Looking for the best things to do in Lagos, Nigeria?
Well, you're in luck! In this detailed post, I’ll cover 25 of the best things to do in Lagos – from where to eat in Lagos, to the best day trips from Lagos, to the top Lagos attractions, and just generally all the best places to visit in Lagos.
I visited Lagos in late 2018 for the wedding of my good friend Ademola Adewale-Sadik (whose local advice was very helpful in crafting this list of the top things to do in Lagos, Nigeria). I fell in love with the city’s energy, and I bet you will too!
Lagos may not be a tourist city and there are frankly not a ton of well-established things to do in Lagos.
But that doesn’t mean there aren’t tons of great experiences to be had in Lagos, so let's dive into our top things to do!
Disclosures: links on this page may provide Travel Lemming a commission, which helps us to keep provide free travel content like this!
You’ll find the Lekki Conservation Centre at the top of most lists of things to do in Lagos, Nigeria, and ours is no different.
This huge expansive of green space is a marked contrast to the concrete that dominates the rest of the city. It’s like a tranquil oasis of peace, nature, and wildlife tucked inside one of the world’s most congested cities.
You can take an organized tour through the center, where you’ll walk on planks over mangroves, learning about the fauna and flora which are native to the area. You’re very likely to see monkeys (watch out or they’ll take your camera), birds, and fish. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a crocodile or a snake.
And for a special treat, brave the longest canopy walkway in Africa, which will allow you to you experience the forest from a different angle!
Founded by the legendary Oyenike Monica Okundaye (whom I'm pictured with above), the Lagos outpost of the Nike Art Centres is something akin to an art gallery, an artist retreat and workshop, and a home rolled into one.
Inside, you’ll find Nigerian artists, sculptors, and craftsmen honing their skills, several levels filled to the brim with one of the largest collections of African art on the continent, and – if you’re lucky – even Nike herself.
There’s no cost to enter, making it a great free thing to do in Lagos Nigeria, but you’ll have the opportunity to make a purchase should something catch your eye!
Have you ever heard of Fela Kuta?
If yes, you’ll love this entry on our list of things to do in Lagos Nigeria. If not, you can’t leave Lagos without learning about this incredible figure in Nigerian history!
Located in Fela’s former house, the museum tells you the story of Fela’s music, activism, and unusual lifestyle. When I visited I was the only visitor, but that made it all the more fascinating.
Bottom line: either before or after visiting the New Afrika Shrine, you should take some time to pop by the small but fascinating Kalakuta Republic Museum.
This open-air entertainment center serves as a next generation of the old Afrika Shrine built by the famous artist cum political activist Fela Kuta in 1970. It showcases some of Fela’s artwork and also serves as a sort of community center.
Visit during the day and you’re sure to be greeted by many friendly and chatty locals eager to show you around. Or do like Emmanuel Macron did and come at night during one of the Shrine’s weekend concert events, which are sure to offer you a crazy night out in Lagos.
For a real treat, visit Lagos during the annual Felabration festival and feel the Shrine pulse with Afrobeats.
It’s located in Ikeja, which means a long drive if you’re staying in the islands, but it’s well worth it (and can be easily combined with the nearby Kalakuta Republic Museum). In my opinion, it’s one of the most exciting things to do in Lagos!
What's a keke?
I’m glad you asked! A keke, or keke napep, is Nigeria’s version of a tuk tuk or rickshaw. You’ll find drivers plying the roads all over Lagos, and no visit to the city is complete without at least a short ride in the back of one of these yellow contraptions!
For a real special treat, click the below button to book a tour of the city that’s run entirely in kekes:
Tired of the chaos of Lagos and need a bit of a break?
Take a day trip to the nearby Epe Mangroves! There you’ll find a smaller Yoruba community very different than Lagos, including a fascinating fish market you can peruse.
But the highlight of any daytrip from Lagos to Epe is definitely going to be taking a small boat or canoeing through the mangroves, where you’ll get a taste of Nigerian nature. Just watch out for the crocodiles!
You’ll need to organize a driver for the day, but otherwise most of the tour can be arranged independently.
There’s no understanding West Africa without learning about the tragic history of the slave trade and the havoc colonial slavers wrecked across the region.
A trip to the historic town of Badagry is sure to leave you pensive as you explore relics of this unfortunate chapter of Nigerian (and world) history at the Badagry Black Heritage Museum.
Badagry is also a charming town in its own right, and is near some decent beaches, so it makes for another worthwhile daytrip from Lagos.
Again, to get there it’s likely best to organize a private driver, though there is at least one company offering tours to locals (click here to check them out).
Nigeria may not be known for its surfing culture, but Tarkwa bay is starting to put it on the map, as even some of the pros are starting to flock to this hidden surfing gem.
