Lagos, the commercial capital of Nigeria, is the largest city in Africa with an estimated population of over 17.5 million inhabitants in the city. The UN estimates that at its present growth rate, Lagos state will be third largest mega city in the world by 2015 after Tokyo in Japan and Mumbai in India.
The main districts are the mainland, Greater Lagos and the Islands. Three major bridges join the island to the mainland. They are the Carter Bridge which start from Iddo Island, the Eko Bridge (formerly called the Second Mainland Bridge) and the Third Mainland Bridge which passes through densely populated mainland suburbs through Lagos lagoon.
The Mainland holds a greater percentage of inhabitants and industries. Lagos Mainland districts include Ebute-Meta, Surulere (site of two stadiums and National theater), Yaba (location of the University of Lagos) and Ikeja, site of Murtala Muhammed International Airport and capital of Lagos State.
Greater Lagos includes Mushin, Maryland, Somolu, Oshodi, Oworonsoki, Isolo, Ikotun, Agege, Iju Ishaga, Egbeda, Ketu, Bariga, Ipaja, and Ejigbo.
The Islands The two major urban islands of Lagos in Lagos Lagoon are Lagos Island and Victoria Island. These islands are separated from the mainland by the main channel draining the lagoon into the Atlantic ocean, which forms Lagos Harbour. The islands are separated from each other by creeks of varying sizes and are connected to Lagos Island by bridges.
Lagos Island Lagos Island contains a Central Business District (CBD). This district is characterized by high-rise buildings and businesses. The island also contains many of the city's largest wholesale marketplaces (such as the popular Idumota and Balogun markets). It also has the National Museum of Nigeria, a Central mosque, Glover Memorial Hall, Christ's Cathedral (CMS), and the Oba Palace. And lastly, there is the Tinubu Square- a site of historical importance, it was here that the Amalgamation ceremony that unified the North and South protectorate to form Nigeria took place in 1914. Ikoyi is situated on the eastern half of Lagos Island and joined to it by a landfill. Ikoyi is also connected to Victoria Island by a bridge carrying a main road over a Five Cowrie creek. Ikoyi has a great number of hotels, night clubs, a recreational park and one of Africa's largest golf courses. Originally a middle class neighbourhood, in recent years it has become more of a fashionable residential enclave for the upper middle class to the upper class.
Victoria Island Home to many company headquarters and entertainment spots, Victoria Island (also known as V.I) along with Ikoyi, occupies a major area in the suburbs of Lagos which boasts of several sizeable shopping districts. On its sea shore along the Atlantic front, there is an environmentally reconstructed Bar Beach.
Eko Atlantic city is a new city under construction. It is a planned district being constructed on land reclaimed from the Atlantic Ocean. Dredgers, large ships which move sand, are all working around the clock filling the area with sand where the city will be built. Expected to be around 4 square miles, the city will satisfy needs for financial, commercial, residential and tourist accommodations with a state-of-the-art high-tech infrastructure in line with modern and environmental standards. These standards will offer the city’s residents modern water, waste management, security and transportation systems. Eko Atlantic will also offer its residents an independent source of energy generated specifically for the city.
Also known as Èkó in the Yoruba language, and also affectionately called 'Gidi' or 'Las Gidi' as a form of slang-by the younger generation, is a port and the most populous conurbation in Nigeria.
Formerly the capital of Nigeria, Lagos is a huge metropolis which originated on islands separated by creeks.
The city is the economic and financial capital of Nigeria.
Portuguese explorer Rui de Sequeira visited the area in 1472, naming the area around the city Lago de Curamo; indeed the present name is Portuguese for "lakes". Another explanation is that Lagos was named for Lagos, Portugal - a maritime town which at the time was the main centre of the Portuguese expeditions down the African coast and whose own name is derived from the Latin word Lacobriga.
From 1404-1889 it served as a major centre of the slave trade, ruled over by Yoruba kings called the Oba of Lagos.
Lagos was the capital of Nigeria from 1914 up to 1991. The city was stripped of its status when the Federal Capital Territory was established at the purpose-built city of Abuja.
