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Things to see and do in Nigeria

Attractions in Nigeria

Admire the art deco at Ibadan

Pleasant Ibadan is worth a visit for its adventurous architecture; there are colonial buildings, art deco gems and buildings emblazoned with traditional Nigerian emblems. The city itself (Nigeria's third largest, after Lagos and Kano) has a large university and vibrant student nightlife.

Appreciate the bygone beauty of Emir's Palace

Circumnavigate the walled old town of Kano, formerly the largest of the ancient Hausa cities, and soak up its lingering medieval atmosphere. Founded at least 1,000 years ago, it was of strategic importance on the trans-Saharan trade routes. Visit the Emir's Palace, which remains an outstanding example of Hausa architecture, and pop by the glorious Gidan Makama Museum. Security an issue in Kano these days, so heed the latest travel advice.

Bring out the binoculars for Gashaka Game Reserve

Nigeria's most scenic national park, the Gashaka Game Reserve near Yola provides opportunities to view over 500 species of birds. As well as being home to some highly endangered species, including the rare Adamawa mountain reedbuck, the park features large African elephant and giant eland.

Cool down in Calabar

Calabar is a pleasant town in a beautiful setting, high on a hill above the Calabar River. It has a Mediterranean feel, with its whitewashed houses, clean(ish) streets and slightly cool climate. Don't miss the giant cast iron hand sculptures in the park outside the slave museum; shacked but cut at the wrist, they represent breaking free from the past.

Discover ancient Ile-Ife

Ile-Ife, the ancient name of the town of Ife, is another recess of Yoruba culture, and includes the Ife Museum, which has many fine bronze and terracotta sculptures dating back to the 13th century. Traditional Yoruba rulers are known as Oònis, visit the palace to see the Yemolu Well, from which only the incumbent can drink.

Explore the brilliant, bustling Benin City

Modern Benin City is a rapidly developing metropolis, but there are a few reminders of its long Yoruba history. The old city's moat and wall survive in places, and the National Museum houses an interesting collection of Benin royal art. The Oba's Palace is worth visiting, although permission needs to be obtained in Lagos.

Hike up Shere Hills for fantastic views

The Shere Hills offer some of the West Africa's best hiking. Lace up your boots and trail up towards the high peaks of about 1,800m (5,900ft). Not all of the routes are marked, and you may want to take a guide with you in case you lose your way. The views are spectacular.

Pack a picnic and head for Jos

Picnic without breaking a sweat in Jos, a favourite holiday spot on account of its location 1,200m (3,900ft) above sea level, meaning it has a pleasantly cool climate. The nearby Assob Falls and the many streams and dams that come from them, make this an extremely pretty area.

Scale the seven Olumirin Falls

Local legend has it that the seven Olumirin Falls descend from a huge pot of water at the top of the cliff. Indeed, these falls close to Akure are supposedly bestowed with all kinds of magical powers. They also represent a feat of strength, for travellers fit and cautious enough to climb to the top, the views are magnificent.

See ancient monoliths in Cross River National Park

Journey through the Cross River National Park from the town of Ikom, which has curious carved monoliths set in circles, believed to be ancient monuments assembled in reverence to ancestors. In the Rainforest Conservation area, you'll find majestic mountains and rolling hills, with wildlife including leopards, buffalos, chimpanzees, gorillas, baboons and elephants.

Seek out the Palace of the Emir of Zazzau

If security conditions allow access to the north, Zaria's old city is unmissable. Far more enjoyable to stroll around than Kano, there are a number of beautiful old buildings, not least the Palace of the Emir of Zazzau. The gate of the palace is a colourful mosaic whilst sandstone walls, adobe mud compounds and mosques line the ancient streets nearby.

Swim beneath the Gurara Falls

Niger state's Gurara Falls, at a height of about 20m (66ft), are well off the beaten track, and that's part of what makes them such a special place to visit. Unlike other big waterfalls in Africa, you won't have to compete with hordes of tourists, and can swim in the small pools at the bottom of the cascading falls. 

Uncover Nigeria's ancient past at the National Museum in Lagos

The National Museum at Onikan on Lagos Island houses numerous exhibits of Nigeria's ancient civilisations and has a craft centre, which sells examples of Nigerian craft at fixed prices. There's a nice collection of Nigerian art inside the exhibition halls. Cameras are not allowed inside.

Visit the sacred shrine of Osogbo

Worship the Yoruba goddess of fertility in Osogbo, home to the famous Osun Shrine and sacred grove of Oshun. Every year, towards the end of August as the rainy season finishes, thousands of childless women head to the Osun Festival to seek the help of the Yoruba goddess of fertility.

Watch wildlife and unwind in warm springs, Yankari National Park

Yankari National Park, in the east of the country, is a particularly good spot for bird-watching. Animals that can be viewed here include elephants, crocodiles and monkeys. The park has accommodation, restaurants and a swimming pool – though visitors keen on bathing should head instead to the Wikki Warm Spring.

Tourist offices

Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation

Address: Area 1, Old Secretariat, Garki,
Telephone: (9) 291 5664.
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