Insider's Guide to Lagos, Nigeria
Name: Abiola Obisesan
Place of birth: Lagos, Nigeria
Occupation: Photographer and artist
Hobbies and interests: Football (it's huge in Nigeria) as well as painting and photography
How long have you lived in Lagos? I live in London now, but was born and brought up in Lagos, and still have family and friends in Lagos so I visit often.
A BIT ABOUT lagos:
How do you best navigate your city?
Definitely by car!
What do you think Lagos does better than other cities?
Music, without a doubt. Lagos is all about music and has produced many of the world's most famous afrobeat artists. Because of this I think Lagos also does nightlife really well - the two go hand in hand.
Where is your favourite respite from hectic city life?
If city life gets too much Tarkwa Bay is a great place to go for some downtime. It's a clean beach and is popular with surfers. It's an island so you can only get there via boat (water taxis are available).
What is your favourite building in Lagos?
The National Theatre. The architecture of the building is interesting, and in addition it operates as a performing arts centre, so has both style and substance. The Lagos Continental Hotel (formerly the Intercontinental hotel chain) is also a lovely building with a fantastic swimming pool.
Where do you consider to be Lagos' most underrated location that more people should visit?
The Lekki Market is difficult to find, but worth a visit. It's located by the Lekki-Epe Expressway and you'll only find it if you're looking for it. Once you do you'll probably be surprised at how organised it is in comparison to other Lagos markets. Shop for arts, crafts and Nigerian fashion.
- Find the Lekki Market here.
Do you have any etiquette tips for visitors?
Yes, be respectful - it goes a long way around here.
Where would you stay if you were visiting, and why?
Either Ikoyi or Victoria island, there is a good road network in these areas and you're close to the buzz of the city. The Lagos Continental Hotel (mentioned above) is also a beautiful hotel, and Bogobiri House is a more boutique place to stay.
TELL US ABOUT THE FOOD SCENE:
Which dish is a must-try?
Àmàlá (a very popular dish in Nigeria, made of yams) with gbegeri (a soup made from beans).
Which restaurant has the best atmosphere?
Sky Restaurant at Eko Hotel. With floor to ceiling windows showcasing great views over the city as well as a grand piano as ambient background music, it certainly has the 'wow' factor. They serve Asian-fusion food. Come at night to make the most of the atmosphere.
Where is the best value for money for dining?
Casper and Gambini; it's an all-day restaurant and bar that can be found across the Middle East (Dubai, Muscat, Jeddah and more). Lagos is their first restaurant outside of the area. They serve western and Lebanese food, and while not cheap - the food is good so I would say it's definitely value for money.
Where is the best place to splurge on a delicious meal?
Nok by Alara - modern African cuisine in a contemporary setting. In the evening DJs play hip hop and reggae. It's one of the 'cooler' places to hang out in Lagos, one of the places to 'see and be seen'.
NOW, ONTO THE NIGHTLIFE:
Which bar has the best atmosphere?
There is a bar at Bogobiri House hotel that has performers in spoken word, jazz and afrobeats. It's a chilled vibe and a relaxed place to hang out.
And the best splurge?
Velvett Lounge. A bar and restaurant where both the food and drinks are pricy - but good.
And where is the best place to carry the night on, post-midnight?
If you can get into New Afrika Shrine - then do. The original was founded by Fela Kuti (the founder of afrobeats), and this second version is run by his children. It's the place to party in Lagos.
FOR CULTURE VULTURES:
Who is your favourite local artist?
As I mentioned, music is huge here - I'd go as far as to say it's our biggest art form. It's how many people express themselves. My favourite music artists include Fela Kuti as well as Wizkid, Davido, DJ Spinall and Burna Boy - give them a listen!
Where is your favourite local gallery?
There is a gallery called Nike Art Centre which highlights local sculpturs, musicians, dancers, craftsmen and artists.
Can you sum up why you love this city?
Lagos is vibrant and full of life, with something to see on every corner. It has the biggest business opportunities in the country - and it's a city surrounded by water so you can get away from the hustle and bustle when you need to.
More than all of this, however, I'm so proud of my country's continued burgeoning growth in the arts. It's becoming a hub for music and fashion both internally and intentionally. In the music world, look at all the famous Nigerian musicians currently popular globally; Wizkid, Skepta, DJ Spinall and Tiwa Savage, to name just a few. In the fashion world we are seeing much the same; 2018 saw Arise Fashion Week in Lagos where huge names such as Naomi Campbell, Imann Hammam, Tinie Tempah and Ozwald Boateng attended and contributed, as well as having the famous South African photographer, Trevor Stuurman shoot the event for Vogue.
Nigeria (with Lagos as the driving force) is connecting more and more with African and global creatives - and I couldn't be happier!
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