Friendly Ghana is a West African country pulsing with energy, steeped in history and blessed with some breath-taking landscapes
Writer: Dani Redd / Project Manager: Joe Palliser
It’s easy to see why Ghana is one of the most popular destinations in West Africa. For a start there’s the beaches, golden stretches of sand fringed with palm trees. But the coast is marked by the shadows of the past – slaves were held in European-built coastal fortresses before being shipped overseas. Visit Cape Coast to learn more about this haunting legacy.
One of the first African countries to shake off the shackles of colonial rule, modern Ghana has a stable democracy, welcoming multi-ethnic population and an energetic spirit, making it a fantastic place to visit. Cities such as Kumasi are bursting with cultural museums, open-air eateries and artisanal markets. The country holds over 70 major traditional festivals every year, including Homowo, which is an exuberant celebration of a bountiful harvest, and Oguaa Fetu Afahye, unique warrior processions and rituals in honour of the 77 deities in the Fetu Afahye area.
But that’s not all. Ghana is blessed with some spectacular landscapes. Travel inland from the coast and you’ll discover a series of diverse habitats, from mountains to lush rainforest, rolling savannahs to arid plains. In the far north is the Mole National Park, Ghana’s largest wildlife reserve – it’s the only place in the country where you can see elephants in the wild. Meanwhile the Volta Region, running along Ghana’s eastern border, is all lush fields and craggy mountains, perfect for hiking.
In Focus: Accra
Accra, the country’s capital, is a busy, rapidly developing metropolis. What it lacks in iconic landmarks it makes up for with bags of colour and character. Jamestown is Accra’s oldest district, where you’ll find timeworn colonial buildings alongside colourful street art. It’s famous for its boxing schools – visit and you might chance on an open-air match.
Thanks to its coastal location, after a hot day’s sightseeing you can head to the beach. Labadi Beach is the most popular; locals come here to swim and play ball games, while the air is full of reggae music from the bars lining the sand. Bojo Beach, on the other hand, is quieter and more pristine.
For a taste of local life, head to bustling Makola Market. You’ll find vendors selling everything from unrefined shea butter to colourful dashiki print fabric, as well as street food stalls. Try crispy waagashi (fried cheese) or a plate of spicy jollof rice. Accra has the best dining scene in Ghana – as well as street food stalls you’ll everything from hip Afro-Caribbean fare to upmarket pan-Asian restaurants.
Escape the hustle and bustle of the city in Legon Botanical Gardens, one of the city’s greenest spaces. Stroll down sun-dappled paths and around lakes fringed with greenery. The park also boasts a tree canopy walkway, a playground and an obstacle course. Scratch beneath the surface of this compelling capital and you’ll find plenty to surprise and entertain you.
For Afro-Latina street-food inspired eats…
For upmarket bistro classics…
For Japanese fine dining…
For an airplane converted into a restaurant…
For Ghanaian hospitality in Tamale…
For poolside comfort in Accra…
For ocean-facing sophistication in Elmina…
For ‘Afropolitan’ luxury in Accra…
The African Regent Hotel
bills itself as ‘Afropolitan’, or African and cosmopolitan. It offers internationally regarded facilities – such as a high-tech business centre, large outdoor pool and wellness centre – and showcases African culture to its guests. Rooms are tastefully decorated with colourful fabrics and furniture etched with traditional ‘Adinkra’ symbols. Meanwhile, the hotel’s restaurant, ‘Muyika’, throws the capital’s best Africa-themed Sunday brunch. The onsite boutique hosts pop-ups selling clothes and other handicrafts made by Ghanaian designers. The hotel offers a complimentary airport pickup service, and will help you arrange all aspects of your trip to Ghana.
For a great atmosphere…
For the best live music in Accra…
West Africa’s largest waterfall is located in Wli, set amid a picturesque landscape of forest, undulating hills and gurgling streams. It’s a short hike from Wli tourist office to the falls – the 143 metres of cascading water is an impressive sight.
