Lagos is a city buzzing with art, music and adventure. Situated around a lagoon of islands and the mainland, the city is divided into geographic districts, each with unique talking points. The Mainland is the local heart of the city and includes lively Ikeja, while of the islands, elite Victoria stands out. A city of business during the day, Lagos is transformed into a metropolis wreathed in silhouetted palm trees, glittering parties and spectacular sunsets at night. This is a city that works hard and parties hard. With this guide to Lagos’ top tourist attractions, you won’t miss out on all the fun places!
Top Tourist Attractions in Lagos
Hit the ground running with these five key attractions that introduce visitors to Lagos’ past, present and future, with a focus on the cultural scene that the city is becoming famous for.
This Aladdin’s cave was established back in the 1980s and still enthralls visitors with its one-of-a-kind items in Lagos. There are Nigerian antiques, rare books and rarer vinyls. It’s even been rated the 55th best record store in the world! Inside isa cafe serving 40 types of tea, while the shop often hosts jazz evenings and thought-provoking exhibitions. Don’t miss out on this gem of a Lagos attraction!
Another treasure trove in Lagos, the National Museum houses beautiful exhibitions of Nigerian art, some predating Christianity. It was founded in 1957 and has built up impressive ethnographic, art and archaeological collections. Replicas can be found on sale in-house at the craft shop. It’s also free to visit and has various temporary exhibitions.
Benin City Bronzes
Despite being known as “Bronzes”, these artifacts are actually made of brass. The Edo people of the Benin Empire perfected this art which was originally established in the Copper Age. Today, the Benin City Bronzes are the best extant examples of the art.
The Nok civilisation in Nigeria lasted about 2000 years with the first traces appearing as early as 1500 BC. It’s not known what function these pieces had in Nok culture, although some consider them to be grave-markers, rooftop decorations, portraits of ancestors or charms to keep disaster at bay. They typically have lots of detail on them, especially on the figures’ hair, and are marvellous to look at.
The Jemaa Head
One of the most famous products of the Nok people, this terracotta artifact is a depiction of a human head that was found in Jemaa. It dates back to between 900 BC and 200 BC.
Murtala’s Mohammed’s Car
General Murtala Mohammed was Nigeria’s Head of State before being assassinated in 1976. The car on display is the one in which he was killed and contains evidence of his brutal death, notably the numerous bullet holes.
Calabashes are plants that Nigerians have long used to create useful artefacts. Gorgeous examples of these are on display at the National Museum in Lagos.
The elegance of Lagos’ National Theatre is a landmark in itself. The design is reminiscent of a stadium complex with its sheer size, oval shape and the undulating curves of the roof. The main hall alone can seat 5000 people! There are also various other concert halls, conference rooms, theatres and cinemas in the building, as well as regular exhibitions, large-scale festivals and a bar. The extensive grounds are also well-suited to picnicking. This is one of the most enjoyable and beautiful places in Lagos. Try Egotickets.com for show tickets.
A great hip and happening hub in Lagos, Terra Kulture is a top tourist attraction. Famous faces like Ben Stiller and Roberto Cavalli have been attracted to this cultural centre and for good reason. Nigerian languages and crafts are taught to locals and foreigners alike, while the reading and documentation centre stocks a wide variety of national literature and often hosts literary events (which have been attended by the likes of celebrated writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie).
Terra Kulture is one of the few places in Lagos to attend an art auction. To top this off, there is also a theatre and an art gallery with interactive workshops and a food court to fuel your creativity.
Nike Art gallery
This spot has nothing to do with the sportswear brand but everything with local artist Nike Davies Okundaye. This remarkable woman is known the world over for her paintings and has gifted her homeland with a unique tourist destination.
The Nike Art Centre can be found in five locations in Nigeria, including one in Lagos. Here, traditional Nigerian arts and crafts are on display over four levels. Best of all, the centres are the workshops of skilled artisans who happily share their knowledge with visitors. Some of the crafts include indigo dying, batik wall hangings, drumming, brass sculpture, stone carving and rice paper painting. This really is a must-see in Lagos.
