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Destination Guide: Antananarivo

Colonial architecture, lively markets and peaceful garden escapes
Explore Antananarivo or ‘Tana’, Madagascar’s capital, straddling two ridges and ringed by rice paddies. Climb from bustling Basse Ville to quieter Haute Ville, from the crowded markets of Analakely to tranquil Jardin Antaninarenina and the attractive old buildings of Isoraka.

Food and Drink

Dine at sumptuous patisseries and local Malagasy eateries. Relive Haute Ville’s heyday in restored, century-old houses specialising in Malagasy dishes. In Isoraka you can try French-influenced food or Creole cuisine. Treat yourself to decadent pastries and ice-cream at charming patisseries in Basse Ville, or snack at food stalls in Antananarivo’s market area.

Sightseeing and relaxation

Discover regal history and real Malagasy life. Glimpse the former grandeur of Madagascar’s Merina royalty at the Queen’s Palace, the Rova. Escape Antananarivo’s hubbub by strolling around the heart-shaped lake, Lac Anosy, stopping at flower stalls, barbers’ shops and the war memorials before treating yourself to spa treatments at luxurious Balnéoforme Colbert.

Shopping

Take home local specialities and handicrafts. Buy bunches of vanilla pods from vendors lining the steps climbing away from Antananarivo’s Avenue de l’Indépendance. Ascend to Antaninarenina and Isoraka to find jewellers, art shops and craft boutiques. Tana locals sell embroidery, raffia basketry, carved zebu horn and paper embedded with pressed flowers at the artisan markets of Andravoahangy and La Digue.

Nightlife and Entertainment

Experience traditional Madagascan sights and sounds. Watch a session of traditional music known as hira gasy at Andavamamba or see folklore stories performed as a mix of opera, dance and spoken word. Concerts and theatre performances take place at Antananarivo’s Centre Albert Camus. For a drink accompanied by local jazz, visit Grill du Rova below the Queen’s Palace.