Exploring a new city might be daunting at first, but that should not stop Social Media Week attendees from discovering all that Lagos has to offer. To alleviate any possible anxieties, we reached out to Nana Ocran, an international writer and former editor of Time Out Magazine’s Lagos and Abuja travel guides. Ocran not only provided us with a list of the top ten places to visit in Lagos, but also the best ways to get around town and where to find African mobile apps. “[One stereotype is] that there’s some form of big or small trouble around every corner in Lagos,” she said, adding that this view is widely-held by those who have yet to even visit the city.  “It’s a bustling, thriving city, so like any metropolis, what can happen here can happen anywhere. But even with its overcrowding, quite often people are too busy working, hustling, striking deals and getting to where they’re going to worry about you.”

On hotel discounts in Lagos:

“Pretty much of all the hotels in Lagos will offer some form of discount, mostly for group bookings. It’s really a question of finding out the room rates at reception and working out whether you want to stay during a busy or low-season time of year.”

On finding mobile apps to optimize attendees’ experience:

“During my time in Lagos, I have yet to go down the app route. I actually made it a point to either walk or taxi my way around to places to get a real sense of the rhythm of the city. However, I would strongly recommend that people check out the Afriapps website, which was set up by Kenyan developer Andrew Mugoya. The site lets you in on apps that are available throughout the continent, including Speak Yoruba and Traffic.com.ng for the latest on-road Lagos updates.” 

On the best ways to get around Lagos:

“If you’re lucky enough to have a driver or a hire car, that’s definitely handy. But if you want to get a better feel of the place, taxis are a good bet. The Red Cab Taxi Service (0700 073 3222) is the best in terms of condition and driver knowledge, and the LAGBUS service runs throughout most of Lagos. LAGBUS should be able to give you a timetable if you call (01 271 8763 or 0702 652 4287.)

If I need a quick local ride around Ikoyi I like the keke mawas (the yellow tuk tuks). They’re cheap, and you get much better photo opportunities from them. Okadas? Try them if you like, but personally, I’ve always chosen not to chance the daredevil, nip-between-two-car antics of some of these fearless motor-bike riders, even if they are the quickest taxi option in town.”

On entertainment and cost of living:

“Lagos changes almost from one month to the next. That means that clubs, bars, restaurants and other venues can often change management at a moment’s notice. Websites aren’t always updated so you might struggle to find the right number or information on a venue without showing up to check for yourself to see what’s happening. It sort of adds to the vibrancy of the place – even though as a magazine editor, these changes can be really frustrating. Also, Lagos is pretty expensive. You’ll run through your naira fairly quickly just eating out on the town.”

Ocran’s Top Ten Lagos Hot Spots:

[1] Bogobiri Guest House

9 Maitama Sule Street, Ikoyi, 01 474 7421

“I love this place. It’s where I always stay when I’m in town and if anyone visits and likes it, say Nana sent you. It’s low-key, a great hang out spot and for journalists it’s a good place to bump into international people and get the lowdown on where to go and what’s going on in town.”

[2] Jazz Hole 

168 Awolowo Road, Ikoyi, 01 895 3498

“Another great favourite of mine. The Jazzhole is a record store, bookshop, café and live music store where the spirit of Fela and other Nigerian and African musical pioneers is found in the wall-to-wall CDs on offer.”

[3] CCA, Lagos

9 McEwan Street, Yaba, 01 791 3274/ 0702 836 7106

“A great exhibition and library space. High quality, experimental and thought-provoking African art is showcased throughout the year.”

[4] The African Artists’ Foundation

54 Raymond Njoku Street, Ikoyi, 01 745 0750

“The hub and headquarters for the annual Lagos Photo exhibition, the African Artists’ Foundation has a wonderful series of gallery spaces that are really putting Nigerian artistry on the map.”

[5] The Ice Cream Factory

1613b Omega Bank Avenue, Victoria Island, 0805 831 4437

“On a blistering, hot Lagos day, a cool, flavoured ice cream is a wonderful treat and this place has queues snaking right out of the front door at weekends, so get in quick for your sorbets and more.”

[6] Lekki Market

Off the Lekki Epe Expressway, by the third roundabout

“You’ve got to try out your bartering skills in Lagos and the sprawling, daily Lekki market is a great spot for everything from shoes to leather goods and fabrics.”

[7] Sky Bar Eko Hotel and Suites

Adetokunbo Ademola Street, Victoria Island, 01 227 2700

“At the top of the Eko Hotel, this bar is chi-chi and maybe a tad pricey, but it’s worth a visit even if you just slow-sip a cocktail while gazing out at the panoramic view of Lagos Lagoon by night.”

[8] Terra Kulture

1376 Tiamiyu Savage Street, Victoria Island, 01 270 0599

“This is a landmark spot for art, theatre and great Nigerian buffet-style food. There’s a library, a language school and also occasional art auctions.”

[9] Freedom Park

Broad Street, Lagos Island

“On the site of a former prison, the aptly-named Freedom Park is a much needed green space in the city. Live events go down a storm here.”

[10] New Afrika Shrine

Pepple Street, Agidingbi, Ikeja, 01 793 1877

“I’m actually ashamed to say I haven’t been here, but so many people have told me about great nights there and the fact that the spirit of Fela Anikulapo Kuti is truly intact.”

These responses have been edited for clarity. Follow Patrice Peck on Twitter at @SpeakPatrice and Tumblr.

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