There was a time when Somalia was flocked to by tourists because of its pristine beaches; it has the longest coastline in Africa. Everything changed when a civil war erupted that continued for three decades. It doesn’t help at all that sea piracy also ensued, something that’s often associated with this country.
The country is bordered by the also less-traveled Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, and the self-declared republic of Somaliland. Its tourism industry is yet to boom again, and its highlands, plains, plateaus, beaches, historical sites, and national parks are waiting for travelers curious enough to visit a country ravaged by war. Its ruins are young and interesting for some, but Somalia has many other attractions that will pique anyone’s interest.
This list does not include spots in Somaliland.
A Somali adventure can start in its capital Mogadishu, a thriving coastal city flocked by many when tourism was thriving in the country.
Sightseers can take a peek at its places of worship, like the mosques of Arba’a Rukun and Islamic Solidarity and the ruined cathedral.
They can also look at the palaces of the governor and the president. For a quick history lesson, tourists should drop by the National Museum, the National Library, and the National Theatre.
What takes the cake, however, are the beaches of Lido and Jazeera, where sun-kissed moments are an experience to behold.
9 Bajuni Islands
Those who want to go deeper into Somalia’s less-traveled spots must head to the Bajuni Islands.
This archipelago has a big tourism potential because it is stunning. Its crystal-clear waters are inviting, making it a perfect playground for beach lovers.
The archipelago is composed of six islands, each offering travelers escape. Aside from the usual swimming and beachcombing, tourists can scuba dive in this charming destination.
They can also check out the architectural remains on the island of Koyama. Underwater or on the shore, the Bajuni Islands won’t disappoint.
Tourists who want to go beyond Mogadishu and experience more pristine beaches must visit Warsheikh. It’s another popular weekend spot for families and groups of friends who want to scratch the travel itch.
Its coastline looks stunning in photos, more so when experienced in person. The beaches are pleasing because it has fewer crowds than those in the capital.
The top activities in town are beachside driving, swimming, gazelle watching, birding, dune walking, and fishing tours. Whatever the activity, Warsheikh delivers.
7 Cape Guardafui
Cape Guardafui is a headland that overlooks a charming channel. It has the Francesco Crispi Lighthouse, known for its fascist architecture. This unusual structure is aimed to become Somalia’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Beyond this structure, travelers can join tours that will drive them through the desert area on an off-road journey where they can appreciate rocky mountains, stunning shorelines, fishing towns, colonial ruins, and the former salt mines of Ras Hafun. The gorgeous Guardafui puts the cape in escape.
6 Cal Madow
The mountain range of Cal Madow is located north of the country. Shared with Somaliland, this destination is home to unique species like the trees of frankincense and myrrh.
The country has a thriving industry based on these trees, making it one of the largest exporters of said resins.
The sparsely-vegetated area is also home to such animals as camels, beiras, and gazelles, alongside birds like linnets, pigeons, and grosbeaks.
This desert destination is yet to reach its potential and awaits curious wildlife watchers.
5 Iskushuban Falls
It’s not as charming as Victoria Falls in Zambia and Zimbabwe, but Somalia’s Iskushuban should not be overlooked. The seasonal waterfall is located in the province of Bari, a favorite hangout spot when its cascades are rushing.
While in town, tourists can have scenic hikes and boat rides through caves. After such activities, they can end their day in the falls, with its emerald waters a sight for sore eyes.
Iskushuban is the place to get away from the busy city.
4 National Parks
Somalia has at least three national parks where wildlife lovers can learn more about its environment. The oldest is Lag Badana, located south and a known lion conservation reserve.
Other than the king of the jungle, tourists can also spot kudus, hyenas, foxes, and monkeys in the area, alongside birds and over 200 plant species.
Kismayo is another reserve known for the Somali sheep, while Jilib is a mammal hotspot. Safari adventures are yet to boom in Somalia, and its national parks are waiting to be discovered by many.
Merca is a port city that has been around since ancient times. This town by the Indian Ocean is also popular because of its beach, primarily the Sinbusi.
Tourists should imagine this: after appreciating the town’s architectural heritage, they will order grilled seafood and wait for it by the shore.
When the order’s ready, they’ll munch on it as the sun slowly sets – the perfect dessert for a sumptuous meal.
Of course, they must do that after a day of swimming, snorkeling, and beachcombing. Merca is nothing but mesmerizing.
Another ancient town, the port area of Eyl is located in the autonomous region of Puntland. Since it’s a historic place, it is home to alluring structures like the Daarta Sayyidka Dervish Fort, a tourist favorite that has been standing proud for over 150 years.
Aside from Dervish structures, sightseers can join walking tours to check out buildings that date back to the time of Italian rule.
There are also nearby beaches where the white sand awaits those who want to end their day relaxing with the waves.
The town of Afgooye is small, but it’s as awesome as it can get, thanks to its unique festival. Those visiting in time for the Istunka will have wonderful stories to tell when they get home.
The Istunka is an annual festival that involves residents doing mock combat. This ceremony has been around since the Middle Ages and symbolizes the defense of the community and its honor.
It coincides with the harvest season and is a chance for the locals to share their rich culture.