Top choice in Madagascar

The oldest and most attractive part of town is the pedestrian Haute-Ville (known as Tanana Ambony in Malagasy). Utterly removed from the hustle of the rest of the town, the Haute-Ville feels more like a quiet hilltop village. It's famed for its architecture – two-storey brick houses with steep roofs, balconies and tumbling plants – which dates back to the late 19th and early 20th centuries. A stroll around the cobbled streets here offers great views of the town and surrounding countryside.

There are six churches on this small hill alone, including the imposing Ambozontany Cathedral. Many of the buildings in the Haute-Ville are in a bad state of repair – local association Fondation Heritsialonina is working to restore and promote the area's heritage. You'll see an information board about its mission on the main cobbled stairway through the Haute-Ville. Many locals will tell you that the Haute-Ville is a Unesco World Heritage Site. This is not true.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Madagascar attractions

1. Ambozontany Cathedral

0.03 MILES

This imposing red-brick cathedral is one of a number of churches in the historic Haute-Ville and is the one most used for services. It's at the bottom of…

2. Lac Anosy

0.44 MILES

Located below, and visible from, the Haute-Ville, this lake is surrounded by flowering trees and is a popular place for a stroll.

3. Zoma

0.75 MILES

Fianar is a market town, with at least one small market open every day. The largest is the Zoma, where you’ll find everything under the sun. It’s held…

4. Maromby

3.76 MILES

The monks at this monastery continue to do what they have done for centuries: make wine (red and white, and flavoured aperitifs) and honey (which you can…

5. Sahambavy Tea Estate

11.95 MILES

Established in 1969 and specialising in green teas, this is Madagascar's only tea plantation. Visits take you from the fields to the processing plant and…

6. Parc National Ranomafana

26.2 MILES

The Parc National Ranomafana is a steamy hothouse of jungle bio-diversity where the hum of insects of is ever present and the wail and squeal of a dozen…

7. Soalandy

26.27 MILES

Madagascar is home to an endemic species of silkworm, which feeds on tapia trees in the wild and whose cocoons are threaded and woven like 'conventional'…

8. Centre ValBio

26.31 MILES

This international training centre for the study of biodiversity is housed in attractive buildings on the edge of the national park. If you have any…