Nigeria, often dubbed the “Giant of Africa,” is a land teeming with diverse cultures, stunning landscapes, and a rich tapestry of experiences waiting to be discovered. Whether you’re an adrenaline junkie looking for your next adventure, a foodie with a love for exotic flavors, or a history buff in search of ancient traditions, Nigeria has something to offer.
Why Visit Nigeria?
From the rolling hills of Jos to the stunning beaches along the Atlantic Ocean, Nigeria is a country of diverse landscapes. Nature lovers will find solace in the Obudu Mountain Resort, while those who are more beach-oriented can explore places like Tarkwa Bay in Lagos.
Nigeria is a melting pot of cultures, with over 250 ethnic groups and a rich array of festivals, art, and traditions. Experience the grandeur of the Osun-Osogbo Festival or immerse yourself in the unique tapestry of languages, music, and dance that make Nigeria a cultural wonderland.
Adventure and Activities
If you are looking for adventure, Nigeria offers a variety of outdoor activities. Go hiking in the Aso Rock formations, take a canoe trip down the Niger River, or explore the bustling markets of Kano. The possibilities for adventure are endless.
Top Destinations in Nigeria
Often referred to as the “New York of Africa,” Lagos offers an exhilarating blend of commerce, art, and beachside beauty. Whether you’re haggling at the Lekki Market or soaking in contemporary African art at the Nike Art Gallery, Lagos offers an eclectic range of experiences for every traveler.
Far from the chaos of Lagos lies Abuja, the capital city designed with purpose and grandeur. Here, you can stroll through the manicured Millennium Park, marvel at the architectural wonders like the National Mosque and the National Assembly, and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere that sets this city apart.
If you’re a history buff or a nature lover, Calabar is your ideal destination. Known for its historical slave trade centers and the annual Calabar Carnival, this city offers a mix of educational and entertaining experiences. The nearby Afi Mountain Wildlife Sanctuary adds to its appeal for nature enthusiasts.
Step back in time with a visit to Kano, one of Africa’s oldest trading centers. With attractions like the 14th-century Kano City Walls and the vibrant Kurmi Market, Kano offers a deeply enriching experience that provides insights into traditional Nigerian life and history.
Traditional Nigerian Cuisine
This iconic West African dish is more than just a meal; it’s a symbol of unity and celebration. Made with rice, tomatoes, and a variety of spices, Nigerian Jollof Rice is often the star attraction at social gatherings and family events.
Pounded Yam and Egusi
Dive into the heart of Nigerian comfort food with Pounded Yam served alongside Egusi soup. The yam is boiled, pounded until stretchy, and served with a thick, melon seed-based soup. It’s a hearty meal that showcases the rich textures and flavors of Nigerian cuisine.
Meat lovers, rejoice! Suya is a popular Nigerian street food made from skewered and grilled meat, usually beef or chicken, that’s been marinated in a spicy peanut mixture. The smoky flavor and spicy kick make it a favorite among locals and tourists alike.
This deep-fried delicacy is made from ground black-eyed peas mixed with spices and onions. Often enjoyed as a snack or breakfast item, Akara is a testament to the versatility of Nigerian ingredients.
A savory steamed bean pudding, Moi Moi is rich in flavors and often includes ingredients like bell peppers, onions, and eggs. Whether eaten alone or as a side dish, it offers a different way to enjoy legumes.
A staple in many Nigerian homes, Fufu is a soft, stretchy, and starchy accompaniment made from various ingredients like cassava, yams, or plantains. It’s commonly served with soups and stews, providing a balanced meal that’s deeply rooted in Nigerian culinary traditions.
Grilled plantains, known locally as Boli, offer a sweet and smoky flavor that complements various kinds of meat and fish. Often found at roadside grills, Boli is a simple yet delicious dish that gives you a true taste of Nigerian street food.
Ofada Rice and Ayamase Sauce
A local variety of rice served with a spicy green pepper sauce, this dish is a staple in southwestern Nigeria. The unique, nutty flavor of Ofada rice pairs perfectly with the heat of the Ayamase sauce, making it a must-try for those seeking authentic Nigerian flavors.
Best Time to Visit
Dry Season (November to April)
If you prefer sunny days and lower humidity, the dry season is an ideal time for outdoor adventures and sightseeing. This is the best time to explore northern Nigeria and participate in desert safaris, as well as visit historical landmarks without the hindrance of rain.
Rainy Season (May to October)
Although the rainy season brings with it higher humidity and frequent showers, it’s the prime time to experience Nigeria’s lush landscapes. The scenery is at its most vibrant, and the rivers and waterfalls are in full flow. Consider it if you’re an avid nature lover or a photographer seeking to capture the beauty of the land.
