Sunday, December 3, 2023
Asmara Travel Guide - Travel S Helper


travel guide

Eritrea’s capital and biggest city, Asmara, is the country’s largest settlement.

Asmara, Eritrea’s capital, is a fusion of Italian and African architecture and culture. Asmara, a thriving metropolis of almost half a million people, was founded in the eleventh century by a coalition of communities striving to defend themselves from robbers.

The city has been ruled by numerous empires and nations throughout its history, notably the Italian Empire in the late 1800s, the British after WWII, and Ethiopia since 1950. Asmara was freed in 1991 after a long and violent conflict with Ethiopia, and became the capital of a nation that had been without self-rule for two centuries.

It’s impossible to go down a street in Asmara nowadays without coming across an ancient Italian building. Mussolini, the Italian dictator, poured vast sums of money into the city in the early 1930s with the objective of making it the heart of a second Roman Empire that encompassed Africa. Architects were scarcely restricted by their imaginations, and the city center was essentially rebuilt from the ground up. Not only were churches created in the ancient-Romanesque style, but so were countless offices inspired by the cubism and futurism architectural trends.

The colonial Italian architecture of Asmara is the city’s principal attraction. “Kombishtato” (a creol of the neighborhood’s original name: Campo di Citta) is a nickname for the palm-lined main boulevard “Independence Avenue.” It’s lined with cafés, restaurants, stores, and old movie theaters, and it makes for a pleasant mile-long promenade between the north end, where the “half” stadium is located (you’ll see half a bleacher), and the south end, where the Nyala Hotel, the city’s highest structure, is located.

The vibrant and lively marketplace of Asmara is located behind the cathedral on the road to its right (as viewed from the church’s main entrance on Independence Avenue). It’s a wonderful spot to practice haggling and pick up some trinkets.

While having a wonderful well-chilled beer from the Nyala Hotel’s top-floor café, one may enjoy a fantastic view of the city. Asmara’s beer, rightly dubbed “Asmara Beer,” is very delicious. The National Museum, located behind the hotel on a quieter street, has an outstanding collection covering the country’s six millennia of civilisation.

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Asmara | Introduction

Asmara – Info Card

POPULATION :  City: 649,000
LANGUAGE :  Tigrinya. Arabic, Italian and English
RELIGION :  Eritrean Orthodox 60%, Catholic 21%, Sunni Islam 19%
AREA :  630 km2 (240 sq mi)
ELEVATION :  7,628 ft (2,325 m)
COORDINATES :  15°20′N 38°56′E
SEX RATIO :  Male: 51.22%
 Female: 48.78%
ETHNIC :  Tigrinya (77%), Tigre (15%), Others (Annobon, Mdowe) 8%

Climate of Asmara

Asmara has a unique kind of steppe climate, with warm but not scorching summers and pleasant winters.

Temperatures are rather pleasant for a city situated not far from deserts, thanks to its height of 2,325 meters (7,630 feet).

The rainy season in Asmara lasts just two months, from July to August. In fact, these two months account for almost 60% of Asmara’s yearly precipitation.

Geography of Asmara

The city is situated at a height of 2,325 meters above sea level. It is located on the Eritrean Highlands, a north-south trending extension of the Ethiopian Highlands. Asmara is located in the temperate central region, on a rocky highland plateau that divides the western lowlands from the eastern coastal plains.

The areas around Asmara, particularly those to the south in Eritrea’s Debub Region, are very fertile. The Asmara highlands give way to the eastern lowlands, which are characterized by the scorching heat and humidity of the Eritrean salt pans, which are lapped by the Red Sea.

The Gash-Barka Region, to the west of the plateau, is a huge semi-arid hilly region that runs all the way to the Sudanese border.

Economy of Asmara

As the capital and biggest town in Eritrea, Asmara is home to the majority of Eritrean enterprises. The city was originally a manufacturing center.

Asmara served as the administrative and commercial capital of Italian East Africa during the colonial era. Many enterprises were shuttered or transferred outside of the city when the British invaded the nation in 1941. Under Ethiopian occupation, this tendency persisted.

How To Travel To Asmara

Asmara International Airport As of 2008, Lufthansa serviced Frankfurt three times weekly; Yemenia Airways served Sanaa twice weekly; Egyptair served Cairo twice weekly; and Saudi Arabian Airlines served Jeddah/Riyadh twice weekly. Eritrean Airlines does not operate any flights as of January 2010. Nasair, a private-state joint venture airline located in Massawa, serviced a few regional cities like as Jeddah, Nairobi, Dubai, and Khartoum, as well as local airports Assab and Massawa, as of January 2010. If you do not have a local resident ID, you must pay an airport departure tax of US$20 or €15 in foreign currencies.

