Our Top 5 Best Places To Visit In Somalia:

Exploring the Hidden Gems: Treasures of Somalia

Places To Visit In Somalia
Lido Beach Mogadishu – Courtesy: sm

Welcome to a journey of discovery, where the past and present converge in a land rich with history, culture, and natural beauty. Somalia, a country often overshadowed by its tumultuous history, is a land of contrasts that boasts breathtaking landscapes, ancient cities, and vibrant traditions. In this travel blog post, we will take you on a virtual tour of some of the most captivating places to visit in Somalia. So fasten your seatbelts, and let’s embark on this unique adventure!

What or where is Somaliland though?

Somaliland is a self-declared independent republic located in the Horn of Africa. It is situated on the northern coast of the Somali Peninsula, bordered by the Gulf of Aden to the north, Ethiopia to the west, and Somalia to the east and south. While it has declared itself separate from Somalia and operates with its own government, security forces, and institutions, it is not internationally recognized as an independent country.

For the purposes of this post, we have included Somaliland under the title of Somalia. We will do a separate post on Somaliland soon.

Courtesy: aa

Somaliland has its own capital city, Hargeisa, and it has taken steps to establish a functional state with a constitution, elections, and governance systems. Somaliland has a unique history, having been a British protectorate and later joining the former Italian Somaliland to form the independent Somali Republic in 1960. However, conflicts and political unrest in the broader Somali region led to the declaration of independence by Somaliland in 1991.

Despite maintaining relative stability, establishing a functional government, and experiencing economic growth, Somaliland has not gained international recognition as a separate country. It continues to operate as a de facto state, with its own administrative and political systems, while seeking diplomatic recognition from the international community.

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Now back to Best Places To Visit In Somalia (which includes Somaliland)

Map of Somalia:

Places To Visit In Somalia
Courtesy: wa

Map Showing Somalia Location in Africa:

Places To Visit In Somalia
Courtesy: om

Countries Bordering Somalia:

Somalia is bordered by Ethiopia to the west, Djibouti to the northwest, the Gulf of Aden to the north, the Indian Ocean to the east, and Kenya to the southwest.

  1. Ethiopia
  2. Djibouti
  3. Kenya
  4. Gulf of Aden
  5. Indian Ocean

SURVIVING my first day in SOMALIA! (EXTREME TRAVEL July 2023)

Our Top 5 Best Places To Visit In Somalia:

1. Mogadishu: A Tale of Resilience

Courtesy: vc

Our journey begins in the heart of Somalia, the capital city of Mogadishu. Despite its troubled history, this city has managed to maintain its vibrant spirit.

WE visited the famous Lido Beach to witness the beauty of the Indian Ocean while indulging in delicious seafood. Make sure to explore the crumbling yet majestic architecture of the old city, where the narrow alleys hold stories of the past. Don’t miss the chance to visit the Mogadishu Cathedral, an architectural marvel that stands as a testament to the city’s multicultural past.

Despite its challenging history, this city exudes resilience and optimism. We roamed the bustling Bakara Market, where vendors shared stories of triumph and unity. A hidden gem we stumbled upon was Jubba Café, offering rich Somali coffee and a chance to connect with locals who shared tales of their city’s revival.

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2. Hargeisa: Where History Meets Modernity

Places To Visit In Somaliland
Courtesy: cnn

Next stop, Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland, an autonomous region within Somalia. Experience the blend of tradition and progress as you stroll through bustling markets, admire the vibrant street art, and engage with friendly locals. This city enchanted us with its historic allure. We wandered through Laas Geel’s ancient rock art, a true window into the past. To start our day, we discovered Café Riyasat, serving mouthwatering Somali breakfasts that fueled our explorations.

The Laas Geel rock paintings, dating back thousands of years, offer a glimpse into Somalia’s ancient history. For a taste of local life, visit the livestock market, where traders showcase the region’s nomadic heritage.

