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Travel Warning WARNING: There is a high threat from terrorism, including kidnapping, throughout Somalia, excluding Somaliland. Terrorist groups have made threats against Westerners and those working for Western organizations. It is known that there is a constant threat of terrorist attacks in Mogadishu. The city also remains in great danger of suicide bombings and other terrorist attacks carried out by extremists who manage to get past security checkpoints around the city. Walking the streets of Mogadishu remains very dangerous, even with armed guards. Tourists are emphatically discouraged from visiting Mogadishu for the time being, while business travelers should take extreme caution and make thorough plans for any trips. Travel outside Mogadishu remains extremely dangerous and should be avoided at all costs. Those working for aid agencies should consult the security plans or advice of your organization.
Mogadishu in 2006

Mogadishu (Somali: Muqdisho; Arabic: مقديشو‎ Maqadīshū) is the official capital of Somalia, a major battleground of the civil war which has ravaged the country since 1991.


A devastating civil war has ruined this once beautiful city for almost twenty years now, leaving little but ruins. Since 1991, various Islamist and/or clan or warlord-affiliated militias have had control over different parts of the city. A few months of relief were given in 2006 when the Union of Islamic Courts took full control. However, Somalia was invaded by Ethiopia just six months later, which in turn led to the reinstatement of the Western-backed Transitional Federal Government. The hard-line Islamist group al-Shabaab saw an opportunity and began gradually taking control over Mogadishu until the government only controlled a paltry few square blocks. A counter-offensive, supported by African Union troops, cleared the city of militants in August 2011. Bombings and shootings are still commonplace, but open warfare has ceased for now. A major shortage of food and thousands of refugees put enormous stress on the few government offices that are able to function. (This does not include Somaliland, which is an autonomous region in the north of Somalia. Somaliland is currently peaceful, and has been for the past 24 years. Somaliland has its own government and is said to be the most stable part of Somalia, despite not being internationally recognized.)

Get in[edit]

By air[edit]

Flights arrive at Aden Adde International Airport, just a few kilometers southwest of the city center, facilities are very basic, but the Turkish government has put up funds to renovate the airport and its security, control tower, and navigation systems. A few passenger flights are available.

Jubba Airways [1], the only Somali-based carrier, has services from Dubai, Jeddah, Nairobi, Djibouti, as well as domestically from Hargeisa and several other cities.

African Express Airways [2] has services between Mogadishu and Abu Dhabi, Aden, Berbera, Bosaso, Dubai, Galkayo, Nairobi-Jomo Kenyatta, Riyan Mukalla, Sharjah, and Wajir.

Daallo Airlines [3] has services to Djibouti, stopping en route at Hargeisa.

East African [4] operates a weekly service from Nairobi on Sundays, the return flight stops in Wajir for security processing, before continuing on to Nairobi.

Turkish Airlines [5] now offers a twice-weekly service from Istanbul via Khartoum or Djibouti. Flights depart Atatürk Airport on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Round trip fares start at €430. Qatar Airways is to start flights to Mogadishu soon.

By road[edit]

It is possible to drive into the city by truck, but this is considered risky, unless you employ a group of local militia, which are readily available for hire. Roads link the city with many Somali locales and with Kenya and Ethiopia. Armed guards, hired security forces, and experienced guides are all necessary for a safe entry. The risk of being injured, killed or captured is extremely high.

By boat[edit]

Small cargo ships regularly leave from the Old Harbor of Mombasa for Mogadishu. Speak with the security officers at the gate of this port and they will negotiate a fare with the captain. The journey will take from two to five days, depending on conditions. The sea is rough in July and August, requiring lengthier travel. Arriving by boat is risky, as there is the strong possibility of being attacked by pirates, though the port area is relatively secure.

Get around[edit]

Roads are muddy during rain, traffic lights do not operate, and there are no enforced traffic laws or public transport, although the road network in Mogadishu is slowly being repaired and paved. A vehicle with a driver and armed guards is a must. Break-ins at intersections are frequent, so avoid openly displaying anything that could be considered valuable. The terrorist group al-Shabaab operate in this region; therefore, it is not advised to visit as a tourist.


Sightseeing is obviously extremely dangerous in Mogadishu, and is strongly discouraged. However, some interesting sites include the historic Mogadishu old town and the Mogadishu mosque.

Mogadishu mosque during the Eid festival


Visitors are encouraged to stay inside for the duration of their stay. The chances of theft and/or assault are extremely high while walking around the city.

