The Top 11 Things to Do in Lagos, Nigeria

African city - Lagos, Nigeria
peeterv / Getty Images

Formerly the capital of Nigeria, Lagos retains its title as the country’s largest city. In terms of culture and its booming, oil-based economy, it is also the most important. A dizzying metropolis, the city has a reputation as a tech and nightlife hub. Explore the mainland and Lagos Island with their historic museums and colorful markets, or cross over the lagoon to the affluent, cosmopolitan Victoria Island, where exclusive beach resorts vie for space with upmarket dining and shopping opportunities. Read on for 11 of the best ways to spend your time in Lagos: the bold, brash, and fascinating heart of Nigeria. 

01 of 11

Spend the Day Relaxing at Tarkwa Bay Beach

Tarkwa bay
Fela Sanu / Getty Images
Tarkwa Bay Beach, Lagos, Nigeria

Tarkwa Bay Beach is one of the city's best beaches, made special by its location on an island near the mouth of Lagos Lagoon. Getting there involves a water taxi, which adds to the sense of leaving the bustle of the city proper behind. When you arrive, a sheltered stretch of golden sand awaits. Tarkwa Bay is quieter than many of its Victoria Island counterparts, making it the ideal place to relax, soak up the sunshine, or go for a swim in the warm Gulf of Guinea. Water sports are also popular, with options for jet skiing and waterskiing. Bring a picnic with you, or purchase street-style food from the island locals who make their living catering to those who travel to the beach from the city. Speedboat rides to the beach are available from the marina for 1,500 naira per person.

02 of 11

Get the VIP Experience at Landmark Leisure Beach

Landmark Village, 4 Water Corporation Dr, Victoria Island 106104, Lagos, Nigeria
Phone +234 906 688 2627

For a completely different beach experience, head to glamorous Landmark Leisure Beach, a private beach resort on Victoria Island. Aimed at affluent Lagosians and cosmopolitan visitors, this beach boasts a scenic expanse of sand, separated from the Landmark Village by a well-maintained boardwalk. The village is a curated selection of boutiques, bars, and restaurants (including Lagos’ Hard Rock Café) that together offer a range of quality albeit pricey wares. The club also has a whole host of organized activities for a fun-filled day out—think kite surfing, jet skiing, beach paintball, beach volleyball, and beach soccer. If you’d rather sit back and relax, there are more than 40 loungers and 20 cabanas available to rent. The beach is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and until 11:30 p.m. from Friday to Sunday. 

03 of 11

Discover Creative Culture at Nike Art Centre

2 Nike Art Gallery Rd, Lekki Phase I 106104, Lekki, Lagos, Nigeria
Phone +234 803 409 6656

Lagos' Nike Art Centre is one of four centers for art and culture set up in Nigeria by the award-winning and internationally renowned Nigerian artist Nike Okundaye. More than a gallery, this four-story space is a testament to Nike’s considerable achievements, and to her passion for ensuring that traditional Nigerian arts survive into the modern era. Come to watch artisan craftspeople practicing the age-old arts of batik, indigo, adire, weaving, carving, embroidery, and more. You can purchase masterpieces directly from the artists (making for a fantastic souvenir of your time in Lagos), or even sign up for a workshop to learn the basics of these skills yourself. Nike also offers art tours to her other centers around Nigeria, including one in the Yoruba heartland of Oshogbo. The Lagos center is open every day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. 

04 of 11

Support Local Craftspeople at Lekki Market

Lekki Penninsula II 106104, Lekki, Lagos, Nigeria
Phone +234 816 877 6211

For a more affordable souvenir shopping experience that also doubles as an authentic immersion into the Nigerian way of life, pay a visit to Lekki Market on the Lekki Peninsula. Here, craftspeople from all over the country gather to sell their wares, which range from traditional paintings and sculptures to elaborate beadwork and African fashions. In particular, the market is known for its high quality, colorful textiles, which are created using special techniques such as adire and batik. Buy lengths of cloth to take home for your own sewing projects, or commission the market’s talented seamstresses to create custom-made clothing for you on the spot. Although it has a good reputation for safety, it’s still advisable to be vigilant of your belongings. For the least chaotic experience, visit during the week when the market is a bit quieter.

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05 of 11

Celebrate Nigerian Independence in Freedom Park

Lagos : Illustration
Corbis via Getty Images / Getty Images
Old Prison Ground,1, Hospital Road, adjacent St' Nicholas Hospital, Lagos Island 102273, Lagos, Nigeria
Phone +234 803 302 2587

Situated on Lagos Island, downtown Freedom Park was built in 2010 to mark the 50th anniversary of Nigerian independence. Fittingly, the memorial and heritage site stands on the land once occupied by Her Majesty’s Broad Street Prison, where Nigerian freedom fighters were imprisoned before the end of colonial rule. Now, the park celebrates Nigerian culture and history with a series of contemporary statues. There is plenty of green space and benches on which to sit and reflect, and in the evening, the park becomes a center for recreation with live music, street performances, and some excellent food vendors. The park is open every day from 11 a.m. until 11 p.m., except on Sundays when it opens at 2 p.m. 

