Calabar travel guide | Where to go, what to do, where to stay |
City & Town

Calabar travel guide

Calabar is an historic seaport city and former slave trading post, strategically located on the Atlantic Coast near the Cameroon border. The capital of Nigeria’s Cross River State and it is considered the future superstar of West African tourism.

The city had been inhabited for more than 2000 years and has been known to European sailors as far back as the 15th century and was recognised as an international sea port since the 16th century. It sits in the Bight of Biafra, a region from where approximately 25-30% of Africans transported to the new world as slaves left Africa, Calabar was a major slave trade port from the late 17th to 19th centuries.

This represents the largest single point of exit! Due to her early role in international trade and colonial administration, Calabar hosts the earliest Military barracks, the first presbyterian church (Church of Scotland Mission) in 1846, the first monorail, the first modern road network in Nigeria, first public (General) Hospital in Nigeria – St. Margaret Hospital, the oldest post office and one of the first two botanical gardens in the country.

[tab:Attractions] Calabar Museum
Calabar museum is arguably the only musuem in Nigeria that houses one of the largest quantities of original documents relating to the slave trade and palm oil production in Nigeria. The museum has many relics of the British Empire and mementos of local chiefs and colonial dignitaries. It also has historical values linking the city’s discovery as early as the 1400s.

Duke Town Church
Established by the Presbyterian Church Missionaries, this is one of the oldest churches in Nigeria. Mary Slessor, a Scottish missionary whose memory is cherished in the town for her role in the movement to abolish the killing of twins, lived in Calabar from the late 19th century until her death in 1915. Driving or walking through Eyamba Street just past the church lies the cemetery with stunning views over the town and river, and inside the cemetrey is the tomb of Mary Slessor.

Cross River National Park
Cross River National Park is an integral part of the Cross River State rainforest conservation area, located in Boki LGA and spans from Kanyan to the foot of the Obudu plateau with a total land area of 720sq. km of rugged mountain scenery and rolling hills. The park is divided into two sections. Read more…

Mary Slessor Building: Mary Slessor was a missionary from Scotland who made a great contribution to the wellbeing of Calabar people and she is today remembered and celebrated for her efforts. The two-storey building where she lived was built 1889 and it has recently been beautifully revamped and restored by the local authority. The building is reacheable by boat from the waterfront.

The Obong Palace: An historical palace that exhibits the preserved cultural heritage of the Calabar people, their involvement in slave trade and other memorabilias. The palace is an ideal place to learn more about the historical and cultural heritage of the city and the people.

Centre for Education Research and Conservation of Primates and Nature is another major primate centre in Calabar with more than 120 primates of six different species including endangered guenons and mangabeys rescued and cared for by the centre. Founded in 1995 by Canadian Zena Tooze, CERCOPAN is one of the leading environmental non-profit, non-government organisations working for conservation in Nigeria and it has numerous species of tropical birds. It’s a place where drills and other monkeys are rehabilitated in a patch of protected forest before being released into the wild. Contact: 4 Ishie Lane, Calabar. Tel: +234 -87 234 670. Web:

Kwa Falls
This is a spectacular waterfall located in a narrow, steep gorge on the headwaters of the Kwa River, in the Oban division of the Cross River National Park some 40km from Calabar, where it cascades down resistant basement rocks. A deep plunge pool forms at the bottom of the waterfall, which, before deforestation, was hidden under the thick canopy of the tropical rainforest. The nearby Kwa River sand beach is recommended for an afternoon’s peaceful relaxation.

Calabar Cenotaph
Calabar Cenotaph was built in memory of Nigerian War heroes of the two World Wars and the Nigerian Civil War. It is located along Calabar Road, near the Central Bank of Nigeria, Calabar.

Ikom Monoliths
Ikom has a long and ancient history with carved stones which date back to 200 AD. At about 3 feet high, these heavily designed stones are extraordinarily beautiful and one of them can now be seen at the Calabar Museum. On them are engravings which are thought to be similar to those found in Egypt.

Agbokim Waterfalls
Agbokim Waterfalls is located some 15km from town, this waterfall is actually on the Cross River, where it descends in terraces, through the tropical rainforest. The falling sheet of water is indeed spectacular.

