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Ghana things to see and do


They call Ghana “Africa for beginners”, which in many ways is quite the compliment. It’s a friendly and largely safe country, with a list of enticements as long as an Accra traffic jam: for a start, you’ll find sunshine, beaches, wildlife, national parks and a deeply colourful cultural heritage. The long tropical coastline is in some ways the most natural draw card for travellers, but you’re unlikely to come to Ghana for the sole purpose of lying on a beach. There’s too much going on for that.


The capital, Accra, is a vibrant but often misunderstood city, a heaving metropolis of food stalls and football shirts, music and markets, swish hotels and swirling street life. It has few big sights as such, but makes for an engaging introduction to the country as a whole. Further along the coast, there’s just as much to absorb in seaside settlements like Cape Coast, once a slave port but now a cultural destination in its own right. Its dark past is testament to the various European powers that at different times held sway in the region.

Inland, meanwhile, Ghana sets out its eco-credentials with habitats ranging from savannah to dense rainforest and hiker-friendly mountains to relatively arid sub-Saharan plains. Many of the individual national parks and game reserves are rather small compared to some other African countries, but the network is extensive.

In the far north, the plains of Mole National Park are still home to elephants, while in the south the forested Kakum National Park has a hugely popular treetop walkway, not to mention a range of animal and birdlife.

The northern city of Kumasi, the ancient capital of the Ashanti Kingdom, is another major draw. It remains the home of the Asantehene (Ashanti King) who holds court at his palace every sixth Sunday – one of many colourful traditional festivals, full of pomp and pageantry, that can be can still be seen throughout the country.

Things to see and do

Boabeng-Fiema Monkey Sanctuary

This tiny community-protected forest reserve is the best place in Ghana for close-up encounters with two handsome monkey species – the Lowe’s mona monkey and black-and-white colobus monkey – both of which are held sacred by the local villagers.


This backpacker-friendly village on the west coast is arguably the ultimate Ghanaian beach venue, as well as supporting a nascent surfing scene and some great seafood eateries. The stunning beaches running for about 15km (9 miles) west to Cape Three Points, are lined with several rustic and isolated budget resorts, including the legendary Green Turtle and newer Ezile Bay.

Cape Coast and Elmina

The most impressive of the forts and castles comprising the country's best known UNESCO World Heritage Site, overlook the beaches at the twin ports of Elmina and Cape Coast. The former, built by the Portuguese and long a stronghold for the Dutch, overlooks Benya Lagoon, its mouth seething with colourful pirogues, while the Cape Coast castle, a British construction, once stood at the heart of the 18th-century trans-Atlantic slave trade. Excellent museums can be found in both castles.


The ancient capita of Ashanti is now the country second-largest (and arguably busiest) city, yet it hosts several sites of interest, including Manhyia Palace (home to the King of Ashanti), the Armed Forces Museum (housed in a 19th century fort) and the Prempeh II museum. Not far from the city, a dozen scattered fetish houses, collectively protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, are all that remains of traditional Ashanti architecture.

Lake Bosomtwe

Set in an ancient impact crater created by a meteorite that fell to earth, this pretty circular lake south of Kumasi is great for paddling, swimming and walking. It also now offers the most tantalising horseback experience in Ghana.

Mole National Park

The largest and one of the best-equipped game reserves in Ghana is home to easily seen elephants, various antelope such as roan, bushbuck, waterbuck and kob, and elusive populations of lion and spotted hyena. It is serviced by a decent and quite affordable hotel, and visitors can explore either on foot or in a 4-wheel drive vehicle, but must always be accompanied by a guide.

Nzulezu Stilted Village

Best visited in the rainy season, when water levels are high, this unique stilted village lies in the heart of the bird-rich Amansuri wetlands and is most easily visited by dugout canoe from the beachfront village of Beyin near the Ivorian border.


Set right on the border with Burkina Faso, Paga is for its sacred crocodiles, which live in two pools close to the town centre, and are so tame that they allow visitors to touch them. Paga is also the base for visits to the poignant Pikworo Slave Camp and the impressive traditional architecture of the Paga Pia’s Palace.


Among the best organised and most rewarding of the numerous community tourism programmes in northern Ghana, Sirigu is renowned for the curvaceous adobe architecture and brightly painted exteriors of its houses.

Volta River

The village of Ada Foah, with its wonderful location at the Volta mouth, is the site of a few supremely chilled beach resorts, and one of the country’s two official marine turtle-viewing sites countrywide. About 60km (37 miles) upriver, the stretch of river below Akosombo Dam is also lined with resorts catering to all budgets.

