Onitsha is a city of 1.5 million people (2021) in Anambra State in Southeast Nigeria. Onitsha can claim two distinctions. First, it is said to have the largest market in Africa in terms of volume of goods and geographical size. And, secondly, in a more sordid sense, it was ranked number one most polluted city in the world by WHO in 2016.
The city has had a somewhat tumultuous past. From the mid-19th to mid-20th centuries, it was developed as a centre of trade and dissemination of Christian mission work by the British. Following Nigerian independence though, Onitsha fared front and centre and lay decimated by collateral damage during the Nigerian-Biafran war of 1967-1971. Since then, oil ventures have brought in a stream of revenue but along with it swaths of people seeking a piece of that prize, resulting in overcrowding, lawlessness, and zoning unsightliness.
Onitsha is also distinguished by being a centre of Nollywood film distribution and the navigable endpoint for most shipping up the Niger River.
Though some 450 km away, it is fairly directly connected to Lagos by road. In fact, the Onitsha Bridge is one of the few bridges linking eastern and western Nigeria. There is also some limited regional transit by air available through 1 Asaba International Airport (ABB IATA), ☏ +234 7039119444. nearby.
Through the Niger Bridge (one of the most popular bridges in Nigeria, linking the Western and the Eastern region), you can get to Onitsha by road. There are different transportation companies that serve Onitsha, including GUO (Mmduabuchukwu), Peace, GIGM (God is Good motors), Ever Green, EZEWATA, The Young Shall Grow and many others. Starting from ₦3000 you can get a vehicle into the city, but that depends on where you are coming from.
There are kekes everywhere.
Onitsha is a little short on sights.
- 1 Basilica of the Most Holy Trinity Cathedral, Awka Rd (off Mission Road north of market), ☏ +234 7066006646. On the bank of the Niger River where the first missionaries landed in the Onitsha area circa 1850 and where the first Nigerian priest to be beatified, Cyprian Michael Iwene Tansi, is buried. Seat of archbishop for Anambra state.
- 2 Nelson Mandela Gardens, Asaba (next to the Asaba Airport), ☏ +234 7061842154. M-Sa 10AM-7PM, Su noon-7PM, closed M. A little park commemorating Nelson Mandela with an ostrich.
- 3 Onitsha Bridge. Just a sight in passing really, but the centre-truss bridge is a prominent landmark of Onitsha. Completed in 1965, it allowed for vast improvement in commerce and transportation between the east and west of Nigeria. Although it was destroyed during the Nigerian Civil War, it was later repaired during the Jonathan Goodluck administration.
- 4 Igbo-Ukwu Museum, Igbo Ukwu (very close to Union Hospital along Nnobi-Ekwulobia Road), ☏ +234 7017895370. M-F 8AM-4PM. Displays 9th-century bronze artifacts of the Igbo-Ukwu people that demonstrate they were the first highly sophisticated bronze metal-working culture of West Africa and had trade networks with groups as far away as the Nile Valley.
- 1 Onitsha Market, Edozie Lane, ☏ +234 7065562455. Claimed to be the biggest market in Africa by geographic size, likely to be a little intense. One sector is focused on electronics.
- 2 Onitsha River Beach. Well, the river might smell like poo, but it's a beach anyway. Actually, this is quite a busy locale as there is a major sand harvesting operation going on here, with (naked?) guys jumping off of pirogues to scoop up sand from the riverbed, all of which is sold for profits. But, all in all, with this and the amount of waste entering the river, this might not be a very nice place to hang out.
- 3 Iyke Christian Brother Trading Enterprise, Ochanja Market, Zik ave, city centre, ☏ +234-803-447-9245. Opens 7AM, closes 6PM. This place is amazing for shopping. It's a place where you can get all kinds of footwear at a very affordable rate. It's also one of the big markets in Onitsha.
- 1 Onitsha Market (Onitsha Main Market), Edozie Lane, Main Market. M-Sa 7:30AM-5PM. Onitsha Market is the one of the largest markets in West Africa based on geographical size and volume of goods. Most of the major import merchants from Eastern Nigeria have their head offices within the market. Items sold within the market include jewellery, clothing, household, industrial and office equipment.
- 2 Relief Market (Ogbaru Main Market), 7 Obodo ukwu Road, Awada layout, ☏ +234-703-924-6809. Opens 8AM. Relief Market is regarded as one of the biggest provision markets in Onitsha.
- 3 Mybuka Market Obosi, Onitsha-Owerri Expressway, Owerri road layout, ☏ +234-808-072-6942. Sell, Do waybill, fix vehicle at a very affordable price in the market, they also dealer of any kind of tyre cover for any model such as Toyota, Lexus, and Ford.
- 1 The Rodinia Restaurant and Bar, Summit Junction by Rain Oil filling Station, Asaba, ☏ +234 7030625563. Daily 8AM-10PM. A quick eatery for economically-priced African dishes close to airport.
- 2 Five Star Restaurant, Ridge Road (few blocks east of basilica), ☏ +234 7067678615. Daily 7:30AM-9:30PM. A neat looking place with African food.
- 3 Chinemeze Restaurant, 5 Ichida St, mcc 434243, Onitsha. A restaurant where you can get contemporary Nigerian dishes.
- 4 Madam Gbowa Restaurant Obosi, Anyoku street, behind Obosi town hall, ☏ +234 803 360 2317. 9AM-8PM. A restaurant where contemporary Nigerian dishes is sold.
- 5 Somma Eatery, Mandela line at ochanja market,Onitsha north,Onitsha. 9AM-9PM. Dine in. Take away. Delivery. NGN.
- 6 Gracespot Eatery, 25 Benjamin Street, GRA Onitsha, ☏ +234 8038907312. 10AM-9:30PM. Dine in. Take away. Delivery.
- 1 Remmy Grills and Bar, Unnamed road ogbunike, Nkpor, ☏ +234-813-066-1093. Their service includes, restaurant and bar. They sell all kinds of beer, wine (alcoholic and non-alcoholic), soft drink.
- 1 Best Western Plus Elomaz Hotel, Plot 22 A/B-27 Core Area, DBS Rd, Gra 320241 (across Niger River in Asaba), ☏ +234 8038193264. Pool, spa, dining, free breakfast, wifi.
- 2 Soprom Hotel & suites Ltd, 1,Ogbatuluenyi Drive, Federal Housing Estate, ☏ +234-813-629-5492. Check-in: noon, check-out: noon. they offer good customer care service, good rooms, clean environment, cozy and comfortable, homely, the meal served appropriately, stomach friendly. They also have popular Amenities like: pool, spa, free parking, free breakfast, WiFi (fast internet connection), room service 24 hours and it's also children friendly. ₦16,000.
- 3 Dolly Hills, 3, Dr lady Ngozi Agbasimalo Road, ☏ +234-703-451-3661, email@example.com. Check-out: noon. Dolly Hills hotel is a quite appreciable place with lots of outlooks like bar,garden,pool and many lodging suits from presidential to regular. They also have popular amenities like, swimming pool, free parking,free breakfast, restaurant, fitness center and it's also children friendly, the cheapest room is ₦9,000.
- MTN (Everywhere you go), ☏ 180. Their service includes: data (internet), SMS and GPRS service. They also offer airtime bonus to new customer.
- Airtel. Service includes: data (Internet), SMS and GPRS service. They used to be known as ZAIN.
- 9MOBILE, ☏ 200. Service includes: data (Internet), SMS and GPRS service. They used to be known as ETISALAT.
- GLO, toll-free: 121. Their service includes data (internet), SMS and GPRS service. They are also known as grand masters of data.