10 tips for your first visit to Lagos, Nigeria from a local

A black girl sitting on the canopy with her hands held high at the Lekki Conservation Centre

This is a guest post written by Jumoke Smiley, a Nigerian local who lives between Lagos and Ibadan. She’s an avid traveller, travel writer, podcaster and experience curator who runs an amazing tour company The Smiley’s Place Travels. The Smiley’s Place Travels curates tours and experiences all around Nigeria, including Lagos and West Africa. 

Lagos has the best vibes from its warm locals to its rich history and culture. It is home to the Afrobeat, the music genre taking the world by storm, some of the African tech unicorns, hundreds of beach fronts, and lots of islands, amongst others.

It is considered to be a city but visitors often forget Lagos is a whole state. Lagos consists of 20 Local Government Areas (LGAs), and these LGAs are all buzzing and super busy. Navigating Lagos on your own can feel chaotic and overwhelming for first-timers.

Visiting for the first time? Here are 10 tips to help you navigate through Lagos like a local.

city skyline under blue sky during daytime
Source: Unplash

1. Pack for hot and cooler weather.

The weather in Lagos is mostly hot with an average temperature of 29°C.  However, Lagos experiences a rainy and dry season and even in between these seasons it’s mostly hot but cloudy days with cooler weather that shouldn’t be underestimated.

brown hat
Source: Unsplash

2. Best time to visit

The best time to be in Lagos as a first-timer is December, to experience Detty December. Detty December in Lagos can’t be compared to any other in the world, although it comes with much more traffic than usual in Lagos. It’s a season when the Nigerian diaspora returns home for enjoyment. The festivities are lined up with fun activities that range from clubbing, concert-going, beach parties and carnivals to sightseeing.  

Depending on your personality, or if you’re an outgoing person who loves to be outside and enjoys the nightlife, music, and so on, you should visit from November to December. These months are the best time for anyone to be in Lagos.

Tarkwa Bay
Jumoke at Tarkwa Bay

3. English is widely spoken 

Generally in Nigeria, almost everyone understands English. Be assured that English is spoken widely in Lagos, if you don’t speak English you might have to learn the basics to communicate effectively.

4. Vaccination and Medications

One of the necessary vaccinations to be taken before travelling down to Nigeria includes the Yellow Fever Vaccination. You can also bring your first aid medicines if need be.

Vacunación Certificado De - Foto gratis en Pixabay
Yellow fever vaccination card

5. You need a SIM card

To have access to 24/7 data even outside your hotel/accommodation, you need to buy a SIM card. There is no WiFi connection on the streets, only data subscriptions on your phone or a MiFi (portable mobile Wi-Fi hotspot) can come to aid 24/7. 1GB of data costs N300 which is less than 50 Cent, with $1 you can buy more than 2GB of data.  For sim card registration, you’ll need to bring your passport with you as the sim card will be registered under your name and passport details. 

Alternatively, you can get an e-SIM which allows you to activate a cellular plan from a carrier without needing a physical SIM card. It beats the stress of having to go through the process of registering for a sim card. Plus as soon as you land at the airport, you’ll be free to use the internet right away and connect with your loved ones and check your favourite apps.  Use ‘TRAVELWITHJOYCE‘ code and get 5% off your data plan with AfroSim

black iPhone 5
Source: Unsplash

6. Cash is king 

In most places, you can make payments with your debit/credit card. It’s important to notify your bank before you travel.  However, you need cash just in case in some places shopping in local markets, and food stalls and using public transport will not take transfer or card payments. 

7. Eat Nigerian Foods

When you’re in Lagos, it’s important to try out the world-famous “Nigeria’s Jollof Rice”, Ofada Rice, and its sauce, Abula. You should also taste the following soups Edikaikang, Egusi, Efo Riro and Ogbono. These soups should be eaten with any swallow (staple food). Eating local foods is a great way to experience the culture. 

white ceramic bowl with green vegetable dishEforiro & pounded yam

8. Transportation

If you’re with someone familiar with Lagos, you should try out Danfo buses, Keke Marwa (Tuktuk), BRT (these are the buses you would get and fund your payment card to use), and Okada (bike). However, if you’ll be alone or it’s your first visit to Lagos, you should use Bolt, In driver, or Uber as these are more comfortable transportation options within Lagos.

Source: Unsplash

9. Drink bottled water

Avoid drinking water directly from the tap, if you must boil the water or filter your water. To avoid the stress of boiling and filtering, buy and drink bottled water. You can buy a pack (12 bottles) for N750 ($1.69/ £1.37).

water plastic bottle
Source: Water Bottle

10. Hire a Tour Guide to Explore Lagos

 Exploring Lagos with a tour company based in Lagos is a great way to take the stress out of planning. 

Lagos offers a variety of things to do, from historical tourist attractions such as Badgary to cultural tours. Whether you enjoy market shopping, adrenaline-pumping adventures, buzzing Lagos nightlife experiences or visiting art galleries and popular owambe, there’s something for everyone much more.

Reach out to The Smiley’s Place Travels to book any of these tours or a bespoke package in Lagos, Nigeria.

 Badgary Heritage museum in Nigeria
Badgary Heritage museum group tour with The Smiley’s Place Travels

Would you love to visit Lagos anytime soon?

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