Chaotic and fascinating mix of shanty-town with French-colonial architecture.


Tana, (the easy nickname for Antananarivo, the capital city of Madagascar), is a brightly coloured melange of French colonial architecture, multi-storied houses and narrow alleys. It is located almost in the centre of Madagascar in the central Highlands at an altitude of 1,280 m (4,200ft). Given its altitude, it has a mild climate with cool winter nights.

Antananarivo sprawls over these rolling central highlands surrounded by fields of rice paddies. It’s a city with unique architecture, romantic charm and bustling streets. Indeed Tana must have been a beautiful city at one time. But today the city is quite often a shock to many first time visitors. With throngs of people, buildings in a state of decay, street urchins and hectic traffic in a warren of streets. Everywhere the narrow cobblestone streets are packed with houses. And steep stone staircases linking one street to another.

Traders line each street with the array of merchandise on offer in the stalls. And the markets are in a class of their own. With Malagasy embroidery, semi-precious stones and all sorts of wares jumbled up together.

Activities on offer include a historic tour of the Old City, market visits and perhaps an excursion to one of the chocolatiers in the city?

Antananarivo Hotels

You’ll usually need to stay in a Tana hotel for at least two nights, during your Madagascar safari. (As domestic flights are prone to schedule changes so it is best to be close to the airport before a flight. Choose between Nosy Manga Hotel and Relais des Plateaux). However we recommend spending at least one night in the city centre as it is a truly fascinating sight. And perhaps one night in the upper old town with its panoramic views?


Why you may love it

  • Exploring the city on foot. This doubles up as a good workout as well.
  • Take a sightseeing tours in Tana (Antananarivo). Highlights include the Queen’s Palace (rova), the museum as well as the artisans’ market.
  • Browse through the artisan market of Andravoahangy under your own steam.
  • Check out the fascinating street stalls.
  • Visiting Chocolaterie Robert in the city centre.
  • Take a half day tour to ancient city ruins of Ambohimanga.

When to visit Antananarivo

Mid-Nov to March

Rainy summer season

The interior climate of Madagascar is affected by altitude so temperatures are always cooler than on the coast. Tana, being at 1300m (4,300ft) has a temperate pleasant climate. As elsewhere, it rains much more in the summer with high rainfall from mid November through to late March.
MAX TEMP 26 ℃ / 79 ℉
MIN TEMP 17 ℃ / 63 ℉

April to mid-May

Pleasant shoulder season

This, along with Sept-October is the best time in Tana. Daytime and night-time temperatures are very pleasant and it only rains every 4 days or so…
MAX TEMP 24 ℃ / 75 ℉
MIN TEMP 14 ℃ / 57 ℉

Mid-June to August

Dry but nights are colder

This is also a good time to visit as it is dry (rain every 4 days). But night time temperartures drop to around 10C.
MAX TEMP 20 ℃ / 68 ℉
MIN TEMP 10 ℃ / 50 ℉

September to mid-Nov

Dry and warmer season

Also a great time to visit as the drier months continue but days and nights are warmer. Rainfall starts to increase in November.
MAX TEMP 26 ℃ / 79 ℉
MIN TEMP 15 ℃ / 59 ℉

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Lokanga Hotel review

Lokanga Boutique Hotel was my favourite hotel in Tana by quite a margin. It lies high above the city, a stone’s throw from the Queens Palace. It’s a traditional Tana house – brick built with lots of wooden floorboards, shutters and steep stairs. The view from the terrace is superb and you enjoy the sense of being above and away from the considerable bustle of the city.

However what really makes Lokanga Hotel stand out is their attention to detail and very friendly personal service with a welcome drink of your choice on arrival, a variety of suggested walking tours of the city with printed maps, delicious food on offer to suit all palates, including children’s options (a relative rarity in Madagascar).

The rooms are all individually furnished in period style. If you want a contemporary décor, look elsewhere. The most popular room has a bath in the bedroom so ideal for honeymoon couples but not for the more reticent. We had the Rose room on the top floor which was spacious and charming and quite a workout up the steep stairs.

Highly recommended!

Cedarberg : Kate Bergh
Did you know
  • NameIts nickname is 'Tana", much easier to say!
  • SettingDivided into an Upper and Lower town.