Massawa is the main port of Eritrea. The city is located on two islands just off the coast as well as on the mainland. The different parts of the city are connected by two causeways. Before Eritrea’s independence, Massawa used to be the headquarters of the Ethiopian navy. It was fought over by both sides during the war – and has been badly damaged. The town still has great charm though, especially at night when the little alleyways between the Turko-Egyptian and Italian buildings come alive. One of the foremost attractions of Massawa, both day and night, are the bars and restaurants.
The mainland is not the most interesting part of the city. It consists mostly of residential quarters. Taulud island has a few interesting sights, such as the old railway station, from where trains to Asmara would leave, the St Mariams Cathedral and the Imperial Palace. Crossing the second causeway you enter the port area of town.
Massawa is a good starting point for trips to the Dahlak islands as well as diving expeditions. Sheikh Said Island (or Green Island) is just opposite Taulud. It is ideal for a day trip and not expensive to reach. North of Massawa is the white sandy beach of Gurgussum. The beaches are clean and uncrowded. It is a good place to sunbathe, for swimming, sailing, (scuba) diving or snorkeling.