Ilorin is the capital city of Kwara state in North Central Nigeria. In 2020, it was home to an estimated 950,000 people.
The city is a confluence of cultures, populated by the Fulani, Yoruba, Hausa, Nupe, Bariba and Kanuri tribes from across Nigeria, as well as foreign nationals. The city retains a strong Islamic influence, although Christianity is now widely practised in the cosmopolitan part of the city due to the significant immigration of people from other parts of Kwara State and the rest of Nigeria.
English is commonly spoken and understood among the populace. However, Yoruba is the mother tongue of much of the people, and Hausa speakers may be found in some areas, particularly among roadside sellers of food and vegetables.
Modern Ilorin is specially inhabited with the aid of using Muslim Yoruba people, even though its conventional ruler is a Yoruba-speakme Fulani emir. Surrounding the anciently significant district with its conventional single-tale red-dust homes with thatched straw roofs and severa mosques, all blanketed with the aid of using a dust wall, the present day town is an business, commercial, and academic centre. It is a prime marketplace for domestically raised crops (yams, cassava, maize, sorghum, millet, rice, peppers, peanuts, shea nuts, kola nuts, cotton) and for cattle, hides, and poultry. Local handicrafts consist of pottery making, timber carving, leather-based working, fabric weaving, and mat and basket weaving. The developing business quarter now consists of sugar refining, meals processing, soft-drink bottling, in shape and cleaning soap manufacturing, and ironworking. There are numerous banks and coverage agencies that serve the town and state.
The city is home to the University of Ilorin and the Kwara State Institute of Technology. Near the city is the Federal Institute of Agricultural and Rural Business Administration, which operates a research company. Colleges of education and vocational schools also serve Ilorin. Medical services include many government, private and religious hospitals, as well as nursing homes for the elderly.
Ilorin operates by rail and highway from Lagos (260 miles south-southwest) via Ibadan, which intersects the city, and has an international airport.
The city of Ilorin serves as a gateway between the northern and southern part of Nigeria.
The Ilorin international airport is also used for domestic flights to other cities within the country and international flights to Saudi Arabia for Hajj and Umrah.
Rail services in Nigeria are still very slow and unreliable but several routes have reappeared. Nigerian Railway Corporation have daily services from Ilorin via Ibadan, and an overnight service from Kano via Kaduna a few times per week. A new higher speed railway is under construction and is expected to be completed in the 2020s, resulting in increased speeds and frequency.
Several bus companies like Young Legacy, Mufsuf Motors, Kasmag line, Okin Express offers daily services from almost all major cities (Lagos, Ibadan, Abuja, Kaduna, Kabba, Lokoja, Sokoto, Kano, Makurdi, etc.) around the country. While buses usually are quite comfortable, journey times are very long.
There are also independent transporters under the aegis of the national union of road transport workers (NURTW) and road transport employees association of Nigeria (RTEAN) in various parks, such as Post Office, Offa garage, and Maraba who travel to various towns within and outside the state.
There are three modes of transiting within the State, which also extends to the region – the most popular being the conventional taxis. There are the commercial motor bicycles commonly called “Express”, and the more recent arrival on Ilorin’s roads, “Keke NAPEP”, imported commercial tricycles.
If travelling around Ilorin, be sure to be accompanied by a tourist guide who is familiar with the routes. For the most part, it's safe to move about during the day. If you are going out at night, be sure to go in groups, and stick to known routes.
Ilorin now has decent mass transit buses, courtesy of the Maigida Soludero Mass Transit (MST) schemes. The MST buses have their major terminal at Post Office area of Ilorin, and offer travel services to the University of Ilorin, Offa garage, Kwara State Polytechnic, Tanke, Oyun, and Sango. The tickets for the MST can be purchased at the bus stops before boarding. Tickets range from ₦50-150, as of 2021.
The road network of Ilorin city for most part is good, but there is sometimes traffic congestion and parking spaces can be scarce, especially during working hours. Be sure to be on the lookout for road signs, in order to avoid entering one-way roads or streets. KWARTMA (Kwara State Road Traffic Management Authority) is the body responsible for managing traffic in most of the traffic congestion areas. Make sure to follow traffic rules. There are car parks around in hotels and shopping malls, most of which provide free and safe parking.
One of the easiest ways to get around Ilorin city is by taxi. Taxis are relatively cheap and cost about ₦50-100 per drop. Ilorin city taxis are painted green and yellow and most of them are Mazda cabs.
