Original photo: “Adam Jones Follow Young Men with Pirogues in Harbour – Near Busua – Ghana” by Adam Jones, Ph.D. – Global Photo Archive is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
Ghana is West Africa’s golden child, drenched in sunshine and adventure opportunities. If you travel to Ghana as a volunteer with GVI, make sure you tick off the top attractions.
There’s a lot to love in Ghana: Brightly coloured fishing boats lined up along beaches, the flavours of fresh mangoes and fried plantains, and the sound of birds calling from rainforest canopies.
There’s a lot to learn too: How to navigate the hot and sticky streets of Accra, the sobering history held within the imposing walls of coastal forts, and how to speak a few words of Twi.
Get ready for your West Africa adventure by taking note of these ten things to do when you visit Ghana.
1) Cape Coast Castle
Cape Coast Castle, built in 1653 and now a museum, is one of the most impressive and culturally significant forts that line Ghana’s Atlantic coast. Originally established as a trading post, it was eventually used by the Dutch and British to hold enslaved people before they were sent to the Americas.
The whitewashed walls of the Cape Coast Castle are bright in the sunshine, contrasting sharply with the dark dungeons and tragic stories inside them. Take a tour of the castle for a sobering look at the history of the slave trade, as well as an overview of Ghana’s history and insights into local culture.
2) Mole National Park
Covering savannah and wilderness in northern Ghana, this is the largest national park in Ghana and the best for wildlife viewing. Take a safari into the heart of this untamed beauty to come face-to-face with elephants, spot leopards lounging in trees, and see cheeky gangs of baboons and warthogs roaming around.
3) Kejetia Market
Original photo: “View over Kejetia Market – Largest in West Africa – Kumasi – Ghana – 02” by Adam Jones, Ph.D. – Global Photo Archive is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
The city of Kumasi’s central open-air market is a massive tangle of rusting tin roofs and colourful umbrellas, which shelter stalls selling all manner of wares. There are more than 10,000 stalls to choose from in Kejetia Market.
Pick your way through the maze-like alleys of the market, browsing food, clothes, fabrics, handcrafted jewellery, and knick-knacks. This isn’t a tourist market, so when you visit Ghana it’s an ideal way to get an unfiltered glimpse into Ghanaian daily life.
4) Saint George’s Castle
Original photo: “View of St. George’s Castle from Seashore – Elmina – Ghana – 01” by Adam Jones, Ph.D. – Global Photo Archive is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
Rising above the quaint coastal fishing village of Elmina, Saint George’s Castle is another historic landmark. Built by the Portuguese in 1492 and eventually taken on by the Dutch, the castle is notable for once serving as a centre for the slave trade. The horrifying history is confronting, but as a significant chapter in global history, it’s well worth studying.
5) Kakum National Park
Set on the coast of southern Ghana, this national park protects a large wedge of rainforest. A string of suspension bridges sways through the canopy 30 metres off the ground. From this lofty vantage point, you can look out for colobus monkeys, hundreds of bird and butterfly species, and even forest elephants.
6) Busua Beach
Popular with backpackers and volunteers, Busua is a chill spot where you can relax for a few days after exploring busier destinations such as Accra or Kejetia Market. There are plenty of laid-back cafes and bars where you can while away the day.
Or, you could take advantage of the excellent surf along the beach. If you’ve never been on a surfboard before, there are two surf schools where you can take lessons.
7) Nightlife in Accra
Accra after dark is just as lively as during the day. Get a taste of local nightlife in Accra’s many bars and grills. You’ll find bars that burst with creativity and music, where like-minded people can connect and enjoy good vibes together. On busy nights, people spill out onto the streets.
8) The Centre for National Culture
When you’re ready to do your souvenir shopping, this chaotic arts and crafts market in Accra is the place to go. In among the mass of stalls, you’ll find all forms of Ghanaian handicrafts from woven baskets to clay pots and handmade jewellery. Be prepared for assertive stall holders trying to sell you their wares, and don’t be afraid to haggle.
One of the most iconic places to visit in Accra is Jamestown – a town within the city. A more dilapidated neighbourhood, Jamestown might not seem enticing from afar, but once plunged into the vibrant streets, you’ll never want to leave.
From corrugated iron shacks to once-grand colonial-style buildings, and the cheerful, red striped lighthouse, there’s plenty to explore. Jamestown is constantly alive with activity. During the day there’s the hustle of the fishing harbour, and at night, a thriving live music scene.
10) Volunteer in Ghana
Volunteer in Ghana for a unique experience and cultural exchange. Volunteer opportunities in Accra, Ghana, including working to empower women and girls, assisting with English classes in primary and secondary schools, or getting involved in workshops that tackle healthcare issues and professional skills development.
Our programs in Ghana are set in Kokrobite, a lively town 30 kilometres west of Accra. Here you’ll find a relaxing tropical beach where fishermen still use traditional methods to haul in the daily catch. As a volunteer, you’ll have the chance to get to know locals and Ghanaian daily life on a more intimate and meaningful level.