Heed the call of all things amazing when you visit Antananarivo, the capital city of Madagascar which boasts a rich culture, tradition and heritage from centuries past. In addition to being a thriving commercial and tourist hub, Antananarivo has a wide range of attractions from verdant parks, beautiful beaches, historic museums to animal sanctuaries. After all, Antananarivo is the largest city in Madagascar and attracts travellers from all over the world. Meet the friendly community of people and get top tips to explore the local sights as well as taste the delightful local cuisine. Simply scroll on further to discover the top things to do in Antananarivo, Madagascar.
1. Explore ancient artefacts at The Museum of Art and Archeology
Archaeology comes alive at The Museum of Art and Archeology, set up in 1970 and located within the University of Antananarivo, Madagascar. What amazes visitors is the detailed display of architectural digs around the island of Madagascar, revealing a wealth of over 7,000 ancient artefacts such as grave decorations, religious talismans and interesting items usually found in traditional ceremonies. Be impressed by the rotating exhibits showcasing the rich cultures and traditions of Malagasy life such as musical instruments, cooking pottery and more. Friendly guides bring visitors for an informative tour of the museum for a small, pre-agreed fee.
The Museum of Art and Archeology
Address: Présidence de l'Université d'Antananarivo, BP 566, Antananarivo 101, Madagascar
Opening hours: Tue - Sat: 10am - 4pm (closed on Sun & Mon)
Price: By donation
2. Experience the wonders of Botanical and Zoological Garden of Tsimbazaza
Hooray for nature lovers as the Botanical and Zoological Garden of Tsimbazaza brings visitors to an awesome tour of gorgeous gardens and various species of endemic animals of Madagascar. Known to be a thriving habitat for Malagasy wildlife, the Botanical and Zoological Garden of Tsimbazaza also has a museum that displays impressive tribal carvings. Be amazed by the impressive exhibits such as the skeleton of extinct mega vertebrates like giant lemurs, pygmy hippos and an elephant bird. Home to the largest herbarium in Madagascar with over 80,000 specimens of plants, this attraction also has knowledgeable guides who share interesting details on wildlife with visitors.
Botanical and Zoological Garden of Tsimbazaza
Address: Antananarivo, Madagascar
Opening hours: 9am - 5pm (daily)
Price: 3 USD (non-residents), 0.50 USD (residents)
3. Reconnect with history at Andafiavaratra Palace
Discover the splendour of Andafiavaratra Palace which previously was the residence of the Prime Minister of Madagascar during the late 19th century. Located north of the Queen’s Palace in Antananarivo, Andafiavaratra Palace features impressive architecture and a magnificent exterior. Today, the palace shines bright as a heritage museum which showcases numerous objects of historical importance to the kingdom of Madagascar. Step inside to find well-maintained displays of various royal portraits, royal jewels and a dazzling diadem of the last Queen of Madagascar.
Address: 9 Lalana Printsy Ratsimamanga, Antananarivo 101, Madagascar
Opening hours: Sat - Thu: 10am - 5pm (closed on Fri)
Price: 1.30 USD per person
4. Be inspired by nature at Parc de Tsarasaotra
Walk on the wild side of nature at Parc de Tsarasaotra, a wildlife reserve that is classified as a Ramsar protected site under the International Convention on Wetlands. The name Tsarasaotra means a good place to live, particularly for birds. Located at the heart of the industrial zone in Antananarivo, this reserve is an important safe habitat for threatened species of birds such as Madagascar little grebe, pond heron and Meller’s duck. Take a stroll along the beautiful Lake Alarobia for a relaxing time by the calming waters or go bird watching amidst the park’s lush foliage.
Parc de Tsarasaotra
Address: Colonel Ratsimandrava Highway, Antananarivo, Madagascar
Website: Parc de Tsarasaotra
Opening hours: 6am - 5pm (daily)
Price: 5.5 USD per person
5. Shop for souvenirs at The Analakely Market
Go on an enjoyable shopping spree at The Analakely Market, regarded as Antananarivo’s biggest market with huge crowds almost every day. Locals flock to this market which sells everyday essentials such as meats, vegetables, fish, fruits and spices of every kind. Tourists love to visit the market for its vibrant atmosphere and a vast array of curios, souvenirs, textiles and trinkets that are affordably priced and make great gifts. Further, exploring the sprawling space will reveal interesting finds such as grilled exotic meats, local street food and delicious treats.
