Abuja, the capital city of Nigeria since 1991, is one of the few properly planned capital cities in Africa. With its beautiful modern parks, architectural designs, and monumental buildings, Abuja is indeed a worthy capital city of Nigeria. Abuja has been aptly tagged the “centre of unity” due to its physical central position in the country and lack of ethnic and religious differences.
The city has an estimated population 6 million people, making it Nigeria’s 4th largest city. It is bordered to the North by Kaduna State, to the South-East by Nasarrawa State, to the South-West by Kogi State and to the West by Niger State.
The city has so many great prospects but you may feel a bit unsure about what to expect of Abuja. Not to worry, we’ve curated a list of important things you needs to know
1. It’s a City Of Many Hills
Abuja’s cityscape is defined by hills and rocks. If you come to Abuja, you need to see a monolith created by water erosion. It has the size at 400 meter. People call it Aso Rock. Some important places spanning on the southern area of the rock include Supreme Court, National Assembly, and Presidential Complex. Another rock is Zuma Rock. It is situated on the northern part of Abuja which has the size at 729 meters.
The city experiences 3 distinct seasons; the warm season, the rainy season and an extremely hot/dry season. The average temperature is 29.1 degrees celsius. This ideal climate makes Abuja a great place to visit all-year-round.
2. It’s The Most Planned City in Nigeria
In all of Africa, Abuja is the only purpose built city. The territory was intentionally carved out to become the capital of Nigeria in 1991. As a result, the city has the most extensive road network in the country, making every area of the city easily accessible from another. It also has a seamless transport system to boot. Abuja is divided into various sections which are all earmarked to serve specific purposes. For example, the Central Business District (home to various offices and agencies) or Asokoro (where majority of expats and diplomatic staff are housed).
3. How to get to Abuja
There are direct domestic flights from major cities like Lagos, Port Harcourt, Owerri, Sokoto, Akure, Enugu, Kano, Benin City, Warri and Calabar. International and domestic airlines like Medview Airlines, Dana Air, Arik Air and Air Peace, Lufthansa, Turkish Airlines and Air France fly to Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Abuja.
All Roads Lead to Rom-buja
Abuja is accessible by road from all parts of Nigeria. Some of the road transportation companies like Young Shall Grow Transport Ltd, Peace Mass Transit and Chisco Transport Ltd transport passengers daily from various cities in Nigeria to Abuja.
If you are travelling from Kaduna and neighbouring states, the newly constructed Kaduna to Abuja rail line is a great option for you. It is known to be a significantly cheaper and more direct way to travel to Abuja.
4. Getting Around in Abuja
Taxis are the most common means of transport in the city. Taxis are easily accessible at street sides and travel all routes in the city. Online cab services like Uber are available and provide cheap ad comfortable transportation around the city.
Other means of transportation include commercial motorcycles and tricycles. These vehicles travel only short distances. The tricycles often have specific routes which they ply.
5. Things to do in Abuja
You can enjoy the sights in Abuja regardless of your budget. Most of the time, all you will need to take with you is an adventurer’s eye and a good camera.
Enjoy Nightlife in Abuja
The city is well known for its sophisticated evenings and vibrant nightlife. At night, you will notice on the side roads, open spaces converted into relaxation spots referred to as gardens. Riverplate Park and the Secret Garden are choice gardens for lone relaxation or with friends.
The clubs, bars, live music, pubs, and lounges ensure your night time is as interesting as your day. Most of the clubs are located in Wuse 2. You should check out clubs like Cubana, Basement, the Bank, Krsytal Lounge, Safari, Klub vanity, Aqua night, etc.
Visit Aso rock
At 132 feet, Aso Rock is the most noticeable feature of Abuja. The Nigerian Presidential Complex (dubbed Aso Villa), National Assembly and Supreme Court are all delicately positioned around it, making Aso Rock the most powerful rock in Africa.
Visit Zuma Rock
After taking in the prestigious Aso Rock, head over to Zuma Rock for another breathtaking view. The gigantic 1km long inselberg is irrefutably one of Nigeria’s most famous landmarks. Though it geographically located in Niger Sate, Zuma Rock is a drivable distance from Abuja’s city centre.
Shop for Souvenirs at the Ladi Kwali Pottery
Ladi Kwali Poetry was established under the Northern Regional Government in 1950. The pottery today, remains a sight to behold. There are world-class clay and wood pot and carvings on display and available for sale. You can also learn about Ladi Kwali and dedication to pottery which earned her a place on the Nigerian N20 note.
6. Tourist Attractions in Abuja
Jabi Lake is a sight to behold the wonders of nature. The lake is a mystery because its water level remains constant all-year-round. It is also home to crocodiles and other reptiles. At the bank of Jabi Lake, is a newly completed mall which has been constructed to allow you shop or relax on the various lakeside terraces.