The city of Lagos lies in south-western Nigeria, on the Atlantic coast in the Gulf of Guinea, west of the Niger River delta, located on longitude 3° 24' E and latitude 6° 27' N. Most of the population live on the mainland, and most industries are located there too. Lagos is known for its music and night life which used to be located in areas around Yaba and Surulere but in recent years more night clubs have sprung on the island making the island especially Victoria Island, the main nightlife attraction.
When departing via the International Airport in Lagos, arrive early, especially close to weekends and festive days, as the security has been beefed up significantly (with little increase in manpower or scanners and is much, much more time-consuming than previously) since the December 2009 liquid explosive incident where the terrorist started his journey from Lagos airport.
The domestic and international terminals at Lagos airport are several miles apart. Transferring between the two is difficult and time-consuming.
There are quite a number of pay-access and Priority Pass lounges after passport control (after two hours in the security queue, you will want to use one if you have the time and USD50 to spare). Use Oasis or Skye Lounge, both of which are good, especially Oasis which is very nice even by 1st world standards. Gabfol lounge is free, but you pay for food and drinks.
Rail services in Nigeria are still very slow and unreliable but Nigerian Railway Corporation have just re-started an overnight service from Kano via Kaduna to Lagos. There are departures a few times every week.
If you choose to travel to Lagos, then air transport is best if you can afford it. If travelling around Lagos, be sure to be accompanied by a guide who is familiar with the routes. Moving around Lagos has become much easier in recent times with street signs on every single street corner making it easier to locate places and landmarks. With the city spending huge budgets on security, there has been a huge reduction in crime generally. For the most part, it's safe to move about during the day. If you are going out at night, be sure to go in groups, and stick to known routes.
If you are not on a tight budget, you should hire a car and driver, usually available from most of the major hotels and the airport. The price will be around ₦1,000-2,000 per hour, you will be expected to haggle. Talk to the drivers and find one you think will be able to communicate best with as they will be able to tell you things about the places you pass.
Lagos now has decent mass transit buses courtesy of the Bus Rapid Transit(BRT)schemes. The BRT lines run on physically segregated lanes and thus make them run faster while private cars are stuck in traffic. The system is run by two operators, NURTW Cooperative (Nigerian Union of Road Transport Workers) and Lagbus, a Lagos State Government owned Asset Management Company. The Buses are coloured red (LagBus), and blue (NURTW).
The BRT is one of the three-pronged attacks the state has unleashed against the urban traffic congestion in Lagos. Buses can be an inexpensive and convenient option. Bus fares are relatively affordable and there are numerous routes being plied from the Mainland to the Islands.
The tickets for the BRT and the Lagbus can be purchased at the bus stops before boarding. Tickets range NGN70-120 (Oct 2011). However, the ticket vendors are seldom available in the evening even though the buses ply till late at night. It makes good sense to purchase a ticket booklet or a couple of tickets in bulk beforehand since these don't contain a time stamp.
There are also smaller yellow buses that ply all routes from the mainland to the island and within mainland. For a newbie, the yellow bus system can be quite confusing and it makes good sense to approach a local for help. The local Nigerians will be more than happy to help an Oyinbo(white person). The fare is fixed and starts from NGN20 and increases as per distance.
The BRT buses are faster, cleaner and more convenient. They carry hundreds of thousands of passengers on a weekly basis.
The road network of Lagos for the most part is good, but sometimes traffic congestion and limited parking space especially during working hours is rife. Be sure to be on the lookout for road signs, in order to avoid entering one-way roads or streets. LASTMA (Lagos State Traffic Management Agency) is the body responsible for managing traffic in most of the traffic congestion areas. Make sure to follow traffic rules, and avoid driving in the BRT Bus lanes to avoid getting a fine or having your car impounded.
