Abuja is the capital of Nigeria. Since most Nigerian government agencies are now headquartered in Abuja and most other countries' embassies have been relocated from Lagos to Abuja, it is a surprisingly expensive city.
Abuja is very beautiful. One of few purpose-built cities in the world planned and built from scratch, it has an excellent road network, a beautiful rolling terrain and modern Nigerian architecture. However, power is often erratic.
- 1 Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport (ABV IATA). International flights to Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport are offered by several airlines, notably, Lufthansa, KLM, and British Airways. If arriving from the US, Delta Air Lines has a direct flight from New York JFK. Many visitors fly through connecting flights from Lagos.
While the industry is being overhauled and aviation safety is being upgraded, only few local airlines are reliable: AeroContractors, Arik Air and Chanchangi. Arik Air has embarked on an ambitious programme to add several new jetliners, including the new Boeing 787 dreamliner, to its fleet.
From the airport, you are best advised to take the official Green Cab. Board the cab with only people you know. Uber operates here as well.
The light rail line, when change opened in July 2018, connects the airport to the city centre at the Abuja Metro station.
You can travel to Abuja by bus from major cities like Lagos, Benin, Kano and Port Harcourt. Reliable services include: ABC Transport (with air conditioned luxurious bus rides), Ekene Dili Chukwu, Chisco Transport (CTN) and Young Shall Grow. The preferred bus service would be ABC transport.
Take only day trip buses from Lagos or Kano. A few buses have been attacked by robbers. If you're unfamiliar with the country, do not take a bus without an escort. Buses allow you to appreciate the terrain, the towns and cities and the subtle changes in these and culture as you drive towards the capital either from the South or the North.
Nigeria Railway Corporation has completed an inter-city line between Abuja and Kaduna, where you can connect with the rest of the Nigerian rail system. Trains arrive and depart from 2 Idu Station which is about 15 km west of the city centre. As of 2018, there are four daily departures in each direction.
Car or taxi is the main mode of getting around Abuja: public transport is limited. However, the Abuja Light Rail started operations in July 2018, helping with transport woes especially between the city, rail station and the airport. However, this means it only relieves congestion on the west side of the city.
Abuja has a few strict driving laws that are enforced. Seat belts are required of the driver and front seat passenger. The vehicle can be impounded and not released until the fine is paid. Drivers don't typically observe lanes within the city, and often attempt to squeeze in what might seem to be dangerously close to your vehicle. In some cases they may drive on the sidewalks. Traffic accidents are frequent, so drive defensively. Occasionally, drivers from other parts of the country that are unfamiliar with the driving culture in the city try to beat traffic lights. If you're driving, keep an eye out for other motorists, especially at intersections, who may try to beat the traffic lights. Occasionally, traffic lights stop working during outages and road marshals are deployed to critical intersections.
Abuja is a beautiful city. The tourist attractions are:
- 1 Aso Rock. A 400-metre monolith and the city's most noticeable feature.
- 2 Millennium Tower. Topped out in 2015, this 520 ft (160 m) tower is quite amazing. It is a part of the National Cultural Centre, which is under construction as of 2017.
- 3 National Mosque. Built in 1984, open to non-Muslims except during prayer.
- 4 National Church of Nigeria (National Christian Centre). A large inter-denominational church built in a neo-Gothic style.
- 5 National Assembly Complex.
- 6 Abuja Millennium Park. A large recreational park which serves as the main getaway for residents. Includes a large system of terraces highlighting the different vegetation zones across the country.
- 7 Sarius Planetum, 3259 Ibrahim Babangida Blvd, Maitama, ☏ . 0900-1800 daily. commercialized botanical garden focused on palm trees, but also supposedly having the only known Cannonball tree still in existence in West Africa. Asian/Indian restaurant on site. ₦ 1000 adults, ₦ 500 children.
- 8 Tobix Recreational Park and Garden, Ahmadu Bello Way, Kado. 0800-1900 daily. Another embellished garden, but this one with an eatery specializing in grilled fish and drinks and a space for cultural events to take place.
- 9 Thought Pyramid Art Centre, 18 Libreville Cres, Wuse, ☏ . 0900-1900 M-Sa, 1300-1900 Su. An art museum featuring a lot of local art work, exotic pieces and wooden sculpture, among others. With a restaurant next door.
- 10 Zuma Rock, north of Madalla (drive west along Murtala Mohammed Expressway toward Madalla and you should see it on your right). Another rock monolith landmark. Displayed on the 100 naira note and known as the Gateway to Abuja from Suleja, it stands about 300 m high. Was once used by the Gbagyi tribe when on the run from invaders.
- 11 An Noor Mosque (مسجد النور), Ibrahim Babangida Way, Wuse, ☏ . Interesting architecture and mosaic tiles.
- Go shopping at Wuse Market, the main market in Abuja. Everything is available, from fresh food to clothes, music, and electronics. And as markets go, not expensive.
