Antananarivo, also known as Tana, is the capital of Madagascar.
Antananarivo is the main entry point for Madagascar and travel to the capital is covered in the main Madagascar page.
Ivato Airport is the Antananarivo's major airport and it is serviced by Air Austral, Air Mauritius, Interair South Africa, and Air Madagascar. Arrival at the Ivato A irport in Tana is fairly scary for those used to US or European airports. First, you need to buy a visa using Euros or US dollars, and dealing with immigration folks, wherever they are, is always stressful. Once you get past baggage claim, the fun really starts as you are descended upon by a mass of "entrepreneurs" offering assistance with your luggage to the waiting taxis, in return for a gratuity of course. This may be helpful to some, but others may find the presence of the "Skycaps a la Tana" a little distracting as they try to change money at the airport bank (which you have to do, since the Madagascar Ariary is not a convertible currency).
There are three main methods of navigating the capital: taxi, bus and on foot. Most tourists tend to use taxis as they are very practical. Make sure you agree the rate with the driver before entering the taxi. Also, be aware that traffic tends to be heavy in Analakely (Antananrivo's center and busiest area) during typical rush hour times. If you are comfortable being squeezed onto a van with other people, the buses, or 'taxi be', are the most affordable form of transportation, with prices usually ranging from 1,000 fmg to 2,000 fmg (Compared to 25,000 fmg or more for a typical taxi ride). However, tourists are not usually familiar with taxi be routes. While the city is quite large, Analakely is fairly navigable on foot.
There's no point being kind about this - there really is no tourist infrastructure to speak of in Antananarivo - for some folks that is part of the attraction!
Rova (Queen's palace). A cab ride (or very long walk) from the hotel district, but be warned that it has been severely fire damaged by suspected arson in the late 1990s, and only the stone shell remains, together with some outbuildings, statues and a Chapel (the latter rebuilt with American money). In 2005 visitors were paying a small entry fee to a kiosk and then being semi-officially "hijacked" by native Tana guides (usually University students with good English or French) who give a good account of the Rova's features in return for a gratuity.
Prime Minister's Palace ,near the Rova. In 2005, the situation here was even more uncertain, the Palace appeared to be closed, but a freelance guide let visitors in and gave a comprehensive account of the historical artifacts which were on show, again in return for a gratuity.
Go to the open air markets for all of the crafts.
La Table de Mariette, 11 rue George-V-Faravohitra, ☎ + 261 20 22 216 02. This is a good choice for high quality Malagasy food. More expensive than many other restaurants.
Le Saint-Laurent, . Simple and cheap. Near historical monument.
The two best known accommodations in the capital are the Hilton and the Colbert (the latter pronounced like the Comedy Central show!). However, in addition to being well known, these hotels are quite expensive, especially relative to other accommodations.
Hotel Colbert, . French run, and situated close to the government ministries. Aid workers and French government folks will customarily stay there. There are old and new wings, the old wing is certainly inferior to the Hilton, the new wing on a par or better. The Colbert has a lovely spa, two restaurants and a coffee shop/patisserie. The efficient and knowledgeable staff will help you navigate the challenges of the city. 140 rooms.
Madagascar Hilton, . This hotel is a member of the Hilton group, and its website used to proclaim itself as the "only international standard hotel in Madagascar", but has now dropped this boast, presumably due to the new wing at the Colbert. The Hilton has good facilities, some rooms have nice views of the lake, and it is near the football (meaning soccer) stadium. The Hilton is the only high rise building in the nation (the Colbert rises to 8 or 9 stories in places) and therefore is the tallest building in Madagascar. If you want to avoid Tana, or at least have the option of taking a break from it, stay at the Hilton. US government workers etc will ordinarily stay at the Hilton. 170 rooms.
There is a lot of hustle and bustle but not really much for the casual tourist to do, and you run the gauntlet of aggressive beggars if you frequent the central shopping area. Also, due to the altitude, the capital is significantly colder than the coastal areas. Probably sensible to allocate no more than a couple of days to Tana.
Travel out of the capital is by two modes: road or air. Contrary to the main Madagascar article, as of 2005 there was no passenger rail service from the capital. Road transport is by bus to limited destinations, taxi-brousse (shared taxi) to a variety of destinations or by car rental (usually with driver). Air travel is the recommended method, due to the poor state of many roads, and Antananarivo is the hub city for the national carrier Air Madagascar. But of course air is more expensive. Recommended next stops are Morondava and/or Nosy Be.
This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!