Ghana is one of my favorite countries. I moved to Accra in August 2021 for graduate school and as a traveler, I have been in awe since. Every day is an adventure for me here, and I wanted to put together this travel guide filled with tips to help you explore Accra freely!
Watch my Ghana vlogs here!
COVID REQUIREMENTS TO ENTER:
*PLEASE NOTE THAT ENTRY REQUIREMENTS ARE CONSTANTLY CHANGING AND YOU NOW NEED TO BE VACCINATED TO ENTER GHANA. FIND ADDITIONAL INFORMATION REGARDING THIS ON THE STATE DEPARTMENT’S WEBSITE*
•Negative PCR COVID Test taken at least 72 hours before departure: I always get mine for free at CVS or Walgreens and take one at each facility in case one facility does not come through! (Yes, this has happened to me).
•Pay for a COVID test upon arrival for $150 here!
They will ask you for the QR code that you will get after you are done completing the declaration form at the airport check-in desk so have that handy.
GETTING A VISA:
U.S. Citizens DO need a visa to visit Ghana. Luckily, I did a detailed blog post about my experience applying for a visa. You can read about the process here.
Yellow Fever – I got my shot back in 2019 for $300. You can Google local health clinics or hospitals and call around to see if they offer the vaccine. While others say they have not been asked to show proof of vaccination, I was checked twice at the airport upon arrival, and you can be asked before boarding.
*While not required, I would bring Malaria pills with you to Ghana or plan to get them when you land in Accra at any pharmacy. They tend to be cheaper in Accra.
You will fly into the Kotoka International Airport (ACC) in Accra.
There is no place to get a SIM card at the airport. I recommend having $100 worth of Ghanaian cedes to leave the airport with in case you have to use a taxi to get to your accommodation. If you do not come with money on you or do not want to use the ATMs at the airport, it’s fine just ask the driver to stop at an ATM along the way.
LEAVING THE AIRPORT
I HIGHLY recommend pre-booking airport transportation before your arrival date in Accra. It can get overwhelming once you step outside, and this will be one less thing to have to worry about. A reliable company that does airport transfers is Abusua Travels.
If you did not pre-book, you can get a taxi to your accommodation. You can also try your hand at Uber or Bolt, but sometimes the drivers have a difficult time getting into the airport and have restricted access.
Keep in mind taxi drivers create their fares and are the most expensive form of transportation in Accra. PLEASE make sure that you and the taxi driver have both agreed on the fare before you enter. Repeat it back 3x if you have to. Taxis are generally very safe, as with Uber and Bolt, so I would not worry too much. The idea is to have a smooth transition from the airport to your accommodation, and having pre-booked transportation is usually the best way to go!
Many different languages are spoken around Accra, as there are so many local ethnic groups: Twi, Ewe, Ga, etc.
However, English is primarily spoken in Accra, and all signs around the city are in English. Therefore, you will have no issues navigating Accra as an English-Speaking individual.
The wi-fi here is a HIT or a MISS. Expect slow wi-fi unless you are staying at a big-name hotel or in a signal boosting location. If you need to do work, it is best to go to a cafe like Vida E Cafe or Selfieccino and use the wi-fi there!
$1 is currently about 6 Ghanaian Cedes, so your dollars can take you far.
An international ATM for withdrawing large amounts of money is Stanbic Bank! There are also other ATMs everywhere around the city.
You can exchange your money for the local currency (Ghanaian Cedes) at exchange shops if you have cash, often titled FOREX. One that is known here in Accra is Dellino Forex. From then on, there are ATMs mostly everywhere around Accra you can use to withdraw money. Depending on your bank/card, you will be charged a withdrawal fee, but this is usually the quickest way to get cash.
If your phone is unlocked, getting a SIM card in Ghana is one of the most important things you can do. Accra is a very “speak to people to get things done” type of place. You will need to contact your drivers, call shops and markets to check things, etc. You need to have data wherever you are so you can get a ride back home and make phone calls as needed during your stay.
I got my SIM card from Vodafone, but other phone companies include Airtel Tigo and MTN.
