The Ultimate List of Tourist Sites in Ghana
Ghana is a small country of 238, 535 square meters (or 92,099 square miles). It is situated in West Africa in the area once referenced as the Gold Coast. In recent years, Ghana has garnered more attention as a destination for travelers, and the tourist infrastructure has been rapidly developing as a result. Ghana features many great tourist sites and plenty to do for those making the trip to this charming country. If you are not sure where to start with planning your trip, this post details tourist spots across the country by region.
Map of Ghana
As mentioned above, this post will break down destinations by region; all of which are highlighted in the map below:
The regions covered in this post include:
- Greater Accra Region
- Central Region
- Eastern Region
- Ashanti Region
- North Region
- Volta Region
Greater Accra Region
The greater Accra region is what people typically think of when they think of Ghana. It is the smallest of the country’s administrative regions, but the second most populous. And most people in this region dwell in urbanized areas.
1 | Independence Square
Independence square is also known as Black Star Square, and it is a public square that consists of the stands for seating up to 30,000 people, Black Star Gate, Independence Arch, and the Liberation Day Monument. As the name suggests, this square was built to commemorate the country’s liberation from the United Kingdom.
In celebration of this event, every year on March 6th the Independence Day parade takes place in this square. If you don’t make it to Accra in the spring, this is still a great place for a nice photo opportunity as it is probably the most iconic structure in the city.
2 | Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park
The Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park was built in 1992 to commemorate him and his wife, Fathia. Nkrumah was the leader of Ghana’s independence from the UK in 1957. He was a strong supporter of Pan-Africanism, as demonstrated by this quote:
“We have a duty to prove to the world that Africans can conduct their own affairs with efficiency and tolerance through the exercise of democracy.”
There is quite a bit of interesting symbolism throughout the park. For example, the shape of the monument is meant to represent an upside down sword – a symbol of peace. The black star at the apex of the monument is meant to represent unity, and the water surrounding the area is also meant to symbolize peace.
3 | Labadi Beach
Labadi Beach, also properly known as La Pleasure Beach, is the busiest beach in the Accra region, and is know for the various resorts and hotels that maintain most of its area. One thing to note, in this part of the Atlantic Ocean, the tides are a bit too strong to allow for real swimming, but it is still a great place to hang out and relax. Depending on when you are there, you are likely to find live music performances as well. I spent time at this beach on New Years 2020, and will say without hesitation that it was the best NYE party that I have ever attended. The vibes were everything.
And just one note – if you don’t stay in one of the hotels on the beach, you will have to pay a small entrance fee to visit.
4 | National Museum of Ghana
The National Museum of Ghana is the largest museum in Ghana and is full of historical, ethnographic, and artistic artifacts. This is the perfect place to stop if you want to learn more about Ghana’s cultural history.
5 | WEB Dubois Center
WEB Debois is a well-known figure of the US Civil Rights movement and a prolific writer. One thing I did not know before visiting Accra was that he spent his final years living there, and is actually buried in the country as well. The reason for this being is that he was essentially banned from the US for his activism – not entirely surprising for the times he lived in.
You can visit his home to learn more about his story, see how he lived during his final years, and take in the beautiful grounds where his house is located.
6 | Jamestown
Jamestown is the oldest district in the city of Accra, founded when it served as the home to the colonizers who came to the region starting around the 17th century. It provides a glimpse into the country’s historical past, although many of the historical areas are not maintained well.
The area features a fishing town, where boys are trained from a young age to join their fathers out on the open ocean for days at a time. Women stay in the village to help with the preparation and drying of the fishes.
The people here all make their own boats as well, with each one being carved from a single tree trunk. It’s fascinating!
Views from Jamestown in Ghana
7 | Shai Hill Resource Reserve
If you need a break from the city while in the greater Accra region, spend time at the Shai Hill Resource Reserve. At this reserve, you have the option to see indiginous animals such as antelopes and monkeys. In addition, there are outdoor activities such as rock climbing, bird watching, and hiking.
