A city of dozens of neighborhoods and over 2 million people, Accra is Ghana’s largest city, and in many ways, its nerve center.
Many visitors stick to popular quarters like Osu and rarely venture to neighborhoods that lie outside the interior of ring road. In this post, we will explain why it’s worthwhile to get to know some of these lesser known areas.
Situated near the neighborhoods of Nima and Kotobabi, Newtown long held the reputation as a place of crime and thuggery. While the reputation may have been justified at one point, Newtown is now more than safe to visit (in fact, I stayed there for a couple of months in 2010 and regularly return).
Newtown is one of the city’s more diverse neighborhoods. You will hear Hausa, Twi, Fante, Ewe, Ga and even Fula spoken here. In this neighborhood, mosques sit next to churches, and on Sundays don’t be surprised if you see a pastor walking a Christian marching band past a Hausa wedding.
In Newtown, you can enjoy food from Ghana’s many regions, including the north, and you can even find some well traveled specialities from Nigeria, a result of the large Nigerian Hausa population here. Most of the ramshackle eating spots on Newtown Road offer something delicious, but I would highly recommend the chop house closest to the Yas Guesthouse (if you are at Nima junction ask someone where the Yas guesthouse is or simply walk in the direction of Ghana commercial bank and it will be on your right side).
The narrow side streets explode with boutiques, tiny movie houses and CD shops. If you have an afternoon with nothing to do, take a long slow walk and stop and chat with the various vendors. Sit down for a beer (or a tea) at any one of the small bars or eateries, even better if Ghana’s national football team is playing or Accra Hearts of Oak, Accra’s local premiere league team.
If you spend more than a few days in the neighborhood, you will likely find yourself receiving invitations to dinner, church, and parties. I was invited to a graduation, which produced the entertaining video below (watch the kid in the back far left near the beginning).
Newtown may not look like much upon first glance. If you dip your toe in, you will probably think that it is nothing more than another crowded Accra neighborhood. On the other hand, if you can get past the surface, you’ll quickly realize that it is one of the city’s most interesting areas, one that is certainly worth exploring in earnest!
For a well-run tour that also supports local community, check out the offerings from Ghana Nima Tours (Nima is the closest neighborhood to Newtown and it is similar in many ways).