Named ‘lagoon’ by the Portuguese, Lagos is the largest city in Africa and is anything but blue or tranquil. With a population exceeding 17 million people, Lagos is hurtling towards ‘mega city’ status within the next few years. The scene that greets visitors on arrival can be an intimidating one. Wall to wall cars and pedestrians cram the streets, with a noise level so high that it takes a few hours to acclimatise. At the same time, a riot of music and colour is also visible and takes the edge off the modern madness.
Dozens of beaches line the shores of Lagos, providing some respite from the endless honks of car horns. Lagos Bar Beach is a popular choice with party goers and is the main inner city beach. Lekki, Alpha and Eleko beaches are quieter and more secluded making them perfect for families with children. Tarkwa Bay is a manmade beach but a lovely sheltered spot with safe bathing for children – jet skiing and water skiing are also available here. Lighthouse Beach is one of the quietest in Lagos and the place to go for some serious down time. With beach resorts such as the Hermitage Garden Resort and La Campagne, families can avoid much of the inner city chaos if they choose to stay here.
While parts of Lagos are devastatingly poor, the oil boom has seen they city explode economically but also culturally. Music is everywhere, booming from ghetto blasters behind tumble down stalls and from live concerts of local artists at venues such as Freedom Park, formerly a colonial prison - now an extraordinary cultural centre and events venue.
Legendary musician Fela Kuti's former house and revolutionary headquarters is now Kalakuta Republic Museum, where all his personal possessions remain intact. The National Museum of Nigeria, the Nike Art Gallery, the Terra Kulture Gallery and the National Theatre of Arts put on progressive and avant-garde exhibitions, plays and performances throughout the year, showcasing the rich cultural heritage of Nigeria.
Shopaholics certainly won’t be disappointed at the size and number of malls available; including City Mall, The Kings Plaza and the Mega Plaza. Jankara Market, which sells everything from cloth to locally made jewellery and pottery, the delightful rambling maze of stalls in Balogun Market and Lekki Art Market give shopping a much more local flavour.
Lagos may be madness personified but it is pointless to resist. Just jump in and enjoy the ride!
The following information is correct as of January 2015 and is subject to change. Please check with the airline directly for complete accuracy.
Lagos Murtala Muhammed International Airport is located just 14 miles from the centre of Lagos and can be reached in around 30-60 minutes depending on traffic. Shuttle buses operate services to and from many local hotels while taxis are also available for hire outside the terminal building.
What you need to know
Currency: The Nigerian Naira
Visas: UK nationals do require a visa to enter Nigeria. Passports must be valid for at least six months beyond the date of departure. Invitation letters and evidence of hotel bookings are required for visa applications. Nationals of other countries should check visa requirements at a local embassy or on the Foreign Office website.
Laws: The legal age for consuming and purchasing alcohol in Nigeria is 18. There is a smoking ban in place in Lagos which prohibits smoking in all indoor public places including bars, cafes, restaurants, hotels and clubs and on public transport.
Best Time to Visit
Rainy season is from March to November but otherwise Lagos is hot and sunny all year round. Nights can be chilly in December and January so pack jumpers if visiting during these months.
March’s annual Fishing Festival is a draw for anglers around the world, while Lagos Carnival in April is a fun event for all the family with floats, dancers and parades around the city. May sees the return of the International Book Fair while keen photographers will enjoy the International Photo Festival in October. November is jazz, concert and film month in Lagos with a host of international performers and films to see, while December brings the traditional Nwaotam Festival and plenty of Christmas festivities.
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