Places in Ghana

Top events in Ghana

April
05

Usually peaking in activity between 1130 and 1300, this popular and accessible festival is held at the Ashanti royal palace in Kumasi about eight...

April
20

The least traditional of Ghana's local festivals, this enjoyable fundraising event has taken place every Easter since 2003, with the cliffs above...

May
03

The centrepiece of this famous 300-year-old hunting festival is the deer (or, more accurately, antelope) hunt, which has the town’s two oldest...

Bean in Ho marketplace, Ghana
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Bean in Ho marketplace, Ghana

© iStockphoto / Thinkstock

Ghana Travel Guide

Key Facts
Area

238,533 sq km (92,098 sq miles).

Population

25.2 million (2013).

Population density

106 per sq km.

Capital

Accra.

Government

Republic. Gained independence from the UK in 1957.

Head of state

President John Dramani Mahama since 2012.

Head of government

President John Dramani Mahama since 2012.

Electricity

220 volts AC, 50Hz; usually British-style plugs with three square pins.

They call Ghana “Africa for beginners”, which in many ways is quite the compliment. It’s a friendly and largely safe country, with a list of enticements as long as an Accra traffic jam: for a start, you’ll find sunshine, beaches, wildlife, national parks and a deeply colourful cultural heritage. The long tropical coastline is in some ways the most natural draw card for travellers, but you’re unlikely to come to Ghana for the sole purpose of lying on a beach. There’s too much going on for that.

The capital, Accra, is a vibrant but often misunderstood city, a heaving metropolis of food stalls and football shirts, music and markets, swish hotels and swirling street life. It has few big sights as such, but makes for an engaging introduction to the country as a whole. Further along the coast, there’s just as much to absorb in seaside settlements like Cape Coast, once a slave port but now a cultural destination in its own right. Its dark past is testament to the various European powers that at different times held sway in the region.

Inland, meanwhile, Ghana sets out its eco-credentials with habitats ranging from savannah to dense rainforest and hiker-friendly mountains to relatively arid sub-Saharan plains. Many of the individual national parks and game reserves are rather small compared to some other African countries, but the network is extensive.

In the far north, the plains of Mole National Park are still home to elephants, while in the south the forested Kakum National Park has a hugely popular treetop walkway, not to mention a range of animal and birdlife.

The northern city of Kumasi, the ancient capital of the Ashanti Kingdom, is another major draw. It remains the home of the Asantehene (Ashanti King) who holds court at his palace every sixth Sunday – one of many colourful traditional festivals, full of pomp and pageantry, that can be can still be seen throughout the country.

Travel Advice

Last updated: 05 March 2015

The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. 'We' refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.


Crime

Most visits to Ghana are trouble free, but incidents of petty and violent crime do occur. Avoid carrying large sums of money or valuables, use a hotel safe whenever possible and be particularly vigilant when withdrawing cash from ATMs.

Take care at public beaches and avoid going to the beach on your own. Theft is the main problem, but there have been isolated incidents of sexual assault.

Theft of luggage and travel documents occurs at Kotoka International Airport and in hotels. Make sure your passport is secure at all times and don’t leave baggage unattended. Be wary of offers of help at the airport unless from uniformed porters or officials. All permanent staff at the airport wear an ID card showing their name and a photo. ID cards without a photo are not valid. If you are being collected at the airport, confirm the identity of your driver by asking for ID. British nationals have been robbed by impostors who have approached them before the main arrivals area pretending to be their driver.

There has been an increase in street crime in Accra over the past 6 months. If you’re visiting Accra you should be vigilant, particularly at night. Avoid travelling alone and where possible try not to walk to and from destinations. In 2014, there were cases of violent robberies involving foreign nationals who have been attacked and robbed while travelling in taxis after dark. There have also been incidents where an assailant has been concealed in the boot of the taxi. A number of foreign nationals in Tamale have recently been attacked and robbed by machete wielding individuals. You should travel around by private car and avoid walking on the roads, or using a motor scooter or bicycle after dark in the Tamale area.