If you enter the country without a visa and have an Eritrean ID card in addition to a foreign passport, you must register with the Immigration and Nationality office in Asmara within seven working days after your arrival.

Both Eritrea and Ethiopia retain significant military forces along the border, and all border crossings into Ethiopia from Eritrea remain blocked.

How To Get Around In Asmara

Asmara has eleven downtown bus routes that run on unique Red Mercedes Benz buses with a sign in front indicating where they’re going (oftentimes in Latin script). The bus stops are well marked (there are signs and a clear shelter with a bench), although the buses stop operating very early in the evening (about 7PM). They run every day at 15-30 minute intervals, although there is no set or advertised timetable. During rush hour, the roadways get very congested (in the morning, midday and around 4PM in the evening). The fee is 1 Nakfa, and the entrance is at the rear, where the ticket is purchased. It is not required to have precise change, although it is preferable to pay in smaller denominations.

Line 1 connects the airport, 3 kilometers south of the city, with the zoo at Biet Ghiorghis, 2 kilometers (1 mile) east of the city on the eastern escarpment (the windy road to the Red Sea begins after Biet Ghirogis). Number 1 also runs through the major streets of Asmara (Independence and Martyrs Avenues). All bus routes beginning with 2 (e.g., 21, 22, etc.) go between the marketplace downtown and the outlying towns, however only a handful run each day. As a result, prepare to depart early in order to return the same day. Only locals are aware of the timetable (through word of mouth). If you’re fortunate, one of them will speak English and be really helpful. Some settlements, such as Embaderho and Tselot, are well worth visiting because of their landscape and traditional way of life.

There are additional white minibus lines that travel on the city’s major streets, with defined routes but no fixed stops or signage. They generally stop at bus stops, but much like cabs, you must hail them when you see them. If the ticket-boy (called fottorino) doesn’t beat you to it by announcing it loudly, ask them where they’re going before boarding. Then, when you’re ready to get off, say so (“Stop!” is a globally recognized demand). Nakfa = two.

Finally, there are the yellow taxis, which, like the white minivans, follow regular routes on major thoroughfares. They use a system similar to minivans, and the fee is 5 Nakfa. You’ll most likely be riding with three other folks. Because some taxis may not follow set itineraries, some will drive you directly to your destination. These cabs are known as contract taxis, and the price must be negotiated with the driver. The cost varies on how far you go, but most contract drivers charge at least 70 Nakfa. When an aircraft arrives, these taxis normally wait outside the airport, the city’s principal hotels (Asmara Palace Hotel, Nyala, Ambassador, etc.), the road to the right of the main cathedral downtown, and other visible locations. They may also be called on any street, however many taxis follow a set route and have customers already aboard.

Renting a vehicle is prohibitively costly, and gasoline rates are far higher than in Europe. Renting a taxi to go about town is also pretty pricey, but manageable. Expect to spend between 3000 and 6000 Nakfa for a weekend with a driver. It could be best to take the bus or call one of the national trip companies (ask at the information desk at the airport upon arrival).

Prices In Asmara


Milk 1 liter $ 2.00
Tomatoes 1 kg $ 2.85
Cheese 0.5 kg $
Apples 1 kg $
Oranges 1 kg $ 5.00
Beer (domestic) 0.5 l $
Bottle of Wine 1 bottle $
Coca-Cola 2 liters $
Bread 1 piece $ 0.90
Water 1.5 l $ 2.00


Dinner (Low-range) for 2 $ 24.00
Dinner (Mid-range) for 2 $ 45.00
Dinner (High-range) for 2 $
Mac Meal or similar 1 meal $
Water 0.33 l $ 1.60
Cappuccino 1 cup $ 0.95
Beer (Imported) 0.33 l $ 6.00
Beer (domestic) 0.5 l $
Coca-Cola 0.33 l $ 0.60
Coctail drink 1 drink $

Sights & Landmarks In Asmara

The major draw of Asmara is its colonial Italian architecture. The palm-lined main roadway “Independence Avenue” is informally known as “Kombishtato” (a creolized version of the neighborhood’s actual name: Campo di Citta). It’s full of cafés, restaurants, stores, and old cinemas, and it makes for a beautiful mile-long promenade between the north end, where the “half” stadium is (you’ll know when you see half a bleacher), and the south end, which faces the Nyala Hotel, the city’s highest structure. Asmara’s vibrant and busy marketplace is located behind the cathedral on the road to the right (as viewed from the cathedral’s main entrance on Independence Avenue). It’s a wonderful spot to practice haggling and pick up some mementos.