Central Region of Ghana
The central region of Ghana is known both for the attractions that center around the former slave trade that occured in the region as well as the many elite higer education institutions found there. There are also a variety of hotels situated on the coast in this region.
8 | Kakum National Park
Kakum National Park houses a tropical forest that is home to many animals, some of which are endangered, such as the giant bongo antelope, the African elephant and the Diana monkey. Given the nature of tropical forests, the area is densely packed with lush vegetation which is difficult / at some points difficult to navigate. But this park’s claim to fame is the canopy walkway that hovers over the forest itself.
If you aren’t afraid of heights, I recommend you take the walk above the park for amazing views (and a little bit of a thrill).
9 | Assin Manso Slave River
The Assin Manso Slave River was one a major conjuction point along the slave trade routes in Ghana. It was the point where slaves would receive their last bath before being shipped for literal human storage at one of the nearby castles.
It is a moving experience, particularly for descendants of the slave trade, like me, to walk through the footsteps of the ancestors who once faced so much hardship on their way to the Americas. A highlight of the tour is the “Last Bath” where you will ultimately stand in the very waters where those enslaved were quite forcefully bathed before purchase.
10 | Cape Coast Castle
Cape Coast Castle is a historial site and one of the 40 “slave castles” that once was the last stop on the slave trade in the continent of Africa before those enslaved faced the “door of no return”. The castle (or fort) was originally built by the Swedish in 1653, and then switched hands between the Swedes, the Danish, and the Dutch until the British assumed ownership of the castle in 1664.
What is interesting about the castle is the juxtaposition of the life of those who worked the castle versus those who were imprisoned there. You’ll see a large master suite there for the governor of the caste as well as a church, but below all of these were large cells that housed as many of 1500 slaves at a time.
The conditions for the enslaved was beyond inhumane, as they were given little more than standing room in their cells, and weren’t allowed to leave or remove waste while housed there.
The castle is another site that really helps paint the picture of slavery before it came to the Americas. Which is honestly something that is missing from the history books we have here in the United States. It’s a wonderful and eye-opening experience for anyone who visits.
11 | Elmina Castle
About a 20 minute drive from Cape Coast Castle you’ll find the Elmina Castle. This historical site also served a prominent and similar history to the slave trade. However, Elmina Castle is a good deal older than Cape Coast Castle. Construction for this castle began in 1481, and was led by the Portuguese, who actually began the slave trade in west Africa. It should be noted that this castle did initially start as a standard trade site focused on goods, rather than people.
The castle is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and although not as popular as Cape Coast Castle, it is frequented by many tourists as well.
While the castles served a similar purpose, the experience visiting them can differ. Elmina castle offers a more intimate experience as it is smaller and also less crowded. In addition, the souvenir shops in the area offer better prices.
For a more complete view of the slave trade history in Ghana, I recommend that you visit both castles, if time permits.
12 | Elmina Beach
If you are visiting the castles, you should plan to stay in the area for at least a night or two to enjoy the beach vibes. There are plenty of resorts and eco-lodges around the area and it is a really nice way to break up the heaviness that comes with the visits to the castles and Assin Manso.
My 1 Week Ghana Itinerary covers all you need to know about visiting the Central, Eastern, and Greater Accra regions of Ghana.
Eastern Region of Ghana
The eastern region of Ghana is known for its high capacity energy generation, with great reliance on hydroelectric power. You will also find a great deal of natural beauty in this region as well.
13 | Aburi Botanical Gardens
The Aburi Botanical Gardens are located about forty-five minutes outside of Accra (despite the fact that it is technically in a different region). It sits in the mountains and, as a result, the weather there is a bit cooler than the city nearby. The garden is quite large and covers 160 acres – but only three acres are developed / part of the attraction that you can visit.
