What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the word ‘Lagos’?
Whatever it was you thought, most of us can thank the popular media for constantly feeding us some pretty negative images and narratives of corruption, war, famine and general doom and gloom. Frustratingly, in spite of things across most of Africa moving in a positive direction politically, economicall and socially , the popular rhetoric hasn’t changed much. And never more so than for Nigeria and particularly Lagos, the country’s largest city and the second-fastest growing city in Africa.
But there’s a LOT more than is generally reported and certainly more than meets the eye in this bustling, vibrant metropolis with a population of over 16 million, as our blogger Mariam Bashorun can confirm. Mariam has just returned from Lagos where she went on holiday, and she had lots to recomend for visitors to do, from shopping to pampering, culture to food, glorious food. Read on!
“I was born in Lagos but I’ve spent much of my life on the mean streets of London. After years away, I decided to head back to my home town and get the full Lagosian experience. Lagos is a wonderfully chaotic city that is fizzing with energy and is home to some of the best people you will ever meet. Whether you are heading back home or visiting as a tourist, below are just some of the wonderful things the city has to offer.
Visit the Lekki Conservatory Centre
The hustle and bustle of Lagos can be overwhelming so an afternoon with nature at the Lekki Conservatory Centre was a lovely break. For ₦1000 each (About £3.00), we got a guided tour of the Lekki swamps. We were promised crocodiles and snakes but unfortunately weren’t able to spot any. Luckily we had plenty of monkeys to entertain us. Be warned these friendly critters won’t just stay in the trees, they’ll join you on the walking tour.
Take in some culture at Terra Kulture
This bookshop/art gallery/restaurant/theatre space is a must for creative types looking for an introduction to the Nigerian arts scene. I was fortunate enough to catch the play Shattered which was incredibly moving and a definite must see. I was also able to enjoy work from local artists in the gallery upstairs and peruse titles from Nigeria’s finest authors in the book shop downstairs.
Feast on mouth watering Suya
The Lagos experience wouldn’t be complete without indulging in some delicious Suya. This national delicacy consists of perfectly grilled meats coated in suya spices served with raw onion, tomatoes and dried pepper for dipping. There is a lots of debate on the best Suya spot in Lagos but I would highly recommend Glover Court in Ikoyi. I watched in awe as skilled Mallams gently grilled beef, offal and chicken to spicy perfection. My mouth waters just thinking about it.
Chill at Maison Fahrenheit
I’m obsessed with rooftops, wherever I end up in the world I need to view it from a height. Maison Fahrenheit in Victoria Island satisfied that need. This ultra chic hotel has a gorgeous rooftop bar that affords you views of the beach and the soon to be built Eko Atlantic. The mocktails were reasonably priced at ₦2000 (About £5.50) although my drink was more of a fruit smoothie than a cocktail.
Immerse yourself in the chaos of Lagos traffic
Traffic is an inevitable part of any visit to Lagos and the best way to deal is to completely immerse yourself in the drama. You will be sharing the road with rickety buses driven with reckless abandon, three-wheeled speed wagons that zip through any gaps and the occasional wheelbarrow. When you are stuck at a standstill for hours, you’ll be grateful for the street vendors who peddle everything from snacks and drinks to home furnishings and books.
Have a good hair day
Unlike the UK, there is no shortage of hair stylists ready to care for black hair in Lagos and it shows. From the gorgeous braids to the intricate cornrows, I couldn’t help but get hair envy. I treated myself to a treatment, trim and style at Nature’s Gentle Touch salon for ₦7500 which works out at just over £21. Bargain!
Try traditional Nigerian dishes
You don’t visit a city like a Lagos without sampling traditional dishes at local restaurants. Try Jevinik in Victoria Island for soft fluffy pounded yam accompanied with okra soup and bitter leaf soup. Head to The Place in Lekki Phase 1 for the best fried rice in Lagos.
If you want to eat like a local, head to a Bukka like Owambe Mart where I had a plate of jollof rice, plantain and moin moin for just ₦350 which is about £1. We were also lucky enough to get a waterfront view as we ate our delicious meal.
Prepare to haggle at a market or two
Lagos is teeming with markets and each have their own unique appeal. My personal favourite was the Lekki International Market. Here I found beautiful handcrafted jewellery, bags and furniture. I wish I could have spent more time at this open air market but I fast ran out of money and the heat sent me packing.
Pop-up markets are also gaining popularity in the city. We spent a leisurely afternoon at the Mente De Moda pop-up where you could find western style clothing, accessories and vintage designer bags.”