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


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

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 link one street to another.

Antananarivo panorama

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, somewhat curiously, rubber stamp collections, all jumbled up together. This all 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 even three, during your Madagascar safari. Howvever in recent years Tana hotels have noticeably improved. There are now some interesting new options, especially boutique hotels. Most bedrooms are still fairly simply furnished. But the hotel facilities are better. Even with spa facilities at some…

Things to do in Antananarivo

  • Exploring the city on foot is recommended and also a good workout.
  • 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
  • Visiting Chocolaterie Robert in the city centre
  • Or take a half day tour to ancient city ruins of Ambohimanga

Staying at Ivato Airport

Tana traffic is hectic! So if you are arriving into Tana in the late afternoon. And heading out the next morning, then we recommend staying in the Ivato area near the airport. Choose between the Relais de Plateaux or Gassy Country House.  We also use these for day time use prior to an evening flight – if needed

However it is worth spending at least one night in the city as it is a truly fascinating sight. Check out some of our Antananarivo hotels below…

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