Madagascar, the second-largest island country worldwide, had attracted nearly 500 000 tourists in 2019. According to World Data, such a number of visitors has contributed to the country’s GDP, making almost 7% of it.
Today Madagascar attracts all kinds of visitors – from adventurers and thrill-seekers to families and couples on romantic getaways.
Located in the Indian Ocean, right near East Africa, Madagascar enchants the travelers! 90% of the animals that can be spotted on the island are living only there; such extremely unique biodiversity is one of the reasons why visiting this place would be worthwhile!
The most associated with Madagascar animal is the lemur, which treats this island as its original home. Try looking out for these and keep an eye for any interesting plants you may see, since 80% of them can be seen nowhere else!
Beautiful jungles, wonderful beaches, historic spots, stunning national parks, and rolling hills are just waiting to be explored. Madagascar can be visited at any time of the year, but months between November and April are the wettest and hottest, while the season between May and October is drier and a bit cooler.
Read on to see which 5 places are the best to visit for first-time Madagascar visitors. Try some of the most unique attractions in each destination, or create your own list while exploring this beautiful island!
Please note: If you’re wondering how to get the necessary e-Visa to visit Madagascar, try visiting the official government website or consider applying online with an agent. It’s essential to get an electronic visa prior to travel.
Top 5 Places to See in Madagascar
The capital city of Madagascar lies over 1400 meters above sea level. The mountain winds gently cools down the inhabitants and explorers and makes it easier to discover the attractions in this city.
If you’re a nature lover, make sure not to miss the following attractions in Antananarivo:
- The Tsimbazaza Zoo: is a botanical and zoological garden that hosts not only live animals and plants but also skeletons of some extinct species, such as the giant lemur or the elephant bird.
- The Croc Farm: hosts crocodiles of different sizes (even those as big as 6 meters and over!) The park is located about 3km from the airport in the capital city of Madagascar.
- The Lemurs’ Park: is a great place to admire the country’s most famous animal. The lemurs run mostly free in the reserve and are being prepared to live in the wild later on.
Ambohimanga, also known as the Royal Hill, is a historical place where local kings once lived and ruled. This hill vastly expanded in the 18th century and now is a home of numerous palaces, fortifications, tombs, burial grounds, and other monuments of the old world.
It is a UNESCO protected area, with distinguished stone architecture and the cemetery of the former rulers, e.g., of Andriantsimitoviaminandriana. The fact that so many of the royalty members are buried here makes this place so significant among the Malagasy people.
The Madagascar royalty was well protected on these hills by the built fortification walls and buildings. The main place where the higher members of the society resided was on a granite rock with a royal fig tree beside it.
The two palaces were restored in 2013, including the roofs and walls of the buildings. Visit the fountains, sacred basins, stones, forests, and learn all about the history of this isolated country!
3. Ile Sainte Marie
Beach lovers would undoubtedly enjoy this stretch of land in the Eastern part of Madagascar. This is certainly one of the most excellent places to visit to fully relax your body and mind.
Long sandy beaches, hidden coves, coconut palm trees, and beautiful turquoise waters are what Ile Sainte Marie is all about. Some claim it is comparable to Maldives and Philippines beaches and waters.
The one attraction not to miss in Ile Sainte Marie is scuba diving! The turquoise waters hide many exciting animals to spot, including turtles, surgeonfish, and barracudas. Make sure to also try:
- A tour of the island (on a bike or in a 4×4)
- Swimming in the natural pools of Ambodiforaha
- Exploring the zoo of Ambodiforaha
- Getting a panoramic view of the area by visiting the French lighthouse in Blevec
- Whale watching
4. Tsingy de Bemaraha
This UNESCO World Heritage Site will surely charm the nature lovers. Grandiose monoliths, unique rocky landscapes, and incredible natural scenery characterize this spot.
Located on the West coast, karst landscapes and verdant hills in Tsingy de Bemaraha are simply well-worth seeing. It is a very picturesque place with plenty of rare rock formations and immense biodiversity of trees and plants.
The name of the park can be translated to ‘walking on tip toes’ because of the unique spiky limestone nature of the area.
Ifaty, located in the south-western part of the island, used to be a sleepy village but now is a popular tourist spot dotted with luxurious hotels and apartments.
Wide sandy beaches attract numerous tourists, all coming here to sunbathe, swim, or snorkel in the tropical waters of the Indian Ocean. From Ifaty you can take tours and sea excursions on the Mozambique Channel, or sit and enjoy in the traditional local taverns and bars.
The most popular attraction of Ifaty is to visit all of the local villages and learn more about the history and culture of its people. Walk, ride a bike, ride a horse, go fishing, and try some of the most delicious foods made by the locals!
Moreover, if you’re interested in how baobabs look up-close, you can take a tour of the whole west coast, exploring and learning about those remarkable trees! The tour ends on Ifaty Beach and leaves extra time for relaxation.
Madagascar has paradise-like beaches with white sands and turquoise waters, friendly people, culture, and delicious food is that bring thousands of tourists to the island each year!
Plan your journey to explore Madagascar fully or simply get on a relaxing getaway with your loved ones, or even for a mindful solo trip!