Best Things to Do in Nigeria

Best Things to Do in Nigeria

Experience Nigeria's Best Unique Activities

WRITTEN BYBryan Jacinto
PUBLISHED ONDecember 10, 2023

Picture yourself venturing Nigeria into one of Africa's top countries. With its enthralling history, vibrant culture, compelling natural scenery, and delicious cuisine, every destination offers a unique discovery for an exciting travel experience.

This guide offers a brushed-up tour around Nigeria's best offerings. From historical landmarks that time-travel you to centuries ago, enchanting natural wonders, a mouthwatering culinary journey, festivals that put up a cultural extravaganza, to unique experiences you can only find here – we've outlined it all. Sit back and gear up as we navigate this virtual tour to prepare you for your actual one!

Historical and Cultural Landmarks

Steeped in history, Nigeria hosts a plethora of intriguing historical and cultural landmarks, captivating travelers from every corner of the world. Let's start with a few you certainly can't afford to miss:

  • Aso Rock: This 400-meter rock formation dominates the landscape of Abuja, Nigeria's capital city. Its geological significance and natural beauty make it a must-visit destination for all.
  • Old Oyo National Park: Rich in human history, the park is home to remnants of Old Oyo, the political capital of the Yoruba Empire.
  • The Ancient Nok Settlement, Kaduna: Visit the motherland of Africa's ancient civilization. Explore an area that was a thriving center of commerce and art around 2500 years ago.
  • Olumo Rock: Located in Abeokuta, this rock was a refuge during inter-tribal wars and is thus incredibly significant to local history.
  • Sukur Cultural Landscape: A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Sukur is African's first cultural landscape to receive a World Heritage List inscription. It's a magnificent blend of the natural environment and artificial structures.

To bring your exploration full circle, remember that each landmark tells a captivating story. Therefore, visiting them is about sightseeing and delving into Nigeria's vibrant history and culture.

Natural Wonders

Get ready to explore the beauty of Nigeria. This jewel in West Africa boasts stunning natural features, from breathtaking waterfalls to serene wildlife sanctuaries. Here are some must-visit natural attractions:

  • Zuma Rock: Another magnificent rock formation, known as the "Gateway to Abuja," symbolizes Nigeria's natural beauty.
  • Yankari National Park: A wildlife haven where you can spot elephants, baboons, and even lions, it's also home to Wikki Warm Springs, a natural water source with rejuvenating properties.
  • Cross River National Park: Get up close with biodiversity in this rainforest, boasting unique and endangered creatures like the Cross River gorilla and drill monkey.
  • Erin Ijesha Waterfalls: Rumored to have therapeutic effects, the refreshing cascades of water here are a refreshing respite from the urban hustle.

Are you interested in a more extensive list of incredible spots worth exploring in Nigeria? Check out our comprehensive guide to the best places to visit in Nigeria.

Culinary Journey

Taking a culinary expedition in Nigeria is an exciting taste adventure and a chance to delve into its vibrant culture. With an assortment of regional dishes, each offering unique flavors, Nigerian cuisine is an intriguing exploration. Here are some stand-out dishes you won't want to miss:

  • Jollof Rice: A delicious blend of rice, tomatoes, onions, and spices often served with fried plantains and grilled chicken. This dish has sparked a friendly rivalry between Nigeria and neighboring Ghana over who makes the better version.
  • Suya: Nigeria's popular street food. Its skewered grilled meat (often beef) marinated in its unique spice mix featuring ground peanuts, cayenne pepper, and other seasonings.
  • Egusi Soup: This is a hearty soup made from melon seeds, often accompanied by chunks of meat, fish, or poultry, and served with pounded yam or garri.
  • Pounded Yam with Egusi soup: Pounded Yam is a staple food in Nigeria. It's usually mashed until stretchy, and combined with Egusi soup, it delivers a genuinely Nigerian dining experience.
  • Akara: This is a deep-fried bean cake enjoyed as breakfast or snack. They are delicious, filling, and often served with pap - a traditional Nigerian cornmeal porridge.

Beyond this list, countless local dishes are ready to delight your culinary curiosity. When you're in Nigeria, don't hesitate to try something new and let your taste buds experience the authentic flavor of this vibrant African nation.