Constructed in the 1980s, the golden dome of the National Mosque, is the most impressive religious site in the city. The best time to see the dazzling dome is at noon when the sun is at its peak.
National Ecumenical Centre (National Christian Centre)
Also known as National Christian Centre, National Ecumenical Centre is one of the largest Christian centres in Abuja. The cathedral is a great architecture marvel both on the outside and inside. The altar of the church gives worshippers a 360° view of the preacher.
This park was conceived and designed by Italian architect, Manfredi Nicoletti. It is the largest public park in Maitama area. It is a place full of fun and serenity you desire. It features a pool, beautifully structured walkway and a play area for kids.
One side of the Park is dedicated to nature preservation hosting beautiful butterflies and tropical birds. An evening visit to the Park will greet you with the beautiful lightings, delicate animals and picnicking guests. It is a perfect romantic hangout spot.
Hidden in Bwari, the dam offers a quiet and peaceful environment and offers amazing mountain and hillside views.
There’s so much to do and lots more to see in Abuja. If this your first time in Nigeria, Abuja is a perfect jump-off point for exploring the rest of the country. If you want to see the best of the city in a short period of time, check out this 48 Hours in Abuja guide.
You should plan to stay in Wuse 2 and its environs, this is the fun hub of the city and where most of the interesting activities will take place. There are a number of budget hotels around the area, such as Chateau De Trybze and Rockview Hotel Classic.
Morning: Classic Breakfast and Golfing
There are many restaurants in Abuja city poised to meet your breakfast needs. Craving for local or international cuisines? Some of the restaurants in Abuja which serve local and Intercontinental cuisines are… see more
8. Where to Shop in Abuja
Abuja has a wonderful variety of malls, supermarkets, and open markets. The open markets are stuffed with food stuff, fresh and dry fish, meat, clothes, electronics and other household needs.
This is the busiest and most popular market in Abuja. Here you can purchase everything from fresh foods to electronic gadgets. Haggling with traders to get a good bargain is a popular practice here.
Other open markets include; Kado Fish market, Utako market, Gariki Market, Friday Muslim Market, Abuja farmers market etc.
Abuja is also home to various malls like Jabi Lake Mall, Ceddi Plaza, Next Shopping Mall, Dune Centre or Silverbird Galleria, where you can shop in a serene environment, enjoy a meal or catch a movie.
Located in central Abuja, Ceddi Plaza is a go-to shopping destination in Abuja. It houses many businesses including Levi’s store, Nike store, Etisalat, wine shop, restaurants and ATM’s to mention but a few. You can also watch a movie at the cinema.
also features a cinema, an arcade game centre and a bowling alley. There is a bookstore, MANGO store, the Body Shop, Pandora and cafes, to mention a few. Shoprite is also in the Galleria to ensure buying and selling in a safe and serene environment.
9. Places to Eat in Abuja city
It is located at Transcorp Hilton Hotel and offers guests different mouth-watering Nigerian dishes like yam porridge, pounded yam, Oha soup, snail sauce, goat meat sauce etc. Bukka restaurant also offers buffets of local and continental cuisine.
At Wakkis, you get to see your food as it is prepared in the open kitchen. Housed in a hut-like building made of bricks, wooden poles and straw, Wakkis kitchen offers different cuisines from Indian. It operates a 24-hour service.
Located in Mabushi District, BluCubana, offers both indoor and outdoor by its swimming pool. BluCubana is also home to a beauty parlour and a gym. Food served includes international appetizers and mains with a strong Lebanese influence. The menu offers different world cuisines such as; pasta, salads, sandwiches, pizzas and barbecued kebabs.
To enjoy local Nigerian meals, pay a visit to Jevnik offers delicately prepared Nigerian foods(especially meals from eastern Nigeria) such as Afang soup, Abacha, Ekpang nkukwo and pepper soup.
Kilishi is a dried meat snack loved by Nigerians. , Abuja is the right place to have a taste of kilishi as it a sack that originated from Northern Nigeria. The Kilishi market in Area 1, Abuja is the main place to eat the best Kilishi.
10. Where to stay in Abuja
There are a lot of luxury and budget hotels in Abuja to cater to your needs. Some of them are;
Sheraton Abuja Hotel
This hotel is located in Maitama and is the crown jewel of the hospitality industry. Luxury, opulence and grandeur are a few words that describe the magnificent services and facilities offered at the hotel.
Nicon Luxury Hotel
Transcorp Hilton Abuja
This hotel is situated in Maitama and is conveniently located near local businesses, embassies and government buildings. It is also within close proximity to the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport and the IBB Golf course.
Koraf Hotels and Apartments
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Abuja is rightly referred to as the “jump-off city” to tour Nigeria. After you visit Abuja, you may wish to get a more wholesome taste of the country. The following cities are also great places to visit;