Eritrea - Asmara, from the Campanile

Best Neighborhoods in Asmara

Asmara, the capital city of Eritrea, offers a range of neighborhoods with their own unique charm and affordability. Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer or looking to rent an apartment, here are some of the best neighborhoods in Asmara to consider:

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  1. Abashawl: This bustling neighborhood is known for its vibrant marketplaces and affordable housing options. It’s a great place to start your home buying journey, with an average price of around $30,000 for a two-bedroom house.
  2. Gejeret: If you prefer a quieter lifestyle, Gejeret is the neighborhood for you. It offers a more laid-back atmosphere while still being affordable. The average price for a two-bedroom house in Gejeret is approximately $35,000.
  3. Sembel: For those looking for more modern housing options, Sembel is a newer neighborhood with a range of amenities. While slightly pricier than Abashawl and Gejeret, it still offers affordable options, with an average price of around $40,000 for a two-bedroom house.
  4. Akria: This historic neighborhood boasts a mix of modern and historic architecture. It offers a charming atmosphere and plenty of places to explore.

These neighborhoods are just a glimpse into the diverse options available in Asmara. Each neighborhood has its own unique character, and it’s worth exploring to find the one that suits your lifestyle and preferences.

A Look at Independence Avenue: The Heart of the Capital City

Independence Avenue, also known as Kombishtato to the locals, is the main street in Asmara and is considered the heart of the capital city. This palm-lined avenue is a vibrant and bustling hub that offers a glimpse into the rich history and culture of the city.

One of the main attractions of Independence Avenue is its colonial Italian architecture. Asmara’s colonial heritage is well-preserved in the buildings that line the avenue, creating a unique and charming atmosphere. Walking along the avenue, visitors will be greeted by a variety of cafes, bars, shops, and old cinemas that add to the lively ambiance of the street.

A stroll along Independence Avenue is a mile-long journey that takes you from the north end, where the “half” stadium is located (easily recognizable by its half bleacher), to the south end facing the Nyala Hotel, the tallest building in the city. This leisurely walk allows visitors to soak in the sights and sounds of the city, while also providing an opportunity to explore the various establishments along the way.

For those interested in shopping and experiencing the local culture, the colorful and bustling marketplace lies behind the cathedral on the road to the right of Independence Avenue. Here, visitors can learn the art of haggling and purchase unique souvenirs to remember their time in Asmara.

If you’re in the mood for a stunning panoramic view of the city, head to the top floor cafe of the Nyala Hotel. While enjoying a well-chilled beer, aptly named “Asmara Beer,” visitors can admire the breathtaking vistas below. The Nyala Hotel is located behind the bustling street, on a quieter street that also houses the National Museum. The museum boasts an impressive collection that spans the six millennia of the land’s civilization, making it a must-visit for history enthusiasts.

The Charm of Arbaete Asmara District

Located in the heart of Asmara, the capital city of Eritrea, the Arbaete Asmara district is a charming neighborhood that seamlessly blends history, culture, and modernity. With its picturesque streets, unique architectural styles, and vibrant atmosphere, Arbaete Asmara is a captivating area that showcases the rich heritage of the city.

One of the most alluring aspects of Arbaete Asmara is its central location. Situated close to the city center, residents of this district have easy access to a wide range of amenities and attractions. From bustling markets and trendy cafes to cultural sites and entertainment venues, everything is within reach in Arbaete Asmara.

The architecture in Arbaete Asmara is a testament to the city’s colonial past. Italian art deco buildings line the streets, transporting visitors back in time to the pre-World War II era. The district is dotted with charming cafes and restaurants, where locals and tourists alike can enjoy a cup of traditional Eritrean coffee or indulge in delicious Italian cuisine. The combination of Eritrean and Italian influences creates a unique ambiance that is both nostalgic and modern.

Arbaete Asmara also boasts a diverse range of housing options. From cozy apartments to spacious family homes, there is something to suit every lifestyle and budget. The average price for a two-bedroom house in this district is around $60,000, making it an attractive choice for first-time homebuyers.

Beyond its architectural beauty and convenient location, Arbaete Asmara is a neighborhood that offers a sense of community and belonging. Residents here enjoy a peaceful and friendly atmosphere, where neighbors know each other by name and look out for one another. The district is home to several parks and green spaces, providing a tranquil retreat for families and individuals to relax and unwind.

Western Lowlands

The western lowlands of Eritrea, located to the west of the capital city Asmara, offer a contrasting landscape to the highlands. This vast semi-arid hilly terrain stretches all the way towards the border with Sudan through the Gash-Barka Region.

Characterized by its hot and dry climate, the western lowlands provide a unique ecosystem and natural beauty. The region is known for its expansive plains, scattered acacia trees, and occasional dry riverbeds. This arid landscape is home to a variety of wildlife, including antelopes, gazelles, ostriches, and desert birds.

