Lagos

For other places with the same name, see Lagos (disambiguation).
Skyline of Lagos Island.

Lagos is the most populous city in Nigeria. With an estimated population of 8.8 million inhabitants in the city, or rather 10.7 million in the metropolitan area, Lagos ranks second only to Cairo as the largest city in Africa.

The UN estimates that at its present growth rate, Lagos state will be third largest mega city in the world by 2015 after Tokyo in Japan and Mumbai in India.

Districts

The main districts are the mainland, Greater Lagos and the Islands. Three major bridges join the island to the mainland. They are the Carter Bridge which start from Iddo Island, the Eko Bridge (formerly called the Second Mainland Bridge) and the Third Mainland Bridge which passes through densely populated mainland suburbs through Lagos lagoon.

  • Lagos Island Lagos Island contains a Central Business District (CBD). This district is characterized by high-rise buildings and businesses. The island also contains many of the city's largest wholesale marketplaces (such as the popular Idumota and Balogun markets). It also has the National Museum of Nigeria, a Central mosque, Glover Memorial Hall, Christ's Cathedral (CMS), and the Oba Palace. And lastly, there is the Tinubu Square- a site of historical importance, it was here that the Amalgamation ceremony that unified the North and South protectorate to form Nigeria took place in 1914. Ikoyi is situated on the eastern half of Lagos Island and joined to it by a landfill. Ikoyi is also connected to Victoria Island by a bridge carrying a main road over a Five Cowrie creek. Ikoyi has a great number of hotels, night clubs, a recreational park and one of Africa's largest golf courses. Originally a middle class neighbourhood, in recent years it has become more of a fashionable residential enclave for the upper middle class to the upper class.
  • Victoria Island Home to many company headquarters and entertainment spots, Victoria Island (also known as V.I) along with Ikoyi, occupies a major area in the suburbs of Lagos which boasts of several sizable shopping districts. On its sea shore along the Atlantic front, there is an environmentally reconstructed Bar Beach.

Understand

Also known as Èkó in the Edo language, and also affectionately called 'Gidi' or 'Las Gidi' as a form of slang-by the younger generation, is a port and the most populous conurbation in Nigeria.

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 located in areas around Yaba and Surulere but in recent years more night clubs have sprung on the island making the island especially Victoria Island, the main nightlife attraction.

Get in

By plane

You can fly in from most European cities (London, Frankfurt, Paris, Amsterdam, Madrid, Rome); from Doha, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Cairo, Istanbul, Beirut, Johannesburg, Casablanca, Addis Ababa, Kigali and Nairobi. There are also direct flights from the United States (Atlanta, Houston, New York City). There are also flights to Lagos from most major cities in West Africa.

Lagos is close (about 100 km) to the border with Benin. Should you fly out of the International Airport in Lagos, arrive early, especially close to weekends and festive days, as the security has been beefed up significantly (you need to have your passport and ticket to enter the departures area) since the December 2009 liquid explosive incident where the terrorist started his journey from Murtala Muhammed International Airport.

For airlines operating at Murtala Muhammed International Airport see Wikipedia article on Murtala Muhammed International Airport

Arrivals

An oddity about landing at Murtala Muhammed International Airport is that planes are required to stop short of the final parking spot and the aeroplane has to be pulled into place by a tug. This means you have to remain seated a bit longer after stopping than at other airports.

The immigration process is quite tedious and slow as there are two immigration officials at each desk (presumably to reduce corruption) and the West African passport holders receive first priority. Families with young children and disabled people are normally also given priority. When filling in the landing card for immmigration you must have an address in Nigeria and a Nigerian contact number - they have been known to call this number to verify that you are expected.

After immigration you collect your bag at one of the new baggage conveyors (operational late 2013), check beside the start of the conveyor if you have fragile or oversized baggage.

If you are travelling with a multi-national corporate you will often be met by the "Protocol Officers" in the luggage collection hall. These agents will ensure you meet with the official company drivers and get safe passage out of the airport.

After collecting your luggage you pass customs and agricultural inspections and there is a pretty good chance your bag will be searched for the usual contraband.

Then a health inspector will check your yellow fever card. This has been a soft spot for many travellers as there must be ten days between inoculation and travel and the officials denied entry to passengers (i.e. put back on the next plane out).

Finally you must have you luggage tag from check-in as security will not allow you to leave the airport without producing this tag that corresponds to each bag.

Do not leave the airport if you have not made contact with your driver/pick-up as you are not allowed back in to the airport after exiting.

Departures

Many international flights leave in the evenings and the airport becomes very congested after 17:00 with long queues for check-in. The check-in process takes a long time if you are not in business class or priority check-in. Your baggage pre-weighed and if it is more than 25kg per bag you will have to reduce the weight. Then you have your passport details checked by the ground crew.