Wli Falls

Situated on the Togolese border east of Hohoe, the waterfall at Wli - part of the Agumatsa Wildlife Sanctuary - is reputedly the tallest in West Africa, and certainly among the most spectacular. Visit in the late afternoon and wait for the tens of thousands of bats that nest on the surrounding cliffs, to soar into crepuscular action.


Make the most of Ghana's capital: see a large collection of Ghanaian art in the National Museum, and take a stroll around Independence Square, which is dominated by the Nkrumah-era Independence Arch and the Memorial of the Unknown Soldier. Then shop till you drop at the Centre for National Culture, where kente cloth and other crafts - as well as various traditional herbal medicines - can be bought from more than 100 different stalls.

Centre for National Culture

Shop till you drop. Crafts, kente and other traditional cloths are for sale at the Centre for National Culture. The Makola Market is a large and busy open-air market attended by traders from surrounding villages. The Osu Night Market is illuminated by hundreds of lanterns and candles.

Fantasy Coffins

The carpentry workshops of the world famous Fantasy Coffins are at Nungua, about 30 minutes drive east of Accra. Among the Ga people it is fashionable to be laid to rest in a coffin that bears a relationship to what the deceased did in life.

Ghanaian Festival

Attend a Ghanaian festival and enjoy drumming, dancing and feasting. Each region has its own annual festivals for the affirmation of tribal values, the remembrance of ancestors and past leaders, and the purification of the state in preparation for another year.

Go fishing

Go fishing in a local fishing boat. Sport fishing is especially popular. At the mouth of the Volta, anglers have the chance to catch barracuda and Nile perch.

Kakum National Park

Situated 30 minutes north of Cape Coast, this important rainforest reserve is home to a variety of monkeys and antelopes, as well as some lovely forest birds. Visitors can view wildlife at canopy level from a wobbly but spectacular 333m-long (1,093ft) canopy walkway, the oldest construction of its kind in Africa.


Enjoy a round trip on the car ferry to Kete-Krachi on Lake Volta, the largest manmade lake on earth; alternatively, take the three-day trip to the northern capital of New Tamale at the head of the lake. There are facilities for watersports.

Labadi Pleasure beach

Relax on the beaches of the Atlantic coast. Between them, Labadi Pleasure beach, Kokrobite beach, Coco Beach Resort, Dixcove, Busua and Ada offer tropical palms, spectacular Atlantic breakers and swimming (but beware of the strong currents and tides).

Larabanga Mosque

Situated about 3km (2 miles) south of the main entrance to Mole National Park, this picturesque mosque, built in the peculiar Western Sudanese style, houses a holy Koran and is believed by locals to be of divine construction.

Manhyia Palace

Examine the ruins of the Manhyia Palace and the Royal Mausoleum, burnt down by Lord Baden-Powell, in Kumasi, the historic capital of the Ashanti civilisation.

Mole National Park

The largest and one of the best-equipped game reserves in Ghana is home to easily seen elephants, various antelope such as roan, bushbuck, waterbuck and kob, and elusive populations of lion and spotted hyena. It is serviced by a decent and quite affordable hotel, and visitors can explore either on foot or in a 4-wheel drive vehicle, but must always be accompanied by a guide.

Mountain hike

Aduklu Mountain hike tours are available through the Ministry of Tourism, and Afadjato Mountain in the Volta region attracts climbers of all ages. Mount Afadjato and Togbo Falls at Liati Wote are excellent for hiking.

National Theatre

Watch a musical show, play or dance at Accra's National Theatre, which is a Chinese architectural showpiece.

Owabi Forest Reserve and Bird Sanctuary

Bird enthusiasts should go to the Owabi Forest Reserve and Bird Sanctuary, located close to Kumasi. Further to the northeast is the Bomfobiri Wildlife Sanctuary, containing the spectacular Bomfobiri Falls. The salt marshes of the Songow Lagoon are also essential.


Owabi Wildlife Sanctuary, Bia National Park, Bui National Park, Mole Game Reserve and Kakum Nature Reserve are also all good options for hiking and exploring the savannah and rainforest. The Shai Hills Game Reserve can be explored on horseback.

Witches' settlements

Pay a visit to the Witches' settlements, located at Ngani in the Yendi district, Gamaga in the east Mamprusi district and Kpatinga in the Fushegu district. These are sanctuaries for people, mostly women, accused of witchcraft.