For traveling short distances, you can use motorbike taxis called Okada. These motorbikes are quick, cheap, and save a lot of walking. Okada accidents are common but safety equipment is now provided because the state government and the Federal Road Safety Commission have mandated it. Before you try and negotiate any transportation fare, always confirm the fare from a local. If you have a Nigerian friend, let them negotiate for you as the quoted fare differs greatly for locals and foreigners.
Safety helmets are a must at all times for both the rider and passenger. Majority of the times these are ill-fitting.
The city also has a range of tourist attractions such as the Sobi Hill which is said to have offered protection to natives during intertribal wars in ancient times. The Okuta Ilorin is located in Asaju's compound, Idi-Ape Quarters. It is the stone on which Ojo Isekuse, one of the founders of the city, used to sharpen his metal tools. It was actually called "Okuta ilo irin" (meaning stone for sharpening metals). It is from this tool, the town Ilorin derived its name. The stone was a deified object of worship, and sacrificial offerings were made to it in the past.
Pottery is a big business in Ilorin. The city has the biggest traditional pottery workshops in Nigeria. They are located in the Dada area of Okelele, Eletu in Oju-Ekun, Okekura, Oloje, Abe Emi and Ita Merin.
The traditional textile industry also thrives in Ilorin. In various parts of the city, aso-oke, textiles hand-woven on simple looms, are made in large quantities. Aso-oke is purchased by traders and fashion designers from Kwara State, other parts of Nigeria and abroad.
The cultural centre houses the Kwara State Council for Arts and Culture, its performing troupe, and a gallery with artworks and antiquities. Souvenirs of cultural and historical values are also available.
- The National Commission for Museum and Monuments has one of its centers in Ilorin, with interesting cultural and ethnographic objects from Nigeria's many cultures.
- 1 Esiẹ Museum. has a major collection of soapstone figures, and is of major note.
- 2 University of Ilorin (Unilorin), PMB 1515. University of Ilorin campus.
Metropolitan Park, a recreational park, is located on Unity Road. The Kwara State Stadium Complex has an Olympic-sized swimming pool with facilities for diving. A purpose-built baseball park is located in the Adewole area of the city.
- 1 Viva Cinema (Viva Cinema ilorin), The Palms Shopping Mall, beside NTA Ilorin, Fate Rd, Ilorin, ☏ . 9AM-10PM. Viva Cinema ilorin located in Kwara palms mall. A very exquisite place to watch different types of movie with popcorn, hotdog sold there too. ₦500-₦2500.
Unless you are in a supermarket or restaurant/bar with fixed prices, you will be expected to negotiate the price you pay for an item down to the lowest the vendor would sell. When you are stuck in traffic, expect to see hawkers selling drinks and other forms of light refreshments.
If you hold a Visa, MasterCard or Maestro credit/debit card you can withdraw cash in naira from various ATMs in Ilorin.
Foreign currency, U.S. dollars, pounds sterling, or euros can be exchanged in various places, usually near large hotels, e.g., Kwara hotel and the airport. These are not formal bureaux de change and you will need to negotiate the exchange rate. Count your money in front of the exchanger, and don't be afraid to walk away if you are not happy with the deal.
There are formal Bureaux de Change in the various banks, and you can be rest assured about transacting with them, although their rates may be slightly higher or lower than the rates outside. Some of the good places for shopping are:
- Edinwo Supermarket, Tanke road.
- 1 Palms Shopping Mall, Plot 1, Fate Road, G.R.A, Ilorin South Local Government Area. 9AM-10PM.
- Ace Supermarket: Unity road.
- Martrite Supermarket:Bola Saadu House, 10 Ahmadu Bello Way.
Tanke Region. Ilorin is one of the best places you can't go around with an empty stomach because there are a lot of places to eat. Here are the few places to eat at Tanke.
- 1 T&K, 60 University Rd, Tanke , Ilorin, ☏ . 7:30AM-10PM. Traditional foods are sold here.
- 2 Yakoyo, Tanke Rd, Ilorin. 9AM-10PM, (Monday-Saturday). a restaurant where diverse foods are sold both traditional food and continental food.
- 3 Clay Plot, No.6, Beatrice Anike Street, off University Road, beside Bovas Filling Station. 10AM-3AM (Every day). diverse foods are sold; traditional food and continental food.
- Item 7. only Continental food is sold here.
- Liyagold. This is a restaurant and a mall combined in a building, the down section for a restaurant where guest order for foods mostly Continental Cuisine while the upper section is the mall open for shopping.
- Chop & Grills. A night restaurant where snack and junks are sold.
- Iya Yusuf Restaurant (Tuwo spot), University Road Tanke, ☏ . 8AM-11PM. A casual restaurant where you can get your Nigerian traditional foods. They offer delivery, take away, dine-in, fast service, a wheelchair accessible entrance, all you can eat, health options, a kid's menu, late-night food and organic dishes.
