Eritrea Driving Guide

Eritrea is a unique beautiful country. Explore all of it by driving when you get your International Driving Permit

2021-11-26 · 9 mins

Found in the northeastern part of Africa, Eritrea is a country bordered by other nations, including Ethiopia, Djibouti, and Sudan. This country is known for bearing Italian influence and influence from other nations such as Egypt, Turkey, and Arabic nations. Despite having relative obscurity, Eritrea holds hidden tourist wonders that make the notoriously challenging visiting process worth the effort.

How Can This Guide Help You

Allow this to be your guide in exploring and familiarizing yourself with Eritrea. You may also consider this as your most trusted Eritrea driving advice. Here you will find the country's background, from the capital of Eritrea to its culture to driving rules and tips. Eritrean etiquette to help you get around will also be present for you. Discussed here is information regarding the International Driving Permit as it is a crucial requirement for traveling through driving in Eritrea.

General Information

Eritrea is a country in Africa located on the Red Sea and is part of the Horn of Africa region comprised of Djibouti, Ethiopia, Somalia, and Eritrea. Italian influence has a stronghold in Eritrea that even its name came from an Italian version of Mare Erythraeum or the Red Sea. Other worldwide countries such as Turkey and Egypt and religions like Christianity and Islam had a stronghold on Eritrea since its location is close to the Red Sea, a major trade port in olden times.

The country's capital is Asmara, and the capital has become a place for commerce and tourism. Eritrea has endured multiple struggles in the past to gain its independence, which came in 1993. A struggling African country, Eritrea has difficulty establishing its identity due to various influences from various countries, but problems of drought and famine continue to plague this nation.

Geographic Location

Eritrea is located on the Red Sea and is part of the Horn of Africa, a region in the eastern part of Africa that comprises Ethiopia, Djibouti, Somalia, and Eritrea. These countries surround Eritrea, with Djibouti in the southeast, Sudan on the west, and Ethiopia on the south. Its coastline is 600 miles extending from Cape Kaspar to the Strait of Mandeb.

Languages Spoken

Italian is one of the main languages spoken in Eritrea due to the influence of Italian conquerors. Various ethnic groups existing in the country have contributed to various languages, such as Tigrinyan, Semitic, Bilin, Saho, Nilotic, amongst many, with Tigrinyan being the most widely spoken since Tigray comprise the majority of the residents in Eritrean highlands.

Land Area

Mount Soira is the highest peak in Eritrea at 9,885 feet. Eritrea is also home to barren lands such as the Danakil Plain with a depression point known as Kobar Sink, which is more than 300 feet below sea level. These are parts of the East African Rift System, a basins system that extends from Jordan to Mozambique. The Dahlak Archipelago on the coast of the Red Sea is home to diverse marine biology. The climate in Eritrea varies greatly depending on the elevation. Being a coastal region, Massawa has one of the highest in the world at around 80 degrees Fahrenheit.


Eritrea's government follows a presidential system, with Isias Afwerki being in power since its independence in 1993. In this year came the Transitional Government of Eritrea's proclamation, stating that it would govern the country for four years until the emergence and election of a permanent government comes along. The current president Afwerki also presides over the legislative and State council.

The demographic of Eritrea is diverse, with many ethnic groups co-existing in the country. A majority of the people are Tigray, but this is just one of the nine recognized ethnic groups in Eritrea. The others are Tigre, Nara, Rashaida, Saho, Bilen, Afar, Kunama, and Hidareb. These groups comprise the 3 million population of Eritrea.


People from the Kingdom of Saba migrated and absorbed Eritrean inhabitants, spreading their culture across the kingdom of Aksum and ruling over Ethiopia. Egyptian and Yemeni power spread throughout the land, contributing to the swift decline of Aksum. Ottoman Rule prevailed in the 16th century namely in Dahlak and Massawa.

The 19th century saw Egyptians invading Sudan and eventually Eritrea. The Italians purchased part of the Red Sea,whose expansion Emperor Yohannes IV tried to curtail. His successor eventually gave in, which is the reason why Italian influence is prevalent in Eritrea.


Traveling in Eritrea is reportedly difficult since obtaining a tourist visa is a challenge in itself. Travel permits are also required in Eritrea to be able to tour around the country. Tourists frequent Asmara and Massawa due to the various architecture and markets that reflect the impact conquerors have had in Eritrea and buy some wares as souvenirs.

Being near the Red Sea makes Eritrea a significant exporter of fish as well as livestock and food. Eritrea is also known for agricultural products such as food, beer, tobacco, and textiles. Salt mining in the Kobar Sink is also being done in Eritrea and mining gold, copper, mica, and zinc.

International Driver's Permit in Eritrea

Whether it's the provinces or the city, driving in Eritrea is the most convenient way to get around and familiarize yourself with the country's tourist sites. Public transportation can be fun and spontaneous, but nothing beats the freedom of having your vehicle drive around the country. Before you drive, you must first have an International Driving Permit for Eritrea to legally drive in Eritrea. Here is some information about the International Driver's Permit.

Is a Local Driver's License Valid in Eritrea?