As it’s located on a small artificial island, Tarkwa is only accessible by a 30 minute boat or water taxi from Victoria Island (Mekwe Jetty is one of several places to catch a lift)
Didn’t pack your board? That’s cool! It’s still a great beach (you can rent a chair) and a worthwhile place to visit in Lagos. Plus, watching the surfers at work is always a great thing to do!
Confession time: I’m a vegetarian, which means I’m about the worst blogger to tell you about the best foods to try in Nigeria.
But suya, a spicy skewer typically made of beef, chicken, or ram (yes, ram!), is clearly hugely popular with the locals and a must try for any carnivorous visitor to Lagos. As my friend Ademola is fond of saying, “Suya is life.” You can find it being hawked by vendors all over the city, but Ademola swears the best suya spot in Lagos is the Glover Court Suya Spot.
Other popular Nigerian foods to try include jollof rice, akara (deep fried bean cakes), dodo (fried plantain), and puff-puff (fried sweet donut-like balls).
Just outside of the flashy wealth of Lagos Island you’ll find the severely economically challenged community of Makoko, which is by some definitions the largest floating slum in the world. Definitely the most eye-opening thing to do in Lagos, you’ll witness a hugely marginalized but remarkably resilient community that subsists off the ocean and its own will power.
A visit to the Makoko floating village requires some preparation to be sure you’re interacting with the community in a way that is respectful and not voyeuristic. To that end, it's best to go with a local tour guide, though admittedly that can be a challenge to arrange.
I went on a tour with the incredible Nigerian travel group Naija Nomads, who arranged for a boat tour through the village guided by the son of the head of the Makoko community. Note they arrange tours on a custom basis, so you can book a tour through them and see not only Makoko but a few of the other places on this list of things to do in Lagos too! Click here to check out their tours.
(Note: I am currently searching for a charity that accepts online donations and is providing assistance to the Makoko community. If you are reading this and are connected to one, please leave a comment and I'll be in touch)
Lagos is filled with open-air markets that sell everything from textiles to household goods to computers (there’s even a famous “Computer Village”).
Probably the most popular market for tourists, and definitely the most accessible, is the Lekki Crafts Market. For a more local experience, however, check out the huge Balogun Market on Lagos Island.
If it’s a weekend afternoon in Lagos, there’s only one place to be in: the beach.
And while there are a multitude of offerings in Lekki and Victoria Island, the newly opened Moist Beach Club is the hottest place to be in town. Offering a swimming pool just steps from the ocean, plenty of seating in the open-air deck, and summer vibes all year around, it’s a great place to kick back, relax, and leave the chaos of Lagos behind you.
At this 19th-century prison-turned-park, you’ll find memorials, fountains, green space, food courts and more in this large urban park. Wander the grounds, bring a picnic, or just sit and people watch.
Freedom Park also plays host to a variety of performances and festivals (you can check the schedule of events here).
You wouldn’t know it from the unassuming entrance on a busy commercial street in Ikoyi, but the interior of the Jazzhole Bookstore is one of the classiest places to be in Lagos. You’ll find a fascinating collection of books from around Africa and the world, not to mention a small café serving up caffeinated confections and tasty Nigerian morsels. Visit at the right time and you might even be treated to a live musical performance.
Note that the owners are weirdly territorial about taking photographs, which is a shame as the bookstore is one of the most Instagrammable places in Lagos.
An arts, cultural, and educational center that hosts plays, art exhibitions, and book readings, Terra Kulture is a great place to visit in Lagos Nigeria if you’re looking to connect with Nigerian art and culture.
If there are no performances on the day of your visit, you can still check out the art gallery and bookstore. Plus, it has an attached restaurant, which is a great place to try some Nigerian food (#9 on our list of things to do in Lagos Nigeria!).
Perhaps no place in Lagos better exemplifies Nigeria than its National Theatre. On the one hand -- it’s huge, filled with history, and bursting with the potential to be a world class venue. On the other hand -- well, it simply isn’t living up to that potential (yet).
Parts of the theatre have sadly fallen into disrepair, with broken glass and sawdust sprinkled between the rows of the venue’s main auditorium. You can visit by taking a tour of the grounds, which may leave you wistful at what could have been. Or if you’re lucky to be in town on the right day, you might just be able to catch a handful of the performances that are still put on here.
Experience the best of high-class service at Lagos’s uber-posh Shiro Restaurant. Inside, you’ll dine on fine sushi in a tranquil ambiance under the imposing presence of a giant sculpted Buddha head.
Or head outside on the deck for a drink or two and enjoy the cool breeze of the ocean air. On weekends, you’re likely to find DJs pumping out club tunes through the late night.
