The Ultimate Guide to Getting Around in Accra
Figuring your way around a new city can be super fun and exciting, but also a bit stressful. What helps me alleviate my stress when using public transportation abroad is knowing the do’s and don’ts of the local system. After a year+ of living in Ghana, I’ve mastered a few tricks that I am excited to share with you!
Here are 4 essential tips you need to know to get around Accra with ease:
1) Know Your Transportation Options
There are so many transportation options to choose from when traveling in Accra:
Uber recently launched late this year, with some reasonable success. It works very similarly to how it does in many other places where Uber operates and makes traveling a bit more convenient.
Important Things to Consider:
Con: No bargaining power here; long wait times; faulty GPS.
Pro: Prices tend to be on par or cheaper than taxis prices; door to door service; no bargaining needed (great if you’re shy or feel uncomfortable doing so); and they accept credit cards!
I usually take uber for short distances, traveling for work, or going out in the town. Do remember to plan your time accordingly with Uber!
These can be pricey for daily use. I normally use this option for long trips (1.5 hours+) to other regions. Trips to Cape Coast can range from 350 cedis to 400 cedis (82-94 USD). You can always find a driver pretty easily.
Places to inquire about this option: The airport; other taxi drivers, hotels - which may be the easiest option if your lodging at a hotel and are planning on going on excursions.
There are no shortages of taxis available in Ghana. You can find taxi ranks at key junctions or neighborhood hot spots, as well as at hotels and mall entrances. Catching a taxi at night is bit trickier- there are less cars on the road- (this is where uber may come in handy!)
Pro Tip: Collect the phone numbers of taxi drivers you encounter - it may come in handy when needing a pick up.
When hailing down a taxi or riding around in a trotro (local mini bus) in Accra you’ll often hear shouting: if you listen closely you’ll hear the names of key places referenced by a mate (the driver’s right hand man). At taxi and trotro ranks, speeding cars and vans will pause to quickly shout to passengers the direction of where the car is going! The energy at these stations can be overwhelming the first couple of times!
2) Know Extra Details About Your Destination
Most places don’t have traditional addresses, so knowing the neighborhood of the place you’re visiting is key! For example, if you’re getting dinner at Bistro 22, a swanky little restaurant located in Labone - when flagging down a taxi - giving the name or address of the place often is not enough. Is the restaurant in Osu, Labone, Airport?
Pro Tip: If a place is obscurely located consider downloading the GPS directions or having access to Google- sometimes Google Maps comes in handy!
3) Don’t Shy Away From Bargaining
Don’t fret - I’m not a mathematician either! Luckily, this won’t require too much math. When jumping into a taxi always remember that as a tourist you’re probably being overcharged. The beauty about Ghana is that prices are often open to negotiation! The first price a taxi driver offers will often not be the most accurate. A key rule I stick to is to divide the number (silently in your head of course!) by 2 and add 2 cedis.
Example: Your cabby says 45 GHS (outrageous!) → 45/2 -->23 +2 -->25 (Fairer Price!)
This should give you a closer estimate of how much the total cost of your ride reasonably should be.
P.S. This may still be a bit higher than what locals pay.
P.S.S. Don’t be afraid to walk away - there are plenty of taxis in Accra - you’ll find one that best meets your price.
4) Know When to Stay Off the Roads
Accra is plagued by TRAFFIC! You can spend close to 2-3 hours stuck in bumper to bumper traffic during rush hour. High traffic times in Ghana are traditionally early in the morning anywhere from 7-9am and evenings 6-8pm. Prices will always be significantly higher during these times! During the holidays, traffic time is even worse!