Lagos is Nigeria’s biggest city and its former capital. Lagos lies inward from the Gulf of Guinea crosswise over Lagos Lagoon. Victoria Island, the monetary focal point of the city, is known for its shoreline resorts, boutiques and nightlife. Toward the north, Lagos Island is a haven for the National Museum Lagos, showing social curios and craftworks. Adjacent is Freedom Park, once a pioneer time jail and now a noteworthy setting for shows and open occasions. Lagos is generally accepted to be divided in two parts namely: The Island and the mainland.
This is where most of the wholesale markets, businesses and entertainment centers are located in Lagos. It’s also known as the more exclusive part of Lagos and the popular areas here are Ikoyi and Victoria Island.
This is where the majority of Lagos residents live and also where the majority of the industries in the city are located.
One of the official languages in Nigeria is English. However, while this may sound reassuring, only upper and middle-class people in the cities actually speak it outside of formal environment, though most citizens have a good understanding of English. The national lingua franca is Nigerian pidgin, an English-based creole language spoken by 75 million people as a second language and by 3-5 million people as a native language, mostly in the Niger Delta. Nigerian pidgin is highly intelligible to an English-speaker to a certain degree, but it will take time to get accustomed to it. However, Nigerian pidgin will not hinder day to day communications. The easiest way to overcome any initial language block is to ask questions. They will not hesitate to ask you to clarify what you mean, or admit that they do not understand an outsider's particular manner of phrasing or accent. Do not assume that a Nigerian's inability to answer you indicates ignorance.
Currency and credit cards
Nigeria's currency is the Naira (NGN). Generally, foreign credit cards are not accepted in many of the stores or even hotels in Lagos. If you hold a Visa, MasterCard or Maestro Credit/Debit card you can withdraw cash in Naira from various ATMs in most Nigerian cities. Visa machines can be found at Standard Chartered Bank. MasterCard/Maestro machines are found in Ecobank and some Zenith Bank branches however, most ATM machines accept both Visa and MasterCars/Maestro and are usually located within the premises of most big Nigerian commercial banks including their branches and outlets. Be aware that these machines only allow you to withdraw 20,000 Naira at a time, which is a relatively small amount in Nigeria.
Moving around Lagos has become much easier in recent times with street signs on every single street corner making it easier to locate places and landmarks. With the city spending huge budgets on security, there has been a huge reduction in crime generally. For the most part, it's safe to move about during the day. If you are going out at night, be sure to go in groups, and stick to known routes.
If you are not on a tight budget, you should hire a car and driver, usually available from most of the major hotels and the airport. You will be expected to haggle on the price. Talk to the drivers and find one you think will be able to communicate best with as they will be able to tell you things about the places you pass. Lagos now has decent mass transit buses courtesy of the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT)schemes. The BRT lines run on physically segregated lanes and thus make them run faster while private cars are stuck in traffic. The BRT is one of the three-pronged attacks the state has unleashed against the urban traffic congestion in Lagos. Buses can be an inexpensive and convenient option. Bus fares are relatively affordable and there are numerous routes being plied from the Mainland to the Islands. The tickets for the BRT and the Lagbus can be purchased at the bus stops before boarding. However, the ticket vendors are seldom available in the evening even though the buses ply till late at night. It makes good sense to purchase a ticket booklet or a couple of tickets in bulk beforehand since these don't contain a time stamp. The BRT buses are faster, cleaner and more convenient. They carry hundreds of thousands of passengers on a weekly basis.
There are also smaller yellow buses that ply all routes from the mainland to the island and within mainland. For a newbie, the yellow bus system can be quite confusing and it makes good sense to approach a local for help. The local Nigerians will be more than happy to help an Oyinbo (white person). The fare is fixed and increases per distance.
- By car: The road network of Lagos for the most part is good, but sometimes traffic congestion and limited parking space especially during working hours is rife. Be sure to be on the lookout for road signs, in order to avoid entering one-way roads or streets. There exist car parks around in hotels, shopping malls, and some of them provide free and safe parking.
- By taxi: One of the easiest ways to get around is by taxi. Taxis cost more than buses, typically. With the older taxi cabs, it is expected to negotiate the price before you enter and pay on arrival. The cabs are relatively safe. The state has embarked on gradual replacement of rickety buses and taxi cabs with modern ones, fitted with good facilities to enhance comfort. Through public-private partnerships, new cabs are being introduced regularly by licensed cab operators. With fare as low as N400, depending on the distance, the new air-conditioned taxi cabs are already creating a new image for Lagos. Taxis can be found almost everywhere, and all the new cabs have numbers on them that you can call for a pick up.
- Uber: Uber is also another proficient way of moving around in Lagos.
Cars for Renting
- Renting a car: is another alternative if you are going to be staying for a few days or longer. There are numerous car rental offices in the city, and therefore it is very easy to rent a car from your hotel or resort accommodation to drive around with for the duration of your stay.