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3. Berbera: A Coastal Gem

Places To Visit In Somaliland
Courtesy: jd

Continue your coastal exploration by heading to Berbera, a port city renowned for its pristine beaches and crystal-clear waters. We spent our days swimming, snorkeling, and soaking up the sun on the shores of the Gulf of Aden. For a change of scenery, we ventured into the hinterland and discovered the ancient port of Siyara, a testament to Berbera’s maritime importance throughout history.

Berbera captured our hearts. The Red Sea’s turquoise waters and pristine beaches provided the perfect setting to unwind. We also watched the sunset at Beachfront Sundowners, a local spot that offered panoramic views and delicious fresh juices.

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4. Kismayo: Where Wilderness Beckons

Places To Visit In Somalia
Courtesy: ws

For the adventurous souls, Kismayo offers an escape into the wild. We explored the nearby Kismayo National Park, home to diverse wildlife including zebras, giraffes, and various bird species. We loved the beauty of the lush savannah and were captivated by the untamed landscapes that showcase the true essence of Somalia’s natural diversity.

We also embarked on a camel trek through the picturesque surroundings, an experience we’ll treasure forever. To kick-start our day, we indulged in aromatic Somali tea at Qaldaan Coffee Shop, a cozy haven for travelers and well worth checking out.

Never seen before Somalia: Kismayo & Bajuni Islands
Welcome To Somalia – Port of Kismayo 2015
Welcome to Somalia – Driving thru Kismayo 2015

5. Bosaso: A Trade Hub with a View

Places To Visit In Somalia
Courtesy: tp

During our adventure through Somalia, we couldn’t miss the chance to explore the coastal beauty of Bosaso. This bustling port city welcomed us with open arms and revealed a vibrant blend of cultures. The local markets buzzed with activity, showcasing colorful textiles and spices that infused the air with an enticing aroma. We had the chance to enjoy breakfast at the charming Bosaso Café, where we savored traditional Somali dishes while watching the waves gently kiss the shore.

The serene beaches of Bosaso were the perfect retreat, allowing us to unwind and soak in the sun’s warmth. As the day turned to dusk, we discovered an enchanting spot called Sunset Oasis, where we sipped on refreshing drinks and watched the sun paint the sky in hues of gold and crimson. Bosaso’s coastal charm left us with unforgettable memories, reminding us that every corner of Somalia has something unique to offer. No trip to Somalia is complete without visiting Bosaso.

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Did we mention the food? EAT!

Places To Visit In Somalia Food
Courtesy: bbc

Embarking on a Culinary Odyssey in Somalia: A Gastronomic Delight

Prepare your taste buds for an unforgettable journey as you explore the vibrant and diverse flavors of Somalia’s cuisine. Rooted in tradition and influenced by its rich cultural history, Somali food is a delightful fusion of African, Arabian, and Indian influences.

Indulge in hearty dishes like “Anjero,” a thin, spongy bread served with a variety of stews, or savor the aromatic flavors of “Bariis iskukaris,” a fragrant rice dish with tender meat and vegetables.

Fresh seafood takes center stage along the coastal regions, offering an array of succulent delights from grilled fish to creamy coconut-based seafood curries. Don’t miss the chance to sample “Sambuusa,” savory pastries filled with meat or vegetables, and the sweet finale of “Halwa,” a delectable sesame-based dessert rich in flavor and history.

With its unique blend of spices, fresh ingredients, and authentic cooking methods, Somali cuisine is not only a feast for the palate but also a gateway to understanding the culture and warmth of the Somali people.

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Places To Visit In Somalia Food
Courtesy: fn

Essential Things to Know Before Traveling to Somalia:

Traveling to Somalia requires careful planning and consideration due to its complex political and security situation. Before embarking on a journey to this intriguing destination, here are some essential things you should know:

1. Security Situation: Somalia has experienced ongoing political instability, civil conflict, and the presence of various armed groups. Certain regions are particularly unsafe for travelers due to the risk of violence and terrorism. Stay informed about the current security situation, follow travel advisories issued by your government, and consider consulting with security experts before planning your trip.

2. Visa and Documentation: Obtain the necessary visa and documentation before traveling to Somalia. Requirements may vary depending on your nationality and the purpose of your visit. Ensure that your passport is valid for at least six months beyond your planned departure date.