There exists car parks around in hotels, shopping malls, and some of them provide free and safe parking. But if parking in other areas around the city be ready to pay around N250 or more. (N165=$1)
One of the easiest ways to get around is by taxi. Taxis cost more than buses, typically. With the older taxi cabs it is expected to negotiate the price before you enter and pay on arrival. The cabs are relatively safe. The state has embarked on gradual replacement of rickety buses and taxi cabs with modern ones, fitted with good facilities to enhance comfort.
Through public-private partnerships, new cabs are being introduced regularly by licensed cab operators.
With fare as low as N400, depending on the distance, the new air-conditioned taxi cabs are already creating a new image for Lagos.
Taxis can be found almost everywhere, and all the new cabs have numbers on them that you can call for a pick up. There are several cab companies servicing Lagos, using both metered and fixed fares,and they generally accept cash:
Renting a car is another alternative if you are going to be staying for a few days or longer. There are numerous car rental offices in the city, and therefore it is very easy to rent a car from your hotel or resort accommodation to drive around with for the duration of your stay. Avis is your best bet for this,either call or make use of their online services:
Lagos State Ferry Services Corporation runs a few regular routes, for example between Lagos Island and the mainland, modern ferries and wharves. Private boats run irregular passenger services on the lagoon and on some creeks. Many more routes are expected to get on-board in due time.
For travelling short distances, you can use motorbike taxis called Okada. These motorbikes are quick, cheap and save a lot of walking but they are also very dangerous. Okada accidents are very common but safety equipment are now provided because the state government and in fact the Federal Road Safety Commission has mandated it. If you want to take the risk, you can safely halve their first price, and usually there are lots to choose from. Before you try and negotiate, confirm the fare from a local.If you have a Nigerian friend, let them negotiate for you as the quoted fare differs greatly for locals and foreigners(for obvious reasons). Choose an older driver as the younger ones are cowboys.
Safety Helmets are a must at all times for both the rider and passenger. Majority of times these are ill-fitting and sometimes even absent.
By law, Okadas are forbidden to ply after dark(7PM) for safety reasons. Avoid taking an Okada for long distances, while it's raining and in the night since majority of mainland is devoid of street lights.
“Point of No Return” the place across the water where slaves were loaded unto ships.
Badagry Town: The Ancient Slave Port of Badagry-also known as the 'Point of No Return'. This ancient town of Badagry was founded around l425 A.D. Before its existence, people lived along the Coast of Gberefu and this area later gave birth to the town of Badagry. It is the second largest commercial town in Lagos State, located an hour from Lagos and half hour from the Republic du Benin.
A 110-year-old lighthouse that guards the entrance to Lagos harbour near Tarkwa Bay.
There are over a dozen beaches in Lagos, making for a wide array to choose from. Good for picnics and barbecues
Lagos Bar Beach. This Beach is named after the sand bars that characterize the coastline of Lagos, not because of the myriad of bars that run along the beach itself. Very popular among beach goers,it is the main inner city beach, as the other beaches provide more of a “get away” from the city. Some of which include; Lekki Beach, Alpha Beach, Eleko Beach and Akodo Beach (to the East) and Tarkwa Bay, Ogogoro Island, Atlas Cove, Lighthouse beach, Ilashe Beach, Agaja Beach and Badagry beach (to the West) amongst others.
Tarkwa Bay. Tarkwa is a man made bay and beach created during the formation of the Lagos harbour. It's a sheltered beach within the harbour breakwater. It is easily accessible by boat from Tarzan Jetty at Maroko (Charge per person is low and affordable) or under Falomo bridge on Victoria Island. The beach is a pleasant outing and has safe bathing even for children. It has its own resident community, most of whom make their living from the tourists who visit the beach. There's also the possibility to surf in a corner of Tarkwa Bay and other water sports such as Jet Skiing and Water Skiing are fairly common.
Lighthouse Beach.Right beside Tarkwa Bay is the Lighthouse Beach, named after the 110-year-old lighthouse that guards the entrance to Lagos harbour. The Lighthouse can just be seen from the beach, and is well worth a visit as well. The walk along the beach between Tarkwa Bay and Lighthouse Beach is very pleasant– and at times one can be the only person on the beach. You can watch the many ships queuing up to enter the port on the nearby horizon.
