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


Tana, (as the capital city of Madagascar, Antananarivo, is nicknamed), is a brightly coloured melange of French colonial architecture, multi-storied houses and narrow alleys. It is located almost in the centre of Madagscar, at an altitude of 1,280 m.

Antananarivo sprawls over the rolling central highlands of Madagascar surrounded by fields of rice paddies. A city with unique architecture, oodles of charm and bustling streets. Tana must have been a beautiful city at one time. Today, the city is quite often a shock to first time visitors. Throngs of people, buildings in a state of decay, street urchins and hectic traffic in a warren of streets. Narrow cobblestone streets, houses packed one upon another and steep stone staircases linking one street to another. Each street is lined with traders and the array of merchandise on offer in the stalls and markets is in a class of its own – with Malagasy embroidery, semi-precious stones and , somewhat curiously, rubber stamp collections, all jumbled up together. This all combined makes Antananarivo (Tana) a bit overwhelming at first.

Antananarivo Hotels

You will usually need to stay in a Tana hotel for at least two nights, possibly three, during your Madagascar safari. In recent years the standard of Tana hotels has noticeably improved with some interesting new options. Especially in terms of boutique hotels. Most bedrooms are still fairly simply furnished. But the facilities of the hotels are better – even good spa facilities on offer at some…

Things to do in Antananarivo

  • Exploring the city on foot is recommended and also a good workout.
  • Sightseeing tours in Tana (Antananarivo) are a great way to spend a spare afternoon. And usually include the Queen’s Palace (rova), the museum as well as the artisans’ market
  • Browsing the artisan market of Andravoahangy under your own steam
  • Visiting Chocolaterie Robert with two boutiques and a factory shop
  • Half day tour to ancient city ruins of Ambohimanga

Tana traffic is hectic so if you are arriving into Tana in the late afternoon and heading out the next morning, we recommend simply staying in the Ivato area near the airport at either Relais de Plateaux or Gassy Country House.  We can also use these for day time use prior to an evening flight.

Check out some of our Antananarivo hotels below…