Eritrea is a country in East Africa. Sudan and Djibouti are its immediate neighbors sharing the Red Sea Coast, while Ethiopia locks it in from the landward side. The climate shifts very quickly from the humidity of the Red Sea coast to the arid heat of the Danakil Depression, and then the freezing winter nights of the highlands. About 10 percent of the country’s five million people live in the capital city of Asmara. Some of the rest are scattered in the northwest in Keren and Akordat, while others prefer coastal cities such as Massawa and Assab. Get a car for hire in Eritrea if you want to make this trip to the Horn of Africa memorable and hassle-free.
The modern city’s origins go back 700 years or so, but the distinctive feature is the art deco Italian colonial architecture built on Mussolini’s orders. He apparently wanted to build a second Rome in Africa. Get a car for rent in Eritrea to visit the airplane shaped Fiat Tagliero building and the F-shaped former Fascist Party headquarters. The historic Catholic Cathedral of Asmara, Al Khulafa Al Rashiudin Mosque, and the Nda Mariam Coptic Cathedral all co-exist peacefully in the same place with no religious conflict. Family travelers will want to go to the zoo at Biet-Ghiorgis on the way to Massawa. Do not forget the National Museum across the road from the Selam Hotel. The Southern Red Sea National Museum is also worth a visit. Ancient Asmara’s presence is seen in the Sembel dig site, which shows the remnants of a village which existed between 800 BC and 400 BC.
Apart from the salt ponds, mainland Massawa does not have much to see or do if you are a tourist. However, the city does is connected to Taulud and Batse, islands that are packed to the rafters with attractions and activities. Taulud has all the hotels, in addition to St. Mariam's Cathedral, the Imperial Palace, and a war memorial. Batse is the old town area, which also happens to be the nightlife hotspot for the city. The white sand beach at Gurgusum is the most popular Red Sea beach in the area. The best part of a visit to Massawa is a day trip out to the Dahlak Islands, an archipelago with more than 200 islands offering spectacular dive sites with corals and ship wrecks.
Keren is the second largest city in Eritrea, and can be reached from the capital via the scenic 65 miles Asmara Keren Road. It takes you on a dizzying drive from 8,000 feet down to sea level. Tourist attractions on this road include the Debre Bizen Monastery, Said Abu Bakr el Mirgani tomb, and the Chapel of St. Mariam de Arit. The latter is a shrine to the Virgin Mary located in a huge baobab tree.
You have a choice between day tripping and a single long road trip. Book your car rental in Eritrea right now and plan for whichever one you prefer. The day trips would include drives from Asmara to Keren and Massawa. A road trip would take you from Asmara to Keren, and then on to Akordat. Another choice would be a drive from Asmara to Massawa, and then a long drive along the Red Sea coast to Assab.
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