Eko Tourist Resort (Akodo Beach), KM 22 Lekki-Epe Expressway, Ibeju, Lekki LGA, Akodo, (Bookings)+1 777 0700, +1 470 2865. This place is at least a 40 minute drive from Lagos. The Resort has chalets,restaurants and a large conference hall on 10 acres, with more than a half a mile of clean beach.
Lagos is for tourists like England is for food. It's a stereotype and not really true, but you have to put the effort in to see it.
There are a lot of great beaches. Especially if you make the effort to get outside the the city and explore like Badagry). Inside the city, Lekki is about as good as it gets.
There are also lots of markets to see, although it can be very tiring. Usually safe during the day.
There is the Lekki Conservation Centre by the Lekki Conservation Foundation, is down on the Lekki/Epe expressway near Chevron.It is really good for relaxation, its a dense park with a few animals and birds, there are walkways and benches to rest on. Fees: ₦500 for everyone
Bar Beach: On Ahmodu Bello Way, Victoria Island.
Eleko Beach: 56 km, Lekki-Epe Expressway, Turn right just past Total service station, proceed to toll gate, turn left follow road to Rainbow Church sign, turn right onto dirt road. Eleko beach is at end of road.
Lekki Beach: Turn right at round-about just past estate (about 9 km), Lekki-Epe Expressway, Lekki.
Elegushi: Elegushi Private Beach, Ikate, Lekki,
Tarkwa Beach: Accessible by boat only. Boat can be hired opposite American/Indian Embassy. You can also board water taxis for about ₦300(as of Oct'11) per trip. The beach is good for a one-day picnic because of the absence of hotels and restaurants on it. You can buy good paintings and handicrafts from the local vendors on the beach. The last boats leave Tarkwa bay at 5PM.
Hermitage Garden Resorts: Hermitage road, Tiye village, near Akodo, Lekki local government.
La Campagne Tropicana: Lekki
National Museum of Nigeria: Awolowo Rd (Opp Muson Centre), Onikan, Lagos Island. 9AM-4PM daily. Fees : ₦100 for Nigerians and ₦200 for foreign nationals. The Museum Kitchen is open on weekdays and is a good place to try local Nigerian cuisine.
Didi Meuseum: 175, Akin Adesola St, Victoria Island. M-F 9AM-5PM.
Nike Art Gallery, 2, Elegushi Road, 2nd Round About, Epe Expressway, Ikate Cross Road, Lekki Phase 1 Peninsula, ☎ +234 80 330 36969,+234 1 270 5964, . Run by Artist and Designer Nike Davies Okundaye. A great place for art lovers and buyers. While there, you can browse the art gallery featuring the whole panoply of Nigerian arts, or see some of the documentaries that have been made about Nigerian culture. Students at the Nike Art Centers engage in a variety of arts. At the center, traditional arts are practiced, such as indigo dying and sculpting, and also non-traditional arts such as painting and quilting, as well as other cultural activities such as drumming and dancing. The center also organizes tours and accommodation for tourists. edit
National Theatre of Arts & Culture, Mainland, Iganmu-Surulere.. Located on the mainland at Iganmu, it is about a half hour drive from Lagos Island. Built in 1977 as the principal forum for the International Festival of Black Arts and Culture, it has now become accepted as the prime center for performing arts in the country. The main auditorium has the capacity to seat around 3,000 persons and the conference hall can accommodate around 700 people. The building also houses two cinema halls, a restaurant and a bar.edit
Unless you are in a supermarket or restaurant/bar with fixed prices, you will be expected to negotiate the price you pay for an item down to the lowest the vendor would sell. When you are stuck in traffic, expect to see hawkers selling anything from potatoes to drinks . Expect any brand names in these informal markets to be fake, and should you wish to purchase them aim for a very low price.
Some of the good places for shopping are:
The City Mall, Opposite Muson Centre, Awolowo Rd, Onikan, Lagos Island. Daily 10:00-21:00.
