The Republic of Ghana is located in West Africa, along the Gulf of Guinea and the Atlantic Ocean. The first permanent state in what is now Ghana dates back to the 11th century. Beginning in the 15th century, many European powers contested Ghana for trading rights, with the British gaining control of the coast in the late 19th century. Ghana gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1957, yet the recognized national language remains British English to this day. The country has a diverse population of about 30 million people.
Known for its scenic oceanfront location and lively people, some refer to Ghana as ‘Africa for Beginners’. Ghana has a spectrum of experiences – from inviting beaches, to stunning remote landscapes, wildlife diversity, lively cities, delicious cuisine, and rich culture – all wrapped up with friendly, good-natured locales. There is religious, cultural, and geographic diversity throughout the country, and it exists in a beautifully harmonious way, making it attractive for travelers who wish to meet Africa in a variety of ways.
Located near the equator, Ghana does not see much variation in temperature throughout the year, with an average of ~30C highs, and ~24C lows. The dry season lasts from November to March, making it the high season and the recommended time to plan your stay. The wet season typically runs from April to October.
Because the rainfall in the wet season may impact travel through the country, it is considered the “low season” and many services and attractions aimed at tourists may close during these months. However, the wet season can be a good time to visit the northern (inland) side of the country, when the rains bring cooler temperatures.
For safaris and wildlife visits, it is recommended to visit between December and March. The dry temperatures cause animals to gather around watering holes, increasing the likelihood that you will spot the ones you are hoping for.
Here are a few things that shouldn’t be missed on a visit to Ghana:
The bustling capital of Ghana is lively and modern, some say the best city in the country. With 2 million residents, this entire post could be devoted simply to things to see and do in the city.
Accra is relatively small and busy, making it easy to get around and explore. Wander around and you will see a lot of colonial architecture from the time when the country was under British control. Head to the culturally and historically significant Makola Market in the heart of Accra, and take in the various sights, sounds, and smells. Makola Market is the heart of commercial activity in the city, and you will find Ghanian ingredients, imported clothing, produce, and a vibrant scene full of locals and travellers alike.
Also make sure to stop in at the National Museum to learn more about the rich cultural history of Ghana. The museum has primary collections focusing on archaeology, ethnography, and art, with particularly interesting displays of ceremonial objects, local crafts, and the history of the slave trade in the country.
For a break from city life without travelling far, grab your sunglasses and head to the beach! Accra is a coastal city, meaning you can easily go from the city to the sea all in the same day. On the Eastern side of Accra is Cocoloco Beach, a sanctuary for estuarine birds and breeding site for West African turtles. If you are closer to the Western edge of the city, head over to Labadi Beach – a 3km stretch of coast with beautiful waters, and a variety of attractions and activities, as well as musicians, acrobats, and performers who often bring an interesting flavor to the area.
If you’re staying in Accra, here are a few choices for a comfortable stay: The African Regent Hotel, Villa Monticello, Tomreik Hotel, or Midindi Hotel for a beautiful stay, great hospitality, and luxurious amenities in a sanctuary in the city.
Ghana has beautiful landscapes and a wide variety of flora and fauna to take in when traveling here. Nature and animal lovers will have a great time exploring the biodiversity of the country through visits to the national parks.
Kakum National Park is located in the central region of Ghana, and is a 360km conservation area. Take a stroll on the Canopy Walkway, a seven bridge canopy walk 30m in the air, and view the forest life from above. There are also opportunities for animal and bird watching throughout the primary and secondary rainforest, and you may spot buffalos, meerkats, civets, elephants, and a wide variety of birds while visiting Kakum. Guided tours are available for those who want to get the full experience of this special place.
Mole National Park is Ghana’s largest wildlife refuge. Located in the Northwestern region of the country, Mole covers nearly 4,600km of savannah. The park is home to 93 species of mammals, 33 species of reptiles, and 344 species of birds, meaning visitors will be sure to spot many of the “locals” on their visit here. Keep your eyes open for elephants, hippos, buffalo, warthogs, various species of monkeys, hyenas, eagles, and many (many) others.
Located in the center of the country, Kumasi was once the capital of the Ashanti Kingdom, and is now Ghana’s second city. The area is still rich with Ashanti traditions, and Kumasi is known as “The Garden City” for its many eye-catching species of flowers and plants.
No visit to Kumasi is complete without a trip to the Kejetia Market, which stands as a heartbeat of the city. Kejetia Market is often touted as the largest in West Africa, with some 11,000 stalls and an estimated 44,000 people working there! Whatever you’re looking for (and perhaps things you don’t even know you were looking for) can be found in Kejetia: food, clothing, jewellry, crafts, beads, traditional items, and so much more.
Head to Prempeh II Jubilee Museum and take a personalized tour (included with the price of admission) to learn more about the Ashanti culture. The museum is named for the Ashanti king Prempeh II, so you’ll see a wide variety of the king’s clothing and personal items. The museum is small and was designed to resemble an Ashanti chief’s home.
Manhyia Palace Museum is the preserved palace built by the British Empire to receive Prempeh I when he returned from exile in 1925, and was used by the kings until 1974. The palace still contains the original furniture and this guided tour will give you a sense of going back in time to view a part of Ashanti history in Ghana.
The Natural Cultural Center is also worth a visit for hands-on craft workshops including batik cloth dyeing, brasswork, woodcarving, and kente cloth weaving. The center also has a gallery and craft shop, and is nestled into scenic grounds.
The Wesley Methodist Cathedral – named after John Wesley, one of the founders of the Methodist Church – is the largest church in the region. It is a grand red-brick building built in the 19th century and still holding services to this day.