I stayed at this Airbnb for one week before I found my apartment. It was gated, safe, and I practically had my own mini house as it included a bathroom, shower, and kitchen I could cook in!
There are a lot of Airbnbs and hotels to choose from in Ghana. A few are:
- The Golden Tulip
- Maple Leaf Hotel
- Hill View Hotel
- Cascade Hotel
You have to research and decide what will best fit your needs. I recommend using a VPN when searching to get more options to come up beside the popular ones.
TRANSPORTATION AROUND GHANA
Bolt & Uber:
Uber and Bolt will be your best friends until they aren’t! This is when drivers keep cancelling, and drivers don’t look at their maps.
The one thing to know is that drivers like cash only. Your ride will keep getting denied if you use a card because the drivers don’t get the money quickly from card transactions, and fees are deducted.
*Use my link for money off of your first ride if it’s your first time downloading the BOLT app!*
Bolt is usually always cheaper than Uber, but sometimes Uber is cheaper, so I would check both apps to compare fares whenever you can.
Tro-Tro is the most local form of transportation you can take! It’s essentially a mid-size van with multiple seats that people hop on and off for rides around Accra or further. It is super cheap, like maybe $3 for a 30-minute ride, but it is unreliable.
The vans stop A LOT to pick up passengers along the road and drop people off, so it may take longer to reach your final destination. They are also very crowded, hot, and packed. It can be hard to navigate, and you may get upcharged like with everything in Ghana, but it’s a cost-effective option.
As a foreigner taking a Tro-Tro is definitely possible, but I wouldn’t bother with it unless you are in Ghana long-term. It is an experience to try at least one time while visiting!
Intercity STC Bus
Ghana does have a public bus transportation system that comes in handy for long trips for the low! You can look up stations on the website here and compare prices according to times and dates.
There are SO many food options in Accra, so for the sake of this guide, I’ll stick to the must-try traditional foods and some restaurants to try for specific things!
•Jolloff Rice – If you don’t have this, did you even come to Ghana?! You have to try the street versions and the ones in restaurants!
•Rice Balls + Groundnut Soup – I LOVE rice balls as they are an easier option than banku and fufu if you are a beginner to straight-up swallowing foods.
•Rice Water/Porridge – Traditional Ghanaian breakfast (often found on the street) sells out fast. Street food shops tend to stop serving breakfast early, so try to get breakfast by 8 am if you can help it.
•Plain Rice + Stew
•Banku + Palmnut Soup:
•La Piazza – An Italian pizza spot and the BEST place to get pizza in Accra.
•Breakfast to Breakfast – A 24-hour breakfast, lunch + dinner spot. The place to be after a fun night out.
This is a very short list, as choices are endless. I promise it’s very hard to go hungry in Accra. You will likely have the option to try traditional foods at most restaurants you go to. There is always an option for whatever your taste buds are in the mood for!
There are many food delivery apps, but Glovo and Bolt Food are well-known. If your accommodation is not recognized on the app’s map, use a nearby landmark and give the driver directions.
I have found that addresses are not as common on the apps to be recognized.
SOME THINGS TO DO IN ACCRA
Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park – A memorial park detailing the life of Ghana’s first President who led the country to independence. Ghana’s history is very rich, and this is a site you will want to visit to learn more.
Legon Botanical Gardens – An outdoor space for people of all ages to go and enjoy different activities. You can try your hand at one of the high rope courses where you are harnessed up in the air and have to complete various challenging exercises to get to the end! There are also canoe rides, canopy walks, and more.
Fly A Plane – @moooveafrica on Instagram offers thrilling activities for you to do during your time in Ghana, and plane flying is on the list! They also have pottery, paintball, zip-lining, and more.
Arts Centre – One of the best places to go for great souvenirs at an affordable price. You’ll find decorative bags, clothes, shoes, magnets, keychains, and everything else you’ll want to take home to your loved ones.
Makola Market – This open-air market will make you feel the hustle and bustle side of Accra. This market has any and everything you could need, from household items to colorful fabric. It can be overwhelming for first-timers so I highly recommend going with someone.
*I would list more, but I would be here all day! Just know that you won’t be bored here AT ALL.
