Lagos is the most populous city in Nigeria, spreading out across two main islands and onto the mainland. It is the country's financial capital, and is famous throughout Africa for its music scene. Lagos has a vibrant nightlife, and is the centre of the Nigerian movie industry, often referred to as 'Nollywood'. The city of Lagos lies in south-western Nigeria, on the Atlantic coast in the Gulf of Guinea, west of the Niger River delta, located on longitude 3° 24' E and latitude 6° 27' N. Most of the population live on the mainland, and most industries are located there too. Lagos is known for its music and night life which used to be in areas around Yaba and Surulere, but more night clubs have sprung on the island making the island especially Victoria Island, the main nightlife attraction.
The Island is a loose geographical term that is used to define the area of Lagos that is separated from the "mainland" by the main channel draining the lagoon into the Atlantic Ocean, which forms Lagos Harbour. The Island is mainly a collection of islands that are separated from each other by creeks of varying sizes and are connected together by bridges. Lagos Island contains a central business district. This district is characterized by high-rise buildings. The island also contains many of the city's largest wholesale marketplaces (such as the popular Idumota and Balogun Markets)
Lagos experiences a tropical savanna climate, as there's a significant precipitation difference between the wet season and the dry season. The wet season starts in April and ends in October, while the dry season starts in November and ends in March. The wettest month is June with precipitation total 315.5 millimetres (12.42 in), while the driest month is January with precipitation total 13.2 millimetres (0.52 in). Located near the equator, Lagos has only a slight seasonal temperature variation, with high temperatures ranging 28.3–32.9 °C (82.9–91.2 °F).
Lagos was originally inhabited by the Awori subgroup of the Yoruba people in the 15th century. Under the leadership of the Oloye Olofin, the Awori moved to an island now called Iddo and then to the larger Lagos Island. In the 16th century, the Awori settlement was conquered by the Benin Empire and the island became a Benin war-camp called "Eko" under Oba Orhogbua, the Oba of Benin at the time. Eko is still the native name for Lagos. Lagos, which means "lakes", was a name given to the settlement by the Portuguese. Throughout history, it was home to a number of warring ethnic groups who had settled in the area. Following its early settlement by the Awori nobility, and its conquest by the Bini warlords of Benin, the state first came to the attention of the Portuguese in the 15th century.
- By Plane; Murtala Muhammed International Airport; You can fly in from most European cities (Amsterdam, Frankfurt, London, and Paris); from Abu Dhabi, Addis Ababa, Beirut, Cairo, Casablanca, Doha, Douala, Dubai, Istanbul, Johannesburg, Kigali, Libreville, Luanda, Malabo, Nairobi, Sharjah. There are also direct flights from the United States (Atlanta and New York City) with Delta Airlines. There are also flights to Lagos from most major cities in West Africa
- By Train; Rail services in Nigeria are still very slow and unreliable. Nigerian Railway Corporation have daily services from Ilorin via Ibadan, and an overnight service from Kano via Kaduna a few times per week. A high speed railway connects Abuja to Kaduna.
- By Bus; Several bus companies like Agofure God Is Good Motors, ABC Transport, Ifesinachi and The Young Shall Grow offer daily services from almost all major cities around the country as well as international destinations in West Africa.
If traveling around Lagos, be sure to be accompanied by a tourist guide who is familiar with the routes. In Lagos, there are street signs on every single street corner making it easy to locate places and landmarks. With the city spending huge budgets on security, there has been a huge reduction in crime generally. For the most part, it's safe to move about during the day. If you are going out at night, be sure to go in groups, and stick to known routes.
- By Car; The road network of Lagos for the most part is good, but sometimes traffic congestion and limited parking space especially during working hours is rife. Be sure to be on the lookout for road signs, in order to avoid entering one-way roads or streets. LASTMA (Lagos State Traffic Management Agency) is the body responsible for managing traffic in most of the traffic congestion areas. Make sure to follow traffic rules, and avoid driving in the BRT Bus lanes to avoid getting a fine or having your car impounded.
- By Taxi; One of the easiest ways to get around is by taxi. Taxis cost more than buses, typically. With the older taxi cabs it is expected to negotiate the price before you enter and pay on arrival. The cabs are relatively safe. The state has embarked on gradual replacement of rickety buses and taxi cabs with modern ones, fitted with good facilities to enhance comfort.
- By Bus; Lagos's Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) lines run in segregated lanes and thus run faster than private cars stuck in traffic. The buses are coloured red or blue.
- By Ferry; Lagos Ferry Services Company runs scheduled routes between Lagos Island, Banana island, Mile 2 (Apapa axis) and the mainland. Modern ferries have been assigned to carry both passengers and cargo on the lagoon and on some creeks.
