Five Things First Time Travellers To Ghana Should Know
- Don't eat with your left hand. Ghanaians consider it to be profane and will only shake hands or give money with the right hand. Keep this cultural quirk in mind, so you don't offend the locals.
- Practice your bargaining skills. If you're planning on visiting the markets, you'll need to know how to haggle. The general rule of thumb is to cut the price in half and work from there. You can even try walking way to drive a harder bargain.
- Avoid the vodka. If you're at a bar or club, it's often watered down and expensive to buy. Instead, stick to local drinks like Star Beer or try Akpeteshie, a local Ghanaian liquor made from fermented sugar cane.
- You need a yellow fever vaccination. You won't be allowed into the country without proof that you've had the immunisation. Keep in mind that you need to have a shot at least ten days before you arrive for it to be considered valid.
- The best currencies to exchange are US dollars, Euros or the British pound. You'll get a better exchange rate at banks or foreign exchange bureaus. It's also advisable to keep some cash on you as ATMs are notorious for not working and only accepting specific cards.
Best Time To Visit Ghana
The best time to visit Ghana is during its dry season. From October to April, there's little chance of rain ruining any activity and the lower humidity makes sightseeing more comfortable. Mosquitos are less of a problem, and the country's dirt roads are easier to navigate.
The dry months are also a top choice for an African safari. While Ghana might not be the first choice for wildlife spotting, its Mole National Park has plenty to see.
As travellers from Europe travel to the country from June to August, prices will start to spike. Ghana's major cultural sites, beaches and national parks will be full of people, and you'll need to make reservations well in advance.
If you want to avoid the crowds and the price tag, plan your trip between September and December. You'll have the country's top sights to yourself and pick up excellent deals if you're on a budget.
Due to the country's hot climate, Ghana's beaches can be visited any time of year. You'll just have to contend with the occasional downpours during the rainy season.
Accra is the vibrant capital city of Ghana. It holds a reputation for being one of the safest cities in Africa and has plenty to offer the intrepid traveller.
Its streets are lined colonial buildings, ramshackle townships and lively markets. Accra's highlights include its growing foodie scene and the National Museum which houses some of the most significant slave trade artefacts.
Kumasi is the former capital of the Ashanti Kingdom. Located in the south of Ghana, it's the country's second-largest city and is a top destination for culture vultures.
The city is home to Ashtani artisans who specialise in creating Kente cloth, gold jewellery and wooden carvings. Visit the craft villages on Kumasi's outskirts to get your own or see beautiful examples displayed at the National Culture Centre.
Another notable highlight is the Manhyia Palace Museum. You can see how the Ashanti kings used to live, and if you time your visit right, you can even meet the current Regent.
Kokrobite is a lovely coastal town that deserves a visit from any die-hard beach bum. Its beautiful Langma Beach is only 30km from the capital, and it offers a laid-back escape from the metropolitan bustle.
It's where all the Ghanaian Rastafarians hang out and is also home to the Academy of African Music and Art. Head here to hear some of the best local music and watch live performances from the students.
Top Attractions in Ghana
Cape Coast Castle
Built in the 15th century, the Cape Coast Castle is one of the country's most impressive slave forts. Centuries ago, it was used as a holding station for African slaves before they were sent to Europe or the Americas. Today, the castle is a museum and offers visitors a glimpse into one of the humankind's darkest periods.
Inside you'll find information on Ghana's history, the local culture and how the 400-year slave trade affected the country. Visitors can also join guided tours that will take you through the dungeons and let you walk in the slave's footsteps to the "door of no return".
St George's Castle
The small fishing town of Elmina is home to St George's Castle one of Ghana's most important historical landmarks. Built in 1482 by Portuguese traders, it became the headquarters of the Dutch West India Company for two centuries.
It was here where captured slaves were brought and kept in dungeons until they were forced to board a ship.
A visit here is a must for anyone that wants to learn more about this dark chapter in Ghana's history. You'll be able to take tours to the dungeons and find out about the horrors that the slaves faced at the hands of their capturers.
Kakum National Park
While Ghana isn't the most popular safari destination in Africa, it still boasts a plethora of wildlife. Kakum National Park is located in a dense tropical rainforest and is teeming with fascinating animals.
It's home to the rare forest elephants, over 250 different species of birds and smaller creatures like meerkats and civets. One of the best ways to explore the park is to go on the canopy walkway. It's over 350 metres long and 30 metres above the ground, giving visitors a unique perspective to spot the inhabitants of the forest.
And if a few hours is not enough for you to explore Kakum, there are campsites for those who want to stay overnight.
Mole National Park
Mole National Park is Ghana's largest national park. It's one of the country's top safari destinations and is home to elephants, leopard, and the rare roan antelope. Lions have also been re-introduced to the park, but sightings are few and far between.
The park is also a haven for bird lovers. There are more than 250 avian species here with plenty of opportunities to see them in action.
Guests can choose from game drives or walking safaris with an experienced guide. For those that want to spend the night, there is a small motel with basic amenities.
Busua Beach is one of the most popular spots on Ghana's beautiful coastline. Over the years, its relaxed vibe and cheap accommodation options have made it a magnet for curious backpackers.
But besides its coastal beauty, Busua is also a great base camp and has lots to offer. It's one of the best places in the country to learn how to surf. There are a few surf schools that you can go to for daily lessons, or you can join one of the popular surfing camps.
Busua is also close to other attractions, the most notable being Fort Metal Cross in Dixcove.
Major International Airports in Ghana
- Kumasi Airport
- Kotoka International Airport