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Massawa, Eritrea

The port of Massawa in Eritrea lies on the west coast of the Red Sea, just to the north of the Bab El-Mansour Straits and features architecture that shows both Italian and Arab influence. It is mainly a gateway to the national capital Asmara, 40 miles (64 km) to the west.

Massawa's oldtown sits on an island (Batsi) that it shares with the country's busiest deep-sea port. The oldtown consists of medieval Ottoman style coral buildings separated by narrow alleys as well as an ancient mosque. The island is connected to the mainland via another island called Tualud, both separated by a causeway. On Tualud you will find most "downtown" hotels like the Dahlak, Red Sea, Central, Corallo etc. Tualud also hosts St. Mary's catholic church and the famous tank monument.

From Massawa you can also reach the offshore Dahlak Islands with their untouched archaelogical ruins, pristine beaches and excellent diving and snorkeling.

Things to see and do

* Sheikh Hanafi Mosque
* Shrine of Sahaba
* Old town
* Ottoman style coral buildings
* Dahlak Islands

Cruise Season – Oct - April
Currency – Nakfa (ERN)
Language – Tigrinya, Arabic, Tigre
Population – 37,000 approx
Electricity – 2 round pins European style
Time – GMT plus three hours
International Country Telephone Code – +291

Port Location – The major port is located at Massawa.

Transport Links – While Massawa has an international airport, though at present it is rarely used and is only serviced by Pakistan Airlines. The main international airport is in the capital Asmara. Lufthansa is the most reliable airline flying 3 times a week into Asmara from Frankfurt. Eritrean Airlines flies twice weekly to/from Frankfurt, Dubai and Jeddah as well as once weekly to/from Rome. Egyptair serves Asmara twice weekly from Cairo. Yemenia Air fly twice weekly from Sanaa. Saudi Arabian Airlines fly twice weekly from Jeddah/Riyadh. The other Eritrean Airline Nasair flies five times weekly to Jeddah as well as twice weekly to Nairobi and Khartoum.

Buses run many times daily (before dusk) between Asmara and Massawa. Minibuses also run as soon as they are full (which takes very little time) between the Asmara bus station and Massawa. Regional buses run from the Massawa bus station and around the area a couple of times a week. But other than the long coastal two-day voyage to the other port city of Assab and to the inland via Asmara, there is not much to see beyond Massawa within the region. Massawa also connects to Asmara by narrow gauge rail, but it is not open to any regular service as it is more or less a museum railway with trains running on a steam engine and only open to chartered tours.

Port Overview

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