Calabar Drill Monkey Ranch
Calabar Drill Ranch is a component of the Afi Drill Ranch which is a refuge for drill monkeys and chimpanzees. The drill ranch is run by Pandrillus, an organisation established by the Americans – Liza Gadsby and Peter Jenkins, and it started with one drill in 1988 but now care for 246 drills in six groups, one in Calabar and five at Afi, which is the largest captive breeding colony in the world. The project is one of the few chances to save the species, whose numbers in the wild are thought to be as few as 3,000. At the Calabar ranch, visitors have a rare opportunity to see these unusual primates in semi-wild enclosures, and acn chat to staff, many of whom are volunteers.

Ekpo Bassey’s House
Chief Ekpo Bassey’s house is a vintage house situated at 19 Boko Street, Calabar, and was the residence of the famous Chief Ekpo Bassey. It is now a national monument. The house was imported in parts from the United Kingdom and only assembled at its base.

Bassey Duke Effigy
Erected graciously at the roundabout by the famous Watt Market in Calabar, the Bassey Duke effigy immortalises late Bassey Duke, a famous Efik trader and community leader of the 19th and 20th Centuries.

Tinapa Resort
Tinapa is a business and leisure resort conceptualised to be an integrated business resort. It is a four phased development promoted by the Government of Cross River State, under a Private Public Partnership (PPP), and very close to Calabar Free Trade Zone. Read more…

Obudu Mountain Resort
Obudu is located in the highlands of Cross River State, only 45 miles from the border with Cameroon and it possesses a temperate climate due to its high altitude. The resort has cable cars which convey guests from the base camp to the summit of the top. Read more

Afi Mountain Wildlife Sanctuary
Afi mountain is an IBA (Important Bird Area) and a home to rare chimpanzees, gorillas and drill monkeys. On Afi Mountain wild drill still survive, with other endangered primates including the most endangered gorilla subspecies, the Cross River gorilla. Read more

[tab:Eating Out] Calabar Museum Restaurant
Next door to Calabar Museum is a cheap and popular restaurant and bar serving local dishes like pounded yam and afang soup, and cold drinks including freshly tapped palm wine and afofo (locally made gin, best reserved for the brave). Contact: Off Leopard Town Road, next door to Presidential Lodge, Calabar.

Supreme Dishes
Located in pleasant and clean environment, Supreme Dishes is a popular eatout spot with the locals. It offers traditional or local dishes such as afang soup, coconut rice, isi-ewu (a goat head delicacy) and fresh fish peppersoup. Contact: 40 Ndidem Usang Iso Road, Calabar Municipality. Tel: +234 803 723 6870. Open daily 7am-10pm

Old Chinese Restaurant
This is one of the earliest Chinese restaurants in the city with a variety of Chinese recipes on the menu. The venue has recently undergone a major facelift and offers spacious outdoor areas where people can sit and relax with a cool beer drink while waiting for the food to be prepared. Open: daily from noon. Contact: Efanga Mkpa Road, Calabar.

Conveniently located, the restaurant offers snacks and local dishes including the popular afang soup and peppersoup. There is also a bar well stocked with beers, soft drinks, wines and spirits. This is a spacious air-conditioned restaurant equipped with satellite television that is highly popular amongst the local sports fans. Contact: 106 Ndidem Usang Iso Road, Calabar. Tel: +234 805 959 7737. Open daily from 8am till late.

Channel View Restaurant
This is a good place to dine and wine , a perfect spot to get away from the bustle of Calabar. As well as the African and continental standards, the best offerings served up in the cool white interior are the punchy home-made goat peppersoup and fresh coleslaw. The drinks are considerably cheap and the terrain is friendly. Open 24hrs daily Contact: Channel View Hotel, 14 MCC Road, Calabar. Tel: +234 803 974 2039, 803 974 2029, 807 610 1672.

Crunchies is a fast-food outlet serving a mixed barbecue of chicken, meat and fish, as well as fresh sausage rolls and the ubiquitous meat pies prepared with authentic ingredients. Open 8am-9pm daily. Contact: 39 Marian road Extension, Calabar. Tel: +234 803 405 2417.

Channel View Karaoke Bar
Channel View Hotel Karaoke Bar is a lively joint most especially at the weekends. It always makes for an enjoyable night out and it attracts a good crowd of non-residents. Well-stocked with assortment of spirits, it includes the ever-popular cognacs for those wanting to indluge their hip hop video lifestyle fantasies. Open 24hrs daily. Contact: Channel View Hotel, 14 MCC Road, Calabar. Tel: +234 803 974 2039, 803 974 2029, 807 610 1672.

