The Highlands | The North | The East | The South | The West


What to see and do  |  Guided tours  |  Where to sleep  |  Where to eat  |  Nightclubs  | Shopping  |  Transportation  |  Practical guide  |  Useful addresses

Old photograph of Fianarantsoa © Bibliothèque universitaire
Fianarantsoa, is an old royal city which became in 1830 administrative capital of the region under the colonial power. The name Fianarantsoa means "the place where one can learn something good” and was given by Queen Ranavalona 1st honouring the many academic institutions and reputed schools that are based here and which justify its reputation as the academic, intellectual and religious capital of the country it has the largest number of churches per square metre of the country). Like in Tana, old houses were in general built in the hills and the new ones were built in the valleys. The old upper town, the new town, where most shops are located and the train station district constitute the core of a city that has become almost unavoidable for any traveller heading to the South.

What to see and do

A city walk tour starts usually at the train station, where every morning gemstone handlers join here to make their lucrative deals. From here just follow the Rue Ampasambazaha, where most shops, restaurants and hotels are located, until the Market Area, where you can admire some fine examples of colonial architecture. To get to the upper town, you can get onto a taxi-be (no 22). The minarets of the big mosque remind visitors of far Arabia. Anatirova is the old historic centre formerly occupied by the Betsileo Rova called Ivœnava (where the dead are hidden). From here you can enjoy a nice panoramic view on the city below

On the western part of the city you eyes will be caught by the view of Kianjasoa hill (1374 m) with a big statue of the Virgin Mary and her son. The hill was used long time as a fortification to contain the military incursions of the Merina and Tanala tribes.  Kianjasoa means “the court of Isoa”. A legend tells us that “one day, while children played on the square, a child hit the son of a prince; furious, the Prince moaned the child and asked him: "Why did you hit Isoa if this court belongs to him

Fianarantsoa old town
Fiana´s old town has been included in 2008 on the World Monument Watch List of the 100 most endangered sites worldwide.
  © Madagascar Travel Guide

Cultural events

Between May and September traditional Betsileo folk festivals are annually held.

The Tolon'omby is a traditional Betsileo bull fight more similar to a Western rodeo than to a Spanish-style bull fights. Instead of riding the zebu (“omby”) the goal is to run into the centre of the pen, catch it by the hump and try to pull it to the ground.

  • Sahambavy

This small town lies about 23 km on the railway from Fianarantsoa to Manakara. Its main attraction is the Sahambavy Lake, nested at the foot of a hill, Lac Hôtel with a breathtaking view on the island unique tea plantation (520 hectares) which spread out as far as the eye can see. The plantation of tea was initiated here in the late 70s and it offers today a free guided tour which explains visitors the manufacturing procedure of tea. The beautiful landscape with the charming lake is the perfect destination for a relaxing weekend which can even be accessed by the train heading to Manakara (better reserve a seat in the first class wagon when buying your tickets, since the train gets already pretty full when departing Fianaratsoa).  

  • Hikes

In the immediate surroundings of Fianar (as the city is commonly referred to by its inhabitants) there are a couple of interesting destinations which invite the traveller to a pleasant hike far away of the beaten track. Here we will present you some of them:

  • Ampamaherana Forest station

Located some 30 km this reforestation centre invites you to a pleasant hiking.  Follow the road from Antananarivo to the Forgeot station (7 km) and then turn onto the road on the right going parallel the railway.

  • Rock of Alakamisy-Ambohimaha (26 Km)

Huge rock on which inscriptions in Arabic that carved around the fourth century.

  • Fanjakana (60 Km)

From a 1392 m altitude, this point offers a magnificent view over a radius of 50 km. Take the road to Isorana (RN 42) and then Ikalamavony turning to the right to Fanjakana.