- By Motorbikes; For travelling short distances, you can use motorbike taxis called Okada. These motorbikes are quick, cheap and save a lot of walking but they are also very dangerous. Okada accidents are very common but safety equipment are now provided because the state government and in fact the Federal Road Safety Commission has mandated it. If you want to take the risk, you can safely halve their first price, and usually there are lots to choose from.
Attractions (What to See)
It is said that Lagos is for tourists like England is for food; bland and boring. It's a stereotype and not really true, but you have to put the effort in to see Lagos. There are also lots of markets to see, although doing so can be very tiring. They are usually safe during the day.
- Badagry Town; The ancient slave port of Badagry, also known as the 'Point of No Return'. This ancient town of Badagry was founded around 1425. Before its existence, people lived along the Coast of Gberefu and this area later gave birth to the town of Badagry. It is the second largest commercial town in Lagos State. It is an hour from Lagos and a half-hour from the Republic of Benin.
- Cathedral Church of Christ (On Lagos island, at corner of Marina Rd and Odunlami St); The oldest Anglican cathedral in the Church of Nigeria, with the foundation stone laid in 1867. However it was not completed until 1946.
- Shitta-Bey Mosque, Martin St; A mosque and religious learning centre, it is one of the oldest mosques in Nigeria. The current building dates back to 1891.
- National Theatre, Mainland, Iganmu-Surulere; Located on the mainland at Iganmu, it is about a half-hour drive from Lagos Island. Built in 1977 as the principal forum for the International Festival of Black Arts and Culture, it has now become accepted as the prime center for performing arts in the country. The main auditorium has the capacity to seat around 3,000 persons and the conference hall can accommodate around 700 people. The building also houses two cinema halls, a restaurant and a bar.
- National Museum of Nigeria, Awolowo Rd (on Lagos Island, opposite Muson Centre); The Museum Kitchen is open on weekdays and is a good place to try local Nigerian cuisine.
- Visit Freedom Park on Broad street; This park was a prison yard where those who fought for Nigeria's independence were incarcerated. The park designers maintained the original design of the prison walls.
- Lekki Conservation Centre; It is really good for relaxation, its a dense park with a few animals and birds, there are walkways and benches to rest on.
There are over a dozen beaches in Lagos, making for a wide array to choose from. More beaches are found outside the city, in places like Badagry. Good for picnics and barbecues. Inside the city, Lekki is about as good as it gets.
- Lagos Bar Beach, Ahmodu Bello Way, Victoria Island; This beach is named after the sand bars that characterize the coastline of Lagos, not because of the myriad of bars that run along the beach itself. Very popular among beach goers, it is the main inner city beach, as the other beaches provide more of a “get away” from the city. (These include Lekki, Alpha, Eleko, Akodo beaches to the east, and Tarkwa Bay, Ogogoro Island, Atlas Cove, Lighthouse beach, Ilashe Beach, Agaja Beach and Badagry beach to the west.)
- Tarkwa Bay; A man-made bay and beach created during the formation of the Lagos harbour, sheltered within the harbour breakwater. The beach is a pleasant outing and has safe bathing even for children. It has its own resident community, most of whom make their living from the tourists who visit the beach. The beach is good for a one-day picnic because of the absence of hotels and restaurants on it. You can buy good paintings and handicrafts from the local vendors on the beach. There's also the possibility to surf in a corner of Tarkwa Bay. Other water sports such as jet-skiing and water-skiing are fairly common.
- Lighthouse Beach (beside Tarkwa Bay); Named after the 110-year-old lighthouse that guards the entrance to Lagos harbour. The Lighthouse can just be seen from the beach, and is well worth a visit as well. The walk along the beach between Tarkwa Bay and Lighthouse Beach is very pleasant, and at times one can be the only person on the beach. You can watch the many ships queuing up to enter the port on the nearby horizon.
- Eko Tourist Resort (Akodo Beach), 22 km, Lekki-Epe Expressway, Ibeju, Lekki LGA, Akodo; This place is at least a 40 minute drive from Lagos. The resort has chalets, restaurants, and a large conference hall on 10 acres, with more than a half a mile of clean beach.
- Suntan Beach. in Badagry West, 15 minutes ride from the Badagry round-about. A good place for picnic and holiday.
- Eleko Beach (56 km, Lekki-Epe Expressway, Turn right just past Total service station, proceed to toll gate,it is in the road with amen estate, turn left follow road to Rainbow Church sign,i turn right onto dirt road. Eleko beach is at end of road.).
- Lekki Beach (turn right at round-about just past estate (about 9 km), Lekki-Epe Expressway, Lekki).
- Elegushi. Elegushi Private Beach, Ikate, Lekki.