The western lowlands also hold historical and cultural significance. The region is dotted with ancient archaeological sites, offering a glimpse into the rich history of the area. Visitors can explore ruins dating back to the Aksumite Empire, such as the ancient port city of Adulis, which was a prominent trading hub in the region.

In addition to its historical and cultural attractions, the western lowlands offer opportunities for outdoor activities. Adventurous travelers can embark on desert hikes, exploring the rugged terrain and enjoying the solitude of the vast open spaces. The region is also a popular destination for birdwatching, as numerous migratory birds pass through the area.

For those seeking a unique cultural experience, the western lowlands are home to several ethnic groups, including the Bilen, Saho, and Tigre. Visitors can immerse themselves in the vibrant traditions and customs of these communities, experiencing their music, dance, and cuisine.

Accommodations in Asmara

The Grandeur of Asmara Palace Hotel

Asmara Palace Hotel, formerly known as the Intercontinental Hotel, is a renowned accommodation option that exudes luxury and grandeur in the heart of Asmara, Eritrea. This prestigious hotel is highly regarded by both business travelers and group vacationers, making it a prime choice for those seeking a truly exceptional stay in the city.

One of the standout features of Asmara Palace Hotel is its impressive architectural design. With its unique spaceship-like structure, the hotel catches the eye and stands as a symbol of modernity amidst the historic charm of Asmara. The sleek and elegant exterior is a testament to the attention to detail and commitment to excellence that defines this establishment.

Upon stepping into the hotel, guests are greeted by a sense of opulence and sophistication. The interior decor seamlessly blends contemporary elements with traditional Eritrean motifs, creating a warm and inviting ambiance. The spacious and well-appointed rooms and suites offer a haven of comfort and tranquility, providing guests with a truly luxurious retreat after a long day of exploring the city.

For business travelers, Asmara Palace Hotel offers a range of amenities and services tailored to meet their needs. The hotel boasts state-of-the-art conference facilities, including well-equipped meeting rooms and a business center, ensuring a seamless and productive experience for corporate guests. The attentive and professional staff are always on hand to assist with any requirements, guaranteeing a smooth and efficient stay.

The Quaint Charm of Albergo Italia

Nestled north of Harnet Ave., near the Central Post Office, Albergo Italia is a hotel that exudes a charming and nostalgic ambiance. With its rich history and fine Italian restaurant, it is a favorite among visitors to Asmara.

Built in 1889, Albergo Italia is one of the oldest hotels in the city. Stepping into its premises, one is transported back in time to the era of Italian colonial influence. The hotel showcases a fusion of Italian and Eritrean architectural styles, creating a unique and captivating atmosphere.

The rooms at Albergo Italia are a true reflection of its historic charm. Each room is beautifully adorned with vintage furnishings and decor, creating a cozy and inviting space for guests. From antique wooden furniture to delicate lace curtains, the attention to detail in the room design is impeccable.

One of the highlights of Albergo Italia is its renowned Italian restaurant. Eritrea’s history as an Italian colony from 1890 to 1940 has left a lasting influence on the country’s culinary scene. Albergo Italia embraces this heritage by offering a delectable range of Italian dishes. Guests can indulge in traditional Italian classics such as pasta, pizza, and risotto, expertly prepared by skilled chefs.

For those seeking a more relaxed dining experience, the hotel also boasts an outdoor setting at Casa Degli Italiani. Here, guests can enjoy their meals while basking in the warm Eritrean sunshine and soaking in the charming surroundings.

Affordable Options: Crystal Hotel Asmara and Africa Pension

When traveling on a budget, finding affordable accommodation is often a top priority. In the vibrant city of Asmara, Eritrea, two options that offer great value for money are the Crystal Hotel Asmara and Africa Pension.

Crystal Hotel Asmara is a highly rated property that caters to solo travelers, business travelers, and group vacationers alike. Its prime location on Harnet Avenue, the city’s main thoroughfare, allows for easy walking access to the city’s main sights. The hotel offers comfortable rooms at a reasonable price, making it a popular choice among budget-conscious travelers. Additionally, Crystal Hotel Asmara features live music performances in its restaurant, providing guests with a unique cultural experience. The hotel also boasts a traditional Eritrean coffee lounge, where visitors can savor the flavors of the local coffee culture. With its affordable rates and excellent location, Crystal Hotel Asmara is a fantastic option for those looking for a budget-friendly accommodation in Asmara.

Another affordable option in Asmara is Africa Pension. While it may not have the same luxurious amenities as Crystal Hotel Asmara, Africa Pension offers a cozy and comfortable stay at a budget-friendly price. The pension is known for its friendly and attentive staff, who go above and beyond to ensure guests have a pleasant stay. The rooms are simple yet clean, providing everything you need for a comfortable night’s sleep. Africa Pension is conveniently located near the city center, making it easy to explore Asmara’s attractions without breaking the bank.