Nigeria boasts a variety of cultural festivals year-round, such as the Osun-Osogbo Festival in August or the Argungu Fishing Festival in March. If you’re keen on experiencing Nigeria’s rich cultural tapestry, planning your visit around these events would offer an invaluable experience.
Harmattan Period (Late November to February)
This period is characterized by dry, dusty winds from the Sahara Desert. While the Harmattan gives the atmosphere a unique haze, it can also be harsh on the skin and respiratory system. It’s a unique time to visit, but those with certain health considerations should take precautions.
Nigeria has numerous public holidays, including religious and national celebrations like Eid and Independence Day. While these occasions are culturally enriching, they could also mean closures of certain amenities and crowded public spaces.
Practical Tips for Traveling to Nigeria
Currency and Payment Methods
The official currency of Nigeria is the Nigerian Naira (NGN). While credit and debit cards are increasingly accepted in major cities like Lagos and Abuja, cash remains king in many places, especially in rural areas. Currency exchange services are available in banks, hotels, and dedicated exchange bureaus. ATMs are widely available, but it’s advisable to use those in well-lit, secure areas.
Nigerian Naira current exchange rates
- 100.000 NGN = $126.74 or $1 = 789.00 Nigerian Naira
- 100.000 NGN = €116.45 or €1 = 858.74 Nigerian Naira
- 100.000 NGN = 99.71 British Pounds
- 100.000 NGN = 189.92 Australian Dollar
- 100.000 NGN = 171.06 Canadian Dollar
- 100.000 NGN = 1,322.64 Swedish Krona
- 100.000 NGN = 503.49 Polish Zloty
- 100.000 NGN = 2,827.20 Czech Koruna
- 100.000 NGN = 164,111.25 South Korean Won
- 100.000 NGN = 896.36 Chinese Yuan
- 100.000 NGN = 18,607.58 Japanese Yen
While Nigeria offers numerous attractions and rich cultural experiences, it’s essential to be mindful of safety. Stick to well-traveled routes, avoid traveling at night, and always keep your belongings secure. Tourists are advised to stay updated on local news and advisories.
Malaria is prevalent in Nigeria, so prophylactic medication is strongly recommended. Ensure all your vaccinations are up to date, and consider carrying a basic first-aid kit. Tap water is generally not safe for drinking, so bottled or boiled water is advisable.
Local Etiquette and Customs
Understanding basic Nigerian customs and etiquette can enrich your experience. For example, it’s considered polite to greet elders with a slight bow or lowering of the body. Also, using your left hand to give or receive items is often viewed as disrespectful.
Nigeria has a diverse range of transportation options, from domestic flights connecting major cities to local “Keke” tricycles for short distances. However, road conditions can vary, and traffic in cities like Lagos can be challenging.
Communication and Connectivity
English is the official language, making it easier for most tourists to communicate. Mobile data and Wi-Fi are widely available in urban areas, though network coverage can be spotty in rural regions.
- Nigeria Immigration Service – The official site for visa and immigration information, highly useful for understanding entry requirements and obtaining necessary travel documents.
- Travel Advisories – U.S. Department of State’s travel advisory page for Nigeria, a must-check for up-to-date safety information and advisories.
- TripAdvisor Nigeria Forum – A community-driven forum that offers real experiences, tips, and advice from other travelers who have visited Nigeria.
- Naija Nomads – A travel blog focused on Nigeria and other destinations, great for discovering off-the-beaten-path attractions and local experiences.
- Hotels.ng – A reliable platform for booking hotels in Nigeria, offering a variety of options from budget to luxury accommodations.
- Nairaland Forum – A widely-used Nigerian forum where you can find discussions about various travel-related topics, including transportation, accommodation, and things to do.
- Eat Drink Lagos – A blog devoted to the food scene in Lagos, invaluable for foodies looking to explore local cuisine.
- Weather.com Nigeria – For current weather forecasts in various Nigerian cities, helping you pack and plan accordingly.
- Nigeria Airports – The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria’s site, useful for information about airport facilities, flights, and other logistical details.
- Jumia Travel – A platform for not only booking hotels but also flights within and to Nigeria, helpful for budget planning.
From its diverse landscapes and vibrant cities to its rich cultural tapestry and delectable cuisine, Nigeria offers a travel experience that is both unique and enriching. Whether you’re an adventure seeker, a history enthusiast, or someone simply looking to immerse yourself in a new culture, Nigeria has something for everyone. By understanding the best times to visit, taking note of practical travel tips, and exploring the country’s top destinations, you can make the most out of your Nigerian journey. While the country presents its own set of challenges, the rewards are many — a lifetime of memories, new friendships, and a deeper understanding of one of Africa’s most dynamic nations.