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Description: Open source travel guide to Abuja, featuring up-to-date information on attractions, hotels, restaurants, nightlife, travel tips and more. Free and reliable advice written by Wikitravellers from around the globe.
Abuja is the capital of Nigeria. Since most Nigerian government agencies are now headquartered in Abuja and most other countries' embassies have been relocated from Lagos to Abuja, it is a surprisingly expensive city.
In the aftermath of the Nigerian-Biafra War, the Nigerian government sought to locate its capital in a location not predominated by any one ethnic group. The site of Abuja was chosen for the Federal Capital Territory as it was centrally located and had few existing residents. Plans for Abuja were first announced by decree in 1976. Most of the construction for city began in the 1980's. Today, it is Africa's only purpose-built capital city. It has an excellent road network, beautiful rolling terrain and modern Nigerian architecture, however this focus on the car means it is a difficult city for pedestrians. As in the rest of Nigeria, electric power is erratic.
International flights to the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport are offered by several airlines, notably, Egypt Air, Ethiopian Airlines, Lufthansa, KLM, and British Airways. There are no direct flights to Abuja from the United States.
Although it is possible to fly directly from the U.S. or other locations to Lagos, and take a domestic flight to Abuja, this is not recommended. The international and domestic terminals in Lagos are not connected and transferring between terminals is a hassle. Furthermore, domestic Nigerian airlines will allow only one bag to be checked on without charge, even if your international arriving flight had a larger baggage allowance.
The airport is located approximately 40 kilometers from the city center. Although construction has begun on a light-rail system to the city center, for now cars are the only realistic way to get to the city. If your hotel or employer is sending someone to pick you up, get the name of that person and the license plate number of the vehicle in advance. If you do not have a vehicle pre-arranged, take an official (green-colored) taxi.
You can travel to Abuja by bus from major cities like Lagos, Benin, Kano and Port Harcourt. Reliable services include: ABC Transport (with air conditioned luxurious bus rides), Ekene Dili Chukwu, Chisco Transport (CTN) and Young Shall Grow. The preferred bus service would be ABC transport.
However, you are advised to take only day trip buses from Lagos or Kano. You must be conscious that bus trips are not the safest as in rare situations buses have been attacked by robbers. If you're unfamiliar with the country, do not take a bus without an escort. Buses allow you to appreciate the terrain, the towns and cities and the subtle changes in these and culture as you drive towards the capital either from the south or the north. The building is 150 meters wide and 150 meters long and 50 meters high.
Abuja was a city planned for cars, with loop highway around the city and broad avenues. Unfortunately, it is difficult to get around without a car, and the strict zoning laws mean that residences are usually far for commercial areas. Abuja does not have the problem of enormous traffic jams or "go slows" as in Lagos. However, the higher speed that cars travel at presents a higher risk of dangerous accidents. Compounding this are the traffic signals which will stop working during the frequent power outages and the tendency of drivers to ignore lanes and drive dangerously close to other vehicles. Traffic accidents are frequent, so drive defensively. For safety's sake, keep your doors locked and windows rolled up at all times.
Abuja has a few strict driving laws that are enforced. Seat belts are required of both the driver and front seat passenger. Failure to obey this law leads to significant inconveniences as the vehicle is impounded and not released until the fine is paid.
Fortunately, for the visitor, taxis are plentiful and cheap. Most are green and some very beaten up, but they get you there. Fares around town (eg a 5km trip) are N300-N400 depending on the mood of the driver and your bargaining skills. Always agree the fare in advance and try to have exact change. Having a GPS app on your phone and a rough idea of where you should be heading also a good idea. Private taxi companies are also available - offering phone dispatch and better cars, fares for these companies are about N1,500 - N2,000 for a trip across town.
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