City Focus: Lagos Nigeria
Brief History: from Colony to Megalopolis
agos was identified as its known name by the Portuguese explorer Rui de Sequeire in 1472.The city started out as a colonial trading outpost and would much later become the capital of the combination of regions that came to be recognized as Nigeria. The Yoruba indigenes took up residence in “Eko”, which makes up the present day Lagos.
Lagos remains the financial capital of the nation and its residents are untiring and industrious, talented and ambitious, hard-working and inventive. This can be seen from the orientation of the State.
The city is made up of a very varied and fast-growing population drawn from substantial and current migration to the city from all parts of Nigeria also neighboring countries.
Lagos has a tropical wet and dry climate that borders on a tropical monsoon climate . Lagos experiences two rainy seasons, with the heaviest rains falling from April to July and a weaker rainy season in October and November. There is a brief relatively dry spell in August and September and a longer dry season from December to March. Monthly rainfall between May and July averages over 400 mm, while in August and September it is down to 200 mm and in December as low as 25 mm. The main dry season is accompanied by harmattan winds from the Sahara Desert, which between December and early February can be quite strong. The highest maximum temperature ever recorded in Lagos was 37.3 °C and the minimum 13.9 °C.
Where to go
Lekki Conservation Centre
The centre offers an intriguing and delightful experience. The best time to visit would be early morning. You can see monkeys, crocodiles and various birds, all while strolling on elevated walkways. Be sure to pat the 300 year old turtle!
Tafawa Balewa Square
Named after the country’s first Prime Minister, Tafawa Balewa Square is located in the commercial heart of Lagos. There are some remarkable monuments which includes the imposing entrance gate watched over by four gigantic horses, the 26-story Independence House and the Remembrance Arcade ( contining memorials to WWI, WWII and the Civil War.
This is the Official Residence of the Oba of Lagos, situated on Lagos Island. The ancient palace was built in 1630 and the modern part was completed and commissioned in 1960. This rich, cultural splendor is home to many ancient local artifacts which have remained intact over the years. Tourists can see this and learn important facts about the history of Lagos.
The appeal of this museum is the brasses from Benin City and the Nok Terracottas. The bullet-riddled car that conveyed Murtala Mohammed in 1976 has also been preserved. It’s definitely a great see, but take note that cameras are not allowed.
One of the best parts of Lagos in terms of tourism, the park is located on Lagos Island not far from the Oba’s palace. Freedom Park used to be the Old Broad Street Prison where many prominent Nigerians were detained. It is however now a place of great tranquility. Visitors coming here can learn about the colonial heritage of the State.
Whispering Palms Beach Resort
The resort is on a great place on the Badagry river. You can sit by the river, sip on your drink while watching the sun set.
Bar Beach is the closest to the city center of Victoria Island. You can enjoy the cool Atlantic breeze on a hot humid day. Take a leisurely stroll or feel free to go ride the horses along the shores.
La Campagne Tropicana Beach resort
Paradise is the word often used to describe this delightful resort that is just an hour drive away from Victoria Island. It’s a 5 star Resort with the right balance between natural environments- fresh water lake, a savannah, extensive sandy beach and the warm Atlantic sea. It is one of the very few places where you can enjoy snorkeling.
It’s a popular local saying, “Elegushi comes alive at the night time”. The private beach is one of the cleanest you will visit in Lagos at this time. There are different bars and restaurants to cater to your culinary needs. It is also one of the safest beaches.
The Lagos Carnival
You would be lucky to be in Lagos at on any Easter Monday simply because the carnival takes place at this time every year. It is usually a grand parade featuring over 10,000 adults and young people bedecked in beautiful, colorful costumes and a musical jamboree. If you’re in Lagos at this time, be sure to attend.
Where to shop
It is probably the largest market not only in Nigeria but in all of West Africa. Balogun market spreads across several streets on Lagos Island. You can shop for virtually anything here, from fabrics to shoes- all at a great bargain.
Another large market in Lagos whehre you can get almost everything tie-dyed cloths to pottery. It’s also famed to have a fetish market for those who are interested in herbs, traditional medicine and even juju potions and powders!
Ikeja Shopping Mall
The mall is home to several local international brands, including Shoprite, Silverbird cinemas, Wrangler, and Truworths. There are also specialist facilities for department stores, banks, restaurants, etc. It’s a veritable location to spend a day sightseeing or actually shopping.
This is the place for all kinds of pearls and garnets. You can get wooden souvenirs that are precious to carry home. It is beloved by many foreigners who can be seen flocking in for shopping. The market is great place to get authentic African arts and crafts, from masks to paintings. Time passes quickly here. A lot of good things are definitely on display but be sure to go along with your bargaining skill.
Where to stay
Federal Palace Hotel and Casino
This is a great hotel to stay if you need to conduct business in Lagos. Safely located in Victoria Island, It is very close to major businesses. You are still able to enjoy the serenity of the hotel. The bedrooms are immaculately furnished, the grounds are beautiful and expansive and the service is hospitable.
