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Explore our list of the best-hidden gems and activities along the country's coast and countryside.

By Sithasolwazi Kentane

Dec 8, 2022

The holiday season typically calls for the intimacy of family time. But once the Christmas lights start to come down, the hype of New Year's Eve revelry takes over. Once again, it's the time of year when tourists from all over the globe are welcomed into the Gold Coast's distinct culture and vast landscape. Whether you're traveling for the first time or returning for another Detty December (a hearty West African colloquialism coined to describe the holiday season’s schedule of events and social gatherings in the region), it's no secret that Ghana is making its case as one of the continent's top vacation destinations, mainly due to Afrochella.

Now in its sixth year, Afrochella is "a celebration of Africa’s diverse culture and the vibrant work of its creatives and entrepreneurs" taking place between December 27th, 2022 and January 6th, 2021 at El Wak Stadium in Accra. As spaces and places during this period can become overpopulated due to an influx of tourists, we've rounded up a list of some of the best 'off-the-beaten-track' locations for you to visit during the fiesta's off-peak hours. 

1. For the city slickers

If it's a vibrant atmosphere you're looking for, stay within the heart of Accra. From the never-ending nightlife offerings to the culinary spots; sights are plenty. 

Where to eat: Dear Lola Café

Local travel agent Naa Quarcoopome, describes the spot as a cute and quaint setting. It serves "the best salmon sandwich in Accra," according to the establishment itself. Nestled behind gorgeous tall vines, you'd miss it if you were driving past and blinked.

Where to connect with nature: Legon Botanical Gardens

If outdoor activities are your idea of a good afternoon spent, visit the Legon Botanical Gardens, which offers various activities like canoeing, a high rope obstacle course, and a canopy walk. Connecting with nature without traveling far will surely grant you some inner-city R&R. 

Where to watch the sunset: Esuro rooftop bar

As the day draws to a close, the city's evening festivities are like no other, with bars opening throughout the week. One of these is Esuro, which promises a laid-back venue with endless panoramic views of the city. Day beds are provided for ultra-relaxation—the perfect way to sip on your sundowners. 

Local tips:

- Get around using affordable e-hailing services like Uber and Bolt.

- Call the local restaurants ahead of time to avoid disappointment at the door.

- Take pictures at sunset; it's said to be a magical sight.

Dear Lola Cafe. Photo: via @cafewanderergh_.

Legon Botanical Gardens rope obstacle course. Photo: via @AfricaFactsZone.

Esuro rooftop bar. Photo: via @esuro_.

2. For the water babies

Where to do activities: Lake Bosomtwe

While it may be the most famous lake in the country, the attractions in the main town at this time tend to draw people away from the outskirts, making it the perfect time to visit the sacred body of water. Minky Woowoo, a visitor to the lake, recalls her experience: "When you need to get away from it all, this place is wonderful, green, and luscious." You'll find other water attractions such as boat trips, jet ski experiences, and horseback riding in and around the area.

Where to swim: Paps Beach Camp, Ada

Ocean lovers can get lost in the dunes or soak up the sun at this friendly seaside attraction, a space that mimics the laid-back and social nature of the country's people. Should you get famished from all the swimming, pop into the shore's restaurant, which promises hearty plates of grilled fish and chicken.

Local tips: 

- For any bookings at the beach, persist through the unreliable network.  

- Keep a lookout for performers on the beach as they're said to be an exciting form of entertainment.      

The banks of Lake Bosomtwe. Photo: via @bobbl_.

Paps Beach Camp. Photo: via @papsbeachcamp.

Entertainment on the shore. Photo: via @papsbeachcamp.

3. For the nature lovers 

Where to stay: Zaina Lodge

Should you be in town for a few days before or after the festival, we recommend heading North to explore the vast Ghanaian Savannah region, which presents endless landscapes and multiple safari stays for those who wish to get lost in the inland culture. The accommodation offers an elevated glamping experience, and a few hiking trails welcome you to safely get lost in the vastness of the African countryside. 

Discover history: Larabanga Mosque 

Explore the region's history through one of Ghana's oldest architectural sites. Even though access inside the structure is allowed only to Muslims and women over 60 years old, visitors assure that the exterior alone is worth the trip.

What to do: Hot air balloon

Travel back down South and experience the scenery from the clouds with Mask Height's flights. Whether you're a full-blown adrenaline junky or like to play it safe, they offer both tethered and untethered rides.

Local tips: 

- Check the weather before booking your hot air balloon trip, as flights may be cancelled should the winds prove too rough.

- Contact a local travel guide for guided tours around the Mosque area and surrounds.

Endless views from the Zaina Lodge pool area. Photo: via @zainalodge.

The entrance to the Larabanga Mosque. Photo: via @zainalodge.

A hot air balloon flight about to take off. Photo: via @newinghanatourism.

4. For the creative creatures

Art lovers who wish to explore the country's rich culture are encouraged to explore galleries and museums in and around town, some of which house globally acclaimed creators. 

What to visit: Gallery 1957, Nubuke Foundation, and Ada Contemporary Art Gallery

Pop into one of Accra's most notable art sites, Gallery 1957, located at Kempinski Hotel on the Ministries Gamel Abdul Nasser Avenue Ridge. Launched in 2016 with an inaugural exhibition of critically acclaimed artist Serge Attukwei Clottey, the artist caught the attention of Vogue and has had solo shows around the world.

An architectural sight for sore eyes is the Nubuke Foundation, and is described as "a nexus for preserving, recording, and promoting contemporary arts and culture." Peruse the lush gardens surrounding the modern concrete block building that sits next to a working farm. On occasion, one may delight in their open mic evening called 'Talk Party,' which the foundation runs with the Ehalakasa poetry group.

Should you have a last-minute itinerary cancellation, it would be worthwhile to visit ADA contemporary art gallery in the Airport Residential Area. Currently on view is a solo by emerging artist Foster Sakyiamah, whose works are part of the World Bank and British Council collections. Be sure to call and book your visit prior, as they do not allow walk-ins. 

Local tips: 

- Get in touch with the Nubuke Foundation ahead of your travel and enquire about the Poetry evening dates should you wish to attend.

- Enquire about the current gallery exhibition before your visit to learn more about the artists on show at the time of your visit. 

In Your Presence I Meet My Absence, solo exhibition by Tjaša Rener’s at Gallery 1957. Photo: via @gallery1957.

Exterior of the Nubuke Foundation. Photo: Away to Africa.

ADA contemporary art gallery solo exhibition by Foster Sakyiamah. Photo: via @okuntakinte.