Where to Go in Madagascar

11 Best Places to Visit in Madagascar

There are so many places to visit in Madagascar, with travellers to the region being spoilt for choice over the countless incredible destinations housed on this Southern African island. And with so many reasons to visit Madagascar, it can be difficult to choose just one part of the country to explore.

The below guide breaks down the most popular things to do in Madagascar destinations, from the best places to see ring-tailed lemurs in national parks and nature reserves to whale watching on the west coast.

1. Antananarivo: Gateway to All Places in Madagascar

All flights land in Madagascar’s capital city, Antananarivo (don’t worry if you can’t pronounce it – even the locals call it ‘Tana’). Nestled on the slopes of the surrounding mountains, Tana is the melting pot of the island and is also the gateways to all the attractions in Madagascar’s famous landscape. While here, immerse yourself in the traditions and culture of the island country, taking in the French architecture and Parisian structures of yesteryear.

2. Getaway on an Island Paradise: Nosy Be & Other Archipelagos

Some of the best Madagascar attractions are the many Indian Ocean archipelagos that surround the main island. The most popular of these islets is Nosy Be, a gem off the country’s north coast that’s home to pristine beaches, endless adventure, and some of the best Madagascar resorts. This low-key hub sees the most visitors because it has near-perfect conditions for kite surfing, swimming, snorkelling, and scuba diving. But if you’re looking for more secluded coral reefs to explore, the archipelagos of Nosy Komba, Nosy Kelly, Nosy Ankao, and Nosy Mitsio make for great alternatives.

3. Diego Suarez: A Port City with a Rich History

Antsiranana, also known as Diego Suarez, is regarded as one of the best places to visit in Madagascar. The eclectic holiday destination offers something for everyone, from its bustling nightlife and rich architecture to its wide range of activities – including hiking the French Mountain, surfing, and kitesurfing, and marvelling at the well-known deep-water harbour.

4. Montagne d’Ambre National Park: Walk Amongst Volcanic Remnants

Translating to Amber Mountain in English, Montagne d’Ambre National Park is one of Madagascar’s famous landmarks. Named after the red laterite soil and limestone pinnacles found in the area, the park is home to seven species of lemur, ring-tailed mongoose and the fossa – Madagascar’s only predator.

Its exceptional scenic beauty is the main reason for the national park’s popularity among tourists, with its accessibility and easy-to-navigate trails coming in at a close second. Exploring this marvel of nature will see you witness breathtaking scenes of volcanic mountains rising above the clouds, cascading waterfalls that lead into crater lakes and long rivers, and a variety of endemic flora and fauna that call Amber Mountain home – including lemurs.

5. Ranomafana National Park: Home of the Golden Bamboo Lemur

Ranomafana National Park is perfect for those seeking an authentic Madagascar safari. The 400-kilometre-squared protected area is the best place to visit in Madagascar to spot the endangered golden bamboo lemur. Comprising misty montane forests and lowland plains with hiking paths and roaring waterfalls in between, Ranomafana is a biodiversity haven, boasting several species of rare fauna and flora. And if you’re in the mood, be sure to take your swimming costume along and stand under the hot running water in any of the waterfalls found around the park.

6. Anja Community Reserve: Locally Managed Preservation Site

Made up of mostly woodland are and a freshwater lake, Anja Community Reserve protects the highest concentration of ring-tailed lemurs in Madagascar. The nature reserve is a unique environmental and cultural preservation site. Managed by the local group, the nature reserve has created jobs and income for the community while preserving the wildlife and environment.

7. Isalo National Park: A Striking Canvas of Stone

On many travellers lists of things to see in Madagascar, Isalo National Park offers a unique natural beauty. The park’s surreal scenery is a canvas of carved rock gorges, winding canyons, cascading oases, towers of stacks of stone, and palm groves. Highlights of visiting Isalo are undoubtedly the natural pool on the western side of the reserve, rock plateaus, and glistening waterfalls.

8. Tsingy de Bemaraha Strict Nature Reserve: Baobabs & Tsingies

Most, if not all, Madagascar travel advice will suggest a trip to Tsingy de Bemaraha Strict Nature Reserve. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is touted as one of the top Madagascar attractions, thanks to its surreal scenery. Tsingy de Bemaraha’s dramatic landscape is one of nature’s finest beauties, consisting of strikingly carved fossil deposits and colossal monoliths. Moulded 5 million years ago, these needle-sharp limestone pinnacles are known locally as Tsingies. Just outside the nature reserve sits one of the island’s loveliest sites: the Avenue of the Baobabs. This collection of soaring baobab trees lines a gravel road that makes for the perfect photo opportunity.

9. Île Sainte-Marie: Whale Watching & Seaside Fun

Beautiful black coral reefs, beautiful beaches, pirate shipwrecks, and fascinating marine life are all characteristics of one of Madagascar’s famous landmarks – Île Sainte-Marie (or Sainte-Marie Island in English). The tropical island is the perfect place for a classic beachside holiday, with conditions near-perfect for canoeing, swimming, sunbathing, and snorkelling. But splashing around in the Indian Ocean isn’t the big lure of Sainte-Marie – whale watching is. Every year, from June to September, humpback whales arrive in Madagascan waters during their annual migration. The whales are very active on the huge reef off the island, with females giving birth and males ‘singing’ to attract new mates. The whale song is often clearly audible to visitors thanks to a lack of surrounding noise pollution.

10. Andasibe-Mantadia National Park: Spot the Bear-Like Indri Lemur

Being easily accessible from the island’s capital city, Andasibe-Mantadia National Park is one of the most visited Madagascar attractions. The park is home to the country’s largest species of lemur – the indri – and offers several hiking circuits, ranging from one to six hours long, as well as a waterfall. Keep an eye out for the inland crabs crawling along the forest floor.

11. Ifaty & Toliara: Fishing Village Turned Island Paradise

Toliara (also known as Tulear) is Madagascar’s fifth largest city and is a charming destination that offers a glimpse of daily Madagascan life. It’s also the gateway to Ifaty – a stretch of sun kissed former fishing villages, known for its pristine beaches and luxury resorts. Snorkelling, catamaran tours of the Mozambique cannel, cultural visits to traditional reed villages, and fresh, tasty seafood are just a few delights on offer in Ifaty.