12 Top Rated Tourist Attractions in Nigeria

Jul 22, 2021

As with many of the countries in Africa, Nigeria's cultural identity dates back to several different nations. While the Yoruba people were first settled on the southwest coast, most of the country was first settled by the Hausa people. The Hausa are Muslim, while the Yoruba are predominantly Christian. The English were the most recent in, and most of them were British or American. Today, most Nigerians are multi-ethnic, and the country's diverse traditions live on.

Nigeria is rich in history and home to ancient sites, like the many churches of Lagos, the Niger River, the spectacular Borno River, the magnificent Mida Creek, the stunning Ukwa Caves, the beautiful Aba Rock, the sleepy ivory and coiled King's Palace of Etsako Tabo, and the world-renowned National Museum of Nigeria.

Top things to do in Nigeria are high on the list of things to do in Nigeria, and these attractions will take you on a visual journey though the history and culture of this fascinating African nation.

Benin City

Photo of Benin City
Benin City: en.wikipedia.org

Situated in the southwestern corner of the country, Benin City is the largest city in Benin. It's easy to visit as a base for trips to the country's most notable tourist sites. Once called Benin Village, the area was settled by migrants from the central states of Nigeria, particularly from Edo State. Located in Edo State, it's bordered to the north by the country's capital city, Abuja, and to the south by Niger State. Benin City's main attractions include the beautifully decorated tombs of some of the country's most famous kings and queens, located in their traditional quarter along the Long Lake. Most famous of these are the Edo and the Kukawa Royal Mausoleums. Benin City was also home to former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. The city is also the country's seat of the world-famous International Museum of Ceramics, with a huge collection of historic pottery.


Photo of Kaduna
Kaduna: en.wikipedia.org

Kaduna is an important city in Nigeria's north-central zone, close to its largest city, Kano. Historically, the city has had a turbulent relationship with government, and is associated with the violence of the northern, Muslim-dominated insurgency in the country. The UNESCO-protected Old City, composed of 100-year-old mosques, ancient trading streets and landmarks such as the Kaduna Palace, has a romantic aura. It is home to the oldest goldsmiths in Africa, and its markets are renowned for traditional fabrics and handicrafts. The Kaduna State Museum, housing one of Nigeria's oldest collections of historical artifacts, including various war trophies and pieces of artillery, is also a worthy visit.


Nigeria's capital city of Lagos is a megacity of over 20 million people that stretches along Nigeria's shoreline from the tranquil canals of Lagos Island, located just off the coastline, to the Atlantic Ocean to the north. One of the world's most densely populated cities, it's also one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world. There are over 200 ethnic groups living in Lagos, who speak more than 250 languages. The best things to do in Lagos include making your way to one of the city's pleasant parks, one of which is dedicated to the Yoruba culture. Near the airport is Yaba Square, where big crowds gather to gamble. The popular weekend spot also hosts nightly shows, with some as light and cute as the local radio station V.M.P.D.'s morning radio show.

Read more 👉  Top Rated Tourist Attractions in Lagos


Photo of Ibadan
Ibadan: en.wikipedia.org

A bustling city, Ibadan is located in Oyo State, just off the west coast of Nigeria. This is the third-largest city in Nigeria, after Lagos and Kano, and has a population of over 5 million. The city is home to the University of Ibadan and Ibadan College of Technology. It is also the third-largest university in Nigeria. History buffs might want to visit the U.S.-Nigerian war memorial, called the National Memorial of the War of Liberation, to visit the state-of-the-art museum of the modern war, which houses thousands of artifacts including tanks, guns, and armored personnel carriers. Located on the outskirts of Ibadan is Ibadan Zoo. It has a number of exotic animals and provides an opportunity to see them up close. Visit the Ibadan Park & Botanical Garden, which is perfect for taking a stroll. The city is the birthplace of famous musician Fela Kuti, who was a major artist in his own right and whose compositions have been featured in the movies. Things to do in Ibadan include visiting the state capital's historic city center or taking a tour of the local markets to get a taste of the local cuisine.


Located in the center of the nation's business capital, Abuja's concrete tower of modern art on Lake Chad, known as the "Museveni Monument," symbolizes the site's role in the nation's politics. One of Africa's largest and most ambitious projects of its kind, the Monument attracts crowds throughout the day, and hosts the annual Abulele Lawan Sports and Music Festival and the annual Independence Day parade, which is attended by every President of Nigeria since 1971. The surrounding area contains many architectural marvels, including the enormous Presidential Palace, which is the site of official government receptions and the annual independence anniversary parade.


Photo of Katsina
Katsina: en.wikipedia.org

Traveling around the northern part of Nigeria, especially the Kano state, will present the traveler with many contrasts. The war-torn north contains massive slums and rusting infrastructure while in the north-eastern Lagos state, Gani and Ikorodu, large bustling markets bustle with activity and the sight of people in colorful costumes flocks from bush to town. For such a large country, much of the landscape is still pristine. The remote-feeling rainforests around Katsina, the Nigerian Sahara, and the Mount-Bambara forests of the southeast are some of the most extraordinary sites in Nigeria. Just over the border in Cameroon, Lake Chad is the largest inland lake in Africa.


