Mogadishu (Somali: Muqdisho; Arabic: مقديشو Maqadīshū) is the official capital of Somalia and a major commercial city on the coast of Africa. Mogadishu was a major battleground in the Somali civil war, which ravaged the country from 1991 until 2012. Since then, the city has experienced a period of rapid reconstruction, including a brand new international airport, paved roads, new hotels, and embassies which have been financed by the Diaspora Somalis and the international community. Visiting Mogadishu is discouraged, but if you must travel there, you will find this guide extremely helpful.
A devastating civil war ruined this once beautiful city, leaving little but ruins. Beginning in 1991, various Islamist-, clan-, or warlord-affiliated militias had control over different parts of the city. In 2006, the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) took full control, implementing their harsh version of islamic law. That same year, Ethiopia sent in troops to liberate the country, which, with help from local resistance fighters, saw the UIC ousted and the reinstatement of the Western-backed Transitional Federal Government. When Ethiopian forces withdrew in 2009, the hard-line Islamist group al-Shabaab, formed from UIC militiamen, saw an opportunity. Al-Shabaab began gradually taking control over Mogadishu, leaving the government to control only a paltry few square blocks. A counter-offensive, supported by African Union and Kenyan 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 have 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.)
Flights arrive at Aden Adde International Airport, just a few kilometers southwest of the city center, facilities are good as 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.
African Express Airways  has services between Mogadishu and Abu Dhabi, Aden, Berbera, Bosaso, Dubai, Galkayo, Nairobi-Jomo Kenyatta, Riyan Mukalla, Sharjah, and Wajir.
Daallo Airlines  has services to Djibouti, stopping en route at Hargeisa.
East African  operates a weekly service from Nairobi on Sundays, the return flight stops in Wajir for security processing, before continuing on to Nairobi.
Turkish Airlines  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.
Although it is possible to drive into the city by truck, this is considered risky without employing a group of local militia, which are readily available for hire. Roads link the city with many Somali locales, as well as 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.
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.
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. Car-jackings at intersections are frequent, so avoid openly displaying anything that could be considered valuable. The terrorist group al-Shabaab operates in this region, therefore it is not advised to visit as a tourist.
Sightseeing solo is obviously dangerous in Mogadishu and is strongly discouraged. However, some interesting sites include the historic Mogadishu old town and the Mogadishu mosque.
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, Untamed Borders offers "bespoke trips and small group tours." Trip packages include all meals, security guards, and accommodations, but not flights.
Mogadishu Adventure specializes in tourism in Mogadishu. Standard tour covers Black Hawk Down Site, Liido Beach, Mogadishu Fish Market, Shanghai Old City, Jazeera Beach, Qat Market, Bakara Market and more. Mogadishu Adventure also arranges tourist visa, hotel (with WiFi), security units and meal plans for tourists. There will be 5 armed guards on each pick-up truck accompanying a maximum of 3 tourists.
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:
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, named for one of its first proprietors.
Most markets are a focus of on-going 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. These are probably the safest options for travelers. Nasa Hablod is in the breakaway region of Somaliland, which is said to be a safe haven in contrast to the rest of Somalia.
In Mogadishu, hotels have sprung up recently to accomodate the growing needs of travelers.
As of May 2017, the city remains 'extremely' dangerous and near suicidal for independent travelers. Armed warlords and Islamic militant factions still have a large presence in the city, and foreigners are a prime target. Do not wander the streets alone for any reason. Gunfire and random explosions are frequent. If you must venture around the city, you should be accompanied by armed and well trained security personnel and ride in an armored vehicle. These arrangements should be made in advance through private security and tactical firms which specialize in these types of environments. Most employers and governmental bodies that might send you here are well aware of the situation on the ground and will do their best to keep you safe, but your head must be on a swivel to your surroundings 24×7. Make 100% certain that any hotel accommodations that are made come with 24 hour private security, which is standard at most hotels in the city catering to foreigners. Even so, hotel bombings and suicide attacks are frequent.
Basic services such as electricity are not reliable many hours of the day, and you should not drink the water under any circumstances. Food and bottled drinks sold in the city may or may not be safe to consume either. Try to get the advice of another foreigner who has been in the city before, or follow the advice of your employer. Health and consular services are either limited or nonexistent.
In short, if you do not have an absolutely essential reason to go to Mogadishu, DO NOT DO IT! Independent travel will only get you killed, no matter how benevolent you think your intentions might be. Even if you do have a good reason, your employer or government can't make you risk your life, as even humanitarian aid workers are not safe in the city. Please do not become another statistic. You provide the country no benefit whatsoever by causing an international incident over your death or abduction.