Festivals and Events

One of the best ways to understand Nigeria's vibrant culture and rich history is to take part in its many colorful festivals and life-enriching events. Here are a few you shouldn't miss:

  • Eyo Festival, Lagos: Experience the unique Eyo Masquerade ceremony in Lagos, a processional event rich in Yoruba tradition.
  • Argungu Fishing Festival, Kebbi: Join the locals in an exciting fishing competition. This festival also showcases traditional music, dance, and arts and crafts.
  • Osun-Osogbo Festival, Osogbo: Pay homage to the Yoruba goddess of fertility and abundance in an annual spiritual celebration in the sacred Osun forest.
  • New Yam Festival, Igbo Land: Celebrate the yam harvest with the Igbo people, featuring traditional music, dance, and the symbolic roasting and consumption of yams.
  • Durban Festival, Kano: Witness one of the largest horse festivals in Africa, filled with pageantry, music, and a showcase of Hausa culture.
  • Carniriv, Rivers State: Let loose at one of West Africa's largest carnivals, featuring music concerts, boat regattas, and traditional wrestling matches.

Regardless of when you plan your Nigerian adventure, you're sure to find a traditional event, dynamic festival, or cultural celebration that offers a taste of the country's diverse histories and vibrant present.

Shopping and Local Crafts

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  • Arts and Crafts Markets: The 'Lekki Arts and Crafts Market' and 'Nike Art Gallery' are renowned for their extensive collection of local handicrafts. Here, you can find unique handmade items that reflect Nigerian culture and traditions, including beautifully carved woodwork, vibrant textiles, and intricate beadwork.
  • Local Fabric: Nigeria is famous for its traditional textile industry. The 'Aso Oke' and 'Ankara' fabrics—brightly colored and often featuring intricate patterns—are some of the specialties you shouldn't miss. They're available from markets such as 'Tejuosho Market' and 'Balogun Market'.
  • Pottery: 'Dada Pottery' in Ilorin, one of Nigeria's oldest indigenous industries, offers a range of pottery items that are beautiful and functional. You can watch artisans at work, molding clay pots and vases before your very eyes.
  • Leather Products: Savvy shoppers flock to the 'Kano Leather Market' for its quality leather products, including bags, shoes, and belts. Tradition blends with contemporary design, creating a unique blend of aesthetics and functionality.

Remember, bargaining is part of the shopping culture in Nigerian markets. Don't shy away from negotiating the price—it's all part of the fun!

Unique Experiences

Every journey is unique, but immersing yourself in the distinct local culture will only elevate your Nigerian experience. So, don your exploratory cap and get ready to encounter the unexpected!

Outdoor Activities

If you're an outdoor enthusiast, Nigeria won't disappoint you. Here are some activities that you should consider:

  • Safari at Yankari National Park: Meet African elephants, buffalo, and apes face to face in their natural habitat and observe bird species that you won't see anywhere else.
  • Mountain Climbing in the Mambilla Plateau: Experience a breathtaking view and fresh mountain air at Nigeria's highest point.
  • Boat Cruise in Lagos: Cruise the Lagos lagoon and get a different perspective of this vibrant city. Don’t forget to glimpse the beautiful sunset from the boat.
  • Surfing at Tarkwa Bay: Catch some waves or just soak up the sun at Tarkwa Bay’s beautiful beach.
  • Wildlife Viewing at Okomu National Park: Watch for forest elephants, chimpanzees, and other endangered species.

Nigeria's diverse weather conditions significantly influence planning your outdoor activities.

Are you contemplating when is the perfect time to explore Nigeria's outdoors? We've got the answer right here for you. Explore our well-researched guide on the best time to visit Nigeria.

Transportation Options

When it comes to getting around Nigeria, you have numerous transportation options. To help you navigate efficiently and safely, here's a simple breakdown:

  • Air Travel: Domestic flights in Nigeria connect significant cities such as Lagos, Abuja, and Kano. Airlines like Arik Air, Air Peace, and Dana Air provide regular services.
  • Rail Travel: The Nigerian railway network is an affordable and scenic way to travel. Comfortable sleeping cars for overnight journeys and restaurant cars are available on most trains.
  • Inter-city Buses: Daily buses run from city to city, providing a cost-effective, albeit slower, option. Companies like ABC Transport and GIG Mobility operate comprehensive networks.
  • Taxis: Taxis are abundant in metropolitan areas. You can hail them from the street or use ride-hailing apps like Uber and Bolt for convenience and safety.
  • Car Rental: Consider renting a car from reputable companies like Avis or Hertz for more flexibility and convenience. Remember that driving in Nigeria can be challenging due to traffic and varying road conditions.
  • Ferries: In coastal areas and around Lagos Lagoon, ferry services offer a unique and leisurely mode of transport.
  • Motorbike Taxis: Known as "okada," these are a popular form of transport in urban areas and can navigate traffic better than cars, though they might not be the safest option.

You might also consider renting cars if you prefer privacy and control over your travel itinerary. However, before hitting the road, you must familiarize yourself with local driving rules and practices. We have a detailed driving guide for Nigeria that provides all the information needed to ensure a smooth driving experience in this vibrant African nation.

