Whether you’re visiting family and friends or heading to Nigeria on business, there’s no better way to get under the skin of a new city than by following the advice of a local, especially if you’re a first-timer. Luckily for us, we can always turn to our team members in Lagos for the lowdown on the latest city happenings, and today we’re delighted to introduce [job title] Abibayo Obagun who shares some great ways to experience life in this hectic, fascinating megalopolis.
Abibayo and friends on Lagos beach
I am an indigene of Lagos; from Olowogbowo to be precise, which makes me a typical Omo Eko, or Child of Lagos. To me, Lagos is a fun place to be and I love it despite the hustle and bustle, the heavy traffic and pollution. The people are warm, friendly, hardworking and always positive, summed up by the “it is well” approach. Everyone is in a hurry to get somewhere, but it’s easy to get around – either by bus, car, taxi, Uber or ferry, or by motorbike taxis popularly known as okada and auto rickshaws known as marwa.
One of the best things about Lagos is the fast-growing food scene, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to keep up with all the rapid changes and openings. You can indulge in sumptuous yet fairly priced meals on both the mainland and island, but the moment you think you’ve tried them all, another new restaurant or bar springs up and demands to be added to the list. There’s great nightlife too, with numerous bars and TGIF nights at which to hang out with friends after a hard week’s work. With the city’s non-stop lifestyle, 24 hours is often not enough time to pack in everything you might want to experience as a resident, visitor or business person. Lagos is a big, mad, fun city – different to anywhere else on earth – so if you’re a first-timer, here are my tips for getting the most out of your stay.
A beginner’s guide to Lagos
- Visit the beach: The Lagos beaches may not be the cleanest in the world but stretches of sand like Elegushi or Eleko offer their own brand of fun, with constantly blaring music, a variety of grilled meals and the ever present horse riders. If you want a more serene environment, then head to private beaches like Ilashe and Inegbe beach resorts, which are just boat rides away.
- Public Transportation: Ride a danfo bus, motorbike okada or an auto rickshaw marwa. Or to get a real feel for Lagos, ride the BRT bus.
- Attend a wedding: As they say, there ‘ain’t no party like a Lagos party’. Our special occasions are second to none. Weddings are big with participants sparing no cost to ensure the day is perfect. They are colourful affairs, with a blend of culture and entertainment. Just make sure you dance; you just might get sprayed with money.
- Experience the traffic: Lagos traffic is one of a kind – you can spend hours in it without seeing what’s actually causing the delays. It has become a norm to we Lagosians. You can catch some fun while you’re stuck in it too, between blaring horns and street hawkers who sell everything from mobile phones, accessories and fruits to condiments for a pot of soup.
- Hit the clubs: Try Freedom Park and New Afrika Shrine for live afrobeat music, or head to Quilox nightclub to dance the night away. Alternatively, visit the floating Sailor’s Lounge for a waterfront view, good food and live entertainment.
- Eat local food: Go into any local restaurant (bukas as we call them) and order some of our local delicacies. Try pounded yam and Egusi soup (a popular soup made with ground melon seeds); spicay Amala and Ewedu, Isi ewu (goat head) pepper soup, roasted plantain and grilled fish, Akara (beanballs). Use your hands… so much nicer!
- Explore the local art scene: Visit the Nike Art Gallery, run by one of Nigeria’s best known artists Nike Okundaye; Terra Kulture, which houses a gallery, theatre, library, bookstore, event space and food court, or the 1893-founded Didi Museum, which was the first private museum to coordinate and exhibit Nigeria’s collective heritage.
- Visit a local market: For a real market experience head to Balogun Market on Lagos Island where you can haggle and interact with all kinds of people, or Lekki Market by the 4th roundabout, for souvenirs, local jewellery, antiques, crafts and art.
- Sites and landmarks: Highlights include Tinubu Square, with its seating areas and central fountain; Iga Idugaran, palace and official residence of the Oba of Lagos; Badagry, a historic coastal town and one of West Africa’s first slave ports, and Lekki Conservation Centre; a 78-hectare urban nature park home to wildlife, protected habitat and a 2 km boardwalk.
Virgin Atlantic operates direct flights from London Heathrow to Lagos. Visit the Foreign and Commonwealth Office for the latest Nigeria travel advice, entry requirements, and safety and security information.
The Nike art gallery