- Art & Craft village (across the road from Sheraton Hotel)
- 1 Jabi Lake (Jabi Recreational Park), 26 Alex Ekwueme Way, Jabi. Can go for a stroll, ride horses, take a boat ride, buy fresh fish, relax and read a book, etc on this good-sized lake.
- 2 National Childrens Park And Zoo Abuja (just east of Millenium Park, on the other side of A234.). 0800-1800 daily. This zoo has a number of animals representative of Africa (e.g. lion, zebra, camel), but there has been a bit of a reputation of animal neglect. In 2018, many news outlets reported on animal cruelty with the institution based on the condition of a malnourished camel there. ₦ 400 adults.
- 3 Usuma Lower Dam. This is a place for some good hiking around more of those rock domes with the Kubwa Abuja Reservoir in the background. Hiking trails are present.
- 4 IBB International Golf & Country Club, 41 Udi Hill Street, off Aso Dr, 900211, ☏ . 0600-2000. Said to be one of the best golf courses in the country, with lots of great views. There are crocodiles in some of the water traps. ₦ 11586.
- 5 Magic Land Amusement Park, No. 1, Kukwaba Hills, Constitution Ave, Wuye, ☏ . 1230-2000 M-F, 1000-2100 Sa-Su. Dilapidated amusement park. Has some old water rides and rollercoasters. gate fee ₦ 300, rides ₦ 300-600.
There is some interesting artwork all over Abuja. Wood carvings, paintings and leatherwork. Everything is available in surrounding countries quite a bit cheaper, but if you are here you might as well buy it here.
Food prices in Abuja are high, especially for Western food. There are, however, many good restaurants in Abuja that are arguably worth the money. Of course, whether you live in Abuja or are just visiting, there are times when you are willing to pay a little extra for the simple fact that there are few to no alternatives.
- Exclusive Supermarket 1202 Adetokunbo Ademola Crescent, Wuse II. A cafe/coffeeshop at the back of the supermarket sells good salads, a few Lebanese dishes, icecream, coffee and standard pizza and grilled food. Cheap (Nicoise Salad takeout for ₦1000).
- Love Pizza Freshly baked Italian pizza made with the finest ingredients. Pizza, wings, salads. Eat in, take out & delivery; +2348054447945. 2 Bouar close, Bangui street, off Ademola Adetokuno Crescent, Wuse 2. (beside Jevenik)
- Shawarma Shop, adjacent to Amigos Supermarket, Wuse II. ₦700 for shwarmas and they offer pizzas for somewhere from ₦1500.
- Southern Fried Chicken. A local knockoff of KFC, but ask them to go easy on the mayo.
- Mr. Biggs. All over. Burgers.
- Shawarma Shop, adjacent to 212 Supermarket, Usuma St., Maitama. These shwarmas have cabbage on them. About same price as the one by Amigos
- City View, Cape Town Street, off IBB Way, Wuse Zone 4. Perhaps the best Lebanese food in Abuja, excellent prices, they also host large groups, indoor or outdoor sitting.
- Ceddi Plaza has a fast food chicken restaurant on second floor - and ice cream
- Drumstix, Aminu Kano Crescent. Fast food, Nigerian dishes, grill, shawarma and ice cream.
- Tantalizers Burgers. All over.
- Cafe inside Grand Square Market, Mohammadu Buhari Way.
- Cafe at Dunes Center, Aguiyi Ironsi Street, one on the main floor and one upstairs.
- MrPickup.biz, Delivery service. Picks up your orders and brings to you for a small fee! +234 (0) 702 828 6771.
- Spice Food In front of Sahad Store, across from Bolton White Hotels, Ahmadu Bellu Road. 07031111005, 08034500653. Delicious Indian food and snacks at very reasonable prices. Main course ₦1000-1500, snacks ₦300-600. Su-F buffet noon-3PM ₦2000. Dinner 6PM-10PM
- Ciao, Jitau Plaza, Plot 1173, Ademola Adetokunbo Crescent, After AP plaza, Wuse II. A good Italian restaurant with the usual Italian dishes. Expect to pay around ₦2000 for a dinner with wine. Good Pizzas, but AJ's have more to them.
- AJ's Pizza, adjacent to the Park and Shop in Wuse II, Aminu Kano Crescent, call your order in before you get there 0803 314 0469 or 0804 410 4567, if your order 5 pizzas, ask for free juice.
- Chopsticks, Plot 66 Mississippi St. Maitama. Good Chinese food, a couple should share one order of a main dish and either rice or noodles. ₦2000-5000 for main dishes. Has cocktail bar.
- Sitar, 46 Usuma St. Maitama. Indian food.
- Wakkis, Like Sitar but more reasonable prices, this might be considered moderate instead of Splurge. Amino Kano Crescent, follow signs, Wuse II. ₦1500-2500 main dishes, good seafood. Amazing King Prawns!
- Blakes, Fish bar, add unknown, Garki District.
- Obudu Grill Steakhouse at the Sheraton You won't spend less than $50 USD here, but the steaks are excellent.
- Albasha Palace Good Mediterranean & Continental food and Pizzas, Shisha. Outdoor, indoor events & parties... 11 Cassandra Street, off Usuma St, Maitama.
