Lagos is Africa’s most populous city and its creative scene is on the up. Known for its entrepreneurial spirit and street-smart hustle, it’s also Nigeria’s cultural capital and has in recent years seen its fashion, music and visual arts scenes garner serious global attention. While not an established tourist destination yet, the city has a wealth of cultural attractions and classy hangouts to offer the intelligent traveller. Here are six of the best.
There are tonnes of exciting art spaces popping up all over the city. The Treehouse is a DIY art space at the top of a seven-storey apartment block, with views of the lagoon. Every fortnight it hosts events including dance and performance art as well as rotating temporary exhibitions. For the big event though, time your visit with the city’s annual African art fair, ART X Lagos. The fourth edition of one of Africa’s biggest art fairs takes place from 1-3 November in Victoria Island and will attract major galleries from around the world to exhibit modern and contemporary works alongside an engaging programme of talks and interactive projects.
Awolowo Rd. Ikoyi Lagos
Afrobeat icon Fela Kuti held court at his club-cum-commune, The Afrika Shrine, from 1970 to 1977 until soldiers burnt it to the ground. In 2000 his family opened this venue in Ikeja in Fela’s honour. It’s become an essential cultural centre, popular on Thursdays and Sundays when eldest son Femi Kuti performs. But it truly comes alive in early October for the week-long Felabration festival when musicians from across the world come and pay homage to the Black President. Sip palm wine, read the wisdoms writ large on the walls (“The secret of life is to have no fear”) and witness the truly mesmerising dancers.
Nerdc Rd, Agidingbi, Ikeja; +234 803 712 5939
Pop Beach Club
At weekends, locals escape the city by heading to one of the nearby beaches, and those in the know can be found at Pop Beach Club. With locations in Ilashe and Tarkwa Bay, these blissed-out spots have a bohemian atmosphere. You can swim, enjoy a BBQ or explore the area on quad bikes or horseback. The spaces also act as a social enterprise by offering educational support to local schools.
Mama Mukaila Jetty, Lagos; +220 3564 5165
Once you enter Jazzhole, don’t expect to leave again in a hurry. This all-consuming store in Ikoyi specialises in African arts, and every conceivable surface is piled high with vinyl gems and revered books. Owner Kunle Tejuosho possesses an unparalleled archive that speaks to Nigeria’s cultural legacy as much as its contemporary stars. The store hosts regular art exhibitions, film screenings and jazz concerts. There’s also a café serving homemade cake to be consumed while perusing the unfathomably well-stocked shelves.
168 Awolowo Rd, Ikoyi, Lagos; +234 803 332 0398
This sprawling market in Lagos Island is one of the biggest markets in Africa. Here you’ll find everything and anything, but fashion and textiles are the main draw. Come with sharp haggling skills and even sharper elbows and don’t be afraid to dive into the myriad walkways. Balogun Market is an astonishing sight that has inspired many visitors, notably Italian photographer Lorenzo Vitturi whose recent photo series, Money Must Be Made, sums up the chaos and commerce that collide here.
Balogun W St, Lagos Island 101227; +234 813 885 6999
Alara is a stunning concept store in Victoria Island that feels more like a gallery than a shop. The David Adjaye-designed building, an imposing black cube with a glass roof, houses an exquisite mix of African and international fashion, furniture, design objects and art. Founder Reni Folawiyo has an eye for bold, luxurious aesthetics and for elevating African crafts to the rarefied heights they deserve. In the same complex is Nok Grill, Alara’s restaurant serving contemporary spins on classic African dishes, such as Red Red (bean stew) and jollof rice as well as grilled calamari.
12a Akin Olugbade Victoria Island, Lagos; 0908 561 4815