Safety Considerations

Safety should always be a priority when you're visiting a new country. Here's what you need to know about staying safe in Nigeria:

  • Stay Informed: Ensure you are updated on Nigeria's current news and events. It can be done using local newspapers, TV stations, or reliable social media channels.
  • Respect Local Customs: Understanding and complying with Nigerian customs and traditions can help avoid unnecessary confrontations or misinterpretations with locals.
  • Behave Responsibly: Refrain from any illegal activities and always respect the law of the land.
  • Health Precautions: Ensure you're up-to-date on routine vaccines before every trip. Malaria is common in Nigeria, so consider taking preventive medication.
  • Local Assistance: In emergencies, remember that the local police number is 112 or 911.
  • Beware of Scams: Be wary of unsolicited approaches from individuals claiming to have lucrative business proposals, as it may be a scam. Always verify the information before making any commitments.

As with any travel destination, maintaining awareness of your surroundings and taking sensible precautions can significantly reduce your risk. Remember, your safety and security are primarily your responsibility when overseas.

Visa Requirements

Before embarking on your adventure to Nigeria, one of the most significant points of preparation is understanding visa requirements. Be aware requirements can vary, so it's wise to stay informed:

  • Most non-African nationals, including U.S. citizens, need a visa to enter Nigeria. You can obtain a visa from the Nigerian embassy or consulate in your country of residence.
  • There are different types of visas depending on the purpose of your visit. Some common visas include tourist, business, and temporary work visas.
  • Documentation needed for visa application usually includes a valid passport, passport-sized photos, proof of accommodation in Nigeria, a return ticket, and evidence of financial support during your stay.
  • The processing time for a Nigerian visa can vary. It's advised to apply well in advance of your travel dates.
  • Visa fees depend on the type of visa and your country of residence. Check the precise fee with the Nigerian embassy or consulate where you’re applying.

Weather Conditions

If you're planning a trip to Nigeria, it's crucial to familiarize yourself with the weather patterns. Knowing what to expect on the weather front can significantly enhance your trip:

  • Nigeria experiences a tropical climate characterized by high humidity and a wet and dry season. The southern coastal region has a longer wet season, while the northern region experiences a more extreme dry season.
  • The rainy season typically starts in April and ends in October. You can expect increased humidity and frequent, heavy downpours during this time.
  • The dry season falls between November and March. The weather during this period is characterized by hot, dry Harmattan winds blowing in from the Sahara Desert. It means relatively cooler nights and hot days with plenty of dust.
  • The average temperature in Nigeria ranges from 22°C (72°F) to 36°C (97°F), with the coastal regions being more temperate compared to the inland areas.
  • For light travel, the best time to visit Nigeria is during the dry season. However, planning your trip in the wet season would be advisable if you are interested in experiencing the unique rainy season or local festivals.

While planning your visit, keep the distinct climatic patterns in mind and pack accordingly to get the most out of your Nigerian adventure.

Importance of an International Driving Permit (IDP) in Nigeria

If you plan on exploring Nigeria beyond the confines of a tour bus, possessing an IDP is highly recommended. It's not just a valid and recognized form of identification but can also serve as a bridge to the country's extensive road network. Here's why:

  • Instant Approval and Fast Processing: You can quickly obtain an IDP with near-instant approval. It means less waiting time and more planning time for your trip.
  • Valid from 1 to 3 years: With long validation periods ranging from 1 to 3 years, you can rest assured knowing your travel plans won't be hindered by IDP expiration.
  • Legal Overseas Driving: With an IDP, you have the legal right to drive in Nigeria, offering an independent and flexible mode of transportation.
  • Multi-lingual Translation: An IDP is translated into 12 languages. It facilitates smoother interactions with local authorities or rental companies and can immensely benefit non-English-speaking regions.
  • Worldwide Recognition: The IDP is recognized in over 150 countries. Even though this article focuses on Nigeria, your IDP can come in handy in many other countries should you decide to continue your journey.
  • Worldwide Express Shipping: No matter where you are, you can receive your IDP promptly. It allows you to make last-minute travel decisions without worrying about shipping duration.

Therefore, ensuring you have an IDP is crucial to your Nigeria travel preparation. It can ease your journey and provide much-needed security as you explore this diverse and vibrant country.

Closing Thoughts

Whether you're an avid history buff, natural wonder seeker, food lover, or festival enthusiast, Nigeria is a country brimming with distinct experiences awaiting discovery. From traversing historical and cultural landscapes to partaking in adrenaline-pumping outdoor activities, there's much more to Nigeria than meets the eye.

Whatever your preferred vacation style, Nigeria is eager to welcome you. Remember, your safety is paramount, and appropriate documentation, such as your visa and International Driving Permit (IDP), is vital.

Ready to hit the road? Apply for your IDP today and unlock your Nigerian journey.

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