When considering things to do in Kano state, consider its history to get a rich background of what to expect when visiting. Kano is the capital of Kano Emirates which is largely populated by the Hausa people and has seen its fair share of conquest since its existence. It got its name from the ancestor of Abagayawa which means the earliest settler who was said migrated from Gaya searching for chemicals and iron ore. The Hausa Language is the official language in this Sahel geographical location with eight local government areas (LGAs) consisting of Ungogo, Kumbotso, Kano Municipal, Fagge, Nasarawa, Dala, Gwale, and Tarani.

Kano state is the most popular cosmopolitan city in the Northern part of Nigeria well known for it being the centre of commerce with the likes of its dying pits, Kurmi market amongst others. Its water supply comes from the Kano-Chalewa-Hadejia river used by its inhabitants for farming food crops in large scale for selling.

It borders with Jigawa State to the north and east, Bauchi, Plateau and Kaduna States to the south, Katsina State to the west and northwest. The state has more than 18,684 square kilometres (7,214 sq mi) of cultivable land and is the most extensively irrigated state in the country. Kano dwellers classified the weather into four seasons with the Bazaar (March-May) being very hot with temperature going up to 40-degree centigrade. Damina (May – September) is the wet and cool season which follows on the heels of Bazaar with its cooling effects and nurturing influence on the farms. Rani (October – November) this is also a high-temperature season with high humidity and much heat while the Kaka (November – February) ushers in the cool and dry atmosphere with dust everywhere.

Do not be discouraged by the seasons instead focus on the fun you would have when visiting the ancient city of Kano with its old craft shops, beautiful batik attires, and historical museums. This guide of things to do in Kano would help you plan your trip beforehand by opening your minds to the various places to visit and things to do while visiting Kano. If you want to see their festivals and experience how the locals have fun in Kano visit during the Eid months when the Emir host Durbar festivals and others to celebrate the passing feast and the Ramadan season. Else you can visit during the cool but dry season (Kaka) which would be cool enough for your adaptation.

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Things to do in Kano

RIDE HORSES AT THE KANO DURBAR

This is a colourful parade of horse and riders to celebrate the end of the holy month of fasting (Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha). The riders’ first ride around the city to meet at the Emir’s place where a party including the Emir and his dignitaries are waiting to welcome them and receive their homage. Each village is always represented by a group of well-dressed men who charge at the Emir and his council to offer their obeisance after which the next group does the same thing to the last. The Emir and his council then lead a procession around the city as a show of goodwill to mark the beginning of the several day’s event.

Men on horseback dressed in the native Kano attire

EMIR’S PALACE

The Kano palace has existed for over five centuries which depicts the typical Hausa architecture with the engraved motifs and other designs etched into its walls. The Emir’s palace is popularly referred to as “a settlement existing within a settlement”. The palace is located opposite the famous Kano museum which has the meeting halls lined with pictures of the past and present Emirs, Emirate council halls, Residence of the Emir, Guards areas, Servicemen areas, visitor’s halls, open field for hosting events like the Durbars and other rooms. When visiting this is a must see as there are tour guides to take you around and give you the right sense of its relevance and if you are lucky you can get a free picture with the Emir, remember if you are lucky.

A man in the Emir of Kano's courtyard

LEARN AT THE GIDAN MAKAM MUSEUM

Our next stop is the Gidan Makan Museum which is opposite the Emir’s palace and full of ancient artifacts and historical books and relics. The building itself is an ancient Hausa architecture with low hanging roofs designed with different symbols having both spiritual and cultural meanings. On display are several excavated pottery for production of iron, arrows, bows, spears, swords etc

Entrance to Gidan Makam Museum

EAT LIKE A LOCAL

When visiting Kano there are indigenous cuisines you should try at least once. There are local restaurants that serve just Fura da Nono which is made from cow milk, millet and sugar mixed into a paste and served in little calabashe. Another such cuisine is the Tuwo Shinkafa which is made made from grounded starchy rice and eaten with Miyan. The last meal to watch out for is the Wainar masa which we see some Suya sellers in Lagos make but believe us when we say they cannot compare to the ones made from the birthplace of Masa. Grounded rice is used to make it and its eaten with either spiced meat, groundnut soup, cow head peppered soup, or vegetable soup to get the best taste.

Tuwo Shinkafa

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EXPLORE KURMI MARKET

This is one of the oldest market in Africa with its indigenous passages and paths leading to different sections of the market where wares like Jewelry, Calabashes, leather works, pottery, carvings, and foodstuff amongst others are sold. Kurmi market was founded in the early 15th century when people come from all over the Sahara to trade by bata for any of their needs and to sell in their various communities. When visiting Kurmi market for the first time look out for hoodlums hiding in dark routes waiting for the right time to snatch an unsuspecting passersby’s purse or bag. It is advised you go with a guide or someone who knows the market well and speaks the Hausa language in order to avoid wandering through without really getting the right feel for the market.

Locals selling in Kurmi market

Things to do in Kano

THE KANO WALL

When visiting ensure you visit the Kano wall which is almost as old as the city of Kano which was built in the mid 14th Century and added to in the 16th Century. The Kano wall was intended to be a defense for the city during the times of war and it encompasses the whole of the city to the Dala hills. It originally stood at an estimated height of 30 – 50 feet and about 40 feet thick at the base with 15 gates in total around it giving access to the inhabitants and visitors alike.

A section of the great kano wall

DALA HILLS

The famous Dala Hills we hear about in the Hausa folklores, children’s storybooks and others are located in Kano state. Dala hills wraps around the city of Kano like a shield keeping its inhabitants from invasions and also acts as a good place to have the best view of Kano city. The walk up the hill can be quiet tiring with the steep stairs provided and the handrails which are long gone and makes it a precarious climb for the old and children. Once atop the hill, the view of Kano is bound to take your breathe away to a time when Kano was in all its glory during the Trans-Atlantic trade. You can identify major landmarks in the city and maybe where you are staying for your visit.

Dala hills in Kano state

Have you been to Kano or a native of Kano? Share the places you feel should be seen by tourists in our comment section

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