Both Crystal Hotel Asmara and Africa Pension are highly rated for their affordability, making them ideal choices for travelers on a budget. Whether you are traveling alone, for business, or with a group, these accommodations provide excellent value for money without compromising on comfort or convenience.

Dining in Asmara: A Fusion of Middle Eastern and African Flavors

Eritrea, a small country in the Horn of Africa, is known for its rich and diverse culinary traditions. Influenced by its Middle Eastern and African neighbors, Eritrean cuisine offers a unique fusion of flavors that is sure to tantalize the taste buds of any food lover.

One of the highlights of Eritrean cuisine is its traditional stews, commonly known as “wats.” These spicy meat and vegetable stews are typically served over a sourdough pancake or flatbread called “injera.” The combination of tender meat, aromatic spices, and tangy injera creates a perfect harmony of flavors.

Zigni, a spicy beef stew, is a popular Eritrean dish that showcases the country’s love for bold and fiery flavors. Served with injera, this dish is a must-try for those who enjoy a little kick in their meals. Tibs, which consists of grilled or sautéed meat, is another delicious option that showcases the simplicity and richness of Eritrean cuisine.

For those seeking vegetarian options, Eritrea offers dishes like Foul, made with fava beans and served with bread or injera. The combination of earthy beans and aromatic spices creates a comforting and satisfying meal.

Interestingly, Eritrea’s history of Italian colonization has left a lasting influence on its culinary scene. Italian Eritrean cuisine is a delightful blend of Italian and Eritrean flavors. Pasta dishes, such as Pasta al Sugo e Berbere (pasta with tomato sauce and berbere spice), lasagna, and cotoletta alla milanese (Milano cutlet) can be found in many Eritrean restaurants, thanks to the country’s strong Italian heritage.

Asmara’s Coffee Culture: A Must-Try for Visitors

When it comes to coffee culture, Asmara stands out as a city that takes its coffee seriously. From the aroma of freshly roasted beans to the traditional brewing methods, coffee lovers will find themselves in paradise in this vibrant Eritrean city. Here are some reasons why Asmara’s coffee culture is a must-try for visitors.

First and foremost, Asmara is known for its rich coffee heritage. Eritrea has a long history of coffee production, and the country’s coffee beans are highly regarded for their quality and unique flavors. In fact, Eritrean coffee is often compared to the renowned Ethiopian coffee, known for its distinct taste and complex flavor profiles.

One of the best ways to experience Asmara’s coffee culture is by visiting one of the city’s many cafes. These establishments are not just places to grab a quick cup of joe; they are cultural hubs where locals and tourists alike gather to socialize and savor the flavors of Eritrean coffee. The cafes in Asmara offer a variety of coffee options, from the traditional macchiato to the strong and aromatic buna.

In addition to the coffee itself, the ambiance of Asmara’s cafes is worth mentioning. Many of these establishments feature cozy and welcoming interiors, decorated with vintage furniture and local artwork. The laid-back atmosphere provides the perfect setting to relax, read a book, or engage in lively conversations with locals over a cup of coffee.

When it comes to the brewing methods, Asmara’s cafes adhere to traditional techniques that have been passed down through generations. The coffee is often brewed in a jebena, a traditional clay pot with a long neck and a wide base. This unique brewing method not only enhances the flavors of the coffee but also adds a touch of authenticity to the experience.

Navigating Asmara: Transportation Options for Tourists

When visiting the beautiful city of Asmara, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the various transportation options available to make your stay more convenient and enjoyable. Asmara is a relatively small city, and most of its top attractions are located within walking distance of each other. However, if you plan to travel further afield or prefer not to walk, there are several transportation options to consider.

Taxis are readily available in Asmara and are a convenient and affordable way to get around the city. Whether you need a short ride to your hotel or want to explore different parts of the city, taxis are a reliable option. Just make sure to agree on the fare with the driver before starting your journey.

Asmara also has a public bus system, although it can be crowded and unreliable at times. If you’re comfortable with navigating the bus routes and schedules, it can be a cost-effective mode of transportation. However, be prepared for potential delays and crowded conditions.

For those who wish to explore the surrounding areas of Asmara, renting a car is a popular choice. There are several rental agencies in the city where you can find a car that suits your needs. Renting a car gives you the freedom to venture beyond the city limits and discover the beautiful countryside and neighboring towns.

If you prefer a more immersive experience, consider exploring Asmara on foot. The city is relatively compact, and most of the top attractions are located within walking distance of each other. Walking allows you to soak in the charm of Asmara’s streets, discover hidden gems, and engage with the friendly locals.

While navigating Asmara, it’s important to keep in mind a few tips. Eritrea is a conservative country, so it’s essential to dress modestly and respect local customs. Learning a few basic phrases in Tigrinya, the most widely spoken language in Eritrea, can also go a long way in communicating with the locals

Finally, it’s important to stay hydrated while in Asmara, as the city is located at a high altitude. Drinking plenty of water will help prevent altitude sickness and ensure you enjoy your time in this beautiful city to the fullest.