Fun places in Lagos
Victoria Island is where the money is both being made and spent in Lagos. This affluent area is home to luxury houses and sophisticated corporate offices. It’s worth taking a peek and imagining which house you would prefer if you were part of this elite class.
Afterwards, see how the rich have fun at Tarkwa Bay Beach. Artificially sheltered, this is a picturesque cove. It’s only accessible by boat and is ideal for watersports.
Oniru Beach is a package-deal breakaway. The Atlantic Ocean is ideal for cooling down, the shoreline boasts romantic vistas and the horse rides along the beach provide just the right amount of action for a day at the Lagos seaside. Pack your beach bag; you’ll want to stay all day.
Lekki’s technically its own city but most consider it an extension of Lagos. There are certain advantages to this view, foremost amongst which is that the area boasts the Lekki Leisure Lake and Lekki Conservation Centre.
Lekki Leisure Lake
Lagos is all about the activity, even out in nature. Experience one of the funnest places in Lagos at Lekki Leisure Lake. This resort has a host of heart-pumping activities that make the most of this gorgeous natural attraction. Try a pedal boat, a wave boat, a banana float, jet skiing, beach volleyball, ziplining and more.
Lekki Conservation Centre
Lekki Conservation Centre is surprisingly lush and diverse for a park located in the heart of urban expansion. Unbelievable trails and bird watching are the centre’s top draw cards but that’s by no means all. The treetop canopy measures 401 metres and is reputed to be Africa’s longest. The swamp lookout, treehouse and bird hide ensure you spot the crocodiles, tortoises, lizards, birds and hogs that the park is home to. When you’re ready for a break, head over to the specially-designed Family Park for a picnic.
Lekki Conservation Centre’s gate fee is just N1000 (about 3$).
The Lekki Market is also a hit with tourists. The crafts on sale come from all over the country and West Africa. It’s even possible to buy fabric and have your clothes made on the spot! How’s that for Africa’s fastest city?
Fun places in Lagos Mainland
The Mainland is where most Lagosians live. It may be less glamorous than the Island but there are still plenty of fun places to enjoy in the area.
The neon lights on the exterior say it all: GENESIS, EUPHORIA, SHOP INVERSE… this is a fun place to dip your toes into Lagos’ flashy side. The LED digital screen on the Maryland Mall building is the largest of its kind south of the Sahara and a major landmark on the Mainland.
The Genesis Cinema here is one of the most popular cinemas in Lagos and word has got round to visitors, too. With Nollywood’s legendary productivity, you will have no trouble finding a Nigerian film showing at Genesis. Don’t miss out!
Yellow Chilli Bar and Restaurant
The restaurant prides itself on its unique ability to blend both traditional and contemporary tastes. There’s the classic “Jollof Rice Fiesta” (peppered shrimps, chicken and prawns), “Yam Pottage Special” (snails and beef in yam and palm oil, two traditional Nigerian ingredients) and “Seafood Okoro” ( a hearty soup of fish, shrimps, prawns and okro, a kind of local marrow). Yummy!
The Pool Terrace Bar
For a glitzy evening overlooking the Atlantic, go no further than the Pool Terrace Bar at the Sheraton Hotel Lagos. Apart from the delicious cocktails, there’s alfresco dining and live music. Go on a Friday when everyone’s ready to kick off some steam during WAZOBIA Night. It will be an evening to enjoy, no doubt.
Fun Places in Lagos: Ikeja
Ikeja is such a hub on the Mainland that it fully deserves its own itinerary. Put your walking shoes on!
New Afrika Shrine
Fela Kuti was a talented musician and activist who is considered to be the father of Afropop. While Fela died over twenty years ago, his children have inherited his talents and keep his spirit alive at the New Afrika Shrine. The Shrine is located in a large shed, filled with tables and chairs facing the stage where Afropop stars continue in Fela’s footsteps.