Your bags are searched by agriculture, customs and "antiquities" agents and any indigeous trinkets are likely to be confiscated, this is the bottle-neck in the check-in process.

Finally you reach the check-in counter and receive your ticket and the departure card to be filled in for the immigrations control.

At either end of the departures hall are new extensions that house immigration, security checks and passport control. Hand in your departure card and proceed to the security checks. Since the Christmas bomber the checks are very thorough. New scanners and passport control counters have made this part of the departure process very easy (previously this could take two hours).

There are quite a number of pay-access and Priority Pass lounges after passport control (after two hours in the security queue, you will want to use it if you have the time and $50 to spare). Use Oasis or Skye Lounge, both of which are good, especially Oasis which is very nice even by 1st world standards. Gabfol lounge is free, but you pay for food and drinks.

Before boarding there is a final check of passport, yellow fever card and boarding pass. Your hand luggage is opened and searched and you are frisked. Finally you board the plane.

By train

Rail services in Nigeria are still very slow and unreliable but in recent years several routes have reappeared. Nigerian Railway Corporation have daily services from Ilorin via Ibadan as well as an overnight service from Kano via Kaduna three times a week.

By bus

Several bus companies like ABC Transport, Ifesinachi and The Young Shall Grow offers daily services from almost all major cities around the country as well as international destination in West Africa. While buses usually are quite comfortable, journey times are very long.

Get around

If traveling around Lagos, be sure to be accompanied by a guide who is familiar with the routes. Moving around Lagos has become much easier in recent times with street signs on every single street corner making it easier 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.

If you are not on a tight budget, you should hire a car and driver, usually available from most of the major hotels and the airport. The price will be around ₦1,000-2,000 per hour, you will be expected to haggle. Talk to the drivers and find one you think will be able to communicate best with as they will be able to tell you things about the places you pass.

By bus

Lagos now has decent mass transit buses courtesy of the Bus Rapid Transit(BRT)schemes. The BRT lines run on physically segregated lanes and thus make them run faster while private cars are stuck in traffic. The system is run by two operators, NURTW Cooperative (Nigerian Union of Road Transport Workers) and Lagbus, a Lagos State Government owned Asset Management Company. The Buses are coloured red (LagBus), and blue (NURTW).

The BRT is one of the three-pronged attacks the state has unleashed against the urban traffic congestion in Lagos. Buses can be an inexpensive and convenient option. Bus fares are relatively affordable and there are numerous routes being plied from the Mainland to the Islands.

The tickets for the BRT and the Lagbus can be purchased at the bus stops before boarding. Tickets range from 70- 120 Naira( as of Oct'11). However, the ticket vendors are seldom available in the evening even though the buses ply till late at night. It makes good sense to purchase a ticket booklet or a couple of tickets in bulk beforehand since these don't contain a timestamp.

There are also smaller yellow buses that ply all routes from the mainland to the island and within mainland. For a newbie, the yellow bus system can be quite confusing and it makes good sense to approach a local for help. The local Nigerians will be more than happy to help an Oyinbo(white person). The fare is fixed and starts from 20 Naira and increases as per distance.

The BRT buses are faster, cleaner and more convenient. They carry hundreds of thousands of passengers on a weekly basis.

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.

There exists car parks around in hotels, shopping malls, and some of them provide free and safe parking. But if parking in other areas around the city be ready to pay around N200 or more. (N150=$1)

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.

Through public-private partnerships, new cabs are being introduced regularly by licensed cab operators. With fare as low as N400, depending on the distance, the new air-conditioned taxi cabs are already creating a new image for Lagos. Taxis can be found almost everywhere, and all the new cabs have numbers on them that you can call for a pick up. There are several cab companies servicing Lagos, using both metered and fixed fares,and they generally accept cash:

By rented car

Renting a car is another alternative if you are going to be staying for a few days or longer. There are numerous car rental offices in the city, and therefore it is very easy to rent a car from your hotel or resort accommodation to drive around with for the duration of your stay. Avis is your best bet for this,either call or make use of their online services:

By ferry

Lagos Ferry Services Company is expected to begin running scheduled routes between Lagos 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. The services are expected to begin in the very near future.

By rail

A planned railway line running through the Lagos metropolis is being constructed with plans of completion as early as 2012.

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. Before you try and negotiate, confirm the fare from a local.If you have a Nigerian friend, let them negotiate for you as the quoted fare differs greatly for locals and foreigners(for obvious reasons). Choose an older driver as the younger ones are cowboys.

Safety Helmets are a must at all times for both the rider and passenger. Majority of times these are ill-fitting and sometimes even absent.