- By ferry: Lagos State Ferry Services Corporation runs a few regular routes, for example between Lagos Island and the mainland, modern ferries and wharves. Private boats run irregular passenger services on the lagoon and on some creeks. Many more routes are expected to get on-board in due time.
- Motorbikes: For travelling short distances, you can use motorbike taxis called Okada. These motorbikes are quick, cheap and save a lot of walking but they are also very dangerous. Okada accidents are very common but safety equipment are now provided because the state government and in fact the Federal Road Safety Commission has mandated it. If you want to take the risk, you can safely halve their first price, and usually there are lots to choose from. Before you try and negotiate, confirm the fare from a local. If you have a Nigerian friend, let them negotiate for you as the quoted fare differs greatly for locals and foreigners (for obvious reasons). Choose an older driver as the younger ones are cowboys. Safety Helmets are a must at all times for both the rider and passenger. Majority of times these are ill-fitting and sometimes even absent. By law, Okadas are forbidden to ply after dark(7PM) for safety reasons. Avoid taking an Okada for long distances, while it's raining and in the night since majority of mainland is devoid of street lights.
Don’t walk. In Lagos, sidewalks aren’t popular. Neither is urban planning of any kind. Factories encroach on residential areas, houses are built over drainages outlets, covering and blocking them. Lanes are so poorly marked that cars and pedestrians share them. To ride a bike is to flirt with mortal danger. Stick with four wheels (or more.)
Lagos has traditionally not been viewed as a place for tourists, though there are sights and experiences to be had if you make an effort.
Nigerian National Museum
- The Nigerian National Museum: is a national gallery of Nigeria, situated in the city of Lagos. It is situated at Onikan, Lagos Island. The gallery has a remarkable accumulation of Nigerian craftsmanship, including bits of statuary and carvings and archaeological and ethnographic shows. Of note is an earthenware human head known as the Jemaa Head (c. 900 to 200 BC), some portion of the Nok culture. The piece is named after Jema’a, the town where it was revealed. The historical centre was established in 1957 by the English paleologist Kenneth Murray.
- Badagry Town: The Ancient Slave Port of Badagry-also known as the 'Point of No Return'. This ancient town of Badagry was founded around 1425 A.D. Before its existence, people lived along the Coast of Gberefu and this area later gave birth to the town of Badagry. It is the second largest commercial town in Lagos State, located an hour from Lagos and half hour from the Republic du Benin.
- Lagos Bar Beach. This Beach is named after the sand bars that characterize the coastline of Lagos, not because of the myriad of bars that run along the beach itself. Very popular among beach goers, it is the main inner-city beach, as the other beaches provide more of a “get away” from the city. Some of which include; Lekki Beach, Alpha Beach, Eleko Beach and Akodo Beach (to the East) and Tarkwa Bay, Ogogoro Island, Atlas Cove, Lighthouse beach, Ilashe Beach, Agaja Beach and Badagry beach (to the West) amongst others.
- Tarkwa Bay. Tarkwa is a man-made bay and beach created during the formation of the Lagos harbor. It's a sheltered beach within the harbor breakwater. It is easily accessible by boat from Tarzan Jetty at Maroko (Charge per person is low and affordable) or under Falomo bridge on Victoria Island. Accessible by boat only. Boat can be hired opposite American/Indian Embassy. The beach is good for a one-day picnic because of the absence of hotels and restaurants on it. You can buy good paintings and handicrafts from the local vendors on the beach. The last boats leave Tarkwa bay at 5PM. The beach is a pleasant outing and has safe bathing even for children. It has its own resident community, most of whom make their living from the tourists who visit the beach. There's also the possibility to surf in a corner of Tarkwa Bay and other water sports such as Jet Skiing and Water Skiing are fairly common.
Lighthouse Beach Kovalam
- Lighthouse Beach: Right beside Tarkwa Bay is the Lighthouse Beach, named after the 110-year-old lighthouse that guards the entrance to Lagos harbor. The Lighthouse can just be seen from the beach, and is well worth a visit as well. The walk along the beach between Tarkwa Bay and Lighthouse Beach is very pleasant– and at times one can be the only person on the beach.
- Lekki Conservation Centre: There is the Lekki Conservation Centre by the Lekki Conservation Foundation, is down on the Lekki/Epe expressway near Chevron. It is really good for relaxation, it's a dense park with a few animals and birds, there are walkways and benches to rest on.
- Nike Art Gallery: Run by Artist and Designer Nike Davies Okundaye. A great place for art lovers and buyers. While there, you can browse the art gallery featuring the whole panoply of Nigerian arts, or see some of the documentaries that have been made about Nigerian culture. Students at the Nike Art Centers engage in a variety of arts. At the center, traditional arts are practiced, such as indigo dying and sculpting, and also non-traditional arts such as painting and quilting, as well as other cultural activities such as drumming and dancing. The center also organizes tours and accommodation for tourists.