Mr Fans
Mr Fans offers standard African dishes such as jollof rice with barbecued chicken or pounded yam and afang soup. There is also an attractive range of desserts and ice-creams. Open daily 8am-9pm. Contact: 30 Ndidem Usang Iso Road, Calabar. Tel: +234 87 239 207.

Eme Inn
This is another very popular evening spot amongst the locals due to its chilled vibe, seasonable prices and the fact that it’s centrally located. There is always a good crowd here enjoying the very best of isi-ewu and relaxing with local drinks such as palm wine and both local and imported beers. Open daily from 7pm. Contact: Old Ikang Road, Calabar.

[tab:Shopping] Tinapa Business Resort
Amber Tinapa is situated with in Nigeria’s first retail Free Zone. Tinapa was conceived as an alternative entertainment and retail destination to what’s available in Dubai or South Africa. Amber Tinapa offers 243 well appointed bedrooms, an excellent restaurant overlooking the Tinapa Lakeside and a great location to explore. Read more…

[tab:Hotels] Amber Tinapa
Amber Tinapa is located within Tinapa Business Resort and it offers 243 well appointed bedrooms, an excellent restaurant overlooking the Tinapa Lakeside and a great location to explore. Read more…

Le Chateau Hotel
Centrally located in Calabar, Le Chateau is one of Cross River State’s best kept hotels. Le Chateau offers a great alternative to other highpriced hotels. While some hotels may charge you more than Le Chateau and give you less room amenities, Le Chateau gives you the best value, and the right balance for your money. Each sleeping room has a clock radio, in room safe, telephone with voice mail and data port, colour televition with pay movies, Internet access, iron and ironing boards. There is even free coffee and muffins every morning. Le Chateau is the ideal hotel for business visitors and people on vacations. Le Chateau lies on a taxi root making it highly accessible. Contact: #56 MCC Road Calabar. Tel: +234 802 878 8541, 802-878-8549

Aqual Vista
Nestled against the Calabar creeks; the freshness of the environment, luxuriating greenery; palm trees and other species of fauna swaying to the music of the wind, no doubt, create a lasting effect. Set up in 1996 as a retreat ground for the family and friends, has grown into a place where people can recreate. The completely tropical Aqua Vista compound contains 13 hectares of fish ponds that are river fed with rhythmic tidal flows. Contact: 1, Mesembe Close Anantigha Village, Calabar South LGA. Tel: +2348032940110, 08023345815, Open daily. Rates N6,000-N12,000 double.

Marian Hotel
Whether you are on business or simply want to enjoy a refreshing break from the pressures of work, discerning guests will be enthralled by Marian’s excellent and delightful ambience, careful attention to detail and full service dedicated to their complete satisfaction. Marian Hotels Calabar is located in the prime business district of Calabar metropolis, about a 10 minute drive from the Margaret Ekpo International Airport and about 20 minute leisure drive to both the Calabar free trade zone and the Tinapa projects. Contact: 125 Old Ikang Road, Marian Road Ext., P.O.Box 1319, Calabar. Tel: +234 819 115 1872, 806 666 7789

Transcorp Metropolitan
Previously known as Metropolitan Hotel before it was recently acquired by Transcorp, the hotel is a new generation in the historic city of Calabar with its enjoyable climate and history. The hotel is nestled in the beautiful flat land of the city, quiet and tranquil. Passing through the simple doorway at the hotel entrance, it’s a surpise to find a marbled foyer creating and unexpected sense of space and tranquility. Marble is the theme throughout and rooms are well proportioned, each with controlled air-conditioning, satellite TV, safe box and the usual mini bar. Contact: 1, Murtala Mohammed Highway, P.M.B 1071, Calabar. Tel: +234 87 222 527, 220 911. Rates N35,000.

Channel View Hotel
Channel View Hotel Calabar is part of a hotel chain established in 2001, and it is conveniently located, very close to the city centre. All rooms at the hotel are fitted with Wi-Fi accessibility with other facilities such as gymnasium, swimming pool etc. It provides ultra modern, yet homely accommodation, excellent business facilities as well as refined personal service. Open 24hrs daily. Contact: Channel View Hotel, 14 MCC Road, Calabar. Tel: +234 803 974 2039, 803 974 2029, 807 610 1672.

