Credit

Courtesy of Pierre-Yves Babelon/Getty Images

Madagascar Area Map

Neighborhoods

Madagascar, one of several island nations in Africa, can be found near Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland and Lesotho. Though its capital, Antananarivo, is where the heart of the country's dining and nightlife scenes reside, many of Madagascar's attractions and amenities are spread across the island. Foodies, for example, will enjoy Antananarivo's restaurants just as much as Antsirabe's street fare and Nosy Be's eateries, while adventure junkies cannot pass up a chance to explore Tsingy de Bemaraha Strict Nature Reserve (near Morondava) or Anja Community Reserve (by Fianarantsoa). Meanwhile, wildlife lovers will have ample opportunities to spot lemurs, chameleons and more throughout the country.

The country's vibrant capital, like many African cities, may be filled with makeshift homes, but its lush setting, convenience to the country's international airport and plethora of things to do woos visitors time and time again. Sights found in or near Antananarivo include Lemurs' Park and Rova, a palace that belonged to Queen Ranavalona I. Antananarivo is also home to some of Madagascar's best restaurants and nightclubs, plus an array of accommodation options.

An island off the mainland's northwest coast, Nosy Be offers a more tropical atmosphere than Antananarivo, but still has just as many top-notch restaurants. On Nosy Be and nearby islands like Nosy Sakatia and Nosy Komba, visitors can snorkel with turtles, search for lemurs at Lokobe National Park and lounge on pristine white-sand beaches. But travelers who plan on staying on one of these islands should be prepared to splurge: Many of Madagascar's most expensive hotels and resorts reside on or by Nosy Be. Visitors will also need to hire a boat or fly into Fascene Airport to get to Nosy Be.

Though you won't find quite as many dining and lodging options in Antsiranana as you would in Antananarivo or on Nosy Be, this northern port town is ideal to stay in if you want to visit The Three Bays, a must-visit locale for water sports enthusiasts. The area also boasts picturesque beaches, plus a mix of colonial and modern architecture. To reach Antsiranana by plane, plan on flying into Arrachart Airport.

Known in Malagasy as Toamasina, this city on the northeastern coast is the country's second most populous destination. A large Chinese community resides here, but few tourists venture to the region unless their cruise ships dock at Tamatave's port. It is hardly surprising, then, that few hotels are located inside the city.

This prosperous Malagasy city features a quiet, relatively clean atmosphere that's noticeably different from Antananarivo, which sits about 107 miles to the north. Few attractions can be found near this city, but visitors will notice several hotels and restaurants situated here. Shopaholics can't miss perusing the clothing, jewelry and food stalls at the open-air Marché Sabotsy.

If you're looking for a place to stay near Anja Community Reserve, consider visiting Fianarantsoa. This central town near Ranomafana National Park is divided into several districts filled with shops, restaurants and hotels. The town also serves as a prime transit hub for regional travel, thanks in part to its local airport, Fianarantsoa Airport.

One of Madagascar's most convenient towns to stay in is Morondava, which sits on the west coast and features its own airport – Morondava Airport. In addition to being approximately 11 miles from the Avenue of the Baobabs, Morondava is a half-day drive from Tsingy de Bemaraha Strict Nature Reserve, where outdoorsy types can look for lemurs while climbing limestone pinnacles. Beach bums, meanwhile, can stay within Morondava to sunbathe at Morondava Beach before retreating to their nearby accommodations or grabbing a bite to eat at a local eatery.

Pickpocketing and stealing luggage from Ivato International Airport's baggage claim occurs regularly in Antananarivo. Additionally, violent assaults against travelers occasionally takes place in areas like Nosy Be and Tamatave, and remote highways are frequently targeted for robberies. What's more, street altercations and traffic accidents designed to draw a scene and incite violence against a foreigner is becoming increasingly more common. As a result, it is best to be aware of your belongings and surroundings at all times and to avoid unpopulated roads and public disputes.

Since a democratic government was elected in 2014, violent political events have been rare. However, deadly incidents do occur from time to time, so it's best to avoid or stay alert when visiting government buildings, national sports arenas and historic monuments in Antananarivo.

Malaria can be contracted from Malagasy mosquitoes carrying the disease. To protect yourself while staying in the country, wear long-sleeved clothing and insect repellent with DEET (a chemical that makes it difficult for mosquitoes to smell you). You'll also want to speak with your doctor before your trip to obtain an anti-malarial medication and go over possible drug side effects.

The U.S. State Department strongly advises all Americans who plan on vacationing in Madagascar to sign up for the free Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, which notifies the nearest embassy or consulate of your travels. Additional security concerns and safety tips for Madagascar can be found on the U.S. State Department's website.

Explore More of Madagascar

If you make a purchase from our site, we may earn a commission. This does not affect the quality or independence of our editorial content.

Recommended

30 Top Florida Weekend Getaways

Spend sun-filled days exploring Florida's beautiful beaches, cities, parks and small towns.

Gwen PratesiDecember 9, 2019

The Best Travel Backpacks for 2020

U.S. News rated the best travel backpacks using recommendations from experts and consumers.

Lyn MettlerNovember 25, 2019

30 Top Wellness Retreats

Rejuvenate your mind, body and spirit at one of these relaxation-focused properties.

Kyle McCarthyNovember 21, 2019

30 Fun All-Inclusive Family Vacations

Book one of these all-inclusive trips that cover food, accommodations and activities galore.

Holly JohnsonNovember 14, 2019

5 Ways Cruise Lines Are Becoming More Environmentally Friendly

Industry considers impact as it looks to the future.

Gwen PratesiNovember 12, 2019

11 Unique and Quirky Cruise Destinations

Venture off the beaten path for an authentic cruising experience.

Christine SmithNovember 12, 2019

The 2020 Best Cruise Lines for Families

Gather up the gang and head out to sea with one of these six kid-friendly cruise lines.

Nicola WoodNovember 12, 2019

The Top Pyramids in Mexico to Visit

Add these ancient marvels to your Mexico vacation itinerary.

Lyn MettlerOctober 28, 2019

30 Top Babymoon Destinations, Trips and Ideas

From romantic beach getaways to big city adventures to glamping in the forest, these locales will inspire your babymoon planning.

Gwen PratesiOctober 15, 2019

15 Tips for Traveling While Pregnant

These tips will help pregnant women travel the world in comfort and style.

Holly JohnsonOctober 10, 2019