Chaotic and congested, Lagos could be totally overwhelming. For some visitors, it is a dangerous place to live in, a city that has been named by BBC the fifth most dangerous city in the world. But for the inhabitants of this pulsating city, it is an urbane metropolitan with an irresistible infectious personality. Its uniqueness, beauty plus the profitable business environment make it attractive to business men and women from around the world who throng its shores daily.
Lagos is truly an amazing place to visit if you have a good understanding of how to get around. Divided into two parts, Lagos Mainland and Lagos Island, you can have a good taste of Lagos’ bustling day and night life. The Lagos Mainland is a potpourri of classes. It is largely inhabited by those in the lower, middle and upper classes. The Lagos Island on the other hand, is very highbrow. This area is largely inhabited by the upper class and a bit of the middle class. It is very posh in every sense of the word. You can easily get around till late in the night without fear. Also, Lagos Island offers some of the best scenes with its great landscape, architectural designs, the Lagoon and beaches. This is where you have the head offices of most banks. It is the commercial nerve centre of the city.
On arrival at the Murtala International Airport International Airport, you may experience a little delay at the immigration section depending on the number of airlines that arrived at the same time. If two or more airlines landed at the same time, the queue at the immigration could be long and tiring. You may have to exercise a little patient. You may also talk to an immigration official on the right queue to stay on. Often, the queue for foreign visitors moves after than that of nationals. After passport screening at the immigration point, the next point of call is baggage claim. More carousels have been installed and more refurbishment is currently on going at the airport. You shouldn’t spend more than ten minutes getting your luggage.
If you need a trolley, there is a trolley kiosk at the far end of the arrival hall where you have to pay N200 (less than $2) to pick a trolley. There are airport porters in blue uniform who can help you with your luggage if you need help. However, you may have to give them a tip for this. Otherwise, it is easier to get around with your luggage if they are well arranged in the trolley.
As you exit to the main arrival hall, there are officials of the Nigerian Customs who may just ask you a few questions on the content of your luggage. After this, your airline porters will request for your luggage tags which will be taken away from you. They do this for record purpose so that they will have it in their records that your luggage was taken away by you. If you have anyone waiting to receive you, fine. If not, there are accredited airport taxis outside that will take you safely to your destination at N6, 000($38) if you have a good bargaining power you can get it at N4, 000 ($25). There is also the option of Avis Car Rental and Hertz you can book for this at their desk inside the airport at the arrival hall.
Where to stay
There are many international hotel brands like Radisson Blu, Intercontinental, Southern Sun, Fourpoint by Sheraton, Sheraton, and Protea Hotels. There are other indigenous brands like Eko Hotel & Suites, La Cour, Oriental, The Cocoon amongst others.
Located on Ozumba Mbadiwe Road, Victoria Island, Radisson Blu Hotel is a five-star hotel that offers you a good view of the Lagos Lagoon. You have a choice to choose from its 170 rooms and suites. All the rooms come with free high-speed, wireless Internet. You will also have access to the jetty from the hotel’s bar. You can have a good meal in the stylish restaurants by the Lagoon. The hotel also has an on-site fitness centre, a wellness area with an outdoor pool, two saunas and flexible event rooms. The average nightly rate starts from $358.
Southern Sun Ikoyi Hotel is on the busy Alfred Rwane Road. It features 195 well furnished en-suite rooms. Each room has amenities that enhance the comfort of the guest. From crisp linens to writing desk, television with DSTV, tea and coffee making facilities, mini-bar, air-conditioning, complimentary WiFi, hairdryer, 24-hour room service and wakeup facility to name a few. The average nightly stay starts from $380.
If you are doing business on the Mainland, it is advisable you lodge at The Protea Hotel, on Isaac John Street, Ikeja or The Sheraton Hotel on Mobolaji Bank Anthony Way, Ikeja. Both hotels are about fifteen minutes’ drive from the airport if there is no traffic logjam. However, Ibis Hotel situated along the International Airport Road, Ikeja is not a bad place to lodge if you don’t want to be far away from the airport. It is less than ten minutes drive from the airport.
