Lagos Travel Guide: What to See, Do, and Eat in Lagos

by | Guides

Apr 24, 2022

Whatever you’re into, you’ll find that Lagos is anything you want it to be. The city is historic, untamed, and iconic. To know Lagos like a local might still be the most significant badge of honor for visitors.

Whatever you’re into, you’ll find that Lagos is anything you want it to be. The city is historic, untamed, and iconic. To know Lagos like a local might still be the most significant badge of honor for visitors.

The commercial capital of Nigeria, Lagos, is one place you have got to spend some time. In this article, a peek into the bustling city, we walk you through Lagos Roads. On these roads, we will sometimes get stuck in frustrating traffic. We sit in our cab and watch yellow Danfo buses maneuver their way out of small lanes and avenues, honking loudly at every turn. We watch as hawkers chase cars, beckoning customers to buy from them. We breathe the air of Africa as we cool off at the exquisite Eko Hotel, listening to some afrobeat music. 

Visa Requirements

Anyone seeking to travel to Lagos from a country that isn’t listed as an entry-free zone is going to need a visa. In this case, a Tourist/Visitor Visa. Luckily, getting a Nigerian Visa isn’t very difficult. All you need to do is visit a Nigerian Embassy in your country and present the following to them:

  • A National passport that is still valid for up to six months
  • A filled out VISA application form  
  • Two passport photographs 
  • Evidence of sufficient funds 
  • Nigerian Immigration Service Visa Payment receipt and Visa Acknowledgement receipt. 

You can check out the Nigeria Immigration Service page here for more details. 

How to Travel to Lagos

From wherever you boarded your flight, your plane is most likely going to land at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja. This is the airport in Nigeria’s capital city and the hub for most international flights. 

From the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, you can take another flight to Lagos. This is going to be a direct flight. 

You can, however, take a bus if you are not a fan of flying for too long. 

Nigerians can get to Lagos from any region in the country by bus or by car. 

The bus you board should be one from a registered transport company, so you are dropped off at an authorized park. Some credible registered transport companies in Nigeria include: AKTC (Akwa-Ibom State Mass Transit.), God is Good Motors, ABC Transit, etc. 

From the South, in a state like Cross River State, a bus ride to Lagos is going to take about twelve hours and will involve crossing a number of states. You want to leave early, so you don’t arrive late at night. Night movements in Nigeria are not exactly safe. 

Knowing Lagos

Lagos City is, basically, divided into two zones. The first is the mainland, and the second is the Island. 

Lagos Island, divided from the mainland by the Third Mainland Bridge, is considered the center of affluence in Lagos: most of Lagos’ exquisite hotels and structures can be found here. Lekki, Victoria Island (V.I), and Ikoyi all makeup Lagos Island. 

Lagos Island is popular for its calmness when compared to the mainland. Island people are often stereotyped to be the regular rich folks who just sit on large sofas in their large houses for hours on end, then go for a night out at an expensive bar in the evenings with friends. This stereotype isn’t totally false.

The mainland, on the other hand, is the ‘happening’ part of Lagos. You know, the part of the city that actually bustles. This includes areas like Yaba, Surulere, Ikeja, Apapa, Mushin, etc. 

You don’t get to see a lot of the exquisite buildings that you see on the Island here. On the mainland, every day, greets you with a Danfo’s honk, with the shuffling of feet. 

You step into the street, and it’s an ocean of people doing their business of being Nigerian. One city, two blends of life. Lagos.

Where to Stay in Lagos

Where you decide to stay in Lagos depends on a few things. Some are your budget, your personality, where you work, etc.  

If you are a quiet person who is big on the soft life and has the funds for it, then the Island is the place you should be. 

The good part of living on the Island is that you will be kept away from all the noise and will be living in a more secure part of Lagos. Houses on the Island are often more furnished and more than ones on the mainland.

However, the bad part is that traffic is going to weigh you down a lot, especially if you work on the mainland. A person who lives on the Island yet works on the mainland is going to deal with traffic on the third mainland bridge often. 

You should live on the mainland if your budget is not that heavy. And also, especially if you don’t own a car. The good part of living here is that transportation isn’t going to be much of a problem for you. Bus stops are easy to locate from here, and the cost is relatively cheaper. 

