One of the last major areas on Earth to be settled by humans, the natural beauty and ecological diversity of Madagascar makes it feel like a country forgotten by time.
Located off the eastern coast of Africa in the Indian Ocean, Madagascar is home to thousands of plant and animal species found nowhere else in the world. Madagascar’s extraordinary natural diversity has earned the country the nickname “the eighth continent”. From the iconic lemurs and baobab trees to the vibrant chameleons and intricate orchids, each step reveals the island’s remarkable and endemic treasures.
Beyond its spectacular wildlife, things to do in Madagascar also include exploring its diverse landscapes. Travelers can trek through lush rainforests, traverse spiny deserts, and marvel at limestone formations that defy imagination. At the same time, the intoxicating rhythms of traditional music, the delicious flavours of the local cuisine and the warm hospitality of the Malagasy people will captivate you.
Visit the top tourist attractions in Madagascar to discover for yourself the natural, cultural and historical diversity that is this country. You’ll instantly fall in love with it.
In this post, we'll cover:
12. Ranomafana National Park
Sprawling across the Vatovavy and Haute Matsiatra regions, stunning Ranomafana National Park boasts incredible biodiversity and breathtaking landscapes.
Located in southeastern Madagascar, the park’s name means ‘hot water’ in Malagasy. It refers to the numerous thermal springs – many of which are reputed to have curative powers – found in the adjacent town of Ranomafana.
Visiting Ranomafana National Park offers a chance to witness unique wildlife, including endangered species like the golden bamboo lemur and the elusive fossa. Exploring the well-maintained trails, you’ll encounter cascading waterfalls, picturesque streams, and diverse plant life that ranges from orchids to towering ferns.
Organised tours are mandatory at the park, with experienced guides educating tourists about its ecosystem and conservation efforts. But for a truly immersive experience, consider staying in nearby eco-lodges and participating in night walks to observe nocturnal creatures.
11. Tsingy Rouge Park
Tsingy Rouge Park presents one of the more unique and breathtaking sites in Madagascar.
Situated within the southwestern part of the island, it is renowned for its stunning red limestone formations, resembling a labyrinth of sharp peaks and spires.
A mesmerizing geological wonder, a visit to Tsingy Rouge Park provides a surreal and otherworldly experience. The rusty-red color of the towering limestone structures creates a striking contrast against the surrounding greenery. It is even more magnificent under a cerulean sky.
The park is home to various species of plants and animals who have adapted to this rugged environment, such as lemurs, reptiles, and different bird species.
Exploring the park’s intricate network of trails and bridges is best done with a local guide. They will navigate the challenging terrain and take you to lookouts that showcase tremendous panoramic views.
10. Lemurs’ Park in Antananarivo
You’ll want to head to Lemurs’ Park if you’ve never seen a Lemur.
Located near Antananarivo, the capital city of Madagascar, the park provides a safe and natural habitat for several species of this prosimian. Offering an educational and immersive experience, it allows visitors to observe these fascinating primates in a semi-wild environment.
Guided tours provide valuable insights into the animal’s behavior, their habitat’s ecological importance, and the park’s conservation efforts.
As you are led through the park’s lush vegetation, you’ll encounter lemurs of different species, including ring-tailed lemurs, brown lemurs, and sifakas. These playful and curious creatures often come close, offering an opportunity for unique and memorable interactions.
Aside from the primates, Lemurs’ Park also features botanical gardens with diverse endemic plant species, providing you with additional insights into Madagascar’s rich biodiversity.
Those wanting a serene and laid-back beach experience should head to Ifaty.
A charming village on the southwestern coast, the white sandy beaches of Ifaty provide a picturesque setting for sunbathing, swimming, and leisurely walks along the shore.
The most popular things to do in Ifaty are snorkeling and diving, as it contains diverse marine ecosystems surrounding the region’s coral reefs. They are home to a dazzling collection of colorful fish, turtles, and other fascinating sea creatures.
Beyond the beaches, Ifaty is a gateway to the nearby Reniala Nature Reserve, where visitors can explore the spiny forest, a distinct ecosystem characterized by peculiar flora and fauna. Guided walks in the reserve offer opportunities to encounter baobab trees, rare bird species, and even the endangered radiated tortoise.
8. Masoala National Park
Over on the northeastern coast of Madagascar, Masoala National Park is a magnificent tropical rainforest sanctuary that is one of the largest protected areas in the country.
Only accessible by boat through the Gulf of Antongil from Maroantsetra, the park encompasses pristine beaches, dense rainforests, and numerous other diverse marine ecosystems. It is home to several rare and endemic species, including the wonderfully named aye aye, the red-ruffed lemur, and the colorful helmet vanga bird.
The best chance of seeing them is by hiking through the lush forest trails. However, should you prefer your explorations to be underwater, the park is also home to magnificent coral reefs. Favoured by snorkelers and diving enthusiasts, you should see plenty of turtles among the marine life.
7. Andasibe-Mantadia National Park
Nestled on the island’s eastern side, Andasibe-Mantadia National Park is an enchanting destination.