It is illegal to use your native driving licence in Eritrea. Eritrean authorities urge tourists to obtain an International Driver's Permit to legally drive in Eritrea regions and serve as identification and requirements for legal purposes like banking and purchases mainly for local car rental purposes. However, it's still important to still bring your valid native license and passport as these are essential documents to have when driving in Eritrea today.

Does an IDP Replace My Native License?

No, an IDP does not replace your native driver's license. When you get an IDP and drive in Eritrean cities, your driving licence will still be valid. The International Driver's Permit serves as a translation of your native driver's license to enable you not just to drive but rent cars and undertake legal transactions, as well as a form of identification should things go awry.

Do I Need an IDP to Drive in Eritrea?

Yes, an International Driver's Permit is needed to drive in Eritrea. Driving in Eritrea or the Kingdom of Aksum comes with strict policies, and having a driver's license is just one of them. While other countries are more lenient regarding not having an IDP, Eritrean authorities recommend that visitors get an International Driver's Permit for Eritrea to legally and safely drive in their country to partake in legal transactions such as car rental.

How Do I Apply for an IDP?

Applying for an International Driver's Permit can be done online or in the Eritrean office that handles driving concerns. You can go straight to the IDA website and apply for an IDP as their service caters to all countries for all individuals with driver's licenses. You can either obtain a physical or digital copy as both are available. The physical copy takes only thirty days to deliver internationally, while the digital copy only needs two hours. With an IDP, you can begin driving in Eritrea today.

Renting a Car in Eritrea

Images of driving in Eritrea might occur in your mind as a spontaneous road trip where you can visit the cities like Asmara and Massawa. Travel to see their churches, or perhaps buy some wares in their markets, or try their local delicacies. All of these are possible if you have a car, which gives you more freedom and control over your destinations. Renting a car is the next step after securing documents. Here are some tips on renting cars in Eritrea.

Car Rental Companies

Renting cars in Eritrea can be done online via the websites available such as Fontana Rent a Car, Africa Rent a Car, Travelocity, EconomyCarRentals, Hotwire, CheapoAir, and CarRentals. These companies cater to clients looking for cars to rent in the Africa region, particularly in Eritrea. You can pick these cars up when driving in Eritrea via the airport, from there to your destination becomes more convenient.

Documents Needed

Before you can rent a car, you must first present the needed requirements. Tourists must secure visas issued by the Eritrean Embassy or Consulate before traveling to Eritrea. A passport valid for six-months together with a passport photo is also needed. Be sure to always have an International Driver's Permit for Eritrea and car insurance as these are also necessary documents for renting a car. Before driving in Eritrea, schedule some time to get an IDP first.

Eritrea is quite strict regarding tourism as permits before visiting essential Eritrea sites must be secured at the Eritrean Ministry of Tourism. For sites such as churches, one must secure a permit from the Eritrean Orthodox Church's Patriarchate. For archaeological sites, visitors must obtain a permit from the National Museum. Before you start freely driving in Eritrea, schedule some time to secure these permits to avoid any hassle with authorities.

Vehicle Types

Rental companies offer different kinds of vehicles for clients to rent. Saloon cars are available for rent at Fontana Rent a Car for $60/ day and $200 for a Land Cruiser. If you will be driving in Eritrea from major airports, TravelToEritrea offers cars and vans for driving in Eritrea cities for about $120. A wide variety of makes from compact, economy, SUVs, and convertibles perfect for any road trip.

According to Asmara Car Rental, you can rent several other vehicles depending on your preference and destination, such as mini-cars economy cars, compact cars perfect for driving in Eritrean cities. Present here are standard, full-size passenger vans, oversized vans for a more spacious luggage room, and multiple passengers. All these are available for varying prices.

Car Rental Cost

The covered fees all depend on the rental company. According to Africa Rent, a Car, maintenance, and insurance are part of the prices for car renting; all the others, including an optional driver and gas, are paid for by the client. Companies can place an additional 1000 Nakfa on the client for Southern Red Sea tours of 4WD vehicles.

Renting particular models in Fontana Rent, A Car comes with a driver, including the driver's fee. Companies will add 1000 Nakfa per day should you decide to go on a Southern Red Sea tour. The rental company will deliver their cars to you in full tank, and it is your responsibility to return them in the full tank as well, so the refill fee will be shouldered by you. The client is also responsible for shouldering additional equipment such as child seats and GPS.

Age Requirements

The minimum driving age in Eritrea ranges from 16-21. If your age falls in this group, then a young driver's surcharge will be added to your rental price. While this could be a case-to-case basis depending on the rental company, the young driver will pay the surcharge at the rental desk.

Car Insurance Policy

Insurance is essential when renting a car and driving in Eritrea. The insurance covers you in times of accidents and helps lessen your cost. While some car rental companies come with insurance, there are options to choose from if it doesn't. RentalCover offers Collision Damage Waiver for damages that some companies don't include, such as cracks, windshield damage, and cracks.

Car Insurance Cost

The company also offers a super Collision Damage waiver for more significant damages and Roadside Assistance for towing incidences. There is also a Full Protection offer covering everything from roadside assistance to accidents to roadside damages and full benefits. Insurance is more than just a necessity for rental and legal driving, and it is a means to keep you safe.

