With the rise of foreign economic interest in Africa, it’s no surprise that Africa’s most populous country has received plenty of attention lately. Monetary matters aside, Nigeria’s main cities have been becoming more and more cosmopolitan over the years, and that has directly contributed to an increase in tourism and popularity among foreigners.
After decades of dictatorship, Nigeria declared independence in 1960, and has since been seen as an energetic reformer. The government’s ups and downs haven’t stopped Nigerians from living joyful lives, though: in 2003 a study that included more than 65 countries worldwide showed that Nigeria has the happiest people on Earth. So, if you were doubting your travel plans before, these findings should eliminate any uncertainty.
The Top 10: What to Do in Nigeria
1. Calabar Carnival:
This carnival takes place the day after Christmas, and Nigerians from all over flock to Calabar to join in the festivities. Bright dancers, parties, parades: it goes on all day and all night. It’s a definite must-do if you’re in Nigeria at this time of the year.
2. Africa Shrine:
Visit the concert ground of the father of Afrobeat, Fela Kuti—“the shrine” as Nigerians know it— in Ikeya on mainland Lagos, near the airport. Fela’s son, himself a world-renowned musician, and other homegrown artists play there regularly.
3. Oba’s Palace:
Located in Lagos, this is the home of the ceremonial sovereign of Nigeria. In order to visit you must obtain permission beforehand; if you haven’t done so, try at least to drive by it.
We recommend hiring a tour guide to visit the country’s capital to get a true local’s viewpoint. For more on Abuja, check out our city page [LINK].
5. Obudu Mountain Ranch:
This gorgeous resort, located in the town of Obudu, used to be a cattle ranch. Now it’s a high-up getaway situated in the Sankwala Mountains. Among its attractions are a cable car ride through the mountains and a golf course.
6. Yankari Game Reserve:
This is an amazing wildlife reserve in northeastern Nigeria. Its location, on the West African savanna, allows tourists to watch wildlife in its natural habitat. It is also Nigeria’s largest national park.
Also known as the Sacred Grove, this outdoor art commune (accessible by train from Lagos) is situated in a forest known for its mystical past. The structures in this park, such as the Temple of Osun, are truly stunning.
8. Argungu Festival:
A fishing and culture festival in Argungu in Kebbi State, the Argungu Festival is one the oldest and best known such events in the country. The festival is centered on a competition in which participants compete using old-fashioned fishing tools over who can catch the largest fish.
9. Eyo Festival:
If you like dressing up, this festival is for you. Based in Lagos, the masquerade parade takes place in September or October each year. Check the dates while planning your trip.
Visit one of Nigeria’s most beautiful states and get closer to the arid but spectacular scenery of the Sahara. Don’t miss the tour of the Emir’s Palace and the Durbar celebrations. Every year at the end of Ramadan, hundreds of knights parade in honor of the Emir in their traditional attire, showcasing their riding abilities over their horses.
When to Go
The weather is fairly stable throughout the year. Nigeria has a rainy season and a dry season. To avoid rain showers and enjoy high temperatures with low humidity, it is best to travel to Nigeria between November and March. During this period, temperatures can reach over 104 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius) in the shade. December and January witness the Harmattan, sand clouds from the Sahara that linger in the air and sometimes make visibility quite poor (something to bear in mind if you wish to take internal flights). The phenomenon is more common in the north, since it is closer to the desert. April to September is very humid and quite warm 77 degrees Fahrenheit (25 degrees Celsius.) All in all, you won’t need many warm clothes at all!