By law, Okadas are forbidden to ply after dark(7PM) for safety reasons. Avoid taking an Okada for long distances, while it's raining and in the night since majority of mainland is devoid of street lights.

See

The first missionary house in Nigeria at Badagri.

Badagry Town: The Ancient Slave Port of Badagry-also known as the 'Point of No Return'. This ancient town of Badagry was founded around l425 A.D. 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, located an hour from Lagos and half hour from the Republic du Benin.

Sights

There are over a dozen beaches in Lagos, making for a wide array to choose from. Good for picnics and barbecues

Do

Lagos is for tourists like England is for food. It's a stereotype and not really true, but you have to put the effort in to see it.

There are a lot of great beaches. Especially if you make the effort to get outside the city and explore like Badagry). Inside the city, Lekki is about as good as it gets.

There are also lots of markets to see, although it can be very tiring. Usually safe during the day.

There is the Lekki Conservation Centre by the Lekki Conservation Foundation, is down on the Lekki/Epe expressway near Chevron.It is really good for relaxation, its a dense park with a few animals and birds, there are walkways and benches to rest on. Fees: ₦500 for everyone

Beaches:

Beach Resorts:

Museums:

Buy

Unless you are in a supermarket or restaurant/bar with fixed prices, you will be expected to negotiate the price you pay for an item down to the lowest the vendor would sell. When you are stuck in traffic, expect to see hawkers selling anything from potatoes to drinks . Expect any brand names in these informal markets to be fake, and should you wish to purchase them aim for a very low price.

If you hold a Visa, MasterCard or Maestro Credit/Debit card you can withdraw cash in Naira from various ATMs around Lagos. Visa machines can be found at Standard Chartered Bank. MasterCard/Maestro machines are found in Ecobank and some Zenith Bank branches.

Foreign currency, U.S. Dollars, Pounds Sterling, or Euros can be exchanged in various places, usually near large hotels and the airport. These are not formal bureaux de change and you will need to negotiate the exchange rate. It is strongly recommended that you count your money in front of the exchanger, and don't be afraid to walk away if you are not happy with the deal. Be wary of your safety in money changing areas, and take care to make sure you are not followed when leaving them.

There are formal Bureau De Change existing in the various banks, and you can be rest assured about transacting with them, although their rates may be slightly higher or lower than the rates outside.

Some of the good places for shopping are:

Eat

Budget

Mid-range

Nigerian

Chinese

Indian

Thai

American/ Continental

Splurge

Drink

Ikeja

Ikoyi

Victoria Island

Apapa

Yaba

Sleep

Lagos has some great hotels and many more are being built. There are many 4 star hotels for the price of a 3 star hotel. Try to get a hotel on Victoria Island.

Budget

Mid-range

Ajao Estate,  +234 8032749921. All rooms equipped and included with Air-conditioning, TV with cable channels, Wi-Fi Internet access and Buffet breakfast. Some of its facilities and services are Restaurant, Bar, Swimming pool, Fitness room/ gym Airport pick-up and Shuttle service. From USD 126.50.

Splurge

Stay safe

In general, Lagos has become a much safer place to visit than before, with the state spending huge budgets on security with police patrol cars, CCTV cameras (though this isn't always the case). etc. But beware of deals or businesses that sound too good to be true (especially e-mails soliciting your help), and do not openly flaunt your possessions, especially in public places.

While it is rare for a tourist to be a victim of a violent crime, it is still wise to stay safe and be alert, especially during late night outings. Stick to crowded streets and make sure to go out in groups as against going out alone.

Lagosians are generally nice and friendly people, most of whom will readily offer directions to you if you are lost.

Lagos still has its fair share of odd people: street beggars(both the old and young), people with psychological disorders, etc. If someone approaches you for money, do what most Lagosians do: completely ignore them or continuing to walk at a brisk pace.

There are a few police officers who are corrupt and inefficient so it is best that you stick to the law and avoid going anywhere off the beaten path without a trusted guide, especially if it is a first visit.

Connect

Nigeria has both GSM & CDMA Networks. Most of the International GSM Networks are served here on Roaming Partner Basis. Local pre-activated GSM (SIM) connection can be purchased from anywhere in entire Country at very cheap rate. Naira 200/- for a SIM.

GSM/3G

CDMA

In Nigeria SMS (Short Messaging Service) is known as "Text".

The networks in certain parts of Lagos can be very erratic at times. On certain days you cannot make a phone call at all or you will not be able to recharge your phone for the most of the day making business very difficult at times. But its occasional and that is the reason if you want to stay for a long term,make sure that you have at least two phones or a dual sim phone.

Cope

Embassies

Go next

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Monday, December 21, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.