The Road Rules in Eritrea

Once you've gotten yourself acquainted with the procedures regarding renting a car, you need to familiarize yourself with Eritrea's road rules. Driving in Eritrea can be a pleasurable, memorable experience, but it can quickly turn sour due to ignorance of their laws. Remember that part of your adventure in another country is abiding by their rules and regulations to avoid causing trouble and ensuring that your trip is smooth sailing. Here are some of their road rules.

Important Regulations

The acquisition of necessary documentation before journeying in Eritrea cannot be stressed enough. Tourist destinations are not accessible without a permit, especially in churches and archaeological sites. Any trip that goes beyond Asmara is required to have travel permits. Standard driving practices include:

Check your Vehicle

Be sure to check your car for any potential damage that can put you in a dangerous situation. Ensure that brakes and pedals are working since pedestrians and wildlife cross randomly, so you would need to come to a full stop to avoid hurting anyone. Fueling stations and roadside assistance are few and far between in Eritrea, so before leaving, be sure always to have a full tank and have your safety equipment such as spare parts with you.

Wear Your Seatbelt

Authorities urge and recommend wearing a seatbelt is a must for drivers and passengers and having child seats for smaller children. Abide by this law not only keep yourself secured while driving but to avoid breaking a fundamental traffic law.

Carry Your Documents

Checkpoints and random police stops occur in Eritrea, so have your important documents such as your native driver's license, passport, and car insurance with you since authorities inspect these. Eritrean authorities strictly urge tourists are strictly to have an International Driver's Permit.

Abstain from Cell Phone Usage

Driving in Eritrea can be a challenge since most pedestrians and fellow drivers don't abide by the law. Avoid using your cellphone when driving to stay focused on the road and lessen your chances of getting into mishaps.

Drive Sober

Eritrea's blood alcohol limit is 0.08%, and going above this can land you in serious trouble. Aside from document checking, random police stop also conduct drunk driving checks, so be sure that you are sober when driving. Remember that you are in a foreign country, so be on your best behavior to avoid getting into unnecessary conflict on vacation.

Follow the Speed Limit

Follow the speed limit of 60-80 kph in the city and 100 kph in highways. A hefty fine will be placed on you if you go beyond the limit.

Speed Limit

The speed limit in Eritrea depends on the location you will be driving in. As mentioned, when you are in the city, you must follow the speed limit of 60-80 kph. Rural areas have a speed limit of 100 kph. Speeding is highly punishable by law and can result in a hefty fine of 50,00 Eritrean pounds. Road accidents are the primary cause of death amongst young people in Eritrea. Always stay within the speed limit to avoid any untoward incidents.

Driving Directions

Driving in Eritrea is possible only through Sudan, which at the moment remains closed to foreign nationals. Djibouti is another nearby country that one can drive from to Eritrea, but the 620-mile stretch to the capital is a tiresome road to travel. However, if you wish to drive around the capital to some destinations, there are specific directions you must follow.

Driving Directions from Asmara to Massawa

If you are heading to Massawa from Asmara, be sure to know the directions. Nothing spells a bigger disaster than getting lost driving in a foreign country, so a map or GPS is necessary when driving in Eritrea. Also, be sure to know the details, such as the location when driving in Eritrea and zip code.

  • From Asmara, head east towards P-3.
  • Follow P-1 to Mitsiwa (Massawa).

Driving Directions from Asmara to Keren

Keren, the second biggest city in Eritrea, is situated northwest of Asmara. Keren is also home to other remarkable architectural features and tourist spots such as Liberation Avenue with various restaurants and Cattedrale di Asmara a cathedral that showcases Italian influence in Eritrea.

  • Take Warsay Street and Aareib Street to Denden St.
  • Follow P-2 to Keren.
  • Drive to your destination.

Driving in Eritrea can be quite overwhelming for a foreigner. To save yourself time and effort, try to find your destination for driving in Eritrea on the map and make sure to get acquainted with the place much as possible. When driving in Eritrea, zip codes can be relatively small details but are an immense help in familiarizing yourself with the place.

Driving Directions to Asmara International Airport

Driving in Eritrea to airports is necessary, especially if you will be picking your rented car up and dropping it off when you leave the country. Asmara International Airport is the main airport in the country. These are helpful directions for driving to the airport from the capital.

  • Head east towards P-3.
  • Drive along the P-4.
  • Drive to the airport.

Traffic Road Signs

Traffic road signs in Eritrea are minimal if not non-existent, driving Eritrea even more challenging. Basic signs such as the traffic stoplight and stop signs are common. The lack of proper facilities is why night driving is highly discouraged in Eritrea due to hazards being challenging to spot. Since cycling is a daily activity in Eritrea, expect many cyclists, pedestrians, and animals to frequently cross the road, which is more of a reason to drive within the speed limit.

Right of Way

Driving in Eritrea can be a complicated experience due to the lack of signage. Give pedestrians and cyclists the right of way when they are crossing.

Legal for Driving Age

The minimum driving age limit years is 18, but some sources put it at 16-21, especially for renting vehicles.

