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Eritrea Shopping and nightlife

Shopping in Eritrea

Asmara has several interesting markets, but Eritrea is still no place for the avid shopper. Souvenirs are available, ranging from rather uninteresting African souvenirs which you might find in any duty free shop on the continent, to some much more interesting gold and silver jewellery, and religious artefacts such as prayer scrolls, old decorated Bibles, crosses and incense burners, and craft items.

Keren is the best place to hunt for jewellery. Elsewhere in the country, in the west for example, you can find pottery, swords, daggers, traditional haircombs, baskets and other items in the marketplaces. The quality of weaving with grasses for baskets is especially good in the western lowlands.

While many of the textiles worn by Eritreans are attractive, most of the material is imported from the Far East. The Tigrinya shawl (netsela) you will see everywhere in the highlands is the most authentic cloth you can buy in Eritrea, but since the last war it has soared in price, as most were imported from Ethiopia. Eritreans are slowly developing a manufacturing industry of their own and some textile manufacturers are now producing garments for export from cotton grown in the western lowlands.

The marketplaces in towns and cities are always vibrant and fascinating places to wander around. A wide variety of fresh vegetables, fruit, spices and pulses are available in the central market in Asmara. There is also a more craft-oriented market behind the main mosque that sells a wide range of wicker and pottery goods. Although you may find these items for a much cheaper price outside Asmara, this is certainly the most practical place to buy such items.
In Asmara there are also many Italian style grocery shops where you can buy anything from mineral water to Chianti. A wide range of wines, spirits and imported beers can also be bought in these shops.

Shopping hours

Mon-Sat 0830-1300, 1430-2030 (regional variations occur).

Nightlife in Eritrea

Bars in most towns and cities will be busy into the evening, but tend to quieten down or close well before midnight.Discos are normally at weekends and are advertised in the streets.

Among the most popular clubs in Asmara is Shamrock in the Expo grounds on the way to the airport. Other venues include Warsa, in the Godaif district, which has good live music at the weekend, and Mocambo in the city centre. Entrance fees vary from completely free, to Nfa200. There are often bands playing for special occasions.

Asmara has many cinemas which are very popular both for films and screening football matches at the weekend. Do not base your visit to Asmara on its potential nightlife; with the exception of the discos, life shuts down by 2300 and the frequent power cuts often bring the curtain down on a night out. In smaller towns and cities the nightlife can be scarce or non-existent.