When you think about destinations in Africa that are worth visiting, what are the countries that immediately come to your mind? My good guess would be places like Tanzania, Kenya and South Africa, famed for their wildlife safaris and holiday resorts. Or perhaps your mind immediately goes to the Arab countries of Morocco, Tunisia, and Egypt, which are also quite popular tourist spots. Whilst these are all worthy destinations in their own right – after all, they’re popular for a reason, and I did really enjoy my trip to Morocco last year – it does seem that West Africa doesn’t get a love of love and attention. I imagine that this could be for a number of reasons – recovering from the damages of a colonial past, political instabilities, struggling infrastructure, and negative stereotypes being portrayed in outside media. All that said, it looks like one country could be bucking this trend at last: Ghana.

Nestled in the heart of West Africa, Ghana is a country bordered by Cote D’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) in the west, Burkina Faso in the north, and Togo in the east, with a generous southern coastline along the Gulf of Guinea. Its official language is English, and there are also around 80 ethnic languages that are spoken by various local ethnic groups, such as Twi and Ga. The fact that it’s English-speaking (most Ghanaians can speak English fluently and all signage is in English) is also a big help to the average English-speaking visitor, since most West African countries surrounding it are French-speaking.

Me posing in front of Black Star Gate in Independence Square, Accra, Ghana

I had of course known of the country Ghana, but it never really came to my radar as somewhere worth visiting until 5 years ago. This is during and when I heard of Year of Return, Ghana 2019. This was an initiative run by the Ghanaian government to encourage members of the African diaspora to go back to the continent of Africa (especially Ghana) to visit, settle and invest there. What made the year 2019 a symbolic time to do this was because it marked 400 years since the first enslaved Africans arrived in Virginia, USA. Therefore, there was a lot of emphasis in particular in inviting African Americans to return to the land of their ancestors and discover their roots pre-slavery.

What really piqued my interest in visiting Ghana was when they announced that they were holding the Afro Nation festival there for the first time, in Ghana’s capital city of Accra. Afro Nation is a 3-day music festival that started in 2019 to showcase big artists of the growing Afrobeats genre – styles of popular music from mainly Nigeria and Ghana. The festival had recently just run its very first edition in the Algarve, Portugal, which I was disappointed to have only learned about after it had happened, as I certainly would have loved to go (I eventually I ended up finally going to the Portugal edition in 2023!). However, I was both excited and intrigued when I learned that the festival would also be going to Ghana that December. At the time, I was working freelance with a UK-based creative client, Ubuuru, whose focus was on the African diaspora, and we had talks about possibly doing work at Afro Nation in Ghana. Fortunately, we made it happen, and I got myself some in-person work managing a group of photographers and videographers at the event with the creative agency So Fraiche. I really enjoyed this experience and getting to see up close the Afro Nation performers live while I was there.

Me posing in front of the Kwame Nkrumah statue in Accra, Ghana

This trip consisted of 10 days from December 2019 to January 2020, so I was there during Christmas and New Year and got to experience a lot of exciting things! I stayed in a backpacker’s hostel called Agoo Hostel. It had a wonderful community feel where you could easily make friends to talk to and hang out with, the staff were very friendly with good service. The hostel had a kitchen where you could make your own food or order cooked meals from them, they had a bar, a good living room to sit and eat and work and chill at, and also a small office/coworking area, a great selection of private bedrooms and dorms, and beautiful African décor and art all over the building. I really enjoyed my stay there and wish I could still recommend it to you, but Agoo Hostel has since unfortunately closed down. According to Google, the current top-rated hostel in Accra is called Somewhere Nice, which I had also considered staying at if I hadn’t already decided to go to Agoo Hostel instead.

I can only really speak about Accra since I didn’t get a chance to visit anywhere else in Ghana during my visit. However, I know some people I met mentioned wanting to visit Cape Coast, which is a city 75 miles southwest of Accra. Cape Coast is home to Cape Coast Castle, which was used during the transatlantic slave trade and is today a UNESCO World Heritage Site and museum that is open to visitors to learn and remember those atrocities of the past.

In Accra, I took a guided tour that showed me historical and tourist spots, such as Black Star Square, home of the Black Star Gate monument commissioned by Ghana’s first-ever prime minister Kwame Nkrumah. We also walked through Jamestown, an old district of Accra with various interesting sights such as its lighthouse and lots of street art to admire.