  • Vineyards

Fianarantsoa is also known as the capital of wine. Excellent red and white wines are produced in the terraced vineyards surrounding the town. The most famous is the one produced by a large association of vine-farmers called Lazan'i Betsileo. Maromby (four km on the North) is a small, peaceful village in the vicinity of vineyards, where wine can be bought at the monastery.

winery Fianarantsoa
Winery worker
© Madagascar Travel Guide

Fianarantsoa is the gate to the Isalo National Park and the Ranomafana national park

Guided tours

La maison des guides "Coeur Malgache"
Lot 10 D, Beravina
Tel: + 261 20 75 517 30 Mobile: + 261 (0) 32 40 568 56
e-mail: coeurmalague@hotmail.com
The love story of Antoine Pénisson with Madagascar began in October 2001 when he spent here two months. After a fund raising campaign in France he decided to create the Malagasy Heart Association, in order to generate jobs locally.  Antoine organized this voluntary association since April 2004. The goal: promote sustainable development. The praiseworthy initiative comprises now a creamery, an embroidery and a training centre for mountain guides.
Besides buying cheese, you can take part in tours guided by students and professional guides or even go to a tour to Andringitra and Isalo parks.

Marao Madatouring
Mobile: + 261 (0) 32 04 064 95
e-mail: aurelienmada@yahoo.fr
Web: http://www.maraomada.com
The 32 year-old Aurélien is already a high reputable guide leading a tourism company with four other men for nine years so far. Their offer includes multi-day excursions to the rainforest, visits of tea plantations, a two-day-dugout trip on the Mahatsiatra,

Association des guides Chez Dom
Mobile: + 261 (0) 33 14 572 87
Email: rakange@yahoo.fr
Web: www.madagascar-moratours.com
Angelo Rakotonirina is the leader of this tour company based in Fianarantsoa. His main objective is to help people know more about our country and especially, to help Malagasy understand the need to preserve our natural forests. He organises traditional dugout trips on the Mahatsiatra (discovering waterfalls, villages, rice fields, tea plantations) and visits of all surrounding national parks (Ranomafana, Andringitra, Isalo).

Where to sleep
(Hotels in alphabetical order, prices from 2013)

Budget   |   Middle class   |    High end   |    In the countryside

Budget accommodations 
between 6 € and 10 €

Lot ID 18, Isaha
Tel: + 261 (20) 75 519 15
Mobile: + 261 (0) 33 12 342 42
Small hotel with only three rooms available from Ar 25,000, all nicely decorated with bamboo furniture. The restaurant is located in the living room. A very pleasant and friendly homestay with probably the best value for money within this price category. Reservations absolutely essential, given the small number of rooms. Camping possible for 9,000 Ar.

Hôtel Arinofy
Quartier Ivory, BP 1426
Tel: + 261 (20) 75 506 38
Quiet hotel located outside the centre. The place is clean and tidy along with a restaurant of its own. The magnificent scenic view of Fianarantsoa is nice so try to obtain a room upstairs.
Double with common facilites: Ar 23,000, double with en-suite bath: Ar 27,000

Mini Croq
Phone: + (261) 75 907 68
Mail: mini.croq@yahoo.fr
Functional, clean and pretty comfortable hotel with private parking and interesting views over the city. Not bad for the price.
Double room between 17,000 and 30,000 Ar with shared or private facilities, familiar room up to 5 people for 40,000 Ar

Espace Mahavantana
Tel: + 261 (0) 32 02 395 33
Five rooms à Ar 20,000 (with common facilities) located in the interior of a beautiful traditional house with a very pleasant garden.Its main contra: the many less attractive buildings around deprive some privacy and spoil the views. However, shortly budgeted will appreciate the low fares.

Middle-class accommodations 
10 – 25 €

Hotel Cotsoyannis
4 Rue du Prince Ramaharo – Ampasambazaha BP 1229
Tel: + 261 20 75 514 72
Mobile: + 261 (0) 32 40 209 86
e-mail : cotso@malagasy.com
Web: http://www.hotel.cotsoyannis.mg
Located in the city centre, in the shopping district, near the train station and the taxi-brousse stop. All 21 rooms with bathroom, hot water and toilets overlook a flowered patio where guests can have lunch or a drink in a nice environment. Rooms prices from 24 to 33 € for a double and 43 € the family room. Good value!