This coastal town is one of the most culturally significant spots in Africa, as it was once the epicentre of the slave trade in East Africa. Slaves were locked in the dungeons of the austere Cape Coast Castle, before being herded onto transatlantic vessels. The castle now contains a museum, where you can learn more about this traumatic history.
MOLE NATIONAL PARK
Ghana’s oldest and most significant national park offers opportunities to spot wildlife such as antelope, warthogs, monkeys and elephants. Thanks to a lack of predators, it’s possible to go on unique walking safaris. A trip to the park can be twinned with a visit to the nearby Mognori Cultural Village and the ancient mud-and-stick Labaranga Mosque.
Ghana’s Top Honeymoon Destinations
Ghana isn’t the first place that comes to mind when you’re trying to plan a honeymoon. Destinations such as Santorini or the Seychelles are more popular picks. But Ghana has a great range of luxury hotels and breathtaking landscapes that make it perfect for a honeymoon. From a luxury beach break to an upmarket safari, here are Outlook Travel’s top picks for a romantic break in Ghana.
Axim is a laidback coastal town, where you’ll find a large 16th century fort. It’s renowned for having some of the best beaches in the country, such as Anakobra Beach, a six-kilometre stretch of golden sand. The town also boasts some of the most upmarket resorts in the country. We particularly like Lou Moon Lodge
, which caters to newlyweds with a honeymoon package offering a couple’s massage and a candlelit dinner on the beach, as well as accommodation in a villa with its own private infinity pool.
Lake Bosumtwe is a natural lake in the ancient crater of a meteorite, ringed by lush green hills. Not only does it provide a serene atmosphere for honeymooners, but there are plenty of activities on offer, including cycling, watersports and horse riding. Paradise Resort Lake Bosomtwe
is your best choice for accommodation.
Elmina is an enchanting town, located on a small spit of land between the Atlantic Ocean and the Benya Lagoon. You’ll enjoy exploring the UNESCO heritage site of St George’s Castle, and the town’s other colonial architecture, as well as watching the colourful fishing boats in the lagoon. The historic city of Cape Coast is nearby and makes for an interesting day trip. Stay at one of the town’s upmarket beach-front hotels, such as Coconut Grove Beach Resort
, with its colourful rooms and large outdoor pool.
MOLE NATIONAL PARK
More active couples might prefer going on a safari for their honeymoon. Head to Mole National Park, Ghana’s largest wildlife sanctuary. As well as enjoying scenery of waterfalls, rivers and rolling savannahs, you’ll get to see elephants in the wild. The best accommodation for honeymooners is Zaina Lodge
, West Africa’s first luxury safari lodge. You’ll get to stay in luxury air-conditioned chalet tents, go on private walking safaris, and swim in an infinity pool with panoramic views of the park.
This small town is the place to go for a nature-based escape. It offers winding rivers, a vast artificial lake, hills, lush forest and natural gorges. There’s so much to do here; birdwatching, canoeing across the lake and walking through butterfly-filled forests. To enjoy this peaceful environment in the lap of luxury, book a stay at Royal Senchi Hotel
, where you can stay in private villas on the banks of the Volta River. Enjoy a sundowner at the poolside bar, or a treatment at the wellness centre.
Getting There and Around
Ghana’s busiest airport is Kotoka International Airport, located just eight kilometres from Accra. It offers scheduled flights to 29 destinations in 24 countries across Africa, America, Europe and the Middle East. Visitors from Asia are advised to take an Emirates flight, connecting via Dubai.
Africa World Airlines and Starbow Airlines operate domestic flights in Ghana, from Accra to destinations including Kumasi, Takoradi and Tamale. If you only have a short holiday, flying from the south to the north of the country is recommended, as it will save you a lot of time.
It’s also possible to travel long distances by bus – reliable companies include VIP and Intercity STC. Some travellers opt to hire a car, either with or without a driver, for greater freedom of movement.
If you’re travelling shorter distances, around cities or between landmarks, taking a taxi is the recommended form of transport. They can either be booked for a single journey or for the day, depending on your needs. The locals use ‘tro tros’ or minibuses to get around – they travel along a fixed route and leave whenever they’re full.