Antananarivo, commonly called Tana, is the capital of Madagascar and the largest city situated about 144km from the east coast. Tana is a treat for the visual tourist, with picturesque buildings, churches, winding, cobbled streets and narrowly-packed houses.

Antananarivo Highlights

Antananarivo, commonly called Tana, is the capital and largest city of Madagascar. The city is situated inland, about 144km from the East coast. Antananarivo means "the city of a thousand", a reference to the 1000 soldiers that supposedly protected the newly founded city during the reign of the revered King Andrianjaka.

Antananarivo is just 12km south of the Ivato international airport and is the city most travellers pass through at the beginning or end of their trip. Tana is characterised by its masses of rice paddies, numerous flights of ancient stairs that creep up steep hills, its palaces, cobbled streets and churches.

The appearance of the city and its buildings shares a likeness to Asia; however, the overlying flavour of Madagascar is totally unique and Tana offers a real sense of Malagasy culture found nowhere else in the world.

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Many visitors are set on the beautiful coasts of the island and don’t linger long enough to appreciate Antananarivo’s charms, but the architecture of Tana is picturesque with its mix of French Countryside and Indonesia.

Some of the most interesting places and views in Tana will be chanced upon during leisurely walks over the many haphazardly-placed hills.

Tana possesses numerous monuments, historic buildings, sites of significance and traditions related to the customs and history of the central highlands people.

The Lemur Park, 45 minutes out of Tana, is well worth a visit to interact with these creatures that are unique to Madagascar.

Hotel Colbert is a world-class luxury hotel located in the Upper Town, decorated with an umbrella of jacaranda trees in summer and boasting a collection of arts and craft markets, jewellers and more. The hotel has 140 rooms and suites with beautiful views of the city, while it offers a gym and spa for relaxation and special treatments.

Palissandre Hotel and Spa is located in the centre of Antananarivo and is recognised as one of the finest establishments in the city. The hotel's restaurant, La table des Hautes Terres, prepares savoury local specialities and French cuisine, while the 'Amphore Bar' welcomes guests to relax in its cosy atmosphere with delicious cocktails.

Built in the 1930s and masterfully restored, Le Pavillon de L’Emyrne is a charming guesthouse perfectly positioned in Antananarivo's old town atop the Royal Hill. It maintains an element of history and blends perfectly into the town surroundings.

How to Get There

Sun Safaris can arrange scheduled flights for visitors to Madagascar. Ivato International Airport is an airport located in Antananarivo (Tana), the capital of Madagascar. Ivato Airport is main hub for Air Madagascar and the majority of flights around the island originate from here, which is a good thing considering the bad state of the roads. Besides the big cities, lots of little hamlets are also served via light air transfers.

By road is the only inexpensive way to get around, but Madagascar's roads are mostly very poor quality (except for two routes leading in and out of Tana). These road excursions will take guests into beautiful forested areas; however, if there is a time limit on the journey, travellers should be reminded that these trips will take a while longer than expected.

There are not many direct routes on land and the many small towns are accessible via one road only, meaning guests should be advised on which routes to take should they be self-driving. The best option is light air transfer to destinations on the island.

Antananarivo Activities

Tana is a treat for the visual tourist, with picturesque buildings, churches, winding, cobbled streets and narrowly-packed houses decorated with quaint wooden shutters and balconies. Its landscape rolls with hills and peaks with church spires, whilst embodying a cool highland atmosphere.

It is truly unique amongst the capital cities of the world and stands out, even from Madagascar's other urban areas. As desirable as the unexplored coastal areas of Madagascar are, Tana offers a plethora of sights and activities that deserve a little attention. Interesting architecture, bustling markets, historical sites and friendly people to tell the fascinating historical tales.

For a peaceful and memorable time spent in the city, explore the streets in the morning before the business of the day begins, or venture out in the cool evenings when the setting sun spectacularly illuminates its hillsides. Antananarivo is a city for walking. Tana is truly a lovely Madagascar vacation destination and spending a few days there will be a great experience.

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Sun Safaris organises African & South American safaris, holidays and honeymoons. We are based in Cape Town, South Africa. Both continents are specialized and complex, yet exciting destinations. For this reason, Sun Safaris aims to help you make well-informed travel decisions by calling on our extensive knowledge and first-hand experience, providing you with up-to-date travel information, and to ensure all your enquiries and bookings are handled efficiently.

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