top of page
MENU

TOP OF PAGE

Quick Facts

Best Time To Go

Cost & Spending

Travel Tips

Regions & Highlights

Travel Map

What To See & Do

What To Eat

Where To Stay

Trip Planning

ABOUT US

WeWillNomad Profile Pic 2.png

Welcome traveler!

We're Andre & Lisa, adventurers and experienced budget travelers.

We have over two decades of travel experience and since 2018 have led a full-time nomadic lifestyle.

Learn more about us!

Thank you for visiting and we hope you find value in our destination pages! ​We thoroughly research and curate all content ourselves and everything you find on this site is put together by only the two of us.

  • Instagram
  • Youtube
  • Facebook
Image-empty-state.png

MADAGASCAR TRAVEL GUIDE

The fourth-largest island in the world was created more than 125 million years ago when a piece of the African mainland broke away and drifted into the Indian Ocean. Isolated from the mainland, this tropical Eden known as Madagascar, evolved into a safe haven for some of the most unusual life forms on earth - a zoologist’s dream island teeming with chameleons, mongoose and lemurs and an apothecary’s laboratory with precious medicinal plants and herbs.

 

Relatively undiscovered until a few decades ago by tourists, the ‘Great Red Island’ of Madagascar has seen an increase in tourist traffic with travellers discovering and appreciating the unique delight of virgin rain-forests, pristine beaches, warm blue waters of the Indian Ocean, sandy deserts and an astonishing array of unusual wildlife and truly impressive flora.

COUNTRY PAGE
  • Capital: Antananarivo
  • Currency: ariary (MGA)
  • Area: total: 587,040 km²
  • Population: 26,26 million (2018)
  • Language: Malagasy (national & official) French (official)
  • Religion:Indigenous beliefs 52%, Christian 41%, Muslim 7%

DO YOU NEED A VISA FOR

MADAGASCAR?

<<VISA RESULT>>

<< Visa Details >>

For the latest requirements or for application click

HERE

Let iVisa take the pain out of travel planning and assist you with Electronic visas, Travel Authorizations, Visas on Arrival, and even Paper Visas. They can also help with Health Declarations and Embassy Registrations. If you're from the US, they provide a One-Stop Shop to renew your Passport securely and error-free.

POSTS ON MADAGASCAR

SEASONS AT A GLANCE

Most destinations have different times of the year when they’re more or less popular with tourists. 

Read more...

Peak Season

Shoulder Season

Off Peak Season

JANUARY

HOT

COLD

MODERATE

DRY

WET

FEBRUARY

HOT

COLD

MODERATE

DRY

WET

MARCH

HOT

COLD

MODERATE

DRY

WET

APRIL

HOT

COLD

MODERATE
DRY

WET

MAY

HOT

COLD

MODERATE
DRY

WET

JUNE

HOT

COLD

MODERATE
DRY

WET

JULY

HOT

COLD

MODERATE
DRY

WET

AUGUST

HOT

COLD

MODERATE
DRY

WET

SEPTEMBER

HOT

COLD

MODERATE
DRY

WET

OCTOBER

HOT

COLD

MODERATE
DRY

WET

NOVEMBER

HOT

COLD

MODERATE

DRY

WET

DECEMBER

HOT

COLD

MODERATE

DRY

WET
Climate Chart with avergae monthly temperatues and rainfall

BEST TIME TO VISIT MADAGASCAR

In Madagascar, two seasons are recognised: a hot, rainy season from November to April and a cooler, dry season from May to October. The west coast of the country is generally drier and is subject to significant coastal erosion. The southwest and the extreme south are semi-desert environments, receiving less than 800 mm of rainfall annually. The average annual temperatures vary between 23°C and 27°C along the coast and between 16°C and 19°C in the central mountains.

 

The dry season (May – October) is considered the best time to visit Madagascar. Madagascar's dry season falls in the winter months, however, the island's winter season is not to be mistaken for gloom and cold. Winter on the island signifies the end of the rainfall and humidity, and it welcomes cooler temperatures.

