Before I begin, I’d like to share a very important public service announcement: do not wear makeup to explore Lagos.
Don’t be like Susan.
Now that is addressed, back to regular programming.
Lagos is like Nigeria, paradoxically half-full and half-empty. If you’ve ever visited this eccentric city, you’ve no doubt sat through a bout of her infamous traffic. A 10km drive from your hotel room could turn out to be 2 hours, the length of time it takes to fly to Accra & back. Regardless, Lagos is a diverse metropolitan city worth exploring.
Because I’ve once called this city home, I was so excited when superstar Katchie – the solo wanderer, Africa’s rockstar and backpacker extraordinaire – asked me to be her date on a Lagos adventure. So I whipped out an EatTechTravel roadmap and we proceeded to weave through traffic.
Here are things to do in Lagos within 12 hours (with addresses and maps included):
Start from the Island and drive your way down
Lagos is a city of two halves; the island being its heart and the mainland its head, both connected by Third Mainland, Eko and Carter bridges. You’re better off starting on the island, at noon, because that way you’re likely to be against traffic for the rest of the day.
Who wants to watch their life crawl through a standstill of cars that ought to be moving? I didn’t.
Take an Uber or Taxify. The only advantage traditional chartered taxis have over Uber is that the former knows all the shortcuts, meaning lesser time spent on the roads and of course, more gist about the city and its intricate workings. But they might not be as comfortable.
Uber cost (sum of all stops) = $29 (N10,500)
Shut out the city
The deeper you go into Lekki Conservation Center, the cantankerous side of Lagos fades out as the incessant blaring of horns are slowly replaced by the sounds of nature.
If you’re one who is quickly bored by nature, get your adrenaline fix by walking across Africa’s longest Canopy Walkway or climbing twenty-one meters up to the tree house for a panoramic view of the Conservation Center.
I loved the peace and quiet. It was a refreshing break from “are you mad?”, “shege”, “your father” and other insulting Lagos greetings. It’s a perfect place for creatives to make magic.
Entrance fee = $3 (N1,000)
Canopy Walkway fee = $3 (N1,000)
Buy affordable memorabilia to remember Lagos by
The Lekki Arts & Crafts Market is an open air styled marketplace. Stalls with authentic African arts and crafts ranging from wood carvings, brass work, paintings, raffia baskets and even beads line both sides of the walkway.
We spent a lot of time trying to find the inconspicuous market, relying only on directions from Jakande residents. Eventually, we breezed through the stalls in fear of missing out on the next stop.
Here is a map to navigate the area, don’t say I’ve never done anything for you
Bask in the depth of breathtaking art
Spend some time with the Legendary Aunty Nike, the one who wears the crown, at her art gallery. The only caveat is you’ve got to be there before 6 pm.
This enormous gallery boasts a collection of about 8,000 diverse artworks from various Nigerian artists. Here I had my first connection with art. It was a bead art painting made by Aunty Nike herself, depicting the 200 schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram. The art piece made my heart sink followed by goose bumps grazing my skin. It was so forlorn yet the details were strikingly beautiful.
There is a small cafe on the premises. Sit back, soak it all up and have a cup of coffee.
Coffee break = $5 (N2,000)
Take a break from peppery Yoruba dishes
By now you’re probably starving and frustrated by Uber drivers who won’t use the map; hunger and frustration are such deadly combos. This was my plight.
But we made an amazing discovery of affordable Indian cuisine mid argument with our driver. Take a break from peppery Yoruba dishes and treat your taste buds to some Naan, Masala & curry at Viceory Restaurant.
It’d most likely be paradise for my vegetarian friends in Lagos. For once, non-vegetarians had the limited options.
Three course meal for 2 = $55 (N20,000)
Fellowship with the spirit of Afrobeat King Fela
The New Afrika Shrine was erected in honor of the late king of afrobeat Fela Anikulakpo-Kuti. I would have commited a sacrilege if I didn’t pay homage to the man who created a music genre and fought successive dictatorships in Nigeria through his music.
Visit The Shrine to hold conference with the spirit of this Afrobeats music pioneer or to witness live any of his sons, Seun or the multiple Grammy-award nominated Femi, saunter in on Thursdays or Sundays. On other days, you can go just for the palm wine and spicy asun or, if you will, ibo, Fela’s personal favourite.
Even I, who proudly bears the denomym Lagosian, discovered parts of lagos once unknown on this adventure. An old city can be explored with new eyes, I hope you have loads of fun when you do hit the road.