Benin City is one of the oldest cities in Nigeria, dating back to pre-colonial times. It boasts of one of the most advanced and organized kingdoms before the arrival of the British. The City used to be the capital of the old Bendel state until the State was divided into Edo and Delta States. Currently Benin City is the capital of Edo State. Benin City is known for its rich Cultural heritage and famous for its unique Art and Culture. The City is peaceful and its people are very hospitable. Benin City is also home to the Prestigious University of Benin which is the pioneering institution for the training of Optometrists in Nigeria.
The City has a newly refurbished Airport with over 20 flights daily and connection to Lagos, Abuja, Calabar, Warri and Port Harcourt. One thing Benin is known for is its effective road transportation system. Therefore visitors can come in the City from almost any City in the Country. We are the home of big and reliable road transport services like God Is Good, Edegbe, Big Joe, Efex, Eagle line to mention a few. All our transport companies have terminals in all the major states of the federation even to the far north like Kano, Kaduna and Plateau. From Lagos it takes about 4hours to get to Benin, but be informed its best to travel during the day. From Port-Harcourt, its about 4hrs and 30minutes to Benin. The journey from Port-Harcourt is a lot easier because there are better roads on that stretch.
Getting around in Benin isn’t too difficult. The present government has rehabilitated all the major roads; the City is well linked and networked. If you come in by air, there are taxis at the airport to take you probably anywhere you wish to go for an affordable price. And if you come in by road and are taken to the terminal of the transport service, you will also find taxis ready to take you anywhere. Officially, taxis and buses are painted red or rather wine on their body and yellow on the roof. But there are some buses and taxis that don’t obey that code.
Most roads lead to the ring road, so to get to some places; you actually have to get to the ring road and then take another bus or cab to your destination. Moving from one part of town to another is usually done by bus but on some routes, you can also take a taxi. There are now standard bus stops in the city for the new green painted “Comrade Buses”. When you are in a commercial vehicle that has reached your destination, you would alert the driver by saying “STOP” or “DROP”, and then he would come to a halt. Don’t hesitate to say this as the driver will certainly take you past your destination if you don’t.
Getting around at night time is pretty much the same as getting around during the day time but keep in mind that some routes become more dangerous at night time. You should be a bit skeptical about entering a commercial vehicle at night if it has no passengers.
Apart from buses and taxis we used to get around the city with motor bikes, but this have now been prohibited and no longer in operation.
The National Museum in the centre of the city, not far from Oba Palace, has some interesting artifacts reflecting the history and culture of this region of Nigeria. Igun Street, where the bronze casters reside and still ply their world famous trade which they’ve been doing for over six hundred years. Holy Arousa (eye of God), arguably said to be the site of the first catholic church (when the Portugese explorers came circa Oba Esigie’s reign) but has since been replaced by traditional worship by the Binis. The Oba, his family, his chiefs and other adherents of the faith worship here.
The Benin Zoo on Airport Road has lions and other animals. Admission is 200 NGN. It also has a refreshment area and a gift and souvenir shop. Car parking is ample, free, and on site.
The new Kada Plaza complex has a bar, a restaurant and a cinema complex. It opened within the last two years and is fully air conditioned. Nearby is the Hallmark shopping centre that sells many imported European tinned, canned, or bottled products such as teas, coffees, wines and spirits.
They are not so much things you can do. If you want to mingle with the children and Youth, you have to speak some Nigeria Pidgin English like (broses how far) then the person will reply (I dey o) you can even keep in mind some Edo languages like (vhojehee) and the person will reply (ojesee). And when you get to the market you can easily salute the market women. Like good morning, afternoon and evening depends on the time and you can start a conversation like (I wan buy something meaning I want to buy something) and she sells for you.
Most common things you can buy in Edo State Benin city are Benin beads, (they comes with different varieties like red, white and brown. You can also buy for yourself Bronze sculptures and images from Igun Street. Wood carvings and Adire (tie and dye textile) from Airport Road.
Edo people love Pounded yam and ogbono soup, owo and yam, plantain (owo is prepared from stew and potash mixed together) fresh fish from nearby villages and ponds (point and kill pepper soup) vegetables-pumkin soup and bitter leaf soup (very medicinal) served with the choice of either boiled yam or pounded yam. Ofadar rice (riced placed inside raw African leaves that have a good original African aroma. Moi-Moi, bolle with ground nut (roasted ripe plantain normally roasted along the road side) roasted corn with coconuts and peer fruit. (If it is your first time of eating then you must control before eating)
There are some loads of fast food outlets. Many hotels also have restaurants open to non-residents and serving local menus.
Almost all world class spirits and best European wines can be found around. Most international beer like Guinness, Heineken. Other brands like Star, Harp, and Guilder. Non alcoholic Malt drinks are very common too. Palm wine from local palm wine tappers. Bottled palm wine does not taste as good.
The Government reservation area alone boasts of up to 200 hotels with varying competition services and luxury. You can always find the right room for your financial budget without compromising quality.