Young driver surcharges are being placed by companies for drivers who are within that age range. If you are 18 years old and seek to drive in Eritrea as a tourist, you can start applying for an International Driver's Permit since 18 is the minimum age to acquire this.

Laws on Overtaking

Overtaking laws are particular in Eritrea. Do not overtake in the middle or left lane, and the right lane is exclusive for emergencies. Drunk driving is also prohibited in Eritrea as the blood alcohol limit 0.05%. Checkpoints and authorities are frequently on the lookout to check if drivers are driving intoxicated, so do not drink and drive. Since signs are hard to see and some roads have potholes and landmines, night driving is highly discouraged.

Driving Side

Eritreans drive on the right side of the road with the steering wheel on the vehicle's left side. It is just one of the 76 countries that do. If you will be visiting Eritrea and are more used to driving on the right side, this can be challenging.

Driving Etiquette in Eritrea

As pleasant and fun as driving might be, misfortunes are unavoidable. You might sometimes find your car malfunctioning in the middle of the road, find yourself lost despite driving in Eritrea on a map basis, or merely confused and nervous when faced at a checkpoint. Fret not, since this guide here exists to help you better understand Eritrea's driving etiquette that will help you get around smoothly and quickly.

Car Breakdown

Nothing spells a bigger disaster than having your car break down in the middle of what would've been a pleasant journey. Not to mention that Eritrea's scorching temperature can make the incident even more uncomfortable. Since road assistance is hard to come by in Eritrea, it is advisable for travelers to have emergency and safety equipment in spare parts and first aid kits.

If your car breaks down, turn on your headlights and drive your car over to the emergency lane. If you have warning triangles with you, place them a few meters away from your vehicle to signal an accident. Changing tires can be rugged, so it is best to ask some locals to help you with your tires. Call your travel or car insurance agent to notify them about the incident.

Police Stops

Police stops often happen in Eritrea, and it is usually to check if the driver is driving under the influence, speeding, or for inspection of driver's license in Eritrea. In cases of sobriety tests, police not only inspect you in your vehicle but will even take you to the precinct for a more thorough inspection. If you get pulled over by the traffic law enforcement, keep calm and cooperate. Do not resist inspection, as this can result in more significant conflicts.

Asking for Directions

Sometimes, even if you go to lengths to know the location when driving in Eritrea, zip code included, or plot the route you'll be driving in Eritrea on the map, you'll still find yourself losing your way when you get behind the wheel. Situations like this is why it is essential to know basic Tigrinya, as it can help you approach locals for help in finding your way. You need not have native fluency, just enough comprehension for you to get around. The primary, practical terms include:

  • Selam - Hello
  • Yekeniyeley - Thank You
  • Abey also…? - Where is…?
  • Yeman - Right
  • Tsegam - Left
  • Bruch me’altee - Good day
  • Bruch me'shet - Good night
  • Ingliz fuzarebdo? - Do you speak English?
  • Yigreta! - Excuse me!
  • Polis Tsew'e (male)/ Polis Tsew'i (female) - Call the Police


Checkpoints are ever-present, usually to inspect for drunk driving and driving licenses in Eritrea. It is why it is a must as a tourist to have your native driver's license, passport, and an International Driver's Permit. Avoid driving when intoxicated or under the influence since the police do random sobriety checks. When stopped randomly, cooperate and present your documents to avoid hassle with the authorities.

Other Tips

It is important to note the driving etiquette when in Eritrea to avoid any untoward incidents. Knowing what to do and who to approach in times of accidents can be extremely helpful in solving the problem. Understanding the driving situation at night in Eritrea can better help you should you want to go on a road trip at night. Learn as well what permits to secure before traveling.


Getting into an accident when driving is unfortunate and can come at the most unexpected times, even when you're out on a relaxing vacation. While main roads in Eritrea are typically well maintained, it is the drivers and some pedestrians who disregard the traffic laws that make their roads accident-prone.

If you find yourself in an accident when driving in Eritrea, do not leave your vehicle and notify the authorities immediately. Wait for the police to write a police report about your accident and call your insurance company as well. Should there be any injuries, call medical assistance immediately.

Driving in Eritrea at Night

Night driving is highly discouraged in Eritrea since the minor roads have low lighting, making road signs hard to read. Road signs are already few and far between, and having low lighting makes it even harder to see. While the roads are typically well maintained, pedestrians, cyclists, and wildlife cross at any given time, and these can be hard to spot at night, making the situation ripe for accidents.

Safety in Eritrea

Daytime in Eritrea is very safe for tourists, especially in the capital Asmara and other major cities that are open for a visit. There are incidences of crimes occurring, but most of it happens during nighttime so if you are in Eritrea, avoid going out at night where the streets have insufficient lighting. Anywhere in Eritrea is safe except for beyond 25 km, where conflicts occurred, hence banning tourists' visits.

Some tourist destinations require visitors to obtain permits, especially archaeological sites. Driving in Eritrea, videos, and pictures can be taken in their tourist destinations. You are free to go sightseeing if possible, specifically in Christian areas. To be in the safe, before taking any pictures, ask for permission first. Financial scams are reportedly low as cash-based transactions are typical and practiced in Eritrea, so credit cards and ATMs are not readily available.