  • High Season (Jul & Aug) - It’s winter – balmy temperatures by day and cool nights (cold in the highlands).
  • Shoulder Season (Apr–Jun, Sep–Dec) - The best time to go: warm temperatures and fewer visitors.
  • Low Season (Jan–Mar) - Cyclone season on the east coast; rainy season everywhere.

BEST TIME FOR:

Madagascar has plenty of stunning beaches and no matter the time of the year, the weather should be good somewhere. February is the peak cyclone season, so you might want to avoid that. The best time to visit the beaches is from September to December.

LOOKING FOR ALTERNATIVES

TO MADAGASCAR?

FIND YOUR
PERFECT
DESTINATION

Advanced, real-time destination filter by visa required, region, health risk, travel budget, country value, tourist seasons, best weather and activity or sport.

gears.gif
LETS GO!

MADAGASCAR TRAVEL COSTS

Here are some of the best ways to save money during your trip to Madagascar:

  • Travel during the shoulder seasons - If a cheaper flight and more affordable accommodation is what you’re after, aim to visit Madagascar during the shoulder seasons, that are from April to June and from September to November. During these months rainfall is also at its lowest.
  • Stay in guesthouses or B&Bs - In the capital, Antananarivo, you should expect to pay between US$ 10 – US$25 per night as a budget traveller. At that rate, it would be best to aim for a standalone guesthouse or bed and breakfast, rather than a hotel. For that price, you can expect to rent a double or twin room with a private external bathroom with one meal included. Staying in Antananarivo will also prove more cost-effective than staying elsewhere, due to its proximity to most of the major tourist sites.
  • Dine in or out on the cheap - One way of keeping your dining costs really low is to buy ingredients at the local markets and prepare your own food – provided that you’re staying in self-catering accommodation. Alternatively, takeaways are really cheap in Madagascar and you can pick up some great local cuisine for next to nothing. If you’re longing for a taste of home, you won’t have to go very far. Madagascar has its fair share of global cuisine from American style hot dogs and hamburgers to Korean food. Good restaurants are everywhere.
  • Explore Madagascar’s many budget attractions - Madagascar offers its fair share of tourist sites and activities, whether you’re interested in the history of the island, local culture or its natural sites. Plus, many of them are incredibly budget friendly. It won’t cost you a dime to visit one of Madagascar’s beautiful beaches.

32

VALUE RANK:

/ 199

FIND DISCOUNT FLIGHTS TO

MADAGASCAR?

SEARCH

TRAVEL TIPS FOR MADAGASCAR

Madagascar is a huge place, the roads are bad and travel times long (it takes 24 hours to drive from Tana to Diego Suarez, 18 hours to Tuléar etc), so be realistic about how much ground you want to cover or you’ll spend every other day in the confines of a vehicle

  • Private vehicle - If you can afford it, this is the best way to explore Madagascar. You'll be able to go anywhere, whenever suits you. The off-road driving can be great fun too. Due to the often-difficult driving conditions, most rental agencies make hiring a driver compulsory with their vehicles.
  • Taxi-brousse (bush taxi) - They are slow, uncomfortable and not always safe, but they are cheap, go (almost) everywhere and you can't get more local than that. Despite the general appearance of anarchy, the taxi-brousse system is actually relatively well organised. Drivers and vehicles belong to transport companies called coopératives (cooperatives). Coopératives generally have a booth or an agent at the taxi-brousse station (called gare routière or parcage), where you can book your ticket. Although the going can be slow, taxis-brousses stop regularly for toilet breaks, leg stretching and meals (at hotelys along the road).
  • Plane - Can be huge time savers, but they can be expensive and subject to frequent delays and cancellations. Certain routes, such as Morondava–Tuléar (Toliara) during the high season (May to September) and all flights to/from Sambava during the vanilla season (June to October), are often fully booked months in advance.

REGIONS & HIGHLIGHTS OF MADAGASCAR

 

  • Parc National de l'Isalo - Take a dip in natural swimming pools after a day's trek.
  • Nosy Be - Snorkel and dive to your heart's content.
  • Anakao - Snorkel, dive and paddle at Madagascar's Great Reef.
  • Tropical Haute Cuisine - Sample a divine strand of fusion cuisine in Antananarivo.