It’s probably worth pointing out that I’m British but my ethnic background is Nigerian, and we’re known to have a (mostly) friendly banter with the Ghanaians. Nigeria and Ghana are of course different but have some similarities, such as both being located in West Africa, being English-speaking due to British colonial rule, and having sizeable migrant communities in the diaspora (especially in the UK and USA). In particular, the popular West African dish, jollof rice (rice cooked in a stew of tomatoes and red bell peppers), which has its own variants in different countries, provokes a friendly “jollof war” between Nigerian and Ghanaian peoples (even though jollof rice didn’t originate in either of these countries – its origins are from the ancient Wolof Kingdom that spanned what we now know today as Senegal, the Gambia and Mauritania!). I loved trying Ghanaian jollof rice, which I have to admit is really tasty and a worthy contender for my native Nigerian rice!

Tucking into a yummy meal of Ghana jollof rice with chicken and plantain

Whilst the Year of Return programme might have been aimed at the African Diaspora, I also saw plenty of people of European, Asian, and other ethnic and national backgrounds when I was in Accra. In my hostel, I met people who came from Nigeria, Mali, France, Canada and the USA, to name but a few. It was lovely seeing people of different backgrounds hanging out together, embracing one another’s differences as well as similarities, and bonding over a love of exploring Accra and all the cultural riches that it had to offer.

What is nice about Ghana is that it is a politically stable country and relatively safe to move around in compared to other parts of Africa. The cost of living is not too high, and you can get around Accra fairly easily via taxi apps such as Bolt and Uber. For the most part, the locals are generally very warm and friendly. If you are someone who enjoys hot tropical weather with palm trees lining the horizons, and beach life, Ghana has all that and more. Labadi Beach is where they held the Afro Nation festival, and it’s a gorgeous beach within reach of many resorts and beach clubs.

Me posing in front of street art in Jamestown, Accra, Ghana

Ghana has good access to electricity and internet, making it a great choice for a workation. It may not be on the same popularity level as the likes of Indonesia, Morocco and Mexico, but I reckon it certainly has the potential to be if its government and tourism industry keep up their good work in improving and promoting it. There is a growing community of nomads in Accra, and I’ve come across websites such as Accra Digital Nomads that have been designed to help foster this community and meet the unique needs of digital nomads. I also have one virtual assistant client who has been to Ghana two years in a row for month-long trips from December to January – she partly works there, and partly has a holiday there. I certainly got it wrong only doing 10 days – there’s so much more I want to explore in Ghana, and I’m sure I’ll do a longer stay when I’m next there.

For those of you who like community-oriented accommodation, the options for hostels and coliving spaces are unfortunately very limited in Ghana. In fact, the only coliving space that I have been able to find in my research is Villa Diaspora, which looks to be a good family-friendly option – I haven’t stayed there myself yet to be able to fully vouch for it, but I would certainly be open to trying it! Still, you can find a fair share of hotels, Airbnbs, and other rental apartments to take your fancy. Plus, coworking spaces are plentiful in Accra if you need to good office space away from your lodging, as well as opportunities to meet and network with other remote workers.

Me at Afro Nation festival in Accra, Ghana

Oh, and I can’t mention visiting Ghana without a mention of Detty December! In both Ghana and Nigeria, the last month of the year is always full of celebrations and parties to coincide with Christmas and New Year, and has been popularly dubbed “Detty December”. Ghana, in particular, has become a popular pilgrimage destination for African diasporans to rediscover their roots. If you like nightlife, then there is a great choice of nightclubs and bars that you can visit in Accra to let your hair down. Sadly, Afro Nation Ghana only occurred that one time I was there in 2019, before falling victim to the COVID pandemic and never returning (though it’s still in Portugal, and I have been to that one too and would highly recommend it!). However, there are always plenty of other fun and cultural events to attend during this festive month. Plus, with only a one-hour plane ride between Accra and Lagos, it’s a reasonable option to do the two cities one after the other on the same trip if you like!

If you’re curious about West Africa, then I’d highly recommend Ghana as the best place to start. The fact that it currently isn’t as popular as your typical holiday and digital nomad hotspots could be a good thing since it means you can enjoy its treasures and something different while it’s not so overcrowded. Oh, and it’s another good destination to be if you want to escape a chilly winter in other parts of the world – Ghana enjoys a very warm tropical climate all year long.

The lovely hostel that I stayed at in Accra, Ghana
Verified by MonsterInsights