There are other regions where you can eat asides Tanke, these include:
- The Place, 14B Umaru Audi Road, GRA, ☏ . 8AM-10PM. The Place is a proudly Nigerian company, operating in the hospitality sectors of the Nigerian economy. The brand is one of the business units operated by Smackers Ltd and has operational presence via multiple outlets, across different states in Nigeria.
- The Commodores cafe and grill, Yoruba road, Phase 2, 240212, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. 2-8PM. Curbside pickup, no-contact delivery, delivery, take away, dine-in. Staff wear masks, staff gets temperature checks, staff required to disinfect surfaces between visits, great cocktails, coffee, breakfast, lunch, dinner, seating, dessert, good for kids, toilets, casual, cosy, accept reservations. ₦1,000-4,000.
- Royal Eatery, Sultan road junction, off, Ibrahim Taiwo road, ☏ . 8AM-11PM. Delivery, take away, dine-in, great cocktails, All you can eat, healthy options, kid's menu, organic dishes, vegetarian options, good for kids, casual.
- Divine foods restaurant, Opposite colony 2 junction balogun tanke Oko Odo ilorin, ☏ . 8AM-10PM. Fast food and dining fast food drinks and they also offer take away.
- Alhaja Iya sikiru, 93 Sobi Road, ☏ . 7:30AM-8:39PM daily. They offer meals at affordable rate. Also they have dine in and take away.
- Bukatee Restaurant, Opposite Martrite Supermarket, 24 Ahmadu Bello way GRA, ☏ . 8AM-9PM daily. Rice porridge chicken stew with all kinds of Nigerian soup and swallow coleslaw and any various drinks. They also do dining, takeaway and delivery.
- Be happy.
Drinks are available all over Ilorin. The major hotels have bars and restaurants where drinks can be purchased.
- Frootify - a shop outlet where smoothie and other fruit juices are made and sold to shoppers. Located at Tanke axis of Ilorin South.
- Locale Nutri C - a shop outlet Where juices are made with side snacks which are sold to people.
Located along university road Tanke
- Y bar, Office road, 240101, ☏ . 11AM-11:30PM. Delivery, take away, alcohol, beer, wine, casual.
Ilorin has some great hotels and guesthouses, meanwhile many more are being built. The cost of booking a hotel in Ilorin is cheaper when compared to other Nigerian cities like Lagos, Kaduna, and Abuja.
- WhiteField Hotel: Plot 37 Gerewu Rd, off Western Reservoir. Free Wifi, room service, restaurant and bar.
- Crystal House International Hotel: No 28 Sulu Gambari Rd, GRA. Free parking, free wifi, restaurant and room service, fitness center, massage, relaxation area, golf course.
- White field Hotel. A reserved place to sleep. The hotel's facilities include free parking, free wifi, a restaurant and room service.
- Kwara Hotel, 9A, Ahmadu Bello way, GRA, toll-free: . Kwara hotel is located in a serene environment with wifi, outdoor pool, fully air-conditioned rooms, restaurants and bars, halls for different events. ₦16,200-46,000.
- E-Phoenix Hotel, 45 Aderemi Adeleye Street Off Basin Rd. Adjacent Federal Secretariat G.R.A Ilorin.
- Princess Luxury Hotels, Plot 31, Pipeline Road.
- Noktel Resort Hotel, 14/16 Noktel Drive, Off Catchment Road, G.R.A., Ilorin.
- Royal Shekinah Suites, Ajase-Ipo Road, Opposite NNPC Mega Station.
- , New Yedi Road, Opposite Tuyil Pharmaceutical.
- Purple Hills Hotels Limited, 1 Sodik Sulyman Street, Off Fate Tanke Road.
In general, Ilorin has become a much safer place to visit than before, except for occasional clashes and violence, the state of security in the city has relatively improved with the state spending huge budgets on security with police patrol cars, CCTV cameras (though this isn't always the case). But beware of deals or businesses that sound too good to be true (especially e-mails soliciting your help), and do not openly flaunt your possessions, especially in public places.
While it is rare for a tourist to be a victim of a violent crime, it is still wise to stay safe and be alert, especially during late night outings. Stick to crowded streets and make sure to go out in groups as against going out alone.
The people of Ilorin are generally nice and friendly people, most of whom will readily offer directions to you if you are lost.
- Royal FM Ilorin 95.1MHZ[dead link]
- 101.9 Sobi FM
- Diamond 88.7 FM Ilorin
- Midland FM 99.1
- Unilorin FM 89.3[dead link]