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.”