If you come to Ghana, know the nightlife is a MUST. It is a vibe to say the least. Accra mostly has lounges, but there are a few nightclubs. Here are some spots to visit:
•Firefly Lounge – My favorite venue so far in Accra. Firefly always understands the assignment when it comes to having fun, low lights, and great music.
FOR THE SOLO TRAVELER:
Y’all know I am a solo traveler at heart. My solo travel journey actually began in Accra, so I can promise you it is solo-travel friendly! Uber + Bolt are reliable like I mentioned, so getting to and from places within Accra won’t be much of an issue. You need to know mainly that being alone will make you a target for merchants and sellers (especially on the street) to come up to you and pressure you to buy, but be firm and keep it moving. They can be very persuasive. If you stop for one, many will swarm you. This does not mean to be alarmed/scared, but be AWARE of your personal items.
It’s also so easy to meet people in Ghana. Everyone is super friendly, so be open to new connections, but trust your intuition! You will likely get a lot of questions about where you’re from out of genuine curiosity. However, some people will just want money from you or have other underlying agendas. You will know when you’re faced with that issue, but don’t focus too much on it. It’s just something that is good to know!
I have met people for the first time earlier in the day and have had lunch or dinner with them later as if we had known each other our entire lives. This is what draws me to Ghana: The human connection.
It is also safe to go out at night alone if you want to as transportation is reliable. I have done it before many times — just follow the basics: Watch your drinks, don’t drink too much, and have a good time 🙂
Ghana is known for its hospitable natives and being generally safe! The most you will likely have to worry about on your trip is petty theft, so always be mindful of where you keep your phone and don’t be too flashy.
That does not mean that more severe events can’t happen, but Ghana has an excellent reputation for safety. I have never had an issue.
COVID TEST GOING HOME:
I highly recommend using LEDing Medical Lab for taking a COVID test to go back home! I took a PCR test around 2pm one day and received my results the same day around 11pm even though I chose the 24 hour option! I was also in and out within 5 minutes.
My test cost me 250 GHS = $41.66 USD
Book your test here:
GENERAL TIPS BEFORE COMING:
•Notify all of your bank cards + create travel notifications before you touch down. You do not want to have any issues with getting money here, it will be a pain!
•If you bring cash to exchange at a FOREX office, bring big bills ($100 is best). The smaller the bill, the lower the rate they will exchange it for.
•Know that it is wise always to have cedes on you and do not depend on solely your card to pay EVER. The POS machines in Ghana are down often, and you don’t want to be like me and have to plea with the employee to let you run to an ATM and come back 🙂
•Stanbic Bank will allow you to withdraw large amounts of money, as it is a Foreign Exchange Bank.
•Ghana is known for being safe, but always be on the watch for pickpockets and make sure your bag is secure, especially at markets.
•My fellow Black girls: wear braids if you can help it and thank me later.
•Always be aware of who is watching you because Ghanaians, in general, are very observant, so just keep that in mind if you are solo.
•Your Bolt and Uber drivers may ask you if it’s okay to pull over for gas. It usually only takes 1 minute literally, but say no if you do not feel comfortable with this.
•Don’t tell anyone you are alone until you feel comfortable. Your drivers will ask out of genuine curiousity, and only you will know what feels right for you!
*Most businesses in Ghana have Instagram pages as opposed to websites. So look for similar pages for anything you are looking for.
•Ask locals if you can’t find something or need a referral. It will save you a lot of time and headache.
•Please don’t come here and be naive to romantic initiatives – especially those that are fast and quick even though they barely know you.
• DO NOT stick your phone out of the window to take pictures and videos and when you are walking be mindful of holding your phone. People are known to drive by on motorbikes and grab your phone. You won’t ever see it again!
•Bring your patience. Keep your Western perspectives and expectations in check. Ghana is developing and that comes with its ups and downs, especially if you come from a country with fast systems.
Your trip to Ghana will be one to remember. Ghana is my favorite country to-date. There is something about this country that will bring a calming spirit over you and make you want to be so creative while here. I hope this guide has made you even more excited for the memories you will make here.
Please let me know how you enjoy your trip to Accra via IG DM @beingchristinajane!
Love Always & Safe Travels,