Permits in Eritrea

Eritrea is a notoriously strict country with varying rules regarding tourism. Tourists must secure permits from the Ministry of Tourism's office, which costs around 50 Nakfas. Visitors must secure a special permit from the National Museum of Asmara for visiting archaeological sites such as Qoahito. Anything from beyond 25 km of Asmara is required to have a permit. Most religious and military sites are off-limits, and one cannot take pictures.

Driving Situations and Conditions?

Driving conditions vary from country to country as every nation has its driving conditions unique to its area, and Eritrea is no different. Your mind might conjure up images of driving in Eritrea as a desert nature trip, cruising under the sun, or an African paradise getaway. Still, before you can enjoy this, it is better to understand the reality to better plan your journey.

Accident Statistics

Reports state that vehicle accidents frequently occur in Eritrea despite having properly asphalted roads. Accidents are primarily due to pedestrians and wildlife that randomly cross the road, drivers who disregard speed limits and basic traffic rules, having poorly lit roads, and insufficient signage. Potholes and landmines are still plentiful and present on some roads.

Night driving is highly discouraged due to low lighting and fogging, which reduces visibility. According to a 2018 WHO study, around 1,250 people in Eritrea died of road-related accidents.

Common Vehicles

Pickups and compact cars are the most popular cars in Eritrea, especially in the capital Asmara, where a car that fits right in with crowds and congested areas would come in handy. Compact cars are also easy to maneuver and maintain, fuel-efficient, and affordable. Another popular vehicle in Eritrea is the SUV, which would be efficient for driving on bumpy roads or deserts.

Sedans are also popular in the capital since they are too comfortable to drive and fuel-efficient, and a lot easier to maintain than larger cars. Sedans are also purportedly more affordable. Reports have also noted that the majority of the preferred type of car models in Eritrea are old car models.

Toll Roads

There aren’t any apparent toll roads in Eritrean highways. Regardless, the speed limit must still be followed along with the basic driving rules to ensure safe travel.

Road Situation

Eritrea's roads have a reputation for being asphalted and generally in good condition, driving as a tourist in Eritrea easier. The roads in major cities such as Asmara, Massawa, and Keren are well-maintained for African standards. Despite this, Eritrea was still labeled as one of the deadliest roads to travel on, with 48 deaths per 100,000 people.

Land transportation in some areas of Eritrea is dangerous due to the existence of landmines. There have been several local possibilities made to warn citizens and tourists about landmines. Authorities urge tourists to exercise extreme caution when hiking, strolling or driving in the Gash Barka area.

Driving Culture

While there have been reports of disorderly driving in Eritrea, such as those who go beyond the speed limit, drive intoxicated, and disregard speeding rules, this isn't a generalization. Other citizens follow driving rules and are courteous and helpful to tourists who aren't familiar with their roads. You generally won't get into trouble on the road if you follow the traffic rules and politely ask for assistance as the locals are willing to help you.

Other Tips

There’s more to driving in Eritrea than what one can see. The more equipped you are with knowledge about Eritrea’s driving situations, the better you will be able to navigate the country. Know what speed unit Eritrea uses to ensure that you stay within the limit. When driving in a country you aren’t too familiar with, take note of the road culture of pedestrians to make your driving a safe experience.

Are They Using KpH or MpH

Eritrea is one of the countries that use kilometers per hour as a measurement of speed. The two central units of speed measurement are miles per hour and kilometers per hour. It is essential to know these measurements as they will guide you in ensuring that you are abiding by the speed limit, so you don't get into any trouble with the law.

All in all, only 17 countries continually use mph since 1961 to introduce the SI units. If this gets too daunting for you as a tourist more used to driving using MpH, then know that the conversion is one mile - 1.609 km and one km = 0.62 mile. If the conversion is too much to think about, worry not, as some cars have speedometers that give indications. The bigger number is the central unit of measurement.

Pedestrians and Lighting

Eritrean roads' lighting system is a contributing factor to why driving in Eritrea is particularly difficult, especially at night. Poorly lit roads with inadequate signage can confuse an individual who isn't familiar with Eritrean roads can find themselves in a severe dilemma. Fogs occur in Eritrea and can reduce visibility, so be sure your rented local car has a fully functional wiper and headlights.

Pedestrians and cyclists also make driving in Eritrea challenging due to congested city streets where people would cross whenever they may. Cycling is popular in Eritrea, and this has caused a rampant usage of bicycles without reflective gear, putting them in a dangerous situation. Power outages also occur frequently on top of low lighting, so tourists must avoid going on a nighttime road trip for their safety.

Wildlife is another concern in Eritrea when driving since animals are apt to cross whenever they please. It is essential to check your brakes if they are functional to avoid running over any wild animal. When driving in Eritrea, videos are not permitted for all, including tourists, during your visit to remote military areas, and it is illegal to take pictures as well. Driving in Eritrea might have several challenges, but this is true anywhere else in the world. The learning process of it all makes it an enriching learning experience.

Things To Do in Eritrea

Now that you've gotten yourself familiarized with the driving rules and etiquette and are now a bit more educated on the country's road conditions, you might be wondering what it might be like to live in Eritrea. You might also be wondering what things you can do in the country to make money on the side. These processes are quite complicated but worth knowing. Here are some things related to driving in Eritrea or the Kingdom of Aksum area.