Ikeja City Mall, Opp Elephant Bus-stop, Obafemi Awolowo way, Alausa, Ikeja. Daily 10:00-21:00. edit.
King's Plaza, No 80, Adeniran Ogunsanya.Off Bode Thomas, Surulere. A large shopping mall consisting of gift and clothing stores, restaurants, a cinema hall, and others. There is also a popular place called Computer Village in Ikeja the capital of Lagos.edit
Lekki Art Market, close to the Lekki Conservation Centre, is a great place to buy Nigerian and West African art. From paintings, to jewellery, to souvenirs to accessories and clothes, You'll find a great deal for your goods. Brush up your bargaining skills. The place is a bit tricky to find, take a right from the roundabout before Chevron and ask for directions. The place tends to flood during heavy rains, so try to avoid going at all or take an SUV with a high ground clearance.
Mega Plaza: 21st Century Mall, 14, Idowu Martins Street, Victoria Island. Daily 10:00-22:00.
Silverbird Galleria, 133, Ahmadu Bello Way Victoria Island, ☎ +234 1 270 6361, . With five hi-tech cinema halls showing the best box-office movies in the industry. There's also the Media Store which sells Music and Movies, Magazines and books, as well as computer and gaming consoles. The Galleria also houses restaurants, bars and gift shops. Lastly, there is Wi-Fi connectivity and a bowling alley within the premises. edit
Africa Shrine in Ikeja. With Femi Kuti, son of the legend Fela Kuti.
Lagbaja's Motherland, Opebi Rd (in Ikeja).
The Night Shift Colosseum, Salvation Road, Off Opebi Road. Best Music. Well arranged. Big space for dancing and sitting. 9PM-5AM.
Options, Allen Avenue - Toyin St T point. Good Music, Spacious, 10PM-5AM.
MetroPark, Isaac-John St, GRA, Ikeja.
Swe: Located at the top of City Mall, Onikan, Lagos.
Ember Creek: Awolowo Road, Ikoyi. Pool Side drinks overlooking the Lagoon.
Havana Ribadu Road off Awolowo Road. Popular pub bar with a good mix of expatriates & Nigerians. Fun & friendly bar staff. Excellent and extensive food menu serving both continental and some Nigerian dishes. Has live bands on Wednesday & Fridays. Also has upstairs bar & dining.
Waterside :Located on Oyinkan Abayomi Drive, beside the lagoon that separates Ikoyi and Victoria Island. Go there to chill by the lagoon in the evening. The decor is minimalistic with plastic chairs and tables but again very few places in Lagos are open adjacent a Lagoon. Try some suya and peppe soup.
Michael's: Coldest beers in town! Expatriate hangout.
No 10: Owned by Nigerian soccer legend Austin "Jay-Jay" Okocha, it's got a nice restaurant and a trendy bar.
Pat's Bar: Ajose Adeogun Street. A sports bar with a rugby theme, Very popular with expatriates of all nationalities.
De Marquee New, Hip joint atop Mega Plaza, Lagos's premier shopping mall. Smoking on the outside terrace only.
"Lekki Phase 1"
'Sailors Lounge' : Nice hangout in the Lekki Penninsula with a wooden feel and offering wonderful views of the sea that separates Lekki Phase 1 and Victoria Island. very cold drinks and good food.
Monalido: at Corner of Creek road, Entry ₦500 per person. Good music, sufficient space for sitting. Good, big dance floor. Every one welcome. 10PM-5:30AM. Drinks are at very competitive prices, Nice Food Restaurant as well open till 6AM.
Club 21: Wharf Rd, ₦500 per person. Music, sufficient space for sitting. Big dance floor. Every one welcome. 10PM-3AM. Drinks are at competitive prices.
Koko Lounge: Cool as it gets. Co-owned by Africa's biggest hip-hop star, D'Banj who makes frequent appearances. Wednesday night is comedy nights. Classy VIP. Reasonable prices.
