Just 160km south of Madagascar’s capital, the country’s cooler highlands cradle the small city of Antsirabe, offering a welcome respite from the humid coastal areas and bustling streets of Antananarivo. Known for its thermal springs, picturesque crater lake, array of restaurants, and its old-world mix of European and local architecture, this highland hub is a worthwhile stopover and weekend getaway for outdoor enthusiasts and gourmands alike.
Once the site of the Kingdom of Andrantsay in the 1600s, a Norwegian missionary station in the 1800s, and a weekend getaway under French colonial rule, today Antsirabe’s streets, restaurants, markets, and shops stand as a reflection of this colourful history. The city’s wide avenues are overrun with brightly painted rickshaws known as pousse-pousses and lined with restaurants and cafes serving different cuisines including Malagasy, French, and Italian. The Brasserie Star brewery and Chez Marcel sweet factory are worthwhile stops, as is a stroll through the humming Sabotsy Market.
The surrounding area is ideal for mountain-biking, hiking, horse-riding, and canoeing, and a cycle to the nearby crater lakes of Tritriva and Andraikiba is a must-do. The city is connected to the capital and other points of interest around Madagascar by road, while daily buses depart from Antananarivo.
- A soak in Antsirabe’s thermal baths will have visitors returning to the town’s European roots as a health spa retreat
- This part of Madagascar boasts a cooler climate and is easily accessed from the capital
- Surrounded by crater lakes making for intriguing and rewarding day trips
- Markets and award-winning restaurants serving all kinds of local and international cuisine
- Part of the Ankaratra volcanic field, the most volcanologically diverse field in Madagascar