Only have one day to explore the city of Kumasi? Don’t worry, we’ve got your guide to cramming in the most to see in a short amount of time. From digging into a typical Ghanaian breakfast to enjoying a night out with locals, here’s how to have the ultimate 24 hours in Kumasi.
A great way to start your day is with breakfast at the Sanbra Hotel in central Kumasi, near Kejetia Market, the largest open-air market in West Africa. Go for international fare or Ghanaian food, then take some time to wander the market before the sun gets too hot. Seeing the vast market is an experience all on its own and absolutely worth exploring, even if you don’t go deep into the market.
Once you’ve had your fill of the market, you’re just a short walk from the Kumasi Cultural Centre. Head down Prempeh II Street and turn right on Bantama Road, which will curve you around toward the cultural centre and the Kumasi Zoo. At the cultural centre, you’ll find the Ashanti Tourism Office as well as an arts and crafts market inside that offers decent prices and is much less overwhelming than the one in Accra. You can also see how some of the common crafts in the area are made and learn more about Ashanti culture.
While you’re here, visit the Prempeh II Jubilee Museum inside the cultural centre. This museum is dedicated to a favourite Ashanti king who took the golden stool in 1931. There are a number of items in the museum from this era that are considered important to Ashantis and their culture.
After spending some time in the museum, take your pick of one of two options for the rest of the day. To get a real feel for the Ashanti region, it’s nice to step outside Kumasi for a bit. There are two great day trips that you can make to do just this.
You can take a short cab ride to Asafo Station and then catch a direct trotro (minibus) to Abono on the shores of Lake Bosomtwe. The ride will take about 30 to 45 minutes. Once you reach Abono, you can relax and have lunch at the Lake Bosomtwe Paradise Hotel, overlooking their manicured lawns and the lake. After lunch, make your way by shared cab a little further around the lake to Obo, where there is a stable where you can do some horseback riding, or go on a hike into the hills above. Or you could take a boat ride on the lake. Try to get the story of the lake from one of the locals in the area and learn why the lake is considered a deity.
Your other option is to take a trotro from Kejetia Market to Adanwomase, a Kente weaving village on the outskirts of Kumasi. This community-based tourism site will take a small fee to allow you to wander the community with a guide and learn about the centuries-old art of weaving Kente cloth. Traditionally, this community only made cloth for royals, so the quality is very high. You can even try to do some weaving yourself!
Take a trotro back to Kumasi and top up the day with a visit to Manhyia Palace, just to the north of Kejetia Market. This palace was built for the king of Ashanti who returned to Kumasi after being exiled from Ghana when the English claimed Kumasi. There is a museum on the grounds that offers some insight into Ashanti royalty. If you’re lucky and there’s a festival happening, you may be there when the king is receiving gifts and an audience gathers in the courtyard.
The Ashanti kingdom is one of the remaining few African monarchs that exists within a modern democracy. The royal lines are still strong and a visit to the palace offers an interesting way to see what life may have been like under the strong Ashanti empire.
After a long day on the road, you’re probably ready for a relaxing dinner! Treat yourself with an upscale dinner. The View Bar & Grill in south Kumasi cannot be beat, with great international fare and a renowned steak dinner.
If you want something a little more modest, you can eat at Catering Guest House, just south of the city centre. The food here is a mixed variety that is very popular with local businessmen while still being inexpensive.
If you are in Kumasi on a weeknight, things can be a little quiet — but on a weekend you can be sure to find some life in the streets! A good spot to check out for a cold beer with locals is Class 2 Pub. Alternately, if you like to dance, check out the clubs X5 Pub or Mandaro. If live music is your thing, Light FM is one of the best places for listening to live bands on weekends. If there’s a sporting event on, Cheers Bar has a large selection of drinks and large-screen TVs, perfect for cheering on locals’ favourite teams.
Don’t have time for a full 24 hours in the city? No worries, we’ve got the speedy version for a shorter layover. You’ll need at least three to four hours to explore sites and museums (and to battle Kumasi traffic). To make the most of your time, splurge on a cab, which will enable you to get into the city and see the sites without having to rush. A cab from the airport to the city centre will take about 10 to 30 minutes, depending on traffic.
If you’re in Kumasi in the morning or early afternoon, head into the city centre. On a hill above Kejetia Market, there’s a perfect vantage point to get a picture of the entire market, giving you some perspective on the size and amount of goods being sold inside. Nothing symbolises Kumasi better than this giant market at the centre of the city — you could easily lose yourself for hours inside. From there, visit some cultural sites such as the Ashantic Cultural Centre, which is dedicated to Ashanti culture and crafts, or Manhyia Palace, which offers a great little introduction to Ashanti royalty through historical displays and artifacts. Alternately, head out of the city to Kofofrom. It’s about a 40-minute ride south of the city from the airport, but doable in a short time frame. This village is known for its metalwork, which used to be made of gold. Today, brass is the material of choice, which artisans form into sculptures, figurines, and urns.
If your layover has you in Kumasi in the evening, head to some of the city’s great restaurants. Ashantis love their food, and their standby is fufu (a bread-like product made from cassava, semolina, or maize flour and served alongside soup). But you can also find many other great dishes to eat that will fill the void in your belly before you head back to the airport and continue on your trip!