The Psychiatric Hospital : Located actually inside a real Psychiatric hospital in Yaba is a small restaurant. Tables and chairs thrown around in the lawn, you can hangout here with friends for hours
Hotel 1960, 23 Olufunmilayo Okikiolu St, off Toyin St, Ikeja, ☎ +234 808 374 5991, . Executive and Royal rooms, all equipped with air-con, LCD TV & telephone. Restaurant, bar, garden and conference hall.From USD115. edit
Eagles Park 1960, 7 Obokun Close Off Johnson Street, Off Obafemi Awolowo Way, Ikeja, ☎ +234 808 374 5991, . Executive and Royal Rooms, all with air-con, LCD TV and telephone. Function rooms, restaurant, bar and garden.From USD150. edit
Lekki Inn, 911 Ken Uba Close, Lekki Peninsula (second street to the right off Ajiron Rd, off Lekki Expressway (beside Chevron)), (firstname.lastname@example.org), . Caters mostly to executives from oil companies, banks, etc. Two fully-furnished chalets onsite can be rented for longer-term stays. Food is excellent, typically African or Continental cuisines. The rooms all have marble flooring, so you don't get the "wet & mouldy" feel some of the other hotels have. The only downside is that there are just 12 rooms, albeit all large and luxurious, so you don't get to socialize too much onsite. Victoria Island with its bars and clubs is a 20-min drive away, and the beaches are close by.edit
WoodRidge Hotel, 2Plot 1/3 Lambert Imasuen Drive Ajao Estate, ☎ +234 803 274 9921, . All rooms have air-con, TV with cable channels, Wi-Fi and buffet breakfast. Restaurant, bar, swimming pool, fitness room/ gym, Airport pick-up and shuttle service.From USD 126. edit
Radisson Blu Anchorage Hotel, 1A Ozumba Mbadiwe Avenue Victoria Island, ☎ +234 708 061 0000 (email@example.com, fax: +234 1461 0126), . Styled by Swedish hospitality designer, Christian Lundwall, this is on the waterfront area of Victoria Island, the business hub of the city.edit
In general, Lagos has become a much safer place to visit than before, with the state spending huge budgets on security with police patrol cars, CCTV cameras. etc. But beware of deals or businesses that sound too good to be true (especially e-mails soliciting your help), and do not openly flaunt your possessions, especially in public places.
While it is rare for a tourist to be a victim of a violent crime, it is still wise to stay safe and be alert, especially during late night outings. Stick to crowded streets and make sure to go out in groups instead of going out alone.
Lagosians are generally nice and friendly people, most of whom will readily offer directions to you if you are lost.
Lagos still has its fair share of odd people: street beggars(both the old and young), people with psychological disorders, etc. If someone approaches you for money, do what most Lagosians do: completely ignore them or continuing to walk at a brisk pace.
There are a few police officers who are corrupt and inefficient so it is best that you stick to the law and avoid going anywhere off the beaten path without a trusted guide, especially if it is a first visit.
Nigeria has both GSM & CDMA Networks. Most of the International GSM Networks are served here on Roaming Partner Basis. Local pre-activated GSM (SIM) connection can be purchased from any where in entire Country at very cheap rate. Naira 200/- for a SIM.
Etisalat: Services: Calls, SMS, GPRS and some most advance feature can be found only on this network.
Airtel: Airtel was Celtel; then Zain. Services: Calls, SMS & GPRS Services.
MTN: Services: Calls, SMS, DATA (Internet) & GPRS Services.
Glo: Services: Calls, SMS, DATA (Internet) & GPRS Services.
Multilinks Telkom: Services: Calls, SMS & DATA (Internet).
Visafone: Services: Calls, SMS & DATA (Internet).
Starcomms: Services: Calls, SMS & DATA (Internet).
In Nigeria SMS (Short Messaging Service) is known as "Text".
The networks in certain parts of Lagos can be very erratic at times. On certain days you cannot make a phone call at all or you will not be able to recharge your phone for the most of the day making business very difficult at times. But its occassional and that is the reason if you want to stay for a long term,make sure that you have atleast two phones or a dual sim phone.