Antananarivo is the capital of Madagascar and port of entree for almost all visitors. It’s a big metropolis and even though there aren’t many sites that are worth visiting, the cities’ vibe is quite nice and it is worth to stay in Antananarivo for a few days.
Antananarivo lies quite central in Madagascar and due to its long name it’s often shortened to Tana. There are only a few hostels in Antananarivo. In peak season it is necessary to book your Antananarivo hostel in advance. In shoulder or low season, at least one of the hostels in Antananarivo will mostly have some availability on close to your date of arrival.
Choosing the location of your Antananarivo hostel wisely is important. Safety, in particular at night, is a big issue in Antananarivo. Walking outside after sunset is considered dangerous, especially in some areas. If you want to go outside you must stay on busy roads and definitely avoid small alleys. If you book a hostel that is not in the city centre and want to go for dinner in the city centre, you must take a taxi. However, in many areas you can find restaurants, so even if your Antananarivo hostel is not in the city centre you won’t have to go to bed without dinner.
Antananarivo is divided in a lower and an upper city. The upper city can easily be reached by stairs from one of the markets in Antananarivo’s lower city. The centre of Antananarivo is located around Avenue de L’Independance, which is a big boulevard. The old railway station is at the end of the street. Many shops and markets can be found on this street and the streets around. As mentioned before: even if you do not stay in this area but in one of the quarters around the city centre, there will be many shops, supermarkets and restaurants close to your hostel.
Although it is nice to get a first idea of Madagascar and stay a few days in Antananarivo, Antananarivo should not be your main destination when visiting Madagascar. It’s the National Parks and eventually some beaches that should make you want to visit Madagascar. Each direction has its own bus station in Antananarivo. Ask your hostel which bus station you need to go to for your destination.
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