3. Health Precautions: Somalia is located in a region with health risks, including diseases such as malaria, yellow fever, and cholera. Consult your doctor or a travel health clinic well in advance to receive recommended vaccinations and medications. Carry a basic first aid kit and any necessary prescription medications.

4. Travel Insurance: Comprehensive travel insurance is essential when visiting Somalia. Ensure that your insurance covers medical emergencies, evacuation, and any unexpected incidents that may arise during your trip.

5. Local Customs and Culture: Research and respect the local customs, traditions, and culture of Somalia. Dress modestly, especially in conservative areas, and adhere to local customs regarding greetings, gestures, and interactions.

6. Language: The official languages of Somalia are Somali and Arabic. While English is spoken by some, particularly in urban areas, it’s helpful to learn a few basic phrases in Somali to facilitate communication and show respect for the local culture.

7. Local Laws: Familiarize yourself with the local laws and regulations of Somalia. Certain actions that are considered normal in other countries might be against the law here. Be mindful of local customs and adhere to the laws to avoid any legal complications.

8. Transportation: Public transportation infrastructure is limited and unreliable in many parts of Somalia. If you plan to travel between cities, consider hiring a reputable local driver or using the services of a trusted tour operator. Moving around may require careful planning due to security concerns.

9. Communication: Internet access and reliable communication can be challenging in some areas of Somalia. Ensure you have a means of communication in case of emergencies and inform someone trustworthy about your travel plans.

10. Cash and Banking: Somalia primarily operates on a cash economy. Bring enough local currency (Somali Shilling) for your trip, as credit card acceptance may be limited. Carry small denominations for convenience.

11. Respect for Religious Practices: Somalia is predominantly Muslim, and religion plays a significant role in daily life. Respect local religious practices, and be mindful of your behavior during prayer times and in religious places.

12. Travel Restrictions: Certain regions within Somalia are off-limits to travelers due to security concerns. Familiarize yourself with these restrictions and adhere to them to ensure your safety.

13. Reliable Information Sources: Stay updated on the latest travel advisories and news regarding Somalia. Rely on official government sources and reputable news outlets for accurate information.

Traveling to Somalia requires a high level of caution and preparation due to its complex security environment. While the country has much to offer in terms of culture and history, your safety should always be the top priority. It’s recommended to consult with experts and organizations experienced in the region to make informed decisions about your trip.

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How to Get to Somalia:

Getting to Somalia can be a challenging endeavor due to its political instability and security concerns. If you’re considering a trip to Somalia, it’s crucial to plan carefully and stay informed about the current situation. Here are some general guidelines on how to get to Somalia:

1. Choose Your Entry Point:
Somalia has a few main entry points for international travelers, including the capital city, Mogadishu. Hargeisa, in the self-declared Republic of Somaliland, is another potential entry point. Berbera and Bosaso are other ports of entry, but they may have limited international flight options.

2. Research Airlines:
Research airlines that operate flights to Somalia. Airlines like Turkish Airlines, Ethiopian Airlines, and Qatar Airways have occasionally offered flights to Mogadishu and Hargeisa. Keep in mind that flight availability may vary, and routes could change based on the security situation.

3. Check for Travel Advisories:
Before booking any flights, check travel advisories issued by your government and other reliable sources. These advisories will provide information about the security situation in Somalia and any travel restrictions in place.

4. Visa and Documentation:
Check the visa requirements for Somalia based on your nationality and the purpose of your visit. Obtain the necessary visa and ensure that your passport is valid for at least six months beyond your intended departure date.

5. Plan Your Itinerary:
If you decide to travel to Somalia, plan your itinerary carefully. Consider your destinations within the country and the mode of transportation you’ll use to get around. Be prepared to adapt your plans based on the security situation.

6. Travel Insurance:
Purchase comprehensive travel insurance that covers medical emergencies, evacuation, and any unexpected incidents. This is essential in case of emergencies or unforeseen circumstances.

7. Security Measures:
Given the security concerns in Somalia, it’s advisable to consult with security experts or organizations experienced in the region. They can provide guidance on safe travel practices, areas to avoid, and other security considerations.

