Just about the only way to get to Madagascar is by plane, flying to the Ivato airport, about 15km north of Antananarivo. The best way to get to Antananarivo is to fly from one of the major African cities offering several connecting flights per week, mainly Johannesburg in South Africa and Nairobi in Kenya (tickets costing under US $700 for either route).
Another option is to fly from, or via, the islands of Mauritius or Réunion (tickets under US $500). This is a good option for travellers coming to Antananarivo from many main hubs in Asia, Europe or Australia, where there are no direct flights available. Exceptions are direct flights to Antananarivo from Paris and Bangkok. There are less conventional ways to reach Madagascar, travelling by cargo ship, private boat or yacht, but as you can well-imagine these are not quick or easy options.
For getting around in Antananarivo, you can take the cheap yet crowded public minibus taxis (taxi-be) or registered private taxis (the beige ones being the official taxis) at relatively reasonable rates. There are also plenty of buses operating in Antananarivo and between Antananarivo and the rest of Madagascar.
Ivato International Airport, also known as Antananarivo International Airport, is situated about 15km's from Antananarivo, Madagascar's capital city. This is Madagascar's largest airport, serving as the main hub for Air Madagascar, which operates domestic and international flights.
Other airlines offering flights to and from Antananarivo's international airport include Air France (Paris-Antananarivo), Kenya Airways (Nairobi-Antananarivo) and Airlink (Johannesburg-Antananarivo). Many international flights travel via major African hubs and the islands of Mauritius or Réunion, with regional flights operating between Antananarivo and Mauritius on Air Mauritius, as well as Réunion with Air Austral.
Arriving at Ivato Airport, travellers can choose between a moderately-priced shuttle bus, cheap minibus taxi, more expensive private taxis or renting a car. The shuttle buses run regularly (every 45 minutes) from early morning until about 20:00, while the private taxis can be hailed outside the airport at all hours. The public mini-bus taxis are affordable, but crowded and often take less direct routes with multiple stops along the way.
Take an informative guided tour of these botanical gardens near Antananarivo, you can see nine species of lemurs (the most famous of Madagascar's inhabitants), along with chameleons, birds, turtles, plants and butterflies.
While in Antananarivo, visit the Ambohimanga Palace, the Queen's Palace Ruins (Rova) on Analamanga Hill and Prime Minister's Rainilaiarivony's Palace (Andafiavaratra) on Ravelojaona Street.
Ambohimanga is one of the scared hills of Imerina, featuring an old city and sacred sites. The Queen's Palace is set on the highest of the 12 sacred hills, offering panoramic views over Antananarivo and the other hills of the city. The Andafiararatra Palace now houses some of the artifacts, furniture and artworks of Rova.
Just outside of Antananarivo there is crocodile farm, home to plenty of crocs and some snakes, lemurs and ostriches. There is also Tsimbazaza Park & Zoo and the nearby Madagascar Exotic Butterfly Farm, where you can see specimens of almost all of the butterfly and insect species found in Madagascar.
Located in the Isoraka district of Antananarivo is the Museum of Art and Archaeology (Musée de l'Art et de Archéologie), housing exhibits of Malagasy history and culture.
Visit the Andohalo Square (Kianja Repoblika Malagasy) where you will find the Anglican Cathedral of Saint-Laurent, the Ambavahadimitafo Gate and the oldest school in Antananarivo, among other highlights.
Walk around the open-air main market place, known as Zoma, located in downtown Antananarivo, or browse one of the many markets found all over the city, such as Analakely, Andravoahangy Handcraft Market and Petite Vitesse market.
This Jacaranda-fringed lake is located in southern Antananarivo. There is a small island in man-made Lake Anosy where a statue, known as the Black Angel, stands in commemoration of the Madagascan soldiers who died in World War I.