Benin City is one of the oldest cities in Nigeria, dating back to pre-colonial times. It boasts one of the most advanced and organised kingdoms before the arrival of the British. The city used to be the capital of the old Bendel state until this was divided into Edo and Delta. Currently Benin City is the capital of Edo.
The city has an airport and there are a few flights to and from Lagos. Not many airlines have their presence but Arik Air and Ethiopian Airlines operates daily flights to Benin City so coming in by air is another good option. One thing Benin is known for is its road transporters, so a visitor can come in the city from almost any city in the country. From Lagos it takes about 4hours to get to Benin, but be informed Its best to travel during the day because the bad roads make the journey a lot longer and stressfull. From Port-harcourt, its about 4hrs and 30minutes to Benin. The journey from Port-harcourt is a lot easier because there are better roads on that stretch. One thing you should know is that the roads in Benin-city are not very good and coupled with the bad driving habits of commercial bus drivers, it is not surprising to have a lot of hold-ups and traffic jams in some parts of the city especially the Uselu market area.
Getting around in Benin isn't too difficult. Despite its bad roads, the city is well linked and networked. If you come in by air, there are taxis at the airport to take you probably anywhere you wish to go for an affordable price. And if you come in by road and are taken to the terminal of the transport service, you will also find taxis ready to take you anywhere. Officially, taxis and buses are painted red or rather wine on their body and yellow on the roof. But there are some buses and taxis that don't obey that code.
Most roads lead to the ring road, so to get to some places, you actually have to get to the ring road and then take another bus or cab to your destination. Moving from one part of town to another is usually done by bus but on some routes, you can also take a taxi. There are now standard bus stops in the city for the new green painted "Comrade Buses" although as these are free for school children they can be very crowded at school starting and finishing times. When you are in a commercial vehicle that has reached your destination, you would alert the driver by saying "STOP" or "DROP", and then he would come to a halt. Don't hesitate to say this as the driver will certainly take you past your destination if you don't.
Getting around at night time is pretty much the same as getting around during the day time but keep in mind that some routes become more dangerous at night time. You should be a bit skeptical about entering a commercial vehicle at night if it has no passengers.
Apart from buses and taxis you used to be able to get around the city with motor bikes.....but these have now been made illegal and no longer operate.
The National Museum in the centre of the city, not far from Oba Palace, has some interesting artifacts reflecting the history and culture of this region of Nigeria. Igun Street, where the bronze casters reside and still ply their world famous trade which they've been doing for over six hundred years. Holy Arousa (eye of God), arguably said to be the site of the first catholic church (when the Portugese explorers came circa Oba Esigie's reign) but has since been replaced by traditional worship by the Binis. The Oba, his family, his chiefs and other adherents of the faith worship here.
The Benin Zoo on Airport Road has lions and other animals. Admission is 200 NGN. It also has a refreshment area and a gift and souvenir shop. Car parking is ample, free, and on site.
The new Kada Plaza complex has both a bar, a restaurant and a cinema complex. It opened within the last two years and is fully air conditioned. Nearby is the Hallmark shooping centre that sells many imported European tinned, canned, or bottled products such as teas, coffees, wines and spirits.
They are not so much thing you can do. If you want to mingle with the children and youth . You have to speak some nigeria pidgin English like (bross how far) then the person will replay (I dey o) you can even keep in mind some edo languages like (vhojehee) and the person will replay (ojesee). And when you get to the market you can easily salute the market women. Like good morning, afternoon and evening depends on the time and you can start a conversation like (I wan buy something meaning I want to buy something) and she sells for you.
Most common things you can buy in edo state benin city are benin beads, (they comes with different varieties like red, white and brown. You can also buy for yourself Bronze sculptures and images from Igun street. Wood carvings and Adire (tie and dye textile) from Airport Road,
Edo people love Pounded yam and obgono soup, owo and yam, plantain (owo is prepared from stew and potash mixed together )fresh fish from nearby villages and ponds (point and kill pepper soup) vegetables-punkin soup and bitter leaf soup (very medicinal) served with the choice of either boiled yam or pounded yam. Ofadar rice (riced placed inside raw African leaves that have a good original African aroma. Moi-Moi, bolle with ground nut (roasted ripe plantain normally roasted along the road side) roasted corn with coconuts and peer fruit. (If it is your first time of eating then you must control before eating)
There are some chains of fast food outlets such as Mr Biggs and others too. Many hotels also have restaurants open to non-residents and serving local menus.
Almost all world class spirits and best European wines can be found around. Most international beer like Guinness, Heineken. Other brands like Star, Harp, Guilder. Non alcoholic Malt drinks are very common too. Palm wine from local palm wine tappers. Bottled palm wine does not taste as good.