8. Arrange Ground Transportation:
If you’re planning to move within Somalia, arrange ground transportation in advance. Reliable transportation options might be limited, so consider hiring a trusted local driver or using the services of a reputable tour operator.

9. Stay Informed:
Stay updated on the latest news and developments in Somalia leading up to your trip. Conditions on the ground can change rapidly, so it’s important to have up-to-date information.

10. Entry and Exit Points:
Confirm the operational status of entry and exit points, such as airports and border crossings, before you travel. Political and security situations can impact the functioning of these points.

11. Arrival Procedures:
Upon arrival in Somalia, follow all immigration and customs procedures diligently. Have all necessary documentation readily available, and be prepared for potential security checks.

12. Emergency Contacts:
Share your travel itinerary and emergency contact information with a trusted friend or family member. Keep your loved ones informed about your whereabouts and any changes to your plans.

Traveling to Somalia is not a decision to be taken lightly due to the complex security situation. Your safety should always be the top priority. Before proceeding, it’s recommended to consult with experts, security professionals, and organizations that specialize in travel to challenging regions to make an informed decision about your journey.

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How to Get Around Somalia:

Getting around Somalia can be a challenging task due to its limited transportation infrastructure, security concerns, and varying conditions across different regions. If you’re planning to travel within Somalia, here are some tips on how to get around:

1. Local Transportation:
Local transportation options in Somalia may include taxis, buses, and minibusses. However, the availability and reliability of these options can vary widely. In urban areas like Mogadishu and Hargeisa, you might find taxis or minivans that serve as shared transportation.

2. Hiring a Local Driver:
One of the safer and more convenient ways to get around is by hiring a local driver with knowledge of the area. This is especially recommended if you’re not familiar with the local conditions, roads, and security situation. A local driver can help you navigate the challenges of Somali roads and provide insights about the region.

3. Tour Operators:
Consider using the services of reputable tour operators who specialize in providing guided tours and transportation within Somalia. These operators can help you plan your itinerary, provide transportation, and ensure your safety throughout your journey.

4. Domestic Flights:
Domestic flights within Somalia can provide a quicker way to travel between major cities. If you’re traveling to regions like Puntland or Somaliland, consider checking for domestic flight options. Mogadishu, Hargeisa, Bosaso, and Garowe are some of the cities with operational airports.

5. Ferries and Boats:
If you’re exploring coastal areas, ferries and boats might be available for transportation between islands and along the coast. However, be sure to assess the safety and reliability of such options before using them.

6. Consider Security:
Security should be your top priority when planning transportation within Somalia. Research the security situation in the areas you plan to visit and consult with local experts or security organizations. Some areas might be off-limits due to security concerns.

7. Plan in Advance:
Given the challenges of transportation in Somalia, it’s important to plan your routes and modes of transportation well in advance. This includes arranging for ground transportation, accommodations, and any necessary permits or permissions.

8. Stay Informed:
Stay updated on the local news and conditions, as situations can change rapidly. If you’re planning to travel to different regions, monitor the security situation and travel advisories.

9. Cultural Considerations:
Respect local customs and etiquette when using local transportation options. Dress modestly and be prepared to interact with fellow passengers in a culturally sensitive manner.

10. Flexibility and Patience:
Traveling in Somalia can be unpredictable due to factors such as security, road conditions, and infrastructure challenges. Maintain flexibility in your plans and exercise patience when facing unexpected delays or hurdles.

11. Language Barrier:
While English may be spoken in some urban areas, it’s helpful to learn a few basic phrases in Somali to aid in communication, especially in more remote areas.

12. Reliable Contacts:
Maintain reliable communication with local contacts, such as your driver, tour operator, or accommodations provider. This can be crucial in case of emergencies or changes to your travel plans.

Remember that safety is paramount when traveling within Somalia. It’s strongly recommended to consult with experts who have experience in the region and to prioritize your security at all times. Always follow travel advisories, stay informed, and make decisions based on the most up-to-date information available.