Tours: It is not recommended to move around in Mogadishu without security guards. Untamed Borders arranges guided tours to Mogadishu, offering the chance to see the capital city’s Italian colonial architecture, markets and beaches, as well as the sites of the Battle of Mogadishu (as dramatised in the film Black Hawk Down). According to their website, offers 'bespoke trips and small group tours'. Their trips include all meals, security guards and accommodation but not flights.


The Mogadishu University is a non-governmental university that is governed by the Board of Trustees and the University Council. Admission requirements for the University as listed on their website include:

  • Original secondary school certificate, plus one copy
  • Birth certificate
  • Certificate of good conduct
  • 12 identification photos, 6x4 cm
  • Completed application form
  • Payment of the registration fee
  • Passing of written and oral entrance examinations

Benadir University was founded in 2002 with the intention to train doctors, but has expanded into other fields.


The Bakaara Market (Suuqa Bakaaraha) is an open market and the largest of its kind in Somalia. Created in late 1972 during the reign of Siad Barre, its original purpose was to allow proprietors to sell daily essentials, but the civil war subsequently created demand for arms and ammunition. Everything from pistols to anti-aircraft weapons are being sold here. Falsified documents are also readily available, such as forged Somali, Ethiopian and Kenyan passports. This illicit submarket is known as Cabdalle Shideeye after one of its first proprietors.

Most markets and are a focus of ongoing arms control efforts for the disarmament of Somalia. Marketplaces should be considered hazardous not only because of their content and the presence of unsavory characters, but also due to the fact that they have caught fire several times in the last few years.


International cuisine can be found at Nasa Hablod Restaurant inside Hotel Nasa Hablod and at the Sahafi Hotel, and these are probably the safest options for travelers. Nasa Hablod is in the break away region of Somaliland, which is said to be a safe haven in contrast with the rest of Somalia.


  • Abdille Nuradin's Bar, (In front of the STN Tele Comp). Opening Time 8AM/6PM. 10 shln per drink.  edit


Mogadishu old town
  • Hotel Nasa-Hablod (Local script), Km 4 square, Mogadishu (2 Km from International Airport), +25261858440 (, fax: +25262215943), [6]. Restaurant, meeting rooms, safe box, TV, Internet access, air conditioning.  edit
  • Hotel Shamo, Address. Large rooms, air conditioned, Wi-Fi and electricity 24 hours a day. The restaurant is decent, and serves lobster when it is available at the fish market. The hotel is also relatively safe. From $129.  edit
  • Sahafi Hotel, Address. One of the best hotels in Mogadishu. The manager is very helpful, the staff is attentive, and the food is good. Although the compound is probably your safest bet in Mogadishu, a BBC producer was shot in the back and killed in front of the hotel in 2005, and two French citizens were abducted by gunmen in 2009.  edit
  • Safari Hotel, Km 4 (5 min walk from Shamo Hotel), [7]. The hotel is situated at the heart of Mogadishu and it is easily accessible owing to its proximity to the road. In addition, you get easy access to health care from the Banadir hospital, which is nearby. It has international standards of hospitality, and security has allegedly never been compromised. No bombs, kidnappings, assassinations have ever been documented in this hotel. The hotel's proximity to the Aden Ade International Airport which is just 15 minutes away makes it ideal, especially if you are taking a flight that leaves early in the morning.  edit
  • Villa Rose Guest House (Hotel), Via Sheikh Mukaram (Close to the Villa Somalia), +252619771111, [8]. checkin: 07:00; checkout: 12:00. Security, escort, restaurant, cafeteria, airport drop-off and pickup. Cable TV, Internet, laundry, business center. 200 USD. (Alinclsive,) edit
  • Amira Castle Hotel, KM5, Mogadishu, Somalia (Close to Ministry of Foreign Affairs.).  edit

Stay Safe[edit]

While significant improvements have been made in the time period from August 2011 to summer 2012, the city remains extremely dangerous for independent travel. Petty theft and violent crime remains a significant threat in a city which has effectively been in a state of war for nearly two decades, and is full of unemployed people with few possessions. Any white person and most other foreigners are thus regarded as wealthy and a target for crime. Do not wander the streets alone for any reason. If you must venture around the city, you should be accompanied by hired guards and a ride in, preferably, an armored car. Smash and grab break-ins are possible in unarmored vehicles. With the security situation improved, there are likely to be new hotels opening. Make sure yours has armed guards 24/7, and do not trust your valuables to be left alone in your room.

Basic services such as electricity are not reliable, and you should not drink the water. Food and bottled drinks sold in the city may or may not be safe to consume. Try to get the advice of another foreigner who has been in the city before. Health services are limited.

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