Built by the Benin Kingdom as a home for its monarch, this private palace was once made of mud brick and has a wall seven meters high. Although many things have changed since then, the famous inner sanctum is still open to the public. Inside, you can see a museum with ancient artifacts and ancestral furniture; richly decorated bronze drums; and large mural paintings that depict the king and queen. The palace was restored in 1990 and remains largely in its original state. In fact, the "porch room," where the king lived, has not been altered. Be sure to visit one of the palace's modern toilets before leaving.


Photo of Abeokuta
Abeokuta: en.wikipedia.org

Abeokuta is the most northern city in Nigeria and was established as a saltwater port in the 18th century by the Yoruba. The city sits atop a series of man-made cliffs (many of which can be seen from the outer wall of the main stadium) and the city remains the headquarter of the Iyaganku territory, the palace of Oba Ogunde Ajetunrin, the first Igwe of the Ooni, and of the Oyo Empire, from which Abeokuta derives its name. Other sites of interest in the city include the Ajetunran Palace, which houses the most prestigious royal throne in the city; the notable palace of the Oba, Arowolo, and the Idowu Sannusi Sango Oye Afonji, which is said to be the longest covered stone path in the world. Another of the city's cultural sights is the Faniyi Brass Band, a musical group consisting of a drummer and nine musicians who play brass instruments of different shapes and sizes, including the tambourine, made from hardened oil, gourds, and animal skin.


Photo of Kano (city)
Kano (city): en.wikipedia.org

Kano is one of Nigeria's cultural capitals. Not only does it house museums and galleries showing the nation's colourful history and ancient heritage, it also boasts the stunning Kano Palace, once the residence of the emirs of Kano. It's said that this immense palace once featured extensive gardens, but since a fire in 1905 destroyed the majority of these, only parts are now left. It now houses a private museum. Kano is also home to an archaeological museum which is the oldest and one of the most important in West Africa, with extensive displays showing how the people of Kano lived in the early 20th century. Other popular destinations include the mausoleums of the Oba (a traditional ruler) and the Emir of Kano. As this is Nigeria, there are also plenty of art galleries showing the skills of the local people.


Photo of Calabar
Calabar: en.wikipedia.org

Calabar is the capital of Cross River State in southeastern Nigeria. Founded in the 15th century, it is the only city in Africa with historic districts in the old European style. This means that you'll find beautiful buildings from the early 1900s, all of which are a sight to behold and worth a visit. The city is also home to numerous art galleries, which showcase local and foreign contemporary art. Be sure to visit the monthly weekend art and photography expositions in Sala Ilojas, a beautiful courtyard-style building built by the Spanish, which doubles as an art gallery. A stroll along Calabar's waterfront reveals its impressive tree-lined avenues, city squares, and century-old government buildings.


Photo of Ilorin
Ilorin: en.wikipedia.org

Ilorin is Nigeria's sixth most populated city and commercial center. The city is located on the Ilorin River, an affluent of the Niger and Benue. The Ilorin Falls, not far from Ilorin City, have taken their name from the river which flows through the city. It is the origin of several very rich oil companies which are today among the most important in the country. The name Ilorin has also been adopted for the Ilorin Institute of Banking and Finance. Highlights of a visit to the city include the remarkable architectural marvel of the Lassa Library. The institution was opened in 1976 to serve the university and community. It is a gigantic concrete building, which is opened to the public in summer, and is the country's largest library and conference center. Other attractions include the Oba Roundabout, home of the folk dances from many parts of Nigeria. The Roundabout was constructed as the centerpiece of an urban renewal project in 1997. Since then, thousands of youngsters have learned a variety of drumming and dancing styles. The empress of Ilorin City, Princess Victoria Sarah died on November 12, 2008 at the age of 83. Princess Victoria was the last living descendent of the Ilorin Royal House.


Photo of Ifẹ
Ifẹ: en.wikipedia.org

For hundreds of years Ife, the biggest and most complex of all the Yoruba towns, has been at the heart of the rich, culturally unique culture that remains one of the largest and most dynamic elements of African civilization. Guided tours of Ife begin with the Sacred Grove (Iyalode) and the Ekpe Temple, where Yoruba gods were worshipped as early as 1500 BC and Yoruba rulers kept their royal court. Also worth seeing is the Osunlere Street Market, Nigeria's largest market, while the Oba shrine is located in the heart of Ife town. Since the 19th century it has been home to the Oba, or ruler, who continues to hold political power and who controls the government of the city and of the surrounding region. Despite an increasing need for western-style infrastructure, ife remains a city of the rich, and tourism opportunities include the culturally oriented Igbo-Ife archaeological site, of which the best-preserved building is the Palace of Oba Ojogwu and the Katsina Historical Museums. Ife's international airport is located in the western part of the city.