If you’re unlucky enough to be caught up in an armed robbery, you should immediately comply with the attackers’ demands. Those who have suffered injury or worse during such attacks have been perceived as not complying fully or quickly enough. The vast majority of those who endure such attacks, and follow this advice, do so without lasting physical harm.

Most armed robberies occur at night though some incidences have happened during daytime. Be vigilant and drive with doors locked.

Scams

British nationals are increasingly being targeted by scam artists operating in West Africa. The scams come in many forms - romance and friendship, business ventures, work and employment opportunities, and can pose great financial risk to victims. You should treat with considerable caution any requests for funds, a job offer, a business venture or a face to face meeting from someone you have been in correspondence with over the internet who lives in West Africa.

If you or your relatives or friends are asked to transfer money to Ghana you should make absolutely sure that it is not part of a scam and that you have properly checked with the person receiving the money that they are requesting it. If the caller claims to be in distress, you should ask whether they have reported the incident (by phone or e-mail) to the British High Commission in Accra.

If you have sent money to someone you believe has scammed you and are contacted by a police officer for more money to help get your money back, then this is possibly another part of the scam. Scam artists have also been known to use the identity of officials at the British High Commission in Accra. If you receive an email from someone claiming to be an official at the British High Commission, contact the officer using the phone numbers or contact details for the British High Commission.

Local travel

As a result of occasional local Chieftancy and land disputes, isolated inter-ethnic violence and civil unrest can occur at any time including in the Northern, Upper East and Volta Regions.

There have been reports of violent clashes in the Bawku Municipality in the Upper East Region of Ghana which has left 2 people dead and 1 person injured.

Following sporadic violence, the government has imposed a curfew in some parts of the Northern and Volta regions. The curfew in Nakpanduri is from 7pm to 5am daily and affects the surrounding communities: Kpatritings, Bonbila, Borgni Boatarrigu and Sakagu. The curfew in Bimbilla is from 9pm to 5am daily. The curfew in Alvanyo and Nkonya in the Volta region is from 8pm to 5am daily.

If you are considering travel to the Northern Region, remain alert to the potential for new outbreaks of fighting. Keep in touch with daily developments through the local media.

Flooding is common in the Upper West, Upper East and Northern Regions during the rainy season (March to November). You should monitor local weather reports and expect difficulties when travelling to affected areas during this season.

Road travel

You can drive in Ghana using an International Driving Permit or a local driving licence. A UK driving licence is not valid. If you’re applying for a local driving licence from the Ghana DVLA,
you must get your UK driving licence authenticated by the UK DVLA. You should carry your driving licence or International Driving Permit with you at all times when driving.

Roads are mainly in a poor condition, particularly in rural areas. Street lighting is poor or non-existent. Avoid travelling by road outside the main towns after dark, when the risk of accidents and robbery is greater. Grass or leaves strewn in the road often means an accident or other hazard ahead.

Safety standards on small private buses, known as ‘Tro-Tros’ and taxis are often low. Don’t use ‘Tro-Tros’ outside the major towns and cities. Avoid travelling alone in taxis after dark.

Air travel

Some domestic operators have delayed or cancelled flights from Accra to Kumasi and Tamale due to poor visibility caused by the Harmattan seasonal wind.

Two airlines – Meridian Airways Ltd and International (GH) Ltd – are subject to an operating ban or restrictions on flying to the EU due to safety concerns. Further details are available on the European Commission website. Refusal of permission to operate is often based on inspections of aircraft at EU airports. The fact that an airline is not included in the list does not automatically mean that it meets the applicable safety standards.

The FCO can’t offer advice on the safety of individual airlines. However, the International Air Transport Association publishes a list of registered airlines that have been audited and found to meet a number of operational safety standards and recommended practices. This list is not exhaustive and the absence of an airline from this list does not necessarily mean that it is unsafe.

A list of recent incidents and accidents can be found on the website of the Aviation Safety network.

In 2006 the International Civil Aviation Organisation carried out an audit of the level of implementation of the critical elements of safety oversight in Ghana.

Sea travel

There have been attacks against ships in and around Accra’s waters. Be vigilant and take appropriate precautions.

Swimming

Swimming is dangerous on the beaches along the southern coast of Ghana due to rip tides and undertows.

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