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In 2018, Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo announced that 2019 would be an official “year of return.” To mark the solemn 400th anniversary of the transatlantic slave trade, Ghana is extending an invitation to reunite Africans on the continent with Africans in the diaspora. From somber historic landmarks to a blooming artistic renaissance, explore the blurred lines of home and away with the following selections.

Your Itinerary for a Soul-Stirring Journey of Ghana’s Gold Coast

Your Itinerary for a Soul-Stirring Journey of Ghana’s Gold Coast

In 2018, Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo announced that 2019 would be an official “year of return.” To mark the solemn 400th anniversary of the transatlantic slave trade, Ghana is extending an invitation to reunite Africans on the continent with Africans in the diaspora. From somber historic landmarks to a blooming artistic renaissance, explore the blurred lines of home and away with the following selections.

From touring ancient roads and kingdoms forgotten by western schoolbooks to indulging in a sacred slowdown while connecting with Accra’s vibrant creative scene, Ghana’s Gold Coast is a trip that will stay with you long after you’ve left its shores. We’ve chosen 10 meaningful locations that contrast the past with the present for your itinerary.

This Great Big Guide is by Visit Ghana.

Connect with the Unforgettable History of Africa’s Gold Coast

Elmina castle slave trading in ghana
Photo Courtesy of Visit Ghana

Elmina Castle: Elmina, Ghana

About a three hour drive from the city of Accra, this somber first stop is a significant place to begin a sojourn in Ghana. Considered one of the most horrifying centers of the transatlantic slave trade, Elmina Castle is a pilgrimage site for many descendants of enslaved Africans. It offers visitors the opportunity to retrace the last steps of the free men, women and children who were forced to leave their homeland for foreign shores under the brutality of the slave trade. Honor the resilient spirits that have gone before at the Door of No Return.

Cape Coast Castle: Victoria Rd, Cape Coast, Ghana

Approximately a 20 minute drive from Elmina Castle lies Cape Coast Castle. Like Elmina Castle, Cape Coast is one of around 40 slave castles concentrated along Ghana’s coast. It was once considered one of the most important slave holding sites in the world, changing hands between European colonial powers five times before landing in the hands of the British in 1664.

Learn about the native Akan people and the political conditions that gave rise to the slave trade at the centre’s museum. Looking out at the sea from the castle wall is a powerful moment for any visitor, but especially for descendants of those who unwillingly departed from these shores hundreds of years ago.

Cape Coast Castle transatlantic slave trade history ghana
Photo Courtesy of Visit Ghana
Photo: ContinentKofi

Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park: Accra, Ghana

Get curious about the life and legacy of Doctor Kwame Nkrumah, the influential politician who led Ghana to independence in 1957. Explore the beautiful five acre grounds in the city of Accra that house the memorial site of Ghana’s first president and delve into the political thought that informed his actions as one of the nation’s most loved founding fathers.

W.E.B. du Bois Memorial Centre: Fifth Link Rd, Accra, Ghana

Take a trip to the immaculately preserved grounds of the W.E.B. du Bois Memorial Centre, the final resting place of William Edward Burghardt du Bois, the African-American scholar and civil rights activist who inspired Pan Africanism; a movement that sought to unite all Africans across the continent.

Touring through the grounds is like stepping into a time capsule, vaulting back to the excitement of 1960s Ghana, when the newly independent nation was awash with intellectuals, artists and activists invested in the unfolding of its future.

WEBduBois memorial Ghana
Photo Courtesy of Visit Ghana

Connect with the Creative Renaissance Blooming in Accra, Ghana

republic bar accra ghana
Photo: ContinentKofi

Republic Bar and Grill: Asafoatse Tempong St, Accra, Ghana

Picture this, you’re sipping on a deliciously sweet cocktail of infused local fruits and Ghanaian palm wine. You can’t help but dance as the house band toys with familiar soul classics, punctuating them with infectious Ghanaian rhythms. It must be a Wednesday night at Republic Bar and Grill. Live like a local and head to this artsy spot in the heart of trendy Osu for chilled ambience, quiz nights, karaoke and more.

Labadi Beach: Accra, Ghana

Reggae music lives on far from the shores of Jamaica. In Ghana, these beaches are famous for hosting unforgettable reggae parties that go on long into the night. Listen to deejays and emcees go back to back over reggae classics at the capital’s beaches. If you’re lucky enough, you might just run into the reggae royalty that has been spotted along these shores.

best beach in ghana labadi beach accra ghana
Photo: ContinentKofi
coco lounge best places to eat in accra ghana
Photo: Rogerio Voltan

Coco Lounge: Stanbic Heights, Icon House, North Liberation Link, Accra, Ghana

Wind down and enjoy the cool night air from the Coco Lounge rooftop bar. The cocktail menu here has a flavor for every taste, much like its food offering. Though Ghana is a nation of meat eaters, vegans and vegetarians are well served here. Debut your gown and night-out attire at Coco Lounge, a great place to see and be seen.

Dimaensa: 52 Swaniker St, Accra, Ghana

Jollof (a spicy dish made of tomatoes, peppers, onion, and rice) is the pride of West Africa. Every nation has a recipe that they’re willing to bet out-spices its rivals. Leaving Ghana with your own opinion of what makes the best jollof (hint: it’s always a matter of opinion) will make you a true Ghanaian. We recommend you head to Dimaensa for a generous portion of authentic Ghanaian jollof.

best food in accra ghana dimaensa
Photo: ContinentKofi
year of return itinerary Ghana
Photo: ContinentKofi

Bantama Avenue: Jungle Ave, Accra, Ghana

If you’re looking to connect with locals and to explore indigenous Ghanaian dishes, then Bantama Avenue is your home away from home. The restaurant is known for its uniquely crafted wooden furniture and its foods that connect the country’s past with its vibrant present.

The Shop Accra: Omanye Street, Accra, Ghana

The Shop Accra is a playground for shoppers with a penchant for one of a kind, statement pieces that you’re unlikely to find anywhere else in the world. Treasures abound here, from artisanal homewares and interior design staples to contemporary fashion accessories from makers across the continent. The enviable collection is the brainchild of returnee sisters Lorraine and Loretta Ocloo, who sought a space to showcase creatives on the continent. Once you’ve worked up a sweat selecting cool wares, be sure to cool down at their juice bar with a smoothie made from fresh, local fruits.

best local wares shop in accra ghana the shop accra
Photo: ContinentKofi

These are just a few of the many ways to experience the beauty and breadth of Ghana–the gateway to the continent where past and future intersect.