 

The capital of Antananarivo is all about eating, shopping, history and day trips. The town centre itself, with its pollution and dreadful traffic, puts off many travellers from staying, but bypassing the capital altogether would be a mistake: Tana has been the home of Malagasy power for three centuries and there is a huge amount of history and culture to discover, as well as some unexpected wildlife options. Central Antananarivo is relatively compact, which means that it is easily explored on foot. The catch is that it's hilly, with plenty of stairs. The Haute-Ville, with its numerous old buildings, is a great place to explore. Don't linger on Ave de l'Indépendance in the Basse-Ville, however; pickpockets are rife.

 

CENTRAL MADAGASCAR

The classic tourist route from Antananarivo takes you south along the RN7 through central Madagascar, a high plateau stretching all the way to Fianarantsoa. You’ll twist and turn through these highlands, a region of scenic hills and rice paddies that resists generalisation. Here you’ll find a potpourri of travellers' delights: bustling market towns clogged with colourful pousse-pousse (rickshaws); a distinctive architecture of two-storey mudbrick homes; a mountain stronghold of lemurs, the legacy of French colonialism; national parks with landscapes ranging from thick jungle to wide-open grandeur; and some of the best hiking Madagascar has to offer.

 

Antsirabe is best-known for its thermal springs. The city emerged as a spa town in the late 1800s when Norwegian missionaries built a health retreat here (still in use to this day). French colonists then turned it into a chic getaway from nearby Tana, hence the numerous turn-of-the-century villas and the broad tree-lined avenues so typical of French cities. Much of this colonial heritage is fading now, nut the city itself is full of life.

 

Fianarantsoa, or Fianar for short, is like a mild version of Tana. Surrounded by hills, it is both a regional commercial, administrative and religious centre as well as a major transit point. Tourists typically come here to spend the night on their way to Ranomafana or Isalo, or to take the train to Manakara. But visitors can enjoy a historic old town, a great local market, some interesting places to stay and a more laid-back ambience than that of the capital.

 

Download map waypoints for Madagascar here: KML / GPX

WHAT TO SEE AND DO IN MADAGASCAR

More location information and points of interest are available in the above map

 

SOUTHERN MADAGASCAR

Southern Madagascar is a wide-open adventure among some of nature’s most dramatic forms. The stark desert canyons of Parc National de l'Isalo rival those of Arizona. The west coast offers gorgeous coastal settlements that serve as gateways to the fifth-largest coral reef in the world. And vast kilometres of spiny forest contain the strangest and most formidable plants on earth.

 

Toliara is where the sealed road (the RN7) ends and many adventures begin – its main appeal is as most travellers' gateway to The Great Reef (found both north and south of the city). Your most enduring memory here is likely to be a sea of pousse-pousse bouncing down dusty lanes – the city itself has little to detain you beyond an outstanding out-of-town arboretum and some fine hotels and restaurants.

 

The Great Reef stretches over 450km along the southwestern coast of Madagascar, making it the fifth-largest coral reef in the world. Running from Andavadoaka in the north to Itampolo in the south, it's the main attraction in the region, with its own changing personality. The reef comes in three forms: a fringing reef close in, a patch reef of coral heads and an outer barrier reef. The last creates very broad and shallow inshore lagoons and makes for dramatic scenery, with large waves crashing in the distance, forming a vibrant line of white. The beaches range from broken coral to spectacular white powder. There are many activities to pursue here: sunbathing, snorkelling, diving, fishing, whale watching (mid-June or early July to September), surfing and sailing among them.

 

NORTHERN MADAGASCAR

Despite being Madagascar’s number-one beach destination, the island of Nosy Be remains relatively low-key. It’s the most expensive destination in Madagascar, and rooms can cost twice as much here as on the mainland. Still, compared to Europe, prices are competitive (except for the most exclusive resorts), and many visitors find the lack of major development and mora mora (literally, 'slowly slowly') lifestyle worth the extra euros. The climate is sunny year-round, and Nosy Be is paradise for water-based activities. Diving is the island’s top draw, and there is plenty of swimming, snorkelling and sailing for those keen to stay close to the surface.