The hotel has an impressive lobby, modern rooms and bathrooms. If you’re fortunate to secure a room on a higher floor, you are offered stunning views of the nearby lagoon and Lagos’ commercial hub. The rooms are large, comfortable and very well appointed.
Rooms are large and spacious, elegant with plush carpets and a large bath area with great shower and bath. It has a lovely terrace for sundowners and atmosphere is always welcoming. A highlight of the hotel is no doubt the outside bar overlooking the lagoon where live music is performed a few times a week.
Southern Sun Hotel
Southern Sun Hotel is very accessible to all the major business areas of Lagos so it is quite ideal for business travelers. It also offers safety as the hotel is very security conscious. The food comes in a wide variety to meet different needs.
De Renaissance Hotel
The hotel is excellently located in Ikeja. It’s a short walk from the popular Ikeja City Mall and also close to the local and international airports and the Lagos Ibadan Expressway. It’s good for the business traveler who has dealings on the mainland.
The Avenue Suites
Nicely located. Great view of the city and harbor. The rooms are comfortable and well appointed.
Four Points by Sheraton
Four Points by Sheraton is a terrific, safe and convenient business hotel. Security is tken seriously with guards always on the gates to the car park. The outdoor Office Bar is a really good location and has live jazz music on weekend nights.
Lagos Oriental Hotel
You can’t talk about Lagos Oriental Hotel without invoking the word beautiful. All the facilities t this hotel meet the most exacting demands for comfort and service. Inside the hotel is a dream.
The hotel is located in one of the most dynamic and business districts of the city of Lagos. Well suited to the needs of business as well as pleasure travelers.
Epe Resort and Spa
An oasis of peace far removed from the hustle and bustle of Lagos. The resort is nice and quiet, great for meditation, relaxation and is generally a wonderful place for quality me-time.
Victoria Crown Plaza
Excellently located for business travelers. The suites are spacious and furnished to reflect everything a guest could need or want.
The MoorHouse Ikoyi
The Moorhouse is a haven amidst the muck and disorder of Lagos. It doesn’t really look like a hotel from outside but you get inside you become comfortable. Located in a secure neighborhood.
The hotel is conveniently located close to the airport hence convenient are on the Mainland. Preferred by many flight crews.
Just behind Sheraton, it is a good alternative. Not as pricey but offers the same convenience and ease of getting to the airport and doing business on the Mainland. There is a rooftop bar and swimming pool on the tenth floor.
Where to Eat
It’s a high end local food restaurant serving West African food. Yellow Chilli is a very clean place, typical African, with nice wooden tables and chairs, simple cutleries and placemats. The portions are generous. It is a great way to introduce the business traveler to the region’s cuisine.
This is a completely authentic Thai restaurant. The food is excellent and very flavorful. The duck dishes are particularly scrumptious.
A great place to eat. The food is delicately prepared and served. The Cordon Bleau is the best. It has been described as a small oasis in the middle of a busy city.
Villa Medici is a posh restaurant with modern luxury ambience. The food is perfect and service is wonderful. Very generous portions too.
This restaurant is famed for its sushi. The décor and setup is charming. The menu is unique and very creative.
Pearl Garden is a child-friendly restaurant. The food is real authentic Chinese and the menu is great.
A must see for seafood lovers. The Mongolian beef is highly recommended.
The environment is good and the food is excellent. Once you’re inside, theres a nice view of the water. They have a play area for children.
The food is as authentic as anything you would get at a decent restaurant in India. There is a large choice of Indian and oriental dishes. And it’s quite affordable too.
It’s a beautiful restaurant with a beautiful view. Staff know the food and build your menu based on what you like.
The nice restaurant is a world on its own and rightly so because that is the meaning of its name. There’s a great selection of Lebanese food.
Getting to Lagos by Air
The Murtala Muhammed International Airport, named after the slain Head of State, is the busiest in the country. It has two terminals- international and cargo- which are open 24 hours. It is located in Ikeja. The airport is well secured and professionally managed although it can be disorganized a lot of times.
On arrival, always ensure someone reliable is meeting you. You will usually wait at least as hour for luggage to arrive. When departing, be careful about people “helping” you; they almost always want some money. Officials are generally friendly and helpful.
Getting Around in Lagos
There are several ways of getting from one place to the other in Lagos. Many residents of this city have private cars. However, for those who do not and for visitors, particularly business travelers, there are taxi cabs at most hotels.
You can get a taxi from almost anywhere. The roads used to be dominated by the good old yellow and black stripe taxis but these days there are several additions of corporate cabs serving the middle class. These include the yellow cabs, blue cabs and red cabs.
If cabs are expensive, there are danfo buses. They are mostly painted yellow with black stripes where they operate on the Mainland and white and green where they operate on the Island. Danfos usually convey 14 passengers stopping intermittently at various bus stops. There is also the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) an initiative of the State government. These have dedicated lanes and so is a good way of escaping the ubiquitous traffic.
Kekes (Tricycles) are also a popular means of getting around in the city. But get ready for what is usually a rough ride as they weave through the traffic with abandon
There is a rail system and ferry service.