The garden features many plants, trees, and flowers arranged in an aesthetically pleasing way. You won’t be able to miss the lined royal palm trees that mark the drive to the parking lot. You will also find the silk cotton tree, which is remaining flora from the original forest that once covered the area. There is plenty of opportunity for bird watching and butterfly watching as well.
The garden is a lovely place and the perfect short escape from the business of the city.
14 | Boti Falls (Twin Waterfall)
What is special about Boti Falls is that it consists of two falls, the upper falls and the lower falls. According to the locals, one is female and the other is male, and where the waters from the two meet, they are said to be “mating”.
The falls are said to have been discovered by a catholic priest (at least in terms of modern discovery). While visiting the falls you can hike down around 70 stairs to see the “mating” of the falls, and you are also able to take a nice dip in the cool waters there as well.
For reference, Boti Falls is about a 90 minute drive from Accra. In addition there are two attractions within walking distance from the falls: Umbrella Rock and the Three-Headed Palm Tree.
Ashanti Region of Ghana
The Ashanti Region is another area in Ghana’s south, and it is also the region with the largest population. The region is known for its production of gold and cocoa, and the center of population is in the city of Kumasi. The region is named for the Ashanti people, who were the original inhabitants of the area.
15 | Kumasi
Kumasi is the second largest city in Ghana and is also known as the “Garden City”, given its large variety of flowers and plants. There are many things to do in Kumasi, but some of the things you should certainly check out include:
- National Culture Center
- Kejetia Market
- Manhyia Palace Museum
- Besease Traditional Asante Shrine
- Kumasi City Mall
16 | Kumasi Zoological Gardens
This zoo has been in operation since the 1950s, and it features a variety of animal species. It is not a large zoo as it is in the center of Kumasi, but a good activity for those of you who like zoos or who are traveling with small children. I’ll mention, it would likely be a better idea to visit Mole National Park, which we’ll cover later in this post.
17 | Lake Bosomtwe & Green Ranch
The Green Ranch at Lake Bosomtwe is a eco- destination that offers views of the beautiful lake, lush greenery, and horseback riding experiences. You can opt to stay a night (or a few) here or just visit on a day trip. The ranch features activities like paddle boating and canoeing, and a restaurant that serves vegetarian meals. If you are looking for a quiet change of pace from the bustle of Kumasi, this is the perfect place to visit.
Volta Region of Ghana
The Volta Region of Ghana is a multilingual and multi-ethnic region, and is maybe best known for the large artificial lake that is situated there, Lake Volta. Lake Volta is actually a water reservoir and is the fourth largest one in the world!
18 | Volta Lake
If you plan to visit the lake, it is likely you’ll stay in the town of Akosombo, which has started to build up its tourist infrastructure. Activities such as fishing and other water sports have increased in popularity in the area as well. In addition, the nearby Digya National Park provides opportunities to go on safari to see such wildlife as monkeys, elephants, bush pig, and more.
North Region of Ghana
19 | Mole National Park
Pronounced “mole-ay”, this park is the largest and most prestigious protected area in the whole country. It is known as the elephant hotspot Ghana, and also features over 90 species of animals, and over 700 plant species. There are a variety of opportunities for safaris here – and you’ll find they are much more affordable (although not as luxurious) as those in countries like Kenya or Tanzania.
If you’d like a structured travel tour that takes you from Accra on a several-days trip to Mole, check out this 3-Day Tour!
Final Tips | Ultimate List of the Top Tourist Sites in Ghana
I hope this list of tourist sites in Ghana has encouraged you to visit this wonderful country! You’ll find plenty of friendly people, excellent food, and as shown here, more than your fill of things to do. For those of you who have visited Ghana before, please let me know if there are any destinations that I’ve missed in the comments below.
If you’d like more tips on how to plan your trip to Ghana, click here.
If you’d like to explore more of the continent of Africa, check out my 1 Week Morocco Itinerary!