 

With its wide streets, old colonial-era buildings and genteel air, Antsiranana is a lovely base from which to explore Madagascar’s northern region. It's a slow-moving place; nearly everything shuts between noon and 3pm while residents indulge in long afternoon naps. There are no beaches in Antsiranana itself, but plenty of amazing views of the bay, and the town encourages visitors to explore its fascinating architecture and history.

 

EASTERN MADAGASCAR

Eastern Madagascar is travel the way it used to be. Travelling here requires a combination of plane, car, 4WD, dirt bike, scooter, pirogue (dugout canoe), ferry, cargo boat, taxi-brousse and motorboat. This inaccessibility results in isolated communities and, for the traveller, a constant sense of coming upon undiscovered locales, including entire national parks. There’s no doubt it can be frustrating at times, but eastern Madagascar produces more travellers' tales than anywhere else. If you value that, come here first.

 

The small town of Andasibe is surrounded by several parks and reserves whose unique wildlife and close proximity to the capital have made this area extremely popular with travellers. The largest is the Parc National Andasibe Mantadia. This is actually the organisational union of two separate parks, the northern Parc National de Mantadia and the much smaller Parc National Analamazaotra. To these are added Parc Mitsinjo, Réserve de Torotorofotsy and Mahay Mitia Ala (MMA).

 

Nosy Boraha (formerly and still more commonly known as Îl Sainte-Marie) is a sliver of paradise off Madagascar's northeast coast. The best thing about Nosy Boraha is that it contains all the ingredients for a great holiday and great travel. This is a very long (57km), thin, lush and relatively flat tropical island surrounded by beaches and reef and spotted with thatched villages. The port of Ambodifotatra, a quarter of the way up the western coast, is the only sizeable town. South of here, the shore is lined with a great variety of hotels and resorts, which don't overpower the setting, culminating in the small island of Île aux Nattes, a postcard tropical paradise where you can easily imagine pirates coming ashore with treasure chests in tow. In contrast, the upper half of the island is quite wild, and its great length means that there is plenty of room for exploration.

WHAT TO EAT IN MADAGASCAR

Food in Madagascar is based around the country’s main staple: rice. You’ll find it on every menu and, at most meals, usually accompanied by seafood or zebu. Since zebu is quite tough, it’s often stewed. Beef or prawn skewers are another common offering. For food on the go, be sure to try the nem (spring rolls). They cost just a few cents and are delicious!

 

Eating rice three times a day is so ingrained in Malagasy culture that people sometimes claim they can’t sleep if they haven’t eaten rice that day. In fact, the verb ‘to eat’ in Malagasy, mihinam-vary, literally means ‘to eat rice’. To keep things interesting, the Malagasies have developed an arsenal of aromatic condiments, such as sakay (a red-hot pepper paste with ginger and garlic), pimente verde (a fiery green chilli) and achards (hot pickled fruit, such as tomato, lemon, carrot or mango, used as relish – you’ll see bottles of the stuff sold by the roadside).

 

LOCAL FAVOURITES INCLUDE:

  • Romazava - A beef stew in a ginger-flavoured broth. It contains brêdes mafana, a green leaf reminiscent of Indian saag in taste that will make your tongue and lips tingle thanks to its anaesthetic properties!
  • Ravitoto - Another well-loved Malagasy dish, it is a mix of fried beef or pork with shredded cassava leaves and coconut milk; truly delicious.
  • Pizza - Just like Europeans and Americans, Malagasies have succumbed to pizzas! They are a popular treat among middle-class families and you’ll find an inordinate number of pizza joints (often with takeaway) in every large town and city.

 

What you eat in Madagascar will largely depend on where you eat. Hotelys or gargottes are small, informal restaurants found in every city and town. Restaurants, which range from modest to top-end establishments, serve various types of cuisines, including fancier versions of Malagasy standards. In most tourist areas, hotels have the best (and sometimes only) restaurants, which means you'll eat most of your meals there.

LGBTQ IN MADAGASCAR

I'm a paragraph. I'm connected to your collection through a dataset.

WHERE TO STAY IN MADAGASCAR

Accommodation in Madagascar is relatively affordable when compared to Europe or North America, but not as cheap as you might perhaps expect.

