The world’s third highest capital, Addis Ababa is Ethiopia’s gateway city with more than enough to keep visitors entertained for a day or two. The starting point of any tour of Ethiopia, Addis is a busy and vibrant city, one of Africa’s most interesting urban centres.

The city houses the headquarters of the African Union, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa and a host of  NGOs and international bodies.

The presence of such important international organisations has resulted in the establishment of a range of comfortable accommodation options and one of Africa’s most modern, hassle-free international airports.

What to see in Addis Ababa

Addis has a number of striking churches and cathedrals which are an excellent introduction for visitors heading north to the more famous sites on the popular Historical Circuit. Any three or four of the below stops make up a full day city tour:

Mount Entoto: just outside the city is scenic Mount Entoto, the original site of the permanent camp established by Emperor Menelik II in 1881. At an elevation of 3,000m, Entoto commands sweeping views over the capital and surrounding countryside. Entoto  was abandoned as in 1889 and the settlement moved down to where the city presently is. There are still the remains of the Imperial Compound, including the churches of Mariam and the Archangel Raguel.

National Museum: houses many archaeological and historical exhibits, including the complete hominid fossil remain of ‘Lucy’ locally known as ‘Dinknesh’ meaning ‘wonderful’.

Ethnological Museum:- on the campus of Addis Ababa University at the Institute of Ethiopian Studies;  aims to showcase the country's historical and cultural heritage. Exhibits on most of the tribal groups in Ethiopia; good for an overview of the history, culture and traditions of the people.

Trinity Cathedral: beautiful church with a baroque- style European architecture unique in both Ethiopia and Africa as a whole, dedicated to the Holy Trinity. Here are scripts of the Imperial families, statues by a Greek sculpture, stained glass windows; paintings from the Old and New Testament and coffins of Emperor Haile Selassie I; the founder of the church, and of his wife.

Merkato:-It is the largest open-air market district in Africa. A chaotic glimpse of a vast range of goods and artifacts available from all parts of the country; experience the Ethiopian trade exchange tradition in the open air; lots to purchase! 

St. George Cathedral: a very traditionally structured building. Menelik II, following his victory over the Italians at the Battle of Adwa, built the octagonal church in 1896. St. George the dragon killer was the patron saint of soldiers’ it is to him that the church is dedicated. Artwork is both modern and traditional church paintings.

Pottery workshop: one of the local cottage industries;  a means of producing household utensils from clay. At the workshop, observe the whole process of making, drying, and firing clay.

Weaving workshop: visit weavers and observe weaving of exquisite traditional clothing (it really is lovely) and selling of products. The main items are of traditional Shema Clothes like Gabi, Netela, etc, made of cotton – styles are distinctive. The national cloth is also made in the same way.  Weaving is done nationally but locally, there are people specializing in making clothing in their tribe’s traditional ways. Notable weavers are the Dorze people, one of the Southern nations and Nationalities .


Derek Schuurman

Travel Specialist

I'm here to tailor-make your perfect holiday. Give me a call and I'll use my expertise to create your personalised experience.
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