Drive as a Tourist

Tourists can drive in Eritrea provided that they have the proper documents that authorities and car rental companies ask of them. Necessary documents such as a native driver's license and passports are a given. You can get a driving license for driving in Eritrea, but authorities highly recommend tourists to get an International Driver's Permit. Car rental companies usually ask tourists for their IDPs before allowing them to avail themselves of their services.

Work as a Driver

Since you've familiarized yourself with the roads in Eritrea, you might be wondering if you can apply to work as a driver in Eritrea. Asmara, Massawa, and Keren is the concentration of the majority of jobs. SalaryExplorer states that courier or delivery drivers earn about 2,670 ERN per month and the average is 1,830-8,340 ERN.

Several other driver jobs are available in Eritrea, such as bus driver, chauffeur, truck driving jobs, taxi driving jobs, and driving instructors. Before starting any job in Eritrea, be it service jobs or businesses, remember that you must first obtain a work permit or a business permit. Be sure also to acquire a professional driver's license. If you are driving a truck, you need to attend and pass a training test and obtain your license from the Ministry of Transport and Communications.

Work as a Travel Guide

One can work as a travel guide in Eritrea as a means of enjoying traveling and educating tourists and making a living out of it. Travel guides are responsible for touring visitors around the area, and giving insight including additional information regarding the best attractions in the country. Like any other occupation in Eritrea, a work permit and residence permit are needed before beginning.

Apply for Residency

If Eritrea's history and culture were enough to entice you to move to the country, then there are some steps and information you need to be aware of before applying for residency. Eritrea's residents must produce a residency certificate, which they will present for taxes, social security, and driver's license renewal.

According to a Dutch website that deals with residency in Eritrea, the documents needed are:

  • A document proving that authorities have permitted you to reside in Eritrea
  • Proof of nationality in the form of passports and identity cards.

Entry into Eritrea alone has many requirements apart from the essential passport and visa, such as a vaccination for yellow fever prone countries. Residency is usually applied for by volunteers who have spent long periods in Eritrea.

Other Tips

Staying in Eritrea can be a new and rewarding experience. To make the most of your stay in Eritrea, learn about the other things you can do in the country and the other industries you can make a living in and how to gain employment in Eritrea. Other requirements you could possibly need in the country are included here, as well. The first step to a comfortable and remarkable life in Eritrea is your familiarization with the country’s way of life.

Can I Apply for a Visa in Eritrea?

One can apply for an Eritrean visa at the local Eritrean embassies for countries that have them. In case your country does not cater to Eritrean visas, online sources such as YoungPioneerTours can aid you in acquiring Eritrean visas. All you need to present are the requirements and the payable fee when you arrive at the airport.

The only requirements you would need are:

A passport.

  • An application form with a passport photo.
  • The payment and address of your residence in Eritrea.

For the visa pick up, the agency will arrange a tour package for the applicant. Other agencies have requirements such as bank statements and itineraries.

Can I Do Volunteer Work in Eritrea?

The majority of foreigners who flock and stay in Eritrea are volunteers. Eritrea is a poverty-stricken country, so most of its residents are in dire need of assistance. Doing volunteer work will enhance your understanding of the nation and its people and provide you a good boost in your profession. Specific volunteers are needed in Eritrea in medicine since healthcare is scarce in some areas, teaching children and environmental education.

To start volunteering, you first have to find a cause you are passionate about and check if your particular cause is looking for your skills. Create a volunteer resume and send it to the organization. Specific sites have volunteer opportunities for aspiring outreach workers, such as VolunteerMatch and Idealist.

Employment in Eritrea

Eritrea is reportedly getting back on its feet after being in a prolonged economic slump. Foreign investors are starting to show interest in the country's gold mining industry and its livestock trade. Before you begin to work in Eritrea, you would need to obtain an employment visa or business visa. Before issuing your employment visa, you must first head to the Eritrean Ministry of Labor and Human Welfare, the body responsible for issuing work permits.

After three months, you will receive your work permit and are required to have it with you at all times. There are a whole host of jobs you can apply for in Eritrea once you have your permit. According to VisaHunter, websites such as CareerJet have a wide array of jobs in Eritrea, even driving jobs for couriers, trucks, and the like. ESL or English Teaching jobs are also available for application in Eritrea, with sites such as ESL Cafe, ESL Employment offering openings in Eritrea.

Top Road Trip Destinations in Eritrea

If you're ready and equipped to drive in Eritrea, it's time to know the top road trip destinations in Eritrea that put the country on the map. Driving in Eritrea has never been more exciting, thanks to these hidden gems. Here are some of the top destinations in Eritrea.


Traveling in Eritrea can't be complete without heading to the capital. Asmara is perhaps the most well-known area for tourists in Eritrea. Despite Eritrea's reputation as a hermetic African country, Asmara is blooming and booming with life. There isn't a lack of wondrous destinations to see in this tourist-friendly place, such as visiting cathedrals to marvel at the architecture or buying wares as souvenirs at the marketplaces.

