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Kano: a bustling hub with vibrant cultural treasures

Book a flight to Kano with Qatar Airways

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Book flights to Kano

Kano is the second-largest city in Nigeria, with a population of more than 13 million and the capital of the state of Kano. [OA1] A vital trading settlement since the middle ages, Kano is a busy commercial hub to this day and one of the fastest-growing cities in the country.

As an integral settlement for the Hausa empire, Kano is rich in historical treasures that have survived millennia. The Old City (dating back to when Kano was a walled city) still has its ancient gates, promising some of the most memorable cultural treasures you can find in West Africa. From the splendour of the Emir's palace and the Great Mosque to the bustling Kurmi market and the ancient dye pits - still in use today - Kano is the perfect place to get an authentic experience of this exciting country.

Fly to Kano with Qatar Airways and be intrigued by the city's countless cultural gems.

Kano travel highlights

Kano is an African city brimming with ancient wonders, exciting festivities, and delectable local food that any visitor will find captivating.

  • Tourist attractions

    The Gidan Dan Hausa is a truly unique attraction found at the heart of the city. Not only is it a splendid example of 15th-century mud-walled architecture, but it also houses the city's preeminent museum, which chronicles the history of Kano from its tribal origins to a pictorial history of 20th-century politics.

    The Emir's Palace, commonly called the Gidan Rumfa or Gidan Sarki, is another must-see cultural marvel in central Kano. Like the Gidan Dan Hausa, it's a great example of traditional 15th century Nigerian architecture. Nowadays, it serves as the seat of government for the Emir of Kano and his advisors, but the splendour of the exterior alone makes it a great port of call when sightseeing.

    The Dalla and Goron Dustse Hills are two tall hills that undulate within the borders of the walled part of the city, perfect for a short hike if the bustle of the city centre gets too much and for drinking in a panoramic view of the whole city and surrounding areas.

  • Leisure activities

    If you're in Kano in July, the Durbar festival is one of the most authentic experiences you can add to your itinerary. Marking the end of Ramadan, the Durbar festival is a religious and equestrian event, where the Emir takes part in a grand parade accompanied by equestrians, musicians, and soldiers. It's a fantastic opportunity for visitors to experience a fusion of local culture and Islamic religious rites.

    Another great leisure activity to try while you're in Kano is a visit to the Kofar Mata Dyeing Pits. Here, textile techniques that go back centuries are still used in the ancient dying pits of the Old City. Watch as locals tie intricate designs into the material and immerse it in indigo-vegetable dye for beautiful results.

    Audu Bako Zoo is one of the more popular days out among the locals of Kano and a fascinating place to visit if you're travelling with kids. The oldest and largest zoo in Nigeria, it's home to a diverse range of animals, including lions, African elephants, antelope, and several species of monkey.

  • Food

    Jollof rice is a popular staple dish all over Africa's west coast. At its most simple, it's rice with tomato and pepper, but there are countless creative variations, mixing in peas, carrots, prawns, onions, butter, and other garnishes.

    You can also sample some Tuwon Shinkafa, one of the most popular dishes in the region, made of local rice and served with different types of soup.

    Suya, a spicy grilled kebab made with chunks of beef, is a speciality of the Hausa people and something you'll quickly get acquainted with after arriving in Kano. Seasoned with salt, pepper, ground peanuts, and a mix of spices that varies from vendor to vendor, this tasty snack is great for keeping you going on day trips around the city.

    Burabisco is another staple of Kano and a healthy light meal that helps boost the immune system. It’s prepared of delicious wheat couscous with seasoned chicken and cooked vegetables.

  • Shopping

    As a historical trading hub, Kano has plenty of opportunities for truly unique shopping experiences. The Ado Bayero Mall is a modern and popular shopping centre where you can pick up all kinds of essentials. For an authentically African shopping trip, take a stroll around the Kurmi Market.

    This is one of the oldest running markets in West Africa and was the centre of trade in Kano's golden era. Get lost in a bustling market of spice mountains and narrow alleys, where you can buy a vast selection of local products, including textiles, carvings, gourds, pottery, jewellery and much more.

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