- National Theatre of Arts & Culture: Located on the mainland at Iganmu, it is about a half hour drive from Lagos Island. Built in 1977 as the principal forum for the International Festival of Black Arts and Culture, it has now become accepted as the prime center for performing arts in the country. The main auditorium has the capacity to seat around 3,000 persons and the conference hall can accommodate around 700 people. The building also houses two cinema halls, a restaurant and a bar.
- New Afrika Shrine: First-time visitors to Lagos must make a pilgrimage to the New Afrika Shrine, a monument to the city’s best-known musical ambassador: Afrobeat pioneer, activist, and all-around legend Fela Kuti. In the 70s and 80s, Kuti taunted Nigeria’s military government with his hugely popular music. Stung by some pointed criticism, in 1977 the army general sent 1,000 soldiers to raze Kuti’s compound and self-declared republic, which housed his family, band members, recording studio, and a nightclub.
- Clubs: if you are looking for where to party, lagos has some of the best clubs in Nigeria.
What to eat and drink
La Veranda Restaurant
You can eat anything in Lagos, I mean all types of food is in Lagos, they eat all Nigerian food depending on the individual (I mean Nigeria food of your choice). These are the kind of foods they eat in Lagos state Nigeria.
Ewedu Soup and Eba: This is a basic Yoruba swallow, what you are seeing is a combination of ewedu soup eba (with stew as topping) it is one of the most popular food in Lagos state. Ewedu is loved and enjoyed by Yoruba people.
Ofada Sauce and Sauce: Ofada rice and sauce is that it is made with natural ingredients (Ofada rice is rich in fibre), and the aroma is to die for. Lots of people get addicted to this rice and sauce.
Ewa Agoyin: This is a popular food combination in Lagos state Nigeria, it is a combination of agege bread and very soft beans. We call it Ewa agoyin. There is a sauce for it, you see that dark looking sauce on the beans, it’s to die for! If you have ever been in lagos then you must have seen it at every corner of the street. There is always a big pot of beans outside, then tray with soft breads of different sizes.
What’s not to love about Lagos, Nigeria? Great culture, great tourist opportunities, and best of all, great food. We know that in foreign countries it’s hard enough to get around without having to worry about where to eat, so we’re going to take you through the best places to eat in this beautiful city.
- La Veranda Restaurant: La Veranda is known for its Italian food, so if you are unsure what to order, any pasta or pizza will certainly not disappoint you.
- Fusion Restaurant: As the name suggests, the restaurant provides a blend of both Lebanese and Japanese food. The blend of Middle Eastern food coupled with the sushi of Japan is really a mouth-watering experience that is not one to be missed.
- Bangkok Restaurant: Put your hands up if you don’t like Thai food, no one? Excellent, then make sure you don’t miss Bangkok Restaurant. Perhaps at the pricier end of the spectrum, Bangkok Restaurant compensates for this by offering huge portions that can often by shared.
- Coral Blue Seafood Restaurant: Admittedly, you shouldn’t visit this one place if you’re averse to a bit of seafood. Coral Blue Seafood is a place for those who love our food from the sea. With regular specials and chef suggestions making your mind up for you. Make sure you ask for the sauces, and you really won’t be left disappointed.
- Pearl Garden: This predominately-Chinese restaurant offers a cordial, local, atmosphere. If you’re looking for a more cosy environment, Pearl Garden also offers private rooms (of course, there is a premium for this).
Hot and humid! You’re going to the right place if you’re looking for sunshine because all through the year, Lagos is generally warm. But it never snows and it is often warm enough for kids to play in the rain. The high humidity also makes it feel much hotter than it actually is and many people have air-conditioners in their cars, houses and offices to avoid the sticky sweatiness that comes with the weather. In Harmattan (the cooler, drier season that runs from late November till February or early March), the temperature drops slightly (especially in the evenings) and the trade winds bring along dryness and dust with them. Always have a hat, sunscreen and sunglasses to protect yourself as much as possible.
Safety Tips in Lagos
When you arrive at the airport/bus park/railway terminal and want to arrange for transportation to whichever destination you choose, avoid touts when you want to hire a taxi/bus
- Pay attention: keep your wallets in front or side pockets for men and if you’re a woman, carry your handbags in front of you
- If you’re going out, leave the original of your passport (if you’re an international visitor) in the hotel/house safe and go out with a copy
- When talking to people outside (taxi drivers and the like), be careful not to give out too much information about yourself
- Be confident and avoid looking unsure or confused on Lagos streets – Lagos is truly the city of the “sharp” and any sign of weakness is usually ruthlessly exploited.
- Do not carry anything beyond maybe a can of mace in the name of self-defense. Such behavior is frowned upon by the Nigerian police and you’ll have a tough task explaining what certain things are needed for if found on you.
- Bring only items you can easily manage when going out in the city.