Where to eat
Lagos boasts of all kinds of restaurants. From the local ‘Mama Put’ joint (where you can have a taste of the local delicacy in a very traditional setting) to Italian, French, Chinese and seafood restaurants like Coral Blue. If you what to have a taste of the local cuisine in a safe and great environment with the right ambience, Terra Kulture located on Tiamiyu Savage Street, Victoria Island is the place to be.
Rodizzo Restaurant, The Place both located on Isaac John Street, Ikeja and Yellow Chili on Joel Ogunaike Street, Ikeja GRA are place to hang out on the Mainland. Rodizzo and The Place offer all kinds of English cuisine including some traditional foods. Yellow Chili has tasty local cuisines which cut across the country’s six geo-political zones. You can have a taste of Eba (cassava pudding) with Banga or ogbono soup, you may also want to try pounded yam (Yam paste) with any good soup. With N5, 000 ($32), you can have a good meal at any of these restaurants. Barcelos and KFC are also available on Isaac John Street, Ikeja for if you prefer finger foods. There are local brands of fast food joints like Sweet Sensation on the same street.
If you are staying on the Mainland, Ikeja City Mall, located at Alausa, affords you the opportunity to do your shopping under one roof. There are shops like Mr Price, Truworth, Ruff ‘n’ Tumble for children clothings, Glendora Book store, for books. There is a cinema, Silverbird Cinema, on the first floor where you can watch late night movies. Also there are restaurants and fast food joints like KFC.
On Lagos Island on the other hand, you can shop at The Palms Shopping Mall, Lekki. It also has Genesis Deluxe Cinema on its first floor. On Sanusi Fafunwa Street, there are a couple of mini shopping malls where you can buy clothing items. However, if you are interested in ethnic wears, Da Viva store at The Palms Mall offers very interesting pieces. You can also buy ethnic wears, miniature figurines, hand bags made of local fabric at Quintessence store at Parkview Estate, Ikoyi. Balogun market, situated at Marina, off Broad Street, is also a good place to get a good bargain but you need a guide’s assistance. It is a big open market.
The annual Black Heritage Festival takes place in the heart of the city of Lagos, Eko, annually in the month of April. It is a combination of literary festival, art exhibition, music, stage theatre at the Freedom Park, Lagos. The festival activities culminate into the famous Lagos Carnival. There is also the Eyo festival which takes place when an illustrious son is being celebrated or a very special event is taking place. It is usually a good sight to behold with the Eyo masquerades dressed up in the traditional white regalia with a matching hat.
If you are lover of theatre, you can stop by at Terra Kulture on Sunday evenings to have a taste of the local Nigerian stage play. The viewing time is 3pm and 6pm every Sunday and ticket is N3, 000 ($19). Different plays are usually staged from Wole Soyinka’s Death and the King’s Horseman to Sizwe Banzi is Dead by Athol Fugard. Also at Terra Kulture, lovers of visual art can have a taste of paintings by notable local artists like Bruce Onobrakpeya, Tola Wewe, Kolade Oshinowo amongst others. In addition, there are periodic exhibition of works by different artists. Red Door Art Gallery at Bishop Oluwole Street, Victoria Island is a good place to get a good deal on paintings if you want to buy.
There are many tourists’ sites in Lagos. You can take a trip to Badagary to experience the slave museum and other slavery monuments in the ancient town. Taking a trip to Epe Town is a great idea. On your way you can have a romance with nature at the Lekki Conservation Center, watching different animals in their natural habitat and walk the Canopy Walkway. You can also stop by at the Nike Art Gallery to shop for artefacts, traditional fabric and watch local drummers and dancers perform. The Epe Fish market is a nice place to bargain for fresh fish taken out of the lake.
To this end, Lagos is a city with unique essence and existence. It is a living urban city that is simultaneously busy, lonely, awake, tired, and alive. The choice is always yours whenever you visit.