To celebrate Fela Kuti’s legacy, every year a festival is held in his honour. The Felabration brings together musicians and artists for a spectacular weeklong party.
Kalakuta Republic Museum
Proving just how popular Fela Kuti is with Nigerians, another fun place to visit in Lagos centres around the legendary musician, too: the Kalakuta Republic Museum. The building was Kuti’s house where he pioneered not just his music but his human rights activism. The house is preserved in its original state with even the artist’s underwear on display!
University of Suya
Suya, a variation on a meat kebab, is a Nigerian culinary speciality. It’s so popular that there’s an unofficial university where ambitious chefs come to learn how to make it. The University of Suya is considered to be Lagos’ premium suya producer and there is always a buzzing atmosphere, making it an enjoyable place in Lagos to visit.
ICM, as locals call this epic shopping centre, has every item you could ever need. Pizza at Domino’s, clothing at Mango, snacks at Shoprite…it really is all here. And then there is the ICM Cinema. Cinemas in Lagos are an experience and at the Ikeja City Mall, Silverbird Cinema has all the latest movies on hand.
Fun things to do in Lagos
A night out
Experiencing a great city’s greatest clubs is a to-do in any city; in Lagos you’ll be looking for the best Afropop spots. There are two sounds in Lagos; hooting on the streets and Afropop in the clubs. Ignore the first and chase the second.
Club Rumours is an establishment in Lagos: glitzy with hot red couchettes, dramatic with showstopper staircases and always filled with celebrities. The club hosts amazing local and international DJs, as well as serving delicious snacks and drinks.
A favourite place in Lagos, Club Quilox is famous for its renowned DJs and a host of special events.
This is another club to visit in Lagos if you’re keen to dance with celebrities. It’s high-energy and very lavish. Apart from that, Escape offers wonderful music and the best selection of drinks.
Lagosians like a good party and celebrate everything from marriage and death to birth and naming with extravagant celebrations. There’s often a dress code and the Owambe may be by invitation but if you’re dressed smartly enough, you’ll likely blend into the crowd of people. And, yes, there will be a crowd, but it’s worth participating in these lavish parties. You’ll notice an Owambe happening from the street so keep your eyes open!
Braid Your Hair
Everywhere you go in Lagos, you’ll notice the intricate hairstyles women wear. Braiding is a serious business in Nigeria, with braiding salons all over the city. If you’re ready for a new look, don’t be afraid to pop into one and be blown away by the wide variety of styles.
Fun Parks in Lagos
In Lagos a park doesn’t just mean greenery. From arty Freedom Park to some amazing amusement parks, Lagosians love their parks. Make sure to get in on the action, too!
Apapa Amusement Park
Many Nigerians today say that Apapa Amusement Park is the cornerstone of Nigerian childhood. With bumper cars, a carrousel and a pirate ship, it’s a sure place to have fun in Lagos. It’s time to get in touch with your inner child!
Freedom Park in Lagos
Housed in a colonial prison, Freedom Park epitomises a vibrant, modern Nigeria. There’s plenty of fun things on offer, from strolling between fountains to a visit to the Wole Soyinka Gallery. Freedom Park was created to celebrate 50 years of independence and is a national heritage site so you’ll find numerous statues of Nigerian heroes and a museum complex. The park is also a fun place to hang out at in Lagos with regular music and cultural events.
Hi-impact Planet Amusement Park and Resort
While it’s decidedly swankier than Apapa, Hi-impact doesn’t skimp on the fun. There are over 60 rides and activities, as well as a food court, a Hoopla and a ferris wheel. If this is your vibe, you can even stay overnight!
Lagos definitely deserves its place among Africa’s must-visit cities. It’s one of the continent’s economic powerhouses, driving a modern Africa forward, as well as a cultural centre that attracts the best of the best. Whether it’s an exhibition, an Afropop experience or a day in nature that you’re looking for, there’s a fun place for it in Lagos.
Pack your bags and get ready to book a flight into Africa’s most happening city!