Elmina Castle vs Cape Coast Castle: Which Should You Visit?

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Let’s say you were visiting Cape Coast for the first time and you had a very tight schedule (and budget). You want to see the Elmina and Cape Coast Castles but you simply don’t have enough time or money to combine both, which would or rather, which should you see and which should you forfeit, for perhaps a later visit?

Cape Coast Castle

The truth is that both castles are worth checking out, so if you do have the time and money to visit the two, you absolutely should. My sister and I visited both and our tours were very similar. Both castles hold dark history about the slave trade and had fantastic guides who were both knowledgeable and ever ready to answer any questions our group had.

Elmina Castle

When I began writing this article, my first inclination was to say that you skip Elmina (or see it from a distance) and opt for a visit to Cape Coast instead.Β But as I began to pen down my thoughts, I realized that I might have enjoyed visiting Elmina more and I would perhaps recommend it over the former. (Don’t blame me, it’s really hard to choose)

Elmina or Cape Coast Castle? Which should you visit? Click To Tweet

Cape Coast Castle Ghana

Elmina, being the oldest of the two castles, felt more authentic for me. First, we had a smaller group during our tour. I don’t know if this had to do with the time of day or if this is usually the case, but it felt more intimate. We were all able to interact with each other.

The castle also felt less modernized than its counterpart and some rooms still smelt terrible – is this supposed to be a good thing? Anyway, I connected deeply to the stories told by our guide here.

elmina castle

But Obama visited Cape Coast Castle and that should count for something, right? πŸ™‚ I found this castle to be more aesthetically pleasing than Elmina and quite larger too. Unlike Elmina, we weren’t harassed by men who wanted to sell us things outside the castle walls and the surroundings were less dodgy. Our tour group was much larger than what we had in Elmina but it still was a very good tour.

Cape Coast Ghana

So here’s my final verdict. If you want an experience with a smaller crowd, go for Elmina Castle. Depending on where you stay in town, it may be closer and easier to get to. Cape Coast castle got a face lift recently. It looks better, it’s quite larger butΒ regardless of which you choose, you’ll get to experience the history of Ghana’s slave trade in both castles.

Have you been to the Elmina and Cape Coast Castles? Which did you prefer?

8 Comments

  1. Hi there!!

    Just stumbled on your blog and love your posts.
    I read a book ‘Homegoing’ and It has inspired me to visit Ghana and see the Slave trade Castles on my next trip to Nigeria. I am doing a solo trip and I need advise on where to stay, getting to both Castles and getting good Tour Guides.
    Thanks

    • Hey Kafi, thanks for stopping by. Homegoing is a wonderful read. I also enjoyed reading it. For accommodation, you can try couchsurfing or staying at Almond Tree Guest House (which is where we stayed). There’s also a really nice hotel just close to Almond Tree (Elmina Beach Resort). It’s a bit pricey though. If you aren’t on a budget, that’s the place to stay.

      You can get to both castles easily by hiring a car . You’ll have tour guides there. You can read about our experience here: http://www.travelwithapen.com/2017/04/18/road-tripping-from-lagos-to-ghana/

  2. Ayo Dagold

    Amarachi,I hope you remember me, I sought your advice when I was planning a trip to Obudu last December. I can see you’ve actually been all over since then, I can’t describe how much I love your blog.I am a big lover of Adventures too and I love to travel a lot. Can I come along on some of your trips in the future? If yes, what do I need to do and how do I go about it, please get back to me… Keep the good work up, I hope to see you on Everest someday…lol

    • Hey Ayo, did you end up going to Obudu? If you are subscribed to my blog, you’ll get notifications on trips I intend to take and if there’s an option to join them, you can let me know.

  3. I’ve been to Elmina. Didn’t have enough time to make it to Cape Coast.
    I enjoyed the Elmina tour. I didn’t think I would get to me emotionally the way it did. The guide was good, with history, story telling, demonstrations.
    They had recently had a documentary( –
    where people had been dressed as slaves and left there for 12hrs) when I visited, so the aside the strong smell (which I wonder how it was ‘preserved’), there were chains and pieces of old clothes on the floor… It was some experience.

    I hope to visit Capecoast some time too.

    • We were there about the same time. I also met the remains of the exhibition. You didn’t miss out on anything but I think you’ll enjoy visiting Cape Coast too.

  4. Oooh, you are in my country! I am feeling very nostalgic (writing from the UK!) I think both castles are worth checking out. Cape Coast castle resonated with me the most because it was the first time I had seen anything of it’s kind. I remember feeling sick to my stomach – especially when they shut the door of the woman’s dungeon. Might I suggest you read the book “Homegoing”? The book will bring the experiences of your tour to life.

    Madeline
    http://www.madelinewilsonojo.com

    • Thanks for your comment, Madeline. In Elmina, a little girl in my group started crying as the guide attempted to that. He didn’t even shut the door yet and she was already hysterical. I couldn’t imagine being locked up – in the most inhumane conditions for months!

      Thanks for recommending Homegoing. I read it after my visit and yes, it did bring the story to life.

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