FAQ – Our Top 5 Best Places To Visit In Somalia and Traveling to Somalia in General

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About Traveling to Somalia

1. Is it safe to travel to Somalia?
Traveling to Somalia comes with significant security risks due to ongoing conflict and political instability. Some regions are particularly dangerous, while others may be safer. It’s essential to stay updated on travel advisories, consult with security experts, and exercise extreme caution if considering a trip to Somalia.

2. Can tourists visit Somalia?
While tourists can visit Somalia, the country’s security situation makes it a challenging destination. Some areas, like Somaliland and Puntland, have declared themselves as semi-autonomous and are relatively safer, but even these regions require careful planning and consideration.

3. Do I need a visa to enter Somalia?
Yes, you’ll likely need a visa to enter Somalia. Visa requirements vary depending on your nationality and the purpose of your visit. Check with the nearest Somali embassy or consulate for the most accurate and up-to-date information on visa requirements.

4. What’s the best time to visit Somalia?
The best time to visit Somalia is during the dry season, which typically spans from December to April. This period offers more stable weather conditions and fewer disruptions due to rainfall. However, the security situation should be the primary factor in determining when to visit.

5. Can I travel independently in Somalia?
Independent travel in Somalia is not recommended due to security concerns. It’s advisable to travel with reputable tour operators who are experienced in navigating the region’s challenges and can provide assistance and security measures.

6. Are there any safe areas in Somalia to visit?
Certain areas within Somalia, like Somaliland and parts of Puntland, are relatively safer compared to others. However, safety is relative and can change quickly. Conduct thorough research, consult experts, and stay informed about the security situation before planning any travel.

7. What precautions should I take for my safety?
Prioritize your safety above all else. Consult with security experts, follow travel advisories, avoid areas with known conflict, and consider using reputable tour operators or local guides who are experienced in navigating the region’s challenges.

8. What should I pack for a trip to Somalia?
Pack essential items like travel documents (passport, visa, insurance), appropriate clothing (modest and comfortable), insect repellent, first aid supplies, medications, a reliable communication device, and sufficient cash in Somali Shillings.

9. Can I use credit cards in Somalia?
Credit card acceptance in Somalia is limited. It’s advisable to carry sufficient cash in local currency (Somali Shilling) for your expenses. Be aware that ATMs might not be widely available, and banking facilities may be limited.

10. Are there any cultural sensitivities I should be aware of?
Somalia is a predominantly Muslim country with conservative cultural norms. Dress modestly, respect local customs and religious practices, and avoid sensitive topics in conversations.

11. Is the internet and communication reliable in Somalia?
Internet access and communication infrastructure in Somalia can be unreliable in some areas. Be prepared for limited connectivity and consider alternative means of communication, such as satellite phones.

12. Can I travel to Somalia for business purposes?
Traveling to Somalia for business requires careful consideration due to security concerns. If it’s necessary, consult with local contacts and organizations experienced in the region to ensure your safety and security during your business trip.

13. What’s the situation with medical facilities and health precautions?
Medical facilities in Somalia might be limited in quality and availability. Prioritize travel health preparations, including vaccinations, medications, and travel insurance that covers medical emergencies and evacuation.

14. How do I stay updated on the security situation in Somalia?
Regularly monitor travel advisories issued by your government, consult with security experts, and follow reputable news sources for the latest information on the security situation in Somalia.

15. Should I travel to Somalia for tourism?
Tourism to Somalia is highly discouraged due to its security challenges. While the country offers cultural and historical attractions, safety concerns should be the primary consideration when deciding whether to travel there.

Remember that the situation in Somalia is complex and can change rapidly. Your safety should always be the top priority. Consulting with experts, seeking advice from reputable sources, and making informed decisions are crucial when considering a trip to Somalia.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About Places to Visit in Somalia

1. Are there any safe places to visit in Somalia?
While Somalia has experienced security challenges, there are some areas that are relatively safer for travelers, such as Somaliland and certain parts of Puntland. However, safety can change quickly, so it’s crucial to stay informed about the security situation and consult with experts before planning any visit.

