Eritrea Travel Guide
Eritrea is an unpopular travel destination and one of the least visited countries in Africa located in East Africa, bordering the Red Sea, Djibouti, Sudan, and Ethiopia.
Eritrea was conquered in 1890 by Italy which left a slice of history on the buildings of its Capital Asmara that looks more Italian than African city.
The best way to go to Eritrea is by plane as its land borders are usually closed.
Many local languages are being used in Eritrea with no official one but a lot of the locals can speak English & Arabic
The Official Currency is Eritrean Nafka. 1 USD = 15 ERN (Officially). but it’s up to 35 ERN in the black market. You can easily find in the main streets or local cafe Eritreans offering the exchange for ur Dollars.
It’s illegal to take Eritrean Nakfa outside Eritrea.
What to see and do in Eritrea
The capital of Eritrea known by its Italian buildings left from the Italian colonial period
1- The cathedral
The Church of Our Lady of the Rosary which is a Roman Catholic church in it is a large Lombard Romanesque style church in the center of the city, built in 1923 to serve as the principal church of the Apostolic Vicariate of Eritrea.
2- Fiat tagliero building
3- Enda Mariam Orthodox Cathedral
4- The National Museum of Eritrea
5- The Cinema Impero
6- Tank graveyard
One of the most known attractions in Eritrea it’s like an unpopular military museum, It’s full of rusted and destroyed military tanks and equipment that used during the war with Ethiopia in order to free their country. it shows the sacrifice that Eritreans did in order to have their freedom.
Massawa is a port city. In the old town, on Massawa Island, a mix of Italian, Egyptian and Ottoman architecture reflects the city’s colorful history. On nearby Taulud Island, notable buildings include the crumbling, war-damaged Imperial Palace and St. Mariam Cathedral. Near the cathedral, 3 tanks form a monument commemorating those who died in Eritrea’s civil wars. Boats run to secluded Green Island, with its sandy beaches and thatched-roof picnic shelters. Massawa is also a jumping-off point for the Dahlak Archipelago, which consists of more than 100 remote islands with coral reefs. The islands offer wreck diving and abundant marine life, including sea turtles, manta rays and manatee-like dugongs. A railway runs along the edge of an escarpment from Massawa to the capital city of Asmara, offering views of rugged peaks and valleys.
126 Island Near to Massawa in the red sea 2 of them are large Islands and the rest are small a great area for water activities and beaches as it’s rich of coral reefs, pearls and more than 100 kinds of sea creatures
The second largest city in Eritrea
Getting around Eritrea
Foreigners are not allowed to use local transportation between cities and go out of the capital you’re required to obtain a permit. So Make sure you have a permit from the Ministry of Tourism for each place you are planning to visit outside the capital Asmara because you’ll be asked to show it to police to check these permits if they stop you outside Asmara. without a permit, no hotel will accept you, so it is best to obtain it. (Local tour operators can get it for you).
The Ministry of Tourism office is located downtown, just across from the Cathedral and you’ll see a small storefront.
And getting a permit is sometimes take a long time there if you’re planning to visit the unpopular cities. So make sure you have a clear plan for your trip and get the permit as soon as you arrive or contact a local travel agency to handle your permits enough time before your trip.
Best time to visit Eritrea
The best time to visit Eritrea depends on your plan (Which cities you’re planning to visit) But In General December, January and February are the best months as the 3 months previous to December are rainy.
Eritrea could be divided into 3 main areas Highlands, Coastal cities and lowlands.
September to February are the best to visit the highlands ( Asmara and Keren )
November to March are the best to visit the lowlands like coastal cities
December to February are the best to visit the lowlands
Food In Eritrea
The most common food in Eritrea is pizza and pasta as the Italians were there sometime. Also some Ethiopian spicy food.
Do not drink the tap water and avoid unbottled drinks for your good.
Connecting to the internet & World
Unfortunately, International SIM cards aren’t working in Eritrea because there’s no agreement between the local and international network providers, The internet connection is very bad around Eritrea and most locals don’t have internet at home. So you may feel not connected to the world there.
Safety in Eritrea
UN army forces are in the area 25 KM between Eritrea and Ethiopia. And UK travels advisor advice against travel within 25 KM from all Land borders Please check the below travel advice.
It’s Illegal to take any photos of government buildings or military.
Obtaining an Eritrean visa is a little complicated and takes more time than any other country. if there’s no Eritrean embassy in your country you have to get an approval letter from the Eritrean government (though any local agency in your country approved by Eritrea) before traveling to be able to get a visa on arrival.
Even when you get the entry visa you won’t be able to leave the capital to any other city inside the country without permission.