As its name suggests, it comprises two sections: Andasibe and Mantadia. Both are renowned for their lush rainforests, unique fauna, and mesmerizing landscapes.
If you come here, you will be able to encounter the indri lemurs. The largest living lemurs are known for their distinctive calls and acrobatic leaps through the trees, which will captivate your attention.
Guided walks along well-maintained trails provide riveting experiences, allowing visitors to appreciate the park’s lush vegetation, towering trees, and spectacular, cascading waterfalls.
To enhance your experience, consider embarking on a night walk, where you can witness nocturnal creatures and listen to the symphony of the forest.
6. Royal Hill of Ambohimanga
If you are interested in the history and culture of Madagascar, visiting the Royal Hill of Ambohimanga is a fascinating and enriching experience.
Located just outside Antananarivo, this sacred hill is a significant cultural landmark that holds great importance as the former royal capital of the Merina Kingdom.
Offering a fascinating glimpse into Malagasy history and culture, it features ancient royal palaces, tombs, and traditional houses that showcase the architectural and artistic heritage of the region.
Travelers can also wander through its peaceful gardens, marvel at panoramic views of the surrounding landscape, and learn about the customs and traditions of the Merina people. The site also includes a museum where artifacts and exhibits provide insights into the kingdom’s history and rulers.
5. Isalo National Park
Isalo National Park is a true gem you should try to visit. Nestled in the southwestern part of Madagascar, the park features stunning landscapes, unique rock formations, and diverse wildlife.
Visiting here allows you to explore its vast canyons, deep gorges, and picturesque oasis-like pools. The park’s iconic sandstone rock formations also create a dramatic backdrop for hiking trails that lead to breathtaking viewpoints and areas with hidden waterfalls.
The park also has incredible flora and fauna, including lemurs, chameleons, and several colorful bird species. You may even spot the rare Benson’s rock thrush or the graceful ring-tailed lemur.
As in many of the country’s national parks, guides are required. Tours can be arranged to last as short as several hours or as long as several days.
4. Ile Sainte Marie
Sometimes referred to as Nosy Boraha, Ile Sainte Marie, is a stunning tropical paradise on the northeastern coast.
An idyllic island, it offers a fabulous blend of stunning beaches, crystal-clear waters, and a rich maritime history for visitors to enjoy.
Perfect for those wanting a tranquil escape from the mainland, its pristine white sandy beaches and swaying palm trees provide an excellent relaxing backdrop.
The island is a popular snorkeling, diving, and whale-watching destination. It is also steeped in history, as it was a notorious pirate haven in the past.
Exploring the remnants of pirate cemeteries and fortifications adds a touch of adventure to your visit. While the charming villages, where you can experience traditional customs and sample delicious seafood cuisine, provide a fabulous insight into the local Malagasy culture.
3. Avenue of the Baobab
The Avenue of the Baobab, located near Morondava in western Madagascar, is a picturesque and iconic destination showcasing the country’s unique baobab trees.
This stunning stretch of road is lined with majestic baobabs, creating a magical and ethereal atmosphere as you traverse it.
Blessing tourists with a mesmerizing experience, it is especially noteworthy during sunrise or sunset when the warm light bathes the trees in a golden glow. At this time, make sure you have your cameras ready. The towering baobabs’ distinctive silhouettes make for incredible photo opportunities and an unforgettable sight.
The avenue is also a gathering place for locals, who sell local handicrafts and fresh fruits along the road. It provides another glimpse into the local culture and an opportunity to interact with the friendly Malagasy people.
2. Tsingy de Bemaraha Reserve
If you want to visit somewhere with a wow factor, head to the Tsingy de Bemaraha Reserve. Located in western Madagascar, it offers a once-in-a-lifetime journey into a world of geological wonders and ecological diversity.
What makes the reserve such an appealing destination to visit is its unique karst limestone formations. They create an otherworldly landscape of towering pinnacles, deep canyons, and intricate stone forests that must be seen to be believed.
If you visit the reserve, you can explore its rugged terrain through trails and suspension bridges. They enable you to admire the vast expanse of limestone needles, navigate narrow paths, and marvel at the spectacular scenery.
For those with a naturally adventurous spirit, there are exciting opportunities for rock climbing and caving within the reserve.
1. Nosy Be
Nosy Be is the perfect destination for those wanting a tropical escape, combining natural beauty with warm hospitality and a relaxed island atmosphere.
Set just off the northwest coast of Madagascar, this tropical paradise possesses stunning beaches, sparkling turquoise waters, and lush forests.
Sunbathing, swimming and relaxing should be high on the agenda here. However, if you enjoy scuba diving and snorkeling, the surrounding coral reefs are home to a vibrant underwater world. You can expect to see colorful fish, sea turtles, and even dolphins.
The island is also renowned for its aromatic spices, particularly ylang-ylang and vanilla. Whilst there, you can visit several plantations to learn about the production processes and enjoy the delicious scents and flavors they produce.