Mirage Hotel
Under the umbrella of the W. Hospitality Group, a Lagos-based company that works to promote Nigerian hospitality industry. The hotel offers guests a blend of taste and class bound together in a stunningly serene environment. It has internet and satellite TV in its simple, comfortable rooms, a well-equipped gym and a nightclub at the weekends. The hotel also has a Chinese restaurant. Contact: 230 NCC Road, Calabar. Tel: +234 87 23 6293 – 4, 803 720 8672. Rates N20,000 double.

Jacaranda Suites
At Jacaranda Suites, every room is equipped with satellite TV, air-conditioning, intercoms and 24-hour internet access while the efficient but nonintrusive staff offer an attentive service. The restaurant has an attractive selection of goodies, served all day, which includes a hearty breakfast of omelettes and spicy chicken wings. Go through to the barbecue bamboohut for evening dining, where there is a good selection of African and continental dishes. Contact: Plot C2-C6, Etubom GD Henshaw Residential Layout (off Atimbo Road), Calabar. Tel: +234 87 239 666. Rates N15, 000 double.

The Don’s Suites
The Don’s suites is a tastefully furnished 12 bedroom facility located in the serene environment of Ibom Layout in the heart of Calabar. The facility has a well furnished lounge, restaurant and a spaceous parking area. Their fully equipped kitchen can serve (African, Continental, and Oriental dishes) with at least 15 – 20 guests in our restaurant. Inclusive services in our packages are wireless internet, satellite TV etc. Contact: 43 Ndidem Usang Iso Road, Calabar. Tel: +234 not available. Rates N8,000.

Beebosco Hotel
Hotel with a mission to take hospitality industry beyond mere accommodation, by providing a peaceful and secured homely environment for their visitors world. The hotel is like a home away from home with wonderful staff that are always there to make visitors feel extremely welcome. Contact: 62 Odukpani Road, Essien Town, Calabar. Tel: +234 87 220261

Adrian’s Apartment
Adrian’s Apartments and Guest Houses are located in Calabar and Lagos. It offers bed and breakfast bedroom flats for short-let and medium-stay durations. Their guests enjoy spacious, comfortable, well-managed accommodation in some of the finest central locations, at up to 30% less than hotel rooms of equivalent standard. Contact: Plot 171, Asari Eso Layout, off MCC Rd, Calabar Also at: Plot 58, MCC Rd, Calabar. Tel: +234 803 600 3000, 805 504 7272

Scholet Suites
The hotel’s rooms are very spacious with luxury rooms, high speed wireless internet, reliable 24hr security and excellent services await you at Scholet Hotel & Suites. Contact: 3 Etim Edet Close, Off Old Parliamentary Road Extension, Calabar. Tel: +234 805 500 6899

Vanel Hotel Suites
An ultra modern hotel with 32 tastefully and exquisitely furnished rooms of varying class all designed to meet international hospitality standards. Contact: Plot 1A Nsefik Eyo Layout, Calabar. Tel: +234 87 239 796, 87 239 797

Mega Hilton Hotel
The Mega Hilton has a bit of an awesome name, but it is actually quite a modest hotel. It is situated very close to the State Housing Estate and is good value for money. The accommodation is basic but clean, with rooms ranging from cheap to fairly costly. Contact: 13 Duke Town Close, State Housing Estate, Calabar. Tel: +234 87 237 400. Rates N10,000 Double

Utanga Safari Lodge
Utanga Safari Lodge is situated on a relatively flat plateau on the Oshie Ridge of the Sankwala Mountains. Approximately 84km east of Ogoja, it falls under the Obanliku Local Government Area in Cross River State, Nigeria. The nearest sizeable town is Obudu which is about 39km from the lodge. Utanga Safari Lodge is bounded with Kwande Local Government in Benue State, approximately one hour walking and fifteen minutes ride. This location enjoys a cool, tropical climate and nestles in an area of idyllic tranquility, beautiful scenery and breathtaking mountain views. Contact: Oshie Ridge, Obanliku Local Government Area, Cross River State. Tel: +234 803 550 6257


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