The Italian influence is prevalent in Asmara thanks to Roman conquerors. The food in most Eritrean restaurants has a touch of Italian in them, not to mention their coffee is at par with European blends. If what you truly love to gaze upon are architectural marvels, then the Fiat Taglliero and Cinema Roma will make you feel like you're in Italy with the Roman-inspired structures. Architectures in Asmara are so spectacular, they have earned UNESCO status.

Driving Directions:

  • From Asmara International Airport, drive to P-4.
  • Make a left turn, and you should find yourself in the city proper.

Things to Do:

Despite Eritrea being a hermit nation, it undoubtedly hides some beautiful wonders one can visit and discover. From architectures to museums, Eritrea has a flourishing culture seasoned travelers cannot afford to miss.

  • Visit the National Museum of Asmara

If you're looking to go to a place that is rich in history to help you understand and appreciate your travels even more, then the National Museum of Asmara is the place to be. Apart from its gorgeous old-world exterior being a work of art itself, the interior houses artworks by famous Eritrean artists, artifacts and scrolls, and other mementos of Eritrean culture.

  • Marvel at the Cinema Roma

Built in the 1930s, the Cinema Roma in Asmara drips of Italian influence with its architecture and marble exterior. Movies continue to be shown in this theatre that was remodeled in 2004.

  • Admire the Fiat Tagliero

This futuristic design was intended to be a service station but has become a tourist destination. The Fiat Tagliero is more than just a picture worthy attraction as it has helped many drivers stock up on gas and supplies.

  • Enjoy the Asmara Zoo

Fans of wildlife are in for a treat at the Asmara Zoo. This small zoo doesn't disappoint with a wide variety of wildlife ranging from big cats, primates, reptiles, and birds that visitors can delightfully gaze and marvel upon. Located in the Biet-Ghiorgis is the Asmara Zoo which you can visit for a fee.

  • Shop at the Medebar Market

This flea market already looks stunning at a first glance, with an entrance structure reminiscent of Ottoman designs. Medebar Market is popular for its wide array of products that are also recycled materials, as well as spices.


Keren is another one of the major cities in Eritrea that tourists can visit. Keren holds some tourist spots that travelers can come and see. The Camel Market comes alive for tourists to purchase livestock or simply see what trade-in Eritrea looks like. The Monday Market is also present for tourists to shop for produce and household items. You can even visit the Mariam Dearit Shrine to the Virgin Mary, rumored to be 500 years old.

Driving Directions:

  • From Asmara International Airport, continue to P-4.
  • Drive from P-2 to Keren.

Things to Do:

While not as renowned as its counterparts Asmara and Massawa, Keren has recently come into its own as a tourist destination worthy of a visit. From stunning places of worship to markets that give you a glimpse of trade and market life in Eritrea, Keren doesn’t fail to deliver. When driving in this area, have your IDP ready with you in case of police stops.

  • Visit the Mosques and Cathedrals

Keren’s noteworthy places of worship that are also architectural wonders include Assahaba Mosque and the Catholic Cathedral. The Assahaba Mosque is the largest mosque in the country and while entry may be restricted for non-Muslims, you can always marvel at it from afar The Catholic Cathedral is another colossal place of worship with tall pillars and a nice orange facade.

  • Shop at the Keren Market

If you want the whole desert experience of shopping in Eritrea and seeing some products on camels, then visit the Keren Market. Like the Medebar Market, this center boasts a wide variety of products.

  • Admire the Keren Murals

A picture is worth a thousand words, the saying goes. This holds true for the Keren murals which display stories that reflect the way of life in Eritrea.

  • Visit the Italian Army Cemetery

Italy has a strong influence on Eritrea, which made the country a place of conflict between Britain and Italy, resulting in a war. As a result, the majority of the Italian forces died and were buried in this cemetery to commemorate their efforts.

  • Sip Coffee at the African Pension

Eritrea has been hailed for its quality coffee that is at par with European blends. If you want to taste it for yourself, head on over to Africa Pension in Keren which serves Eritrean coffee complete with a traditional ceremony.


Massawa is situated sixty miles south of the capital and near the Dahlak Archipelago. The sights in Massawa are reminiscent of olden kingdoms. Driving in Eritrea city will feel like a trip back in time. The architecture alone draws in attention for being quite similar to Italian towns mixed with Arabian and Turkish and European influence. Architecture is the main attraction of this city, but there's more to Massawa than just a land of infrastructures.

Driving Directions:

  • From Asmara International Airport, take P-4.
  • Drive from P-1 until you reach Massawa.

Things to Do:

The Pearl of the Red Sea is home to Campo, a town square where people come together to make merry and share good food, coming alive at nighttime. There are bars and restaurants around for those looking for a food adventure or some nightlife. Being close to the Red Sea makes Massawa the place to be if you're up for snorkeling, water skiing, diving, or only some seaside relaxation.

  • Explore Dahlak

Two-hundred beautiful islands comprise the Dahlak Archipelago, and in those islands bloom culture and living. Being situated close to water makes Dahlak the ideal place for water activities such as skiing, snorkeling, diving, and swimming. The only thing that's more exciting and awe-inspiring than Dahlak's pristine waters is the marine life that prospers underneath. Turtles, manta rays, dolphins, and other unique fishes make up Dahlak's ecosystem underwater.