Hotel Mahamanina
Tel: + 261 20 75 521 11 / 75 502 50
e-mail: hotel-mahamanina@moov.mg
Well maintained, small unpretentious hotel with a wide choice of rooms for all budgets. The rooms, which are named for precious stones, are nearly all different. Reasonably priced home stay with breakfast included in the price.
Double rooms between Ar 35,000 and Ar 39,000 and triple rooms for 50,000 Ar

Hotel Soratel
Immeuble Sorako B.P. 1335 Ampasambazaha
Tel: + 261 (20) 75 516 66
Mail: contact@soratel.com
Web: http://www.soratel.com
Three stars hotel, inaugurated in 1998, offers 26 spacious rooms of international standard. All rooms are fitted with carpet and equipped with a bathroom or a shower-room (warm water, hair dryer), a TV, phone and refrigerator. The price includes breakfast. Good choice!
Double room for 40,000 Ar, triple for 52,000 Ar, familiar room for 57,000 and studio with kitchen for 69,000 Ar 

Hotel Tomsontsoa
B.P 1150 Fianarantsoa 301 - Madagascar
Tel: +261 20 75 514 05
e-mail : contact@hotel-tombontsoa.com
Web: www.hotel-tombontsoa.com
Located in the heart of the city, this hotel has targeted more business people. It has a pool nestled in beautiful landscaped gardens, a tennis court and sauna. Rooms are spacious, fitted with large panoramic windows, TV and en-suite baths.
Doubles from Ar 34,000 in the low season.

Maison d'Hôtes Vala
Ville Haute
Mobile: + 261 (0) 32 43 635 98
Mail: vala.house@yahoo.fr
A beautiful hotel with magnificent views on the city from the terrace. The rooms are comfortable and welcomig, the bathrooms are shared. Doubles from Ar 34,000 to 56,000.

Soafia Hôtel
Zorozoroana Ambalakisoa BP 1022
Tel/Fax: + 261 (20) 75 503 53  / + 261 (20) 75 505 53
e-mail: contact@soafia-hotel.com
Web: http://www.soafia-hotel.com
Standard tourist class establishment with 83 air-conditioned, spacious rooms all comfort, bathroom, TV, telephone and fridge. The hotel also provides a restaurant, sauna, gym, a banquet and a conference room. The cuisine is Malagasy, French and Chinese. The patisserie offers a tasteful bread and croissants. 
Single rooms for 26 €, double for 34 €, familiar for 52 € and studios for 55 €.

Maison d´Hotes Peniela
Ville Haute
Tel: + 261 (0) 32 40 486 56
e-mail: peniela.house@yahoo.fr
A beautiful traditional house, offering comfortable and a little austere rooms with character. Recommendable stay with fair prices (Ar 35,000 for a double room and 70,000 for four people).

Zomatel Hotel
Place du Zoma, 301 Fianarantsoa
Tel/Fax: +261 (20) 75 507 97  / +261 (20) 75 513 76
e-mail: zomatel@zomatel.com
Web: www.zomatel-madagascar.com
Just a step away from downtown Fianarantsoa this popular hotel among tourist groups offer 34 rooms with en-suite facilities, AC, minibar and satellite TV. Its restaurant, "L' Entrecôte du Zoma", is supposed to be one of Fianarantsoa's best restaurants, and offers a Malagasy, European, Asian and Indian cuisine.
Prices for a single room 18 €, double room 32 €, triple for 39 €, familiar 52 € and apartment for 64 € 

Upper-class accommodations 

Tsara Guesthouse
BP 1373
Tel/Fax: + 261 (20) 75 502 06   Fax:  + 261 (20) 75 512 09
e-mail: tsaraguest@tsaraguest.com
Web: www.tsaraguest.com
A charming and small hotel, compounded by old traditional buildings of the highlands just below the upper city. The principal house is a restored church. Rooms are refined and nicely decorated but not as spacious as the previous address. From the small garden guests can enjoy a superb view on the upper town. In short: a very chick hotel with a formal ambiance. Besides the more luxury option (doubles between 32 and 53 €, suites between 55 and 64 €) the hotel also offers accommodation with shared facilities between 38,000 and 43,000 Ar depending on the season.