06 of 11

Admire Splendid Monuments in Tafawa Balewa Square

Tafawa Balewa Square

Olasunkanmiariyo / Wikimedia Commons

45/57 Massey Bamgboshe Street, Lagos Island 102273, Lagos, Nigeria

To learn more about the Nigerian struggle for independence, combine your visit to Freedom Park with a 10-minute stroll to nearby Tafawa Balewa Square. This landmark address is named after Nigeria’s first prime minister, and it was here that Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa announced the country’s independence on October 1, 1960. There is plenty to see here, including a monumental entrance adorned with giant statues of four white horses and seven red eagles. Around the square’s perimeter, important buildings including the Nigerian National Assembly, Independence House, and Remembrance Arcade stand. The latter is dedicated to the Nigerians who fought in both world wars and the country’s own civil war. The square is often used for official events and celebrations, so you never know what you might find when you visit.

07 of 11

Learn About Nigerian History at the National Museum

Onikan Rd, Ikoyi 102273, Lagos, Nigeria
Phone +234 1 263 6005

Lagos Island is also home to the National Museum, a repository of somewhat tired but nevertheless insightful displays detailing the history of Nigeria and its various tribes. Consider hiring a guide to get the most out of your visit, and to hear the stories behind the museum’s many artworks, statues, and artifacts. Among the most interesting is the Jemaa Head, a terracotta sculpture dated to between 900 and 200 BC, and the Cycle of Life exhibit, which explores different tribal approaches to each stage of human existence. In particular, look out for a clay pot of the kind used by the Yoruba to bury babies' umbilical cords, as well as an elaborately embellished Egungun ceremonial costume worn by dancers during the funeral of the village chief. The museum opens from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and entry costs 300 naira for foreign visitors. 

08 of 11

Reconnect With Nature at Lekki Conservation Centre

Lekki Conservation Centre

Turizimpressions / Wikimedia Commons

Km 19 Lekki - Epe Expy, Lekki Penninsula II 106104, Lekki, Lagos, Nigeria
Phone +234 906 546 0479

An oasis of green in a city otherwise dominated by concrete, Lekki Conservation Centre is located on Victoria Island. Founded in an effort to protect the native flora and fauna of the Lekki Peninsula, it incorporates 78 hectares of tropical forest accessed via a wooden boardwalk and a canopy walkway that’s renowned as the longest structure of its kind on the continent. Whether you choose to explore at ground level or high up in the trees, keep an eye out for the reserve’s exotic residents. These include the Old World mona monkey, crocodiles, monitor lizards, and an impressive variety of colorful birds. These are best viewed from the dedicated bird hide and swamp lookout station. Lekki Conservation Centre opens daily from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., and costs 1,000 naira to enter. 

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09 of 11

Pay Your Respects to a Legend at Kalakuta Republic Museum

7 Gbemisola St, Allen 100281, Ikeja, Lagos, Nigeria
Phone +234 802 313 7307

Musician, composer, and political activist Fela Kuti was one of Nigeria’s most famous sons. Credited with founding the Afrobeat genre (to which many of Lagos’ nightclubs and bars continue to reverberate today), he is something of a legend to music aficionados. Those who want to learn more about his life and legacy can do so at the Kalakuta Republic Museum, the same building in which Fela founded a commune that he declared independent from the military dictatorship that ruled Nigeria at the time. Today, the museum is managed by one of Fela’s sons and filled with artifacts relating to his astonishing life. These include photographs, murals, posters, album covers, newspaper cuttings, some of his many musical instruments, and his immaculately preserved bedroom. The museum is located in Ikeja, and includes a rooftop café and rooms available for overnight stays. 

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Take a Boat Tour of Makoko Floating Village

Lagos Lagoon, Nigeria

On the murky brown waters of Lagos Lagoon stand the stilted houses, shops, schools, and churches that make up Makoko Floating Village, a waterfront slum euphemistically entitled the Venice of Africa. The fishing village was founded over a century ago by settlers from Togo and Benin, but now provides a home for myriad different cultures and ethnicities. It is a fascinating place, and one that can be safely explored on a Makoko boat tour. Be sure to choose a local operator with ties to the community, so that your visit benefits those who need it the most rather than allowing a third party to profit off what some see as poverty tourism. However, if you do it right, a tour can be a valuable learning experience and a chance to interact with the residents of one of Lagos’ most unique areas. Most include an opportunity to eat at a local restaurant, where authentic specialties are the order of the day. 

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Check Out Some of the Best Nightlife Spots in Lagos

The New Afrika Shrine


If you like to dance, Lagos is the city for you. With a reputation for some epic, anything-goes nightlife, it offers everything from al fresco beach bars to nightclubs with celebrity DJs and VIP table service. If a trip to the Kalakuta Republic Museum has you wishing to explore the best of Afrobeat, head to New Afrika Shrine, a 2,500-head club opened in Fela Kuti’s honor by his family. His sons Femi and Seun are regular performers, and there is a hugely popular disco night every Friday. In addition to great music, the venue is known for its inclusive atmosphere with dancers of all colors and classes welcome. Other top spots for a party include upmarket nightclub Quilox (the long-standing luxury option of choice for partygoers on Victoria Island) and Elegushi Beach (infamous for its raucous Sunday night dance parties). 

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The Top 11 Things to Do in Lagos, Nigeria