  • Soak up the Sun in The Rea Sea

Beachgoers and nature lovers will enjoy the Rea Sea in Massawa. Gergusum Beach is perhaps Eritrea’s most popular beach, located in Massawa. This tourist friendly beach is lined with restaurants and bars so beachgoers can eat and drink by the beach.

  • Visit Massawa Old Town

Take a trip back in time by visiting the Massawa Old Town. Massawa Old Town is notable for having infrastructures reminiscent of Ottoman times. Its greatest spots include shrines and churches built from coral.

  • Explore Taulud Island

Taulud Island houses the Imperial Palace which is now in ruins and Dahlak Hotels for tourist accommodation. It is also noted for its Italian style ambiance with palm trees surrounding the area.

  • Marvel at the Banco d’ Italia

Since Italy has had such a great influence on Eritrea, expect a lot of architecture to have Italian style designs. The Banco d’ Italia is an example of a building in Eritrea that is quite similar to the original in Italy that tourists can visit and feel a bit of Italy in Africa.


Gash-Barka is the largest region in Eritrea in terms of landmass. Its vast lands make it the ideal place for agriculture but did you know that Gash-Barka also has tourist sights to behold? Many travelers are starting to see the wonders of the Gash- Barka and this agricultural town is starting to gain recognition as a tourist destination.

If you want a smooth drive around this lovely country, make sure that you take all the essential documents needed for driving as a foreigner in Eritrea. You also need to bring your home country's Driver's License to Eritrea to drive legally. Since the country does not primarily speak English, it's better to carry an official translator through an International Driver's Permit (IDP) with you.

Don't have it yet? Apply for one now through the International Drivers Association, and it's relatively easy. Input your details, choose the date of validity, and pay. You can expect your printed IDP to arrive within 30 days and your digital IDP within 2 hours or even 20 minutes!

Driving Directions:

  • From Asmara, Take Warsay St and Aarerib St to Denden St.
  • Follow P-2 to Akordat.

Things to Do:

  • Visit Akordat

Located in Gash-Barka, Eritrea, Akordat is where you have to be if you want to know about Eritrea's rich history. Perhaps the most remarkable archaeological site in Qoahito, which is a UNESCO certified site on a plateau. Eritrea's strict tourism policies require visitors to secure a permit before visiting this archaeological wonder.

  • Admire Qoahito

Qoahito is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Eritrea that is a plateau that gives a view of Ambasoira and the Red Sea. Ambasoira is the highest mountain in Eritrea. Qoahito is home ot rich history as it once upon a time housed a civilization, which served as the cataylst for Aksumite civilizations. Admire Qoahito’s archaeological remains which are very telling of the way of life that flourished here in the past.

  • Visit Mount Aylet

Mount Aylet is home to proof of civilization such as cottages and tombs as well as places of worship like mosques. It also houses tombs of their citizens that are on steps which belong to a family, where if a member dies, the said member gets buried in the same grave.

  • Marvel at the Italian Fortress

The Italian Fortress in Gash-Barka once served as a defense against the British Army. Within the fortress lies homes, prisons, and guarding stations that the Italians utilized during battle.

  • Admire the Elephant Corridor

If you’ve always wanted to see and experience wildlife for yourself, then visit the Elephant Corridor in Gash-Bar. The Setit River is the place where elephants flock during mating season and have been increasing in number thanks to conservation efforts.


Adi-Keih or known as the Red Village located in the south of Asmara and is a notable market town. Adi Keih has garnered a reputation for being an ideal place to visit if you wish to see the canyons and other archaeological sightings.

Driving Directions:

  • Continue to P-4.
  • Follow P-3 to your destination in Adi Keyh.

Things to Do:

Despite being still relatively unknown, Adi-Keih houses archaeological wonders that give tourists a glimpse of Eritrea’s past. Adi Keih has something great for history buffs and tourists looking to visit a more nature-centered destination.

  • Visit Metera

Metera might seem like a barren land with two towers but this place has a rich history behind it. This was once upon a time a stop on the port city.

  • Admire Belocalo

Belo Calo is a notable Italian inspired Christian site that served as a pilgrimage area. It is recommended to tour the area with a guide.

  • Go Birdwatching in Adi Keih

The mountainous areas in Adi Keih are not only a hotspot for nature enthusiasts, but a haven for bird-watchers, too. Go birdwatching in Adi Keih and admire the assorted breeds of birds at the Hawatsu Reservoir and Copse.

  • Go Hiking at the Stream Valley

Apart from birdwatching, you can go for a walk at the Stream Valley where you can also find some birds to admire. Moreover, hiking here is also a good exercise if you’re worried about all the food you’ve consumed over your vacation.

  • Admire Kariboso

Kariboso’s location is beautifully situated on the edge of a mountain, making it ideal for viewing the landscape below. One can simply drive and park in the area and go for a walk, exploring the wonders of this area and see some breeds of birds. Apart from wildlife, admire its Juniper forests, the only one of its kind left in Eritrea.


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