Slung low in Southern Nigeria, Edo State showcases the rich history, culture and traditions of West Africa. Benin City is the colourful state capital that charms visitors with its lively markets and excellent National Museum. Venture out the city to discover picturesque towns and wildlife sanctuaries tucked away in the rolling hillsides.
Things to do in Edo
Once the capital of the ancient Kingdom of Benin, today Benin City is one of the biggest cities in West Africa. Strolling along UNESCO-listed Brass Casters Street, you can peer into sculptor workshops and learn about the ancient “lost-wax” technique used to cast bronzes in the 16th century. The gleaming ornaments make excellent souvenirs and gifts.
In the heart of the city centre, the National Museum showcases beautifully-preserved Benin Bronzes and photographs of pieces displayed at the British Museum. The indigenous galleries are filled with hand-carved masks, beaded jewellery and other artefacts.
Benin City serves up some of the best food in Edo State. Most meals feature a generous serving of Jollof rice, a Nigerian specialty made with tomato puree and cooked over the woodfire to add a smoky flavour. Wash down your meal with a refreshing “chapman” punch with lemonade, lime, bitters and a slice of cucumber.
Day trips to the Somorika Hills immerse you in the natural beauty of Edo State. Surrounded by jungle-covered boulders, the scenic town of Ososo features some beautiful walking trails and lookouts.
A visit to the Okonni Wildlife Sanctuary gets you up close with a cast of West African wildlife, including chimpanzees, white-throated monkeys, forest elephants, buffaloes, porcupines, bush babies and red river hogs. The park is a sanctuary for birdlife, with more than 150 species to spot including the wrinkled hornbill and great owl.
Getting around Edo
Renting a car or hiring a private driver is the easiest and most comfortable way to get around Edo State. In Benin City, most locals use buses or taxis to travel. Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos is a six-hour drive west.