When visiting Madagascar for the first time, there are several regions and cities where you could consider staying, depending on your interests and itinerary. Here are some options:


Where To Stay In Antananarivo (Tana)

As the capital and largest city of Madagascar, Antananarivo offers a range of accommodation options, from luxury hotels to budget-friendly guesthouses. Staying in Tana allows you to explore attractions such as the Rova of Antananarivo (Queen's Palace), the Tsimbazaza Zoo, and the bustling markets. It's also a convenient base for visiting nearby national parks and reserves.

Budget Accommodations:

  • Hotel Sakamanga: Hotel Sakamanga offers budget-friendly accommodations in the heart of Antananarivo. The hotel features simple yet comfortable rooms, a restaurant serving local and international cuisine, and a bar with a lively atmosphere.

  • Ibis Antananarivo Ankorondrano: Ibis Antananarivo Ankorondrano provides affordable accommodations in a convenient location. Guests can stay in clean and cozy rooms, enjoy access to a restaurant serving international dishes, and relax in the hotel's lounge area.

Mid-Range Accommodations:

  • Hotel Colbert Spa & Casino: Hotel Colbert Spa & Casino offers comfortable mid-range accommodations near the city center. The hotel features modern rooms and suites, a spa offering massage treatments and sauna facilities, a casino, and multiple dining options.


Luxury Accommodations:

  • Carlton Hotel Madagascar: Carlton Hotel Madagascar is a luxurious five-star hotel located in the heart of Antananarivo. The hotel features elegant rooms and suites with modern amenities, a spa offering a range of treatments, a fitness center, and multiple dining options including a rooftop restaurant with panoramic views.

  • Hotel & Spa Palissandre: Hotel & Spa Palissandre offers upscale accommodations in a tranquil setting. The hotel features spacious rooms and suites with garden views, a spa offering massage treatments and wellness therapies, a swimming pool, and a restaurant serving gourmet cuisine.


Where To Stay In Nosy Be

Known as Madagascar's "Perfume Island," Nosy Be is a popular tourist destination located off the northwest coast of Madagascar. It offers beautiful beaches, coral reefs, and a laid-back atmosphere. Staying in Nosy Be allows you to enjoy water activities such as snorkeling, diving, and boat tours to nearby islands.

Budget Accommodations:

  • Le Grand Bleu Nosy Be: Le Grand Bleu Nosy Be offers budget-friendly accommodations in a relaxed atmosphere. The hotel features simple yet comfortable bungalows, a restaurant serving local and international cuisine, and a swimming pool.

  • Hotel Gerard et Francine: Hotel Gerard et Francine provides affordable accommodations near the beach. Guests can stay in clean and cozy rooms, enjoy access to a restaurant serving seafood dishes, and relax in the hotel's garden area.

Mid-Range Accommodations:

  • Nosy Be Hotel Concept Boutique Hotel & Spa: Nosy Be Hotel Concept Boutique Hotel & Spa offers comfortable mid-range accommodations with a touch of luxury. The hotel features stylish rooms and suites, a spa offering massage treatments and wellness therapies, and a restaurant serving gourmet cuisine.

  • Le Jardin Vanille: Le Jardin Vanille provides mid-range accommodations in a tropical garden setting. Guests can stay in well-appointed bungalows, enjoy access to a swimming pool, and dine at the hotel's restaurant specializing in Malagasy cuisine.

Luxury Accommodations:

  • Vanila Hotel & Spa: Vanila Hotel & Spa is a luxurious four-star hotel located near the beach. The hotel features elegant rooms and suites with modern amenities, a spa offering a range of treatments, multiple swimming pools, and several dining options including a beachfront restaurant.

  • L'Heure Bleue Nosy Be Beach Hotel: L'Heure Bleue Nosy Be Beach Hotel offers upscale accommodations in a stunning beachfront location. The hotel features luxurious rooms and suites with ocean views, a spa offering massage treatments and beauty therapies, and multiple dining options including a gourmet restaurant.


Where To Stay In Morondava

Located on the west coast of Madagascar, Morondava is known for its stunning Baobab Alley, a row of majestic baobab trees lining the dirt road. Staying in Morondava allows you to visit Baobab Alley at sunrise or sunset, as well as explore nearby attractions such as Kirindy Forest and the Avenue of the Baobabs.