Normally I’d be loathed to put a chain on a list of the best things to do in Lagos Nigeria ... or anywhere else for that matter. But the Hard Rock Café Lagos is different. For one thing, it’s an incredible venue in its own right. Set against prime beachfront property in Victoria Island, the café offers a private stretch of sand and an expansive open-air deck sporting an inviting pool (perfect for cooling off on a hot Nigerian afternoon).
The Hard Rock is also a staple of the Lagos music scene, and you’ll find some of the best acts in the city performing here on weekends (when I visited, I was treated to a performance by the remarkably talented Nigerian rapper Vector Tha’ Viper). In short, it’s actually a great place to mingle with Lagos’s trendiest locals. Add in quality food and drinks to boot, and you’ve got yourself the makings of a great thing to do in Lagos, Nigeria.
If you’re the foodie type, you may be surprised at the gastronomical offerings at the city’s many high-end establishments. Perhaps none of these is a more sure-fire night out, however, than the tastefully modern Nok.
From the elegant interior, to the thoughtful menu consisting of Nigerian and international dishes, to the mellow but classy patio, Nok hits the mark on every point.
Reservations are recommended, especially on weekends.
Simply put, this is some of the best frozen yogurt you’ll find on the planet. A Nigerian company, but one that churns out the sweet stuff with the skills of an Italian, Hans and Rene frozen yogurt is hugely popular with the locals and makes for a great break from the Lagos heat.
There are multiple locations throughout the city, so a sweet treat is never too far away while exploring the best things to do in Lagos Nigeria.
A funky café with an eclectic interior and inviting patio space, the Art Café is the perfect place to catch up with a friend over a cup of coffee, grab a drink, or get some work done.
This charming urban oasis is located in Victoria Island (not far from Nok Restaurant), making it the thing to do in Lagos for a quick break from the afternoon sun during a day out exploring, or for a drink and food to wind down your evening.
Nigerians love a good party. So even if nightlife isn’t your thing, spending at least one night checking out the Nigerian clubbing scene should be on any foreigners’ list of the best things to do in Lagos.
Top choices include Vellvett and Quilox clubs for a crazy night out in Lagos.
Did you know that Nigeria has hundreds of tribes and subcultures? In this museum, you’ll find important collections of Nigerian art and ethnography from across many of the cultures which collectively make up Nigeria.
Note that the museum does get mixed reviews from some visitors on account of the facilities (there is no air conditioning, for example), but that is in some sense part of the experience of visiting Lagos.
Learn about the fascinating history of Nigeria’s agricultural and industrial economy during the colonial period by visiting the Nigerian Railway Corporation Museum.
It’s a very small and somewhat aging museum that receives very few visitors (my party was the first one on the visitors’ log for almost a week!), but the caretaker is eager to pass on his extensive knowledge about the history of Nigeria’s impressive railway network.
Honestly, by far my favorite thing to do in Lagos Nigeria was to simply strike up a conversation with a random local. Nigerians speak English, which makes Lagos an excellent place to converse with the locals.
Best yet, Nigerians are a chatty bunch! Very chatty! Nearly everyone I met was super eager to chat with me and to hear the perspective of a foreigner.
If you’re a traveler in Lagos, it won’t be hard to find someone to talk to. Multiple times people (including the loquacious man pictured above, who was very proud of this mural) literally just came up to me on the street to strike up a conversation! So smile and keep an open mind and take the time to really chat with the locals. You might learn something new – and you’ll definitely really feel more connected to the energy of the city!
Headed to Nigeria?
Be sure you have travel insurance covering Nigeria (read why here).
Where you stay will have a big impact on your trip to Lagos!
Check out our full article on the best hotels in Lagos, or click the buttons below to book one of our top choice hotels:
TOP HOTELS IN LAGOS
Located in Ikoyi, the Wheatbaker is a perfect place to stay for any traveler who is looking for the comfort and convenience that a luxury hotel can offer. If you have the time to spare, make sure to try out their various amenities.
MAROKO BAYSHORE SUITES
Maroko Bayshore Suites is set in Lagos and has a fitness center and barbecue facilities. Featuring a restaurant, the property also has a bar, business center, and free newspapers.
THREE ARMS HOTEL
Offering an outdoor pool and a restaurant, Three Arms Hotel is located in Lagos. Free Wi-Fi access is available. At Three Arms Hotel you will find a fitness center. Other facilities offered include meeting facilities.
That’s it for this list of the best things to do in Lagos, Nigeria!
Have a question or comment about Lagos? Scroll down and leave a comment!
Oh, and before you go, be sure to pin this for later on Pinterest (or bookmark it in your browser):
Nate Hake has traveled to 65+ countries across six continents around the world and blogs about his travels at TravelLemming.com. He is from Denver, Colorado, recently concluded a six month stint living in Mexico, and is now currently traveling in Thailand.