The West African nation of Ghana is one of my favorite places on earth. Second, only to my homeland Jamaica, Ghana, is the place in the Motherland that truly feels like home. With vibrant cities and welcoming people, there is no shortage of things to do, but if you want to mix things up and avoid tourist traps, finding the hidden gems is crucial. Here are seven hidden gems in Ghana that I think you will love!
Makola Market - Selling everything from food to furniture, Makola Market is a vibrant and diverse district of Accra. Your girl loves herself some good shopping, but more than that, she loooooves shopping for things to wear. At Makola Market, you could literally spend an entire day browsing the colorful fabrics on offer, so to get your own uniquely Ghanaian outfit, head along to Makola and pick yourself up some fabric to have transformed into your new favorite pair of pants or halter top. The patterns, colors, and vibes will have you dancing in the streets!
National Mosque of Ghana - A relatively recent and towering addition to the Accra cityscape, the second biggest mosque in West Africa is claimed to be a replica of the famous Blue Mosque of Istanbul. With nearly 20% of the Ghanaian population practicing the Muslim faith, the National Mosque is a community center that celebrates the Islamic faith but is also committed to service and the community.
Area Bar Ghana - one of the best night spots to get into the African beats and the party vibes, @theareabar is a must-visit! There is always local music and DJ talent on offer, and you know your girl loooooves to move her body on the dance floor. Whether you’re in Ghana for a good time, or a long time, you’re sure to find both at Mood Bar! Leaving at 4am is an early night here, so the vibe at Mood Bar is party hard but party long!
Independence Square in Accra - Home to the Independence Arch, commemorating the 1957 liberation from Britain, the moment Ghana became the first sub-Saharan African country to end colonization. Independence Square might seem at first glance like just another city space, but it is here that the Eternal Flame of African Liberation can be found, and many important events, including the 66th anniversary of Independence celebrations earlier this month, take place under the giant concrete Arch.
Assin Manso Slave River site - A part of the slave story not often shared, the Assin Manso Slave River site, known locally as Donkor Nsuo, is something you have to experience to understand. This site is where slaves were given their last baths in Africa before being led to the Slave Castles and being shipped across the Atlantic. For those descendants returning to the Motherland, this place is beyond symbolic, and the ritual of a first bath, the cleansing of the returning at the same site, is emotional and not to be missed.
Elmina Slave Castle - Originally built to support trade routes to and from Europe, Slave Castles, and Fortresses have a much darker recent history. At the height of the Atlantic slave trade, these structures were used to house slaves before they were shipped across the Atlantic, and for those who didn’t make it, they represent the last place they ever stood on land. Now a UNESCO World Heritage site and a national museum, the Elmina Castle is one of the better known slave castles and is gradually being renovated by the Ghanaian Government. A place of pilgrimage for many descendants of the slaves who were housed here, Elmina Castle is a haunting monument to the many people who were held, tortured, and taken here.
Aburi Botanical Gardens - opened in 1890 and covering over 64 hectares, this is a place of century-old trees, plants, and spices that will ignite your senses and blow your mind. A tangible reminder of the roots we have in the motherland, some of these ancient trees allow you to walk through and under them, and the crops and spices grown here will make your mouth water. A scenic 45-minute drive from Accra, Aburi is a destination worth making an effort.
Ghana is a nation rich in culture, color, and cuisine. When planning your next vacation, consider this West African paradise and all of the incredible experiences she has to offer. If you need more inspiration while planning your Ghanaian vacation, check out the highlights section of my Instagram feed for ideas!