- LaZeez Place, Usuma Street, Maitama.
- Golf Course Has a restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating, would be a good place to have large group gathering, not called Golf Course, but that is where it is.
Drinks are available all over Abuja and are very overpriced. Average US$20 for some mixed drinks, US$5-9 for a local beer. Buy beer from the Market and you will save a lot of money. The major hotels have bars and restaurants - watch out for the call girls, if you ignore them, they get really offended. If you are not interested, just say so and have a short conversation, then they will leave you alone.
- Smoothies Parlor. *
- Ceddi Plaza Has a bar on the basement level.
- Blakes Has live music or a DJ and drinks as well as the fish bar
- British Village Requires a membership to enter and is popular during different sporting events, especially during soccer games and rugby.
- Jake's Club is in Silverbird Galleria, Central Business District
- 1 The Nordic Villa, 52 Mike Akhigbe Way (In Jabi district), ☏ . A 4-bedroom boutique hotel furnished in a modern Scandinavian style. The villa is located in a peaceful and safe environment suited for both business and leisure travellers.
- 2 Rockview Hotel, 196 Ademola Adetokunbo Cres. A little dreary but decent. Has gym, tennis courts, pool. The pool bar menu has some better offerings than the bar or restaurant.
- Hotel De Bently N. Okonjo Iweala Way, Utako Abuja. Its a decent place to stay
- Reiz Continental Hotel Plot 779, Cadastral zone AO, Central Area. Tel. +234-9-4619110. Similar to Rockview in terms of standard, but with better service. Has pool too and free minibar (non alchololic)
- Immaculate, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Plot 111 Adetokunbo Ademola Crescent, Wuse II opposite Cubana Bar, near Diamond Bank. Modern hotel with nice-size rooms and suites. Noisy on weekends because of night club next door, and rooms above kitchen are noisy all the time. Lacks social space like bar/terrace but this is good because less prostitutes than in larger hotels. Basic gym and small pool area. Restaurant ok. Reasonable prices and well-located.
- 3 Barcelona Hotels International, 23 Blantyre Cres, Wuse, ☏ . Multi-story hotel with open rooftop restaurant, free restaurant, indoor and outdoor pool, spa, gym, meeting facility, and wifi. Near the Thought Pyramid Art Center. ₦ 26263.
- 4 Check Inn Hotels, 37 Durban St, Wuse 2, ☏ . Hotel with sleek interiors, pool, hot tub, gym, restaurant, bar, wifi. Good location proximal to downtown. ₦ 25490.
Decent hotels in Abuja tend to cost above US$200 per night.
- 5 Hawthorn Suites Abuja, ☏ . Service is good and the hotel is beautiful. Part of the Wyndham Group. Five star. Food is very good. Rates from about ₦43,000.
- 6 Transcorp Hilton Abuja, 1 Aguiyi Ironsi St, Maitama, ☏ . Part of the Hilton Group and upholds a good standard. Five star. Located at 1 Aguiyi Ironsi, Maitama Abuja. Rates from about ₦50,000. Good for weekend lounging by the pool (₦2000 entry for non-residents of the hotel) at least.
- 7 Sheraton Abuja, ☏ . Not up to the standard of other Sheraton hotels, still a good experience with nice food.
Abuja tends to be a sharp contrast against the background of the rest of Nigeria. While car hijackings and armed robbery are high in Lagos, and kidnapping of foreign oil workers is prevalent in the Niger delta, Abuja in sharp contrast, is one of the safest metropolitan cities on the continent.
General security measures like elsewhere in the world should be observed. Like anywhere else in the world, it's always a good idea to have company when exploring unfamiliar places. If you're driving, observe simple measures like keeping your car door locked when parked to avoid opportunistic crime. Armed robbery at gun point is the most prevalent form of crime. A calm disposition and full cooperation with robbers is the best line of action in the unlikely event that you are the victim of a robbery.
Robbers tend to become violent when victims try to pull tricks. Contact your embassy in Abuja and the police if you are robbed. Occasional pick pockets target mobile phones and wallets as well. Do not carry large amounts of cash. Usually, US$250 cash (or ₦30,000) would more than suffice for impulsive purchases and other daily costs.
When moving in Abuja, as a foreign visitor, you are best advised to use the official Green Cabs. There's a remote chance that privately operated unofficial cabs could be traps. Cab fares would be around ₦500 for trips within the city. Cab rides to the airport are significantly higher. Negotiate a fare before you enter a cab.
There have been many reports of fraudulent use of credit card details almost immediately after people have used their cards to pay hotel deposits, even in the very top hotels.
Embassies and High Commissions
- Finland, 9 Iro Dan Musa Street, Asokoro, Abuja, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. M-Th 8AM-4:15PM, F 8AM-1:15PM.
- Indonesia, 4, Salt Lake Street, Off Gana Street, Maitama District, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Also accredited to the Republic of Togo, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Ghana, Cameroon, Liberia, and the Republic of Congo.
- United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland.
- United States of America.