Accommodations in the countryside

Lac Hôtel
Sahambavy Fianarantsoa II, 301
Tel/Fax: (+261 20) 75 518 73 / (+261 20) 75 519 06
e-mail : lachotel@moov.mg
Web: www.lachotel.com
This luxury hotel is magnificently located at the bank of the Lake Sahambavy with breathtaking views on the island unique tea plantation (520 hectares). It offers comfortable rooms located in charming and typical bungalows of Malagasy style, scattered in a tropical garden. Meals are served in a panoramic restaurant on edge of the lake. Many outdoor activities offered. An absolutely wonderful location for a couple of stress-free days.
15 double bungalows for  23 €, 12 triple for 30 € and 2 familiar for 32 €  

Tea plantation Fianarantsoa
Tea plantation in Sahambavy

Where to eat

Hotely Gosena
Tel: (+ 261 20) 75 516 16
Located 200 m up the street from Tsara, this is surely the best snack bar of the city. Good choice of pasta, soups, pastries and sandwiches. Ideal for tight budgets.

L´Ancre D´Or
Phone: + (261) 20 75 508 15
Central located not far from the train station, this restaurant prepares very good Malagasy specialities. Friendly atmosphere, a good place to have a beer!

Espace Relax
Popular bar-restaurant serving pizzas, local and international meals at good prices. Karaoke on Friday nights!

Le Panda
Tel: (+ 261 20) 75 505 69
Very close to Cotsoyannis Hotel. A good choice with wild duck, crocodile and mushrooms specialities. The cuisine is extraordinary tasteful and the prices fair. Good choice!

Chez Dom
Lot 92 D-3601, Ampasambazaha
Correct kitchen and very popular with tourists who often full the place. Intenet conection.


Espace Moulin Rouge (ex Mada Club)
At the northern city entrance from Antananarivo.

Disco at the Soafia Hotel
Mainly Malagasy clients


Laboratoire Pierrot Men
BP 1199
Tel: (+ 261 20) 75 500 23

Shop at the Soafia Hotel
In the Soafia Hotel shopping friends will be surely delighted with the many postcards, posters and calendars printed with the photographic motifs by Pierrot Men, one of the most acknowledged Madagascar’s photographers.


By plane

Air Madagascar
Tel: (+ 261 20) 75 508 77
Fianar is connected twice per week  with Tana.

By bus

Buses from Tana leave the capital around 8 pm and arrive at around 5 am Fianaratsoa. Expect to pay around Ar 17.000 for a single way.
For Manakara or Mananjary fares cost approximately Ar 15,000 to 12,000 for a night journey (departures in the evening).

Moving around by taxi

A single fare will cost you around Ar 2000 during the day, and Ar 2500 at night.

By train

train Fianarantsoa to Manakara train Fianarantsoa to Manakara
     Train ride from Fianarantsoa to Manakara © Madagascar Travel Guide

The train ride from Fianarantsoa to Manakara is an experience not to be missed. This spectacular route, which is also one of the steepest of the world, links the highland city of Fianarantsoa with the east coast town of Manakara crossing through 67 bridges and 48 tunnels. It offers some magnificent views as it descends the escarpment to the east. Closed for a time, then reopened, big efforts are being made now to restore the rail and make the journey an indisputable tourist attraction for the region. Nevertheless, if you would like to embark on this adventure, take plenty of time, since the ride with a speed of 20-35 km/hour takes 8-12 hours to make the trip. A tip: to Manakara, left seats offer a better view. From Manakara: choose better the right aisle.

You can see more detailed information about this train ride, timetables and prices on our section: Getting around by train

Practical guide


Bd. P. Tsiranana, Tsianolondroa
Tel/Fax: (+ 261 20) 75 505 52 / (+ 261 20) 75 513 30
It accepts Visa cards. Western Union point.

Tel: (+ 261 20) 75 506 28
Mo-Fr 8 am - 11 am and 2 pm - 4 pm

Tel: (+ 261 20) 75 501 50
It accepts MasterCard


You can find Internet access and public telephone at the main post office next to the train station.

Useful addresses

Tel: (+ 261 20) 75 512 74
e-mail: angapfnr@moov.mg

Police station
Tel: (+ 261 20) 505 82