  • Palissandre Cote Ouest Resort & Spa: This beachfront resort offers comfortable rooms, a swimming pool, and a spa. It's located near Baobab Alley and offers guided tours to nearby attractions such as Kirindy Forest.

  • Chez Maggie Hotel: Situated in the heart of Morondava, Chez Maggie Hotel offers simple rooms with garden views. The hotel features a restaurant serving Malagasy cuisine and is within walking distance of Baobab Alley.


Where To Stay In The Andasibe-Mantadia National Park

If you're interested in wildlife and nature, consider staying near Andasibe-Mantadia National Park, located in the eastern part of Madagascar. This park is home to a variety of unique flora and fauna, including the iconic Indri lemurs. Staying in the area allows you to explore the park's trails and participate in guided lemur-watching tours.

  • Vakona Forest Lodge: Located near Andasibe-Mantadia National Park, this lodge offers comfortable bungalows surrounded by lush forest. It's a great base for exploring the park's trails and participating in lemur-watching tours.

  • Mantadia Lodge: Situated in a secluded area near the park entrance, Mantadia Lodge offers rustic cabins with views of the surrounding rainforest. The lodge provides guided walks and night tours to spot nocturnal wildlife.


Where To Stay In Fort Dauphin (Tolagnaro)

Located in the southeastern part of Madagascar, Fort Dauphin offers beautiful beaches, lush rainforests, and diverse marine life. Staying in Fort Dauphin allows you to enjoy activities such as surfing, snorkeling, and hiking in nearby national parks like Nahampoana Reserve and Andohahela National Park.

  • Hotel Mahavelo: This beachfront hotel offers comfortable rooms, a swimming pool, and a restaurant serving fresh seafood. It's located near popular beaches such as Libanona Beach and offers activities such as surfing and snorkeling.

  • Hotel Le Dauphin: Situated in the city center, Hotel Le Dauphin offers simple rooms with city views. The hotel features a restaurant serving Malagasy and French cuisine and is within walking distance of local markets and attractions.


For hassle-free bookings, use platforms like Booking.com for competitive rates or Holiday Swap for unique homes worldwide. Ensure to book in advance, especially during peak seasons, and align your preferences with nearby activities such as surfing, snorkeling, or cultural exploration.


Madagascar’s winter months (July to September) are the busiest and it’s a good idea to book ahead during this time of year, particularly in popular destinations such as Nosy Be, Île Sainte Marie or Parc National des Tsingy de Bemaraha. Few hotels have official low-/high-season prices, although many offer discounts in quiet periods, notably during the rainy season (January to the end of March).

CHOOSE ANOTHER DESTINATION

GO

RECENT BLOG POSTS

PLAN YOUR TRIP

VISA SERVICES

Let iVisa take the pain out of travel planning and assist you with Electronic visas, Travel Authorizations, Visas on Arrival, and even Paper Visas. They can also help with Health Declarations and Embassy Registrations. If you're from the US, they also provide a One-Stop Shop to renew your Passport securely and error-free.

FLIGHTS
Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner or Momondo. These are our favorite flight search engines. They index other travel websites and airlines across the globe to easily find you the best deal.

ACCOMMODATION

Booking.com is our number one resource for researching and booking accommodation. In addition to Booking.com, we have found Agoda.com to consistently returns the cheapest rates in Southeast Asia. For longer stays, find unique homes worldwide on Holiday Swap, the most affordable travel platform that allows you to book homes anytime, anywhere in only a few clicks.

TRANSPORT

DiscoverCars.com is a leader in online car rental bookings; we compare car rental deals from many companies so that you can choose which is best for your trip. 12Go connects the world door-to-door, from transfers to flights, under the same user-friendly ticket.

INSURANCE
Travel insurance can protect you against unexpected illness, injury, theft, and cancellations.

 

Need more help to book your trip?
Check our complete resource page for all the best companies to use when you travel. You will only find the companies we use ourselves.

Please note that some of the links above may be affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you,

we may earn a commission if you end up making a purchase and the income goes to keeping the site ad free.

bottom of page