The bad part is: that the houses on the mainland are often not very well furnished, and you will have to deal with traffic on the Third Mainland Bridge if you work on the Island.

Live in a place like Ikeja, which is something like a ‘bridge’ between the mainland and the Island, to enjoy a blend of both the island lifestyle and the mainland lifestyle. 

How to Get Around Lagos

If you live on the Island or you have a lot of money, get around Lagos in your Uber. Just place an order on the Uber App, and your driver is going to come to pick you up. 

If you don’t have so much money or aren’t a fan of Uber, then find your way to your bus stop in a Maruwa (a Keke). 

Bus stops feature buses that are headed for different areas within Lagos. The conductors call the names of the places the buses are headed at the top of their voices. Don’t hesitate to step into a bus you consider safe.

What to See and Do in Lagos

What to see in Lagos? Two words, see Lagos. 

Imagine Lagos to be a beautiful piece of painting, and make it your goal to see every part of it, to grasp every detail, and to appreciate every aesthetic.

  • Begin your journey by seeing the ‘bustling’ areas. 
  • Take a trip to Mushin, and watch the streets swarming with people. Breathe. 
  • Watch the woman who roasts bole at the corner of the street. 
  • Smile at the children who skitter past in their school uniforms. 
  • Make sure to see what the Island looks like at night when the traffic is gone. It looks just beautiful, those waters, those streets in the gleaming street lighting. 
  • Go partying with your friends and family at the exquisite Olu Beach. 
  • Visit the slums of Lagos. 
  • Spend a night at Eko Hotels. 
  • Attend an Afrobeat Concert. 
  • A car date in the traffic might not be such a bad idea.
  • Visit the Lekki Conservation Center. 
  • Visit Nike Art center. 
  • Visit Freedom Park.

What to Eat in Lagos

Don’t leave Lagos without eating the following: 

  • Agege Bread and Akara: Agege bread is a soft loaf of leavened bread rich with milk, and Akara is a fried cake made of beans. Together, Akara and bread bring heaven to the insides of your mouth.
  • Amala and Ewedu: The Yorubas of Lagos don’t joke with Amala, and for a good reason. It tastes like everything Lagos has to offer you. Beauty. Amala is sold in eateries and restaurants. 
  • Bole: this is just roasted plantain and a spicy sauce. Heaven, I am telling you. Heaven. 
  • Rice and Pepper-soup; Lagosians are known to like pepper. You, the newest Lagosian, should learn to like pepper too. 

Shopping in Lagos

Lagos Markets are huge and swarming with people. It is not advisable for a newcomer to just venture into the markets to avoid being pickpocketed. Don’t go into a Lagos Market just yet until you have made a friend who can take you there.

Stick to getting your groceries from Lagos malls. Some renowned malls in Lagos and their addresses include:

How to Stay Safe in Lagos

This is how you stay safe in Lagos: 

  • Don’t cuss at strangers. 
  • Act normal. Don’t act like a stranger. Don’t act lost. Acting lost is going to attract looters. People who act lost in Lagos are called JJCs. JJC means Johnny Just Come, that is to say, someone who does not know his way around and can be easily swayed. 
  • Don’t stay out in dark corners for too long, especially if no one else is there. 
  • Alert others if you find out that someone you don’t know keeps following you. 
  • Keep your mobile phone in your pocket or your bag; don’t hold it out in the open, as you risk having it snatched when you hold it this way.
  • Call the police. 

How to Make Friends in Lagos

Lagos people are normal people. You don’t have to try too hard to be friends with them. Talk to them like you will talk to people anywhere else in the world. Be nice, be respectful, and don’t forget to wear a smile. 

Your next friend can be anyone. It can be your neighbor, your Uber driver, or that person you shared a bus with. 

What Not to Do and What to Avoid in Lagos

  • Don’t break the law! Be Nice!
  • Do not cross highways on foot. Use the pedestrian bridge.
  • If you’re in a car, always roll up your window.
  • Avoid walking around at night alone.

Photo by Nupo Deyon Daniel on Unsplash

By Allison

Allison is enthusiastic about finding information and sharing guides about Lagos. He also covers all exciting topics about Africa at Lonely Africa. He lives in Lagos with his wife Antje and cat Leo and loves fabric crafting, and watching TV in his spare time.

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