Address: Arabe Rahezavana, Antananarivo, Madagascar
Website: Analakely Market
Opening hours: 6am - 6pm (daily)
Price: Free entry
6. Appreciate culture at French Institute of Madagascar
Immerse yourself in the fascinating world of French art, culture and ideas at the French Institute of Madagascar. What’s amazing about the institute is the variety of shows that range from music to circus, held throughout the year, which attract a huge audience. In addition, the French Institute of Madagascar is the venue for various visual arts exhibitions held at its impressive gallery. For education purposes, the institute features the largest media library in Madagascar, plus an information and orientation centre for Malagasy students who intend to further their education in France.
French Institute of Madagascar
Address: 14 Avenue de L'Independance, Antananarivo, Madagascar
Website: French Institute of Madagascar
Opening hours: Tue, Wed, Fri & Sat: 10am - 6pm; Thu: 2pm - 6pm (closed on Sun & Mon)
7. Be dazzled by the architecture of the Queen's Palace
History is celebrated in all its glory at the Queen’s Palace, an iconic landmark of Antananarivo in the bustling city of Madagascar. This royal palace was the official residence for the kings and queens of the Merina kingdom during the 17th to 19th century. Despite a fire in 1995 which gutted the historic site, the Queen’s Palace underwent restoration in 2005 and remains a heritage building reminiscent of a bygone era. Amazingly, the palace exterior is made of wood whilst the interiors display a selection of artefacts on the ground level for visitors.
Address: 101 Lalana Ramboatiana, Antananarivo, Madagascar
Website: Queen’s Palace
Opening hours: 8am - 5pm (daily)
Price: 2.7 USD
Located 22 kilometres (13.6 miles) southwest of Antananarivo, Madagascar, Lemurs’ Park promises a truly awesome experience with free-roaming lemurs at the reserve and a small botanical garden. One of the best ways to experience Lemurs’ Park is to go on a full-day private tour which begins at Ambohimanga, a UNESCO world heritage site and continues with a delicious lunch at the village. Next, guests are brought on a guided tour of Lemurs’ Park where they discover nine distinct species of lemurs and their unique characteristics. Be impressed by friendly guides who share details on different lemurs, indigenous plants and reptiles, before guests head to Antananarivo centre for souvenir and handicraft shopping.
Antananarivo and Lemurs Park Full-Day Private Tour with Lunch
Duration: 1 day
9. Explore local handicrafts at Lisy Art Gallery
Not any ordinary art gallery, Lisy Art Gallery presents a huge selection of crafts from all over Madagascar that are handcrafted by local artisans. Be swept away by displays of beautiful paintings, wood carvings, woven mats, shopping bags, decorative boxes and specially designed containers. They make wonderful souvenirs that create fond memories of Madagascar and excellent gifts for friends. In addition to the showcase of local made furniture, baskets and wooden decorations, the gallery also offers spices, chocolates and textiles for sale.
Lisy Art Gallery
Address: Lalana Vvs, Antananarivo, Madagascar
Website: Lisy Art Gallery
Opening hours: Mon - Fri: 8am - 6:30pm (closed on Sun)
10. Drop by Madagascar Photography Museum
Photo is only for illustrative purposes
Perfect for photography enthusiasts and history buffs, Madagascar Photography Museum features an impressive display of photographs that depict the history of Madagascar. For travellers who want to know more about this historic city, the museum is a great place to start as it has various collections of photographs. They range from the pre-colonisation period to the independence of Madagascar and daily life scenes to large constructions in the city. Equally impressive is the functional multimedia displays available in French, English and Malagasy. Here, visitors get to discover the culture, traditions, geography and economics of Madagascar in pictures.
Madagascar Photography Museum
Address: Former Mayors’ Residence, Anjohy, Rue Andriamanalina Ravelomanantsoa (Behind the General Staff), 101 Antananarivo, Madagascar
Website: Madagascar Photography Museum
Opening hours: Tue - Sat: 10am - 5pm (closed on Mon)
Price: 1.4 USD (adults), 0.3 USD (13 to 25 years), Free (child below 12)
Exciting attractions await in Antananarivo
When it comes to shopping, dining, exploring the wildlife or historic sites, Antananarivo, Madagascar, has plenty of attractions that are free or very affordably priced. So, pack your walking shoes and get set to enjoy all the top things to do in Antananarivo, Madagascar.
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