Getting around West Africa’s most populous city can be an adventure in itself.
Lagos residents rely heavily on road traffic to get to the office, worship centers, markets, parties, beaches – you name it. Imagine at least 10 million residents traversing the city every day and you’ll get a sense of just how rough things can get.
To relieve the city’s heavily used road infrastructure, the country is investing in an integrated public transport system that includes ferries and trams. Work is also underway on the city’s light rail system, with the Blue Line section expected to open in late 2022.
As transportation options continue to grow, here are the best ways to get around Lagos.
Vehicles are the main means of transportation in Lagos
In addition to private vehicles, commercial buses are also mentioned danfo Electricity commuting in and around Lagos, supplemented by taxis (yellow cabs). They are everywhere, taking turns picking up passengers at garages and bus stops.
Three-wheel motorized rickshaws (biscuit), introduced into the city’s transportation mix more than 20 years ago, are great for neighborhood shuttles, while motorbikes (Okadas) are the best options for Lagosians who are pressed for time and need to get somewhere quickly. (Sometimes a little too fast: they have recently been banned in some counties and on major highways.) Before you arrive in Lagos, consider your different ways of getting around.
Board a BRT for a comprehensive overview of the cityscape
The Lagos Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system allows hundreds of high-capacity buses to travel in dedicated lanes around the city. While the BRT isn’t offered in the core Lekki-Victoria Island-Ikoyi area, where many visitors hang out, it’s a great way to get a glimpse of the city and its many neighborhoods across the lagoon, preferably during the day.
You need a Cowry card to board the BRT. These are available at all terminals and can be topped up at kiosks on site.
Why the BRT is my favorite way to travel in Lagos
I use the BRT once or twice a week to get to Lagos Island from the mainland. I like the convenience of walking to a purpose-built bus terminal and getting on an air-conditioned bus that takes me straight to Tafawa Balewa Square, a journey of about an hour on a good day.
Buses offer free Wi-Fi and all seats have USB phone charging ports, which is a plus in a city where 24-hour electricity is not guaranteed. I usually take the much smaller, seven seater “First Mile, Last Mile” minibuses to get to other places on the island.
I use the Ikeja and TBS terminals the most (others are in Obalende, CMS, Berger, Ajah, Yaba, Ikotun and Iyana Ipaja, plus a massive transport hub in Oshodi). Not all departures are timed, so prepare to wait 20 to 40 minutes (and sometimes more than an hour) for the next one. Depending on the distance, the journeys cost between N150 and N500.
Explore art spaces with driving services
Ride-hailing services have become a staple of Lagos’ daily commute and Lagos residents have fully embraced them. Uber launched in July 2013 and has since been powered by Bolt and inDriver. Some native options – like Rida Nigeria and Shuttlers – have also made inroads.
Depending on where you are in the city and what time of day, drivers can take anywhere from five to 25 minutes to pick you up. A journey that takes less than an hour should run you about N1500.
Uber recently launched a new service, UberGo, that allows riders to explore Victoria Island cheaply. It’s ideal if you want to explore the growing number of galleries and art spaces or go bar and restaurant hopping in the area.
Launched in early 2022, LagRide is a new ride-hailing service set up by the state government. The goal, in part, is to decongest old, rickety commercial taxis and replace them with hundreds of new vehicles, each with safety features like a dashboard camera and panic button.
AWA Bike is an eco-friendly option – but not mainstream (yet).
Bicycles are a common sight on Lagos Island, especially on weekends when traffic is lighter. While there are no dedicated bike lanes, there is a thriving cycling community. Lagos City Cyclers runs frequent rides around the city and occasional bike courses for beginners.
AWA Bike calls itself “Nigeria’s first bike sharing and lifestyle app” – and its founders want to help commuters switch from cars to bikes. AWA Bike has gained a foothold with young Lagos residents and on campus, with stints at Pan Atlantic University, Redeemer’s University and Lagos State University.
Enjoy scenic views of the city on a ferry
One of the most scenic drives to do in Lagos is a boat trip from Badagry to Epe, on the western and eastern ends of the state respectively. This tour lasts approximately 90 minutes and reveals a scenic side of the city that is often not always visible from land.
Lagos is mapping several waterway routes as the government continues to develop public water transport options. To get a feel for what’s going on, visit the Lagos Ferry Services (LagFerry) Five Cowries Terminal in Falomo. Right now, the service gets a large portion of its traffic from residents in Ikorodu who travel back and forth to work on the island. From Five Cowries, passengers can go to other places like Badore, Epe and Ibeju-Lekki.
The main boarding times are between 6:30am and 9am and 3:30pm and 5pm (the waterways close at 6pm). Trips cost N1000 on average and you need a Cowry card to get on the boats.
When completed, the ferry terminal will serve major routes on the West, North and East Lines connecting the island to distant mainland areas such as Badagry, Mile 2 and Apapa.
Rent a private boat for a trip to a beach house
Lagos is seeing a boom in private beaches, with new homes and resorts popping up along the coast in places like Ilashe, Ajah and Lakowe. They join a long list of well-established spots that cater to a rising demand for weekend breaks across the city. And the Lagosians prefer to reach them by private boats.
More private boat companies than ever are now plying Lagos waters. At the CMS terminal, locally equipped speedboats take fun-seekers to the famous Tarkwa Bay beach. For booking advice visit the Five Cowries Terminal or contact Lagos Ferry Services.
Local fishermen prefer traditional boats
With water taking up a full quarter of Lagos’ footprint, there are numerous riverine communities, from Epe and Badagry to Ikorodu and Badore. Dugout canoes have served these settlements for centuries, particularly for daily needs such as fishing trips. From the Third Mainland Bridge you can watch these boats on most morning fishing trips.
Makoko, with its stilt houses on the Lagos Lagoon, is very popular with foreign visitors and international agencies; One of the joys of the visit is watching the daily buying and selling on canoes being paddled from house to house. Local self-proclaimed guides can take you on a tour of the community and arrange a boat trip for you to participate.