Today the defunct penitentiary attracts visitors looking to learn about the nation’s past and explore the haunting life of those who were convicted, but due to human rights concerns, Fort James no longer serves as a functional Accra prison.

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