2. What are the main attractions in Somalia?
Somalia offers a diverse range of attractions, including historical sites like Mogadishu’s Arba Rukun Mosque and Laas Geel’s ancient rock art. The coastal areas, such as Berbera and Kismayo, offer beautiful beaches, while cities like Hargeisa showcase vibrant cultural scenes.

3. Can I visit historical sites in Somalia?
Yes, there are historical sites to explore in Somalia. Mogadishu, for example, has historical architecture from different eras, including Italian colonial and Islamic influences. Laas Geel’s rock art site provides a window into prehistoric times.

4. Is it possible to go on a beach vacation in Somalia?
Yes, Somalia’s coastline offers opportunities for beach vacations. Berbera, with its pristine beaches and turquoise waters, is a notable destination for beach lovers. However, due to security concerns, thorough research and planning are essential.

5. What is unique about the culture in Somalia?
Somalia’s culture is a blend of African, Arab, and Islamic influences. The nomadic heritage, traditional music, dances, and intricate art forms reflect the rich cultural diversity of the region.

6. Are there national parks or wildlife reserves in Somalia?
Yes, there are national parks and wildlife reserves in Somalia. For example, Ras Kamboni National Park in the south is known for its diverse bird species and other wildlife. However, access to such areas might be limited due to security and infrastructure challenges.

7. Can I explore off-the-beaten-path destinations in Somalia?
Somalia’s challenging security situation makes off-the-beaten-path exploration risky. While there might be hidden gems, safety should be your priority. Consult with security experts and local sources before venturing into less-visited areas.

8. Are guided tours available in Somalia?
Yes, guided tours provided by reputable tour operators might be available in certain areas of Somalia. These tours can offer insights into the local culture, history, and attractions while providing an added layer of security.

9. What languages are spoken in Somalia?
The official languages of Somalia are Somali and Arabic. English is spoken by some, particularly in urban areas, and might be used in business and government.

10. Is it possible to travel independently in Somalia?
Traveling independently in Somalia is generally not recommended due to security concerns. It’s safer to travel with local guides or reputable tour operators who can navigate the challenges of the region.

11. What should I consider before planning a trip to Somalia?
Before planning a trip to Somalia, research the security situation, consult with experts, check travel advisories, and ensure you have the necessary documents, such as visas and travel insurance.

12. Can I visit Somaliland and Puntland?
Somaliland and Puntland are considered more stable than other parts of Somalia. They offer unique cultural experiences, historical sites, and natural beauty. However, even in these regions, safety considerations should not be ignored.

13. How do I stay updated on the travel situation in Somalia?
Stay informed by regularly checking travel advisories issued by your government, consulting with security experts, and following reputable news sources.

14. Is tourism developed in Somalia?
Tourism infrastructure in Somalia is limited due to its complex security situation. While the country has potential for tourism, safety concerns have hindered its development as a tourist destination.

15. Should I visit Somalia for tourism?
Visiting Somalia for tourism is highly discouraged due to the security challenges. While the country has cultural and historical attractions, your safety should always be the priority when making travel decisions.

Remember that the situation in Somalia is complex and can change rapidly. Prioritize your safety, do thorough research, and make informed decisions when considering a visit to any part of Somalia.

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Our Top 5 Best Places To Visit In Somalia – Final Thoughts:

Somalia, often overlooked by travelers, is a land of hidden treasures waiting to be explored. From the historic streets of Mogadishu to the modern blend of Hargeisa, the coastal beauty of Berbera, the wild landscapes of Kismayo, and the trade hub of Bosaso, this country offers a diverse range of experiences that cater to every kind of traveler.

As Somalia strives for stability and growth, now is the perfect time to uncover its captivating charm and create memories that will last a lifetime. So pack your bags, embrace the adventure, and embark on a journey of a lifetime in this enigmatic land.

Places To Visit In Somalia
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Our Top 5 Best Places To Visit In Somalia – By David John

5 Best Places To Visit In Somalia: Cover Image by ng & ie

Best Places To Visit In Somalia: flickr images licensed under CC BY 2.0

Additional images: adobe, colourbox, istock, pexels, shutterstock, unsplash  unless otherwise stated.

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