The café on the top floor of the Nyala Hotel offers a magnificent view of the city while you sip a cold beer. In Asmara, the drink is appropriately dubbed “Asmara Beer.” The National Museum, located behind the hotel on a calmer street, has a remarkable collection spanning the land’s civilization’s six millennia.

The Biet Ghiorghis Zoo and Park area, located on Massawa Road on the city’s outskirts, is noted for its view of the eastern escarpment. The zoo itself is quite depressing. Further down the road is Pub Durfo, a bar and café built on a rock overlooking the Asmara-Massawa highway’s stunning escarpment. To travel past the final stop of the No. 1 bus, Biet Ghiorghis, to Bar Durfo, you’ll need to hire a vehicle or take a cab.

The stunning highland terrain on the eastern escarpment is well worth seeing. At addition, in the hamlet of Tselot (which means ‘prayer’ and is also known as the President’s village), one may witness a typical Eritrean highland village. Tselot is located approximately 20 kilometers (12 miles) outside of the city center and is serviced by one of the red municipal buses that leave from the “Meda Eritrea” portion of the marketplace. You should leave as early as possible since there are just a few buses each day and you must ensure that you have a method to return. Tselot’s rural highland lifestyle is reminiscent of Biblical times: stone cottages, tiny plots, old temples (both Christian and Muslim), people farming and herding with traditional methods and minimal technology, moving their wares (and themselves) on mule and camelback.

The Martyrs National Park, which opened in 2000, is within walking distance of the town. It is a hilly forest and wildlife reserve on the highland plateau’s crest. The scenery is an eerie silent semi-arid plain in a valley, an extension of the highland plateau, broken up by the spectacular chasm of the eastern ridge, which the town center straddles. The vistas and landscape are breathtaking. The highest viewpoint offers views of chasms, gorges, and mountaintops drenched in a sea of clouds, giving the sense of being “above the clouds.”

Things To Do In Asmara

If you’re only in Asmara for a short time, the best thing to do once you’ve finished touring in the city is to travel to the outskirts, where the landscape is at the very least breathtaking.

Unless you are from a high altitude location, you will require a few of days of walking in Asmara to acclimate your body to the thin, dry air at 2,600 m. (8,530 ft).

Bring plenty of sunscreen lotion, as well as a sweatshirt, since it may be rather cold not just at night, but also while standing in the shade (temperatures can vary greatly on different sides of the same street depending on the position of the sun). The sun shines brightly throughout the day in Africa, particularly in Asmara, where clouds are few, so carry UV-blocking sunglasses unless you prefer squinting.

If you like hiking, rock climbing, and mountain biking, the above-mentioned sites outside of town are good places to visit; however, bring your own equipment (including a bike) since Asmara has no rental bikes and a very limited supply of safety equipment (shoes, ropes, etc.). Tents and mosquito nets, on the other hand, are easily available and reasonably priced at the central marketplace. Consult the locals and bring a guide, since it is beneficial to have someone acquainted with the area who knows the local language in case of an accident or other unforeseen incident (like what is legal and not legal). For example, photographing any government installation or authority (police, airport, ministries, etc.) is absolutely prohibited, and your guide may assist you in avoiding such tricky circumstances.

Finally, make time to enjoy some delicious meals in Asmara. If you don’t want health problems to ruin your day, don’t drink “fresh” fruit juices or consume ice cream. Stick to bottled beverages, unpeeled fruits, and prepared foods.

Shopping In Asmara

Gold and silver jewelry are inexpensive in Asmara and are unquestionably a steal by global standards. The same goes for frankincense and myrrh (if you have any use for them).

Otherwise, most visitors purchase local home-spun and gold-thread embroidered cotton clothes, traditional goat-skin rugs, olivewood sculptures, clay coffee-pots, and other traditional knick-knacks at the marketplace.

Nightlife in Asmara

Asmara’s nightlife is frequently seen as calmer than that of most other nation capitals, however there is a decent selection of local bars. Prostitution is legal and widespread.

  • Mocambo, Downtown (Look for the basement).
  • Warsai. It’s a bit out of the way and a little sleazy.
  • Asmara Palace Hotel’s Green Pub. On Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday evenings, there are discos.
  • Benifer, The Expo Grounds.
  • Shamrock. popular among UN personnel
  • Zara Bar, is located near the Blue Bird restaurant. A favorite hangout for expats.



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