Abuja, Nigeria’s federal capital was built in order to relieve overpopulation and congestion in Lagos but this city has much to offer. Predominantly a business hub for commerce, Abuja sees many international and foreign travellers to the capital. But for travellers looking for some sightseeing activities there is much to please everyone.
It was eventually made the capital on 12 December 1991 and soon the population began to increase. The city’s population is estimated to be about 3,000,000 and it continues to experience a growth of 35% per annum.
The city is well known for it’s various geological features, most famously, Aso Rock – a 400-metre monolith. It’s also well known for hosting national religious centers including the Nigerian National Mosque and the Nigerian National Christian Centre.
Food, crafts and culture are all big parts of life in Abuja. Expect jollof rice, fried rice and spicy catfish as traditional meals, but there are a wide variety of restaurants available in the city. Markets, craft centers and shopping are a must for tourists visiting Abuja.
The official languages are English, Hausa, Yoruba, Ibo and Fulani.
When travelling to Nigeria from abroad, most embassies recommend Abuja as the safest city to stay in. However, visitors are still advised to take anti-theft precautions. Avoid walking alone and at night, don’t carry valuables on your person and keep all items safely packed away.
If you don’t like spicy food, also be sure to research restaurants before heading out for the day. Sunblock, hats and lightweight clothes are advised, as temperatures get high during the day.
Nigeria is GMT+1, with no daylight savings.
The naira is the currency in Nigeria. Money can be exchanged easily at most hotels and at banks and forex bureaux. ATMs are easily found for withdrawals and GTB Bank is the most reliable for foreign cards. Credit cards are accepted at tourist outlets, but beware of fraud. Avoid black market exchanges, as they’re risky and illegal.
Nigeria has a tropical climate. Temperatures can easily reach around 30°C particular in the afternoons. Summers can get hot warmer, reaching up to 37°C in the warmest month of March. The rainy season is considered to be from May to October and it gets dry in January, February, November and December.
Electrical sockets use three square pins and some take three round ones. The standard voltage is 230V.
Visitors to the city can either go for roaming charges or go for the cheaper option of getting a Nigerian SIM card for the stay. Being the capital, connection in Abuja is relatively strong. Many restaurants, cafés and hotels are also equipped with Wi-Fi.
Abuja is very much a city where transport via car is the most popular choice. Traffic can be heavy and it is not uncommon for traffic lights to be out of order, so allow lots of time for travelling. Taxis are easily accessible and can either be a standard car or a motorcycle known as an Okada, which are able to weave through the traffic. Taxis generally have meters, but you may be able to negotiate a lower price.
Cars can also be hired in Abuja – note when driving for yourself that when filling up with fuel, you’ll be assisted by a petrol attendant.
Airport to City Centre
The Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport is about 40km from the city centre in the direction of Gwagwalada. There are registered airport cabs that can drive you into the city for, but if you’d rather book ahead, contact a shuttle service online. You can also hire a car upon your arrival at the airport.