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.