Language: English, pidgin english + many local languages
Currency: Naira, exchange rate: 1 EUR=416 naira (as of June 2018)
Prices: lower than in Europe
– water 1,5 l = 200 naira
– dinner normal restaurant = 1,000-1,200 naira
– double room 1 night = 8,000 naira
Visa: You must obtain it at the embassy prior to your arrival. Cost around 90 EUR for the EU citizens, depending which country you are from. Find out more here:
Vaccination: Yellow fever
Other diseases: Malaria prevalent, taking antimalarials highly recommended
Important word: Oyibo = white person
Lagos is…huge. With its nearly 20 million inhabitants, it is one of the most populated cities not only in Africa, but in the entire world. You will feel it mostly in the traffic jams, which can take hours. According to locals, people who commute from the suburbs or villages usually start the trip at 4am in order to arrive at work around 8-9am.
As we don’t like the big african cities very much, we only stayed a couple of days, so I can’t really tell what to recommend. We went to the biggest market, called Idumota, which was insane, as expected. The buzz is extraordinary, I doubt you can see so many people and so many goods in one place. It’s quite an experience.
Generally, Ikoyi and Victoria’s Island are among the recommended places to stay, you might try Lekki Phase 1 as well. You can find some really nice housing here for reasonable prices on airbnb and it’s safe. It might sound strange, but maybe too safe. The problem is that due to security reasons these places (at least Ikoyi, where we were) are built as estates with gated entrances and therefore I felt kinda enclosed there, with almost no signs of life in the streets, which is really weird in Africa. I felt 200% safe, but I didn’t feel good, because I didn’t feel the african vibe and energy.
For transport, use Uber. Yes, there is Uber! I was surprised, too. And it works really great! You don’t pay with card but with cash when you finish the trip, which is nice. According to the locals it should be safer than the normal taxis and since the app calculates the price before you get on, there’s zero hassle. Which was also weird, but nice. Therefore, we didn’t try the local transport, so no reports on that, sorry. 🙂
As I already said, we don’t like the big cities very much and based on our previous travels, we seem to fancy the smaller (but still big enough) ones. Like the second or third biggest cities. St. Louis in Senegal, Bobo Dioulasso in Burkina…you name it. So we decided to go to Calabar, which is a 500,000 town in the Cross river state on the very east, close to Cameroon.
It was a good choice. The city is beautiful, very well maintained (they even have rubbish bins!), green, with nice streets and very laid back people.
Tip: We stayed in a hotel called Cytaro, on Bishop Moynagh Avenue. The room was some 8,000 naira and it was ok. There are plenty of restaurants around, the nigerian buffet style ones, which is an awesome option when you want to fill your stomach and try the most of the local cuisine. It’s local, it’s nice and it’s cheap.
Otherwise, you can go to see the Mary Slessor statue, the local market and if you ever miss your western comfort, there’s a shopping mall. You might find recommending a shopping mall as an activity weird, but it’s actually a great place to chill out and experience the naija culture in calm (and with a piece of a nice cake from the Spar bakery). And I almost forgot-there’s a gym close to the hotel we stayed in. A proper savage african gym!
An hour away from Lagos, the capital of the neighbouring state, Ogun, is another great city to be. It is home to the most famous nigerian monument, the Olumo rock. The whole city is filled with huge rocks (see the cover photo above), which gives it a rare, yet nice look. Recommended!
First thing that comes to my mind when you say nigerian food is SPICY. Everything is spicy. Every single meal, every single side dish. If you can bear it, it’s delicious. If not, you’re pretty much screwed. 🙂
Choose the buffet style restaurants, they are quite common everywhere. You can choose from a really large variety of meats, fish, porridges, pastry, quiches and side dishes like porridge, plantains done many different ways, rice done many different ways or pasta. And don’t forget to try moi moi a steamed bean pudding with boiled eggs, chicken or fish wrapped in a leaf. It’s yummy!
The nigerians were one of the friendliest people we’ve ever met, if not the friendliest. When they saw us, they always wanted to exchange phone numbers, take pictures and chat. Peter was happy because they started posing when they saw his camera, asking him to film them. Just to let you know, this is quite rare in Africa, where people are very suspicious with cameras. They are very hospitable and helpful. Nevertheless, the level of friendliness and kindness varies significantly among the regions. Lagos was super friendly (maybe even too much), whereas Calabar was rather tranquil.
Speaking about people I can not mention the notoriously corrupt police officers. Unfortunately I have to confirm, you better avoid any contact with any kind of an official or government person. When they say You are my friend, right?, you know you lost. You have to give something in their pocket. In our case, it was always smaller amounts, but still. Not to finish in a bad tone though, the people are generally great and you will surely have fun!
Nigeria, you rocked!