Top ChoiceSeafood in Massawa

Sallam Restaurant

It doesn't look like much from the outside and even worse inside, but this place is the culinary gem of Massawa. Here you can relish the Yemeni-style fresh fish sprinkled with hot pepper and baked in a tandoori...

Palace in Massawa

Imperial Palace

Overlooking the harbour just north of the gates of the Dahlak Hotel is the Imperial Palace, the original iteration of which was built by the Turkish Osdemir Pasha in the 16th century. The present building dates...

Historic Building in Massawa

House of Mammub Mohammed Nahari

The ancient House of Mammub Mohammed Nahari was built with magnificent soaring Ottoman-style windows on every side. Unfortunately they are particularly decrepit and, like the rest of the house, seem ready to...

Island in Massawa

Green Island

Green Island is 10 to 20 minutes from Massawa and is the most accessible place for decent snorkelling and tolerable beaches. It's certainly no Bora Bora, but it can make an excellent retreat if you need some hush...

Historic Building in Massawa

Hotel Savoiya

As you come over the causeway from Taulud Island, a broad sweep of white, arcaded palazzi (palaces) stretches out before you. On the corner you'll see the Hotel Savoiya with its long gallery. Start your...

Mosque in Massawa

Sheikh Hanafi Mosque

At the centre of the Piazza degli Incendi (meaning 'Square of the Fire', after it was the scene of a great fire in 1885) is the Sheikh Hanafi Mosque. At over 500 years old, this mosque is one of the oldest...

Historic Building in Massawa

House of Abu Hamdum

A remarkable example of Turkish Ottoman architecture with its mashrabiyya (trellised) balcony, which allowed cool breezes to enter and the air inside to circulate, the House of Abu Hamdum is almost crumbling and...

Architecture in Massawa

Coral-Block House

At the port entrance, this is a good example of a 17th-century house constructed of coral-block, which for centuries was the preferred local building material. The house is currently in use as a Customs office,...

Teahouse in Massawa


On the Piazza degli Incendi, across from the Sheikh Hanafi Mosque, this little teashop (and the few others that surround it) stays constantly busy with local traffic. Serving tea and a few simple dishes, it's a...

Seafood in Massawa

Seghen Restaurant

In the same colonnaded arcades that house the Hotel Savoiya, the outdoor seating here is popular for breakfast and dinner when the mercury is manageable. There's a range of cuisines on the menu, but you'll do...

Historic Building in Massawa

Banco d'Italia

On the far end of the northern coastal road from the causeway, you'll see the Banco d'Italia, a ramshackle copy of the 1920s original and a mishmash of styles, including Gothic windows and towers. Unfortunately,...

Historic Building in Massawa

Old Railway Station

Built during the Italian occupation, the columns and elegant facade look completely abandoned from the front but a wander inside reveals that several local families have taken up residence. Stick to the main...

Square in Massawa


A huge square lined on all sides by houses with trellised balconies, finely carved wooden doors, and shutters of Turkish or Egyptian origin. Local families cook and socialise here around dusk, making it a...

Memorial in Massawa

War Memorial

At the foot of the mainland causeway is the massive monument to the Eritrean Struggle for Independence. Three huge tanks stand on a black marble base where they were stopped in the final assault on the town on 11...

Historic Building in Massawa

Turkish House

In a square beside the Banco d'Italia is a rare example of a Turkish house with a domed roof, now partially restored and serving food and drinks out of a small cafe on the ground floor.

Cathedral in Massawa

St Mariam Cathedral

Opposite the end of the causeway from the mainland is the Orthodox St Mariam Cathedral. While the building is lovely and the artwork speaks to the devotion of the local congregation, erratic hours make it...

Supermarket in Massawa

Shismay Supermarket

One of the only remaining operations of the many that once worked as ship's chandlers for the port of Massawa. The hours are erratic and the selection limited, but it's still the biggest shop this side of the...

Islamic Tomb in Massawa

Tomb of Sheikh Durbush

Though the identity of Sheikh Durbush is lost to time, the tomb is thought to date back to the 16th century. It's sometimes possible to ask at the small mosque next door if the gate to the tomb can be opened.

Mosque in Massawa

Shaafi Mosque

Founded in the 11th century but rebuilt several times since, the decorated coral-block facade of this mosque just south of the Banco d'Italia ruins is worth a quick look.

Market in Massawa

Covered Bazaar

Though now reflecting little of its former glory, the ancient roof of this market – in the Turkish style – was beamed like an upturned boat; there are plans to rebuild it, but no clear indication of when that...