Addis Ababa

Travel Guide Africa Ethiopia Addis Ababa

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Introduction

Merkato, Addis Ababa

Merkato, Addis Ababa

© Ivory

Addis Ababa, also spelled Addis Abeba, and the capital of Ethiopia and the African Union, is home to a population of roughly 4 million. The city's name originates from the Amharic word for "New Flower", reflecting its perceived status as a new flower for the continent. The city was founded by the Ethiopian emperor Menelik II in 1886. The site was chosen by his partner, Empress Taytu Betul.

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Neighbourhoods

Bole Road has international crowds with a diversity of shopping and restaurants. Traditionally Ethiopian cuisine can be found alongside Mexican, Asian, and western restaurants. This area also has a lively night life.

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Sights and Activities

If you walk along the road from Meskel Square to Sidest Kilo, you'll probably find it quite entertaining and interesting. You'll see the Africa Hall, the palaces and the Parliament building, the Hilton Hotel, the marvellous architectural adventure of a building hosting the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Sheraton Hotel, the first modern school (which Emperor Menelik II built in the 1880s), the Trinity Orthodox cathedral, the National Museum, and the Addis Ababa University (which hosts a former palace and museum).

Arat Kilo Avenue is marked by a statue built in commemoration of the Ethiopian day of victory during the Second World War, while Sidest Kilo Avenue is marked by a statue commemorating some 39,000 residents of Addis Ababa killed by Italian fascist troops. Around Arat Kilo, you will find part of an old town known as Serategna Sefer (literally, the residential area of labourers).

If you go past Sidest Kilo, the road becomes steeper and many of the attractions will be on the right side of the road. The Entoto college (previously Teferi Mekonnen School) and the US Embassy are on this side of the street. After the Embassy there's an open market called Shiro Meda where traditional craftsmen sell their homemade fabrics, pots and other craftwork. The marketplace is at the foot of the Entoto Mountains, which rise up to 3,300 m (10,827 ft) above sea level.

You can take a taxi or a bus to the mountain unless you are of a mind to try it yourself. On the mountain, you will find the first churches of Addis Ababa, called Saint Mary and Saint Raguel, and a smaller palace of Menelik II. Walking the mountain, especially between the churches, is refreshing and gives the chance to see rural life, the city, forest and unbelievably beautiful landscape intersected by farmlands and farmers trails. It is from here that Menelik II and Queen Taitu conceived the establishment of Addis Ababa. You can get a sense of the city plan by viewing the city from here.

The Merkato claims to be the largest outdoor market in Africa. The market overflows into the adjoining streets and merchants sell their goods from stalls or on the sidewalk. Food, spices, good, crafts, and all most anything you can imagine are available in the Merkato. Roads become crowded with worshipers during Friday service so navigation can be difficult. The Merkato area is notorious for pickpockets so watch your belongings. Violent crime is almost nonexistent.
Addis Ababa Museum, Bole Rd / Airport Rd / Africa Ave (near Meskel Square). Tu–F 08:30–12:30, 13:30–17:30; Sa 08:30–11:30. Focuses on artefacts and exhibits from Addis Ababa. The building was once a palace where Ras Biru Habte-Gabriel, a former Minister of War, resided.
Ethiopian Railway Museum (La Gare).
Ethnological Museum, Algeria St. M–F 08:00–17:00; Sa–Su 09:00–17:00. Also known as the Museum and Library of the Institute of Ethiopian Studies, this is a fascinating museum with exhibits about the history and culture of Ethiopia. There are many displays of the various ethnic groups found in Ethiopia with information about each of their lifestyles. Ethnic outfits, instruments, tools, and other artefacts accompany each ethnic exhibit, making it one of the most interesting museums in the city. It is housed in the former palace of the Emperor Haile Selassie, and you can visit his bedroom. The museum is on the university campus. You will need to show your passport at the main entrance to the university. 100 bir.
National Museum of Ethiopia, King George VI St (between Arat Kilo Ave and the University of Addis Ababa Graduate School). 08:30–17:00. A poorly displayed but interesting museum. The most famous exhibit is the replica of Lucy, an early hominid. With Ethiopian civilization being one of the oldest in the world, the artefacts within the museum span thousands of years, including some from its earliest days. A wide variety of artefacts are featured, from sculptures to clothing to artwork. Both traditional and modern art are featured.
National Postal Museum, Churchill Ave (next to the main post office). A small but good collection of Ethiopian stamps.
Natural History Museum, Queen Elizabeth II St. Tu–Su 09:00–11:45, 13:30–16:30.
"Red Terror" Martyrs Memorial Museum, Bole Rd, Meskel Sq (adjacent to Meskel Sq), ☏ +251 11 850 6730. Daily 08:00–18:30. About those who lost their lives in the time of the Derg. Opened in 2010 with an excellent, modern style of display. Visited in 2019 the building was in a fairly poor state with none of the lights seemingly working. Worth a quick visit, won’t take more than 15 minutes. The memorial does not set out to be an encyclopaedic collection but to be a simple and powerful reminder. Donation.
Gola Saint Michael Church, city centre (next to the Federal immigration office). Very interesting place and one of the many old churches in Addis Ababa. One can see old paintings by many Ethiopian celebrity artists. Has a museum displaying church articles given by many famous people of the country including the emperor Haile Selassie and his Empress.
Holy Trinity Cathedral, off Niger St, Arat Kilo area, Arada subcity. 08:00–13:00, 14:00–18:00; museum: 08:00–12:00, 14:00–17:00. It was built to commemorate the country's liberation from the Italians, and many victims killed by the Italians during occupation are buried here. The locals call the church Haile Selassie Church because Emperor Haile Selassie's body was moved here in 2000. Surrounding the cathedral is a cemetery with notable Ethiopians, including Patriarchs, Prime Ministers, athletes, musicians, and football commentators! The suffragette Sylvia Pankhurst is buried in the churchyard. There is a small museum in the site and a number of smaller churches. As with all churches in Ethiopia shoes must be left outside.
Medhane Alem Cathedral, Cameroon St, Bole subcity (near Bole International Airport). This cathedral, whose name means "Saviour of the World", is the largest cathedral in Ethiopia and the second largest in Africa. Built in 1890, it has a relatively plain exterior but a wonderfully colourful interior, particularly inside the dome.
Roman Catholic Cathedral of Nativity, Wawel St, Mercato district.
St George's Cathedral, north end of Churchill Rd, Piazza area, Arada subcity (north-west side of Menelik Sq). Museum: 09:00–12:00, 14:00–18:00. Built in 1896 to commemorate Ethiopia's victory over the Italians. The cathedral is a octagonal building. As you walk around it, you will notice people praying beside the walls, but it is unlikely that you will find an entrance. The Cathedral can only be visited with a guide. The interior is nicely decorated with huge paintings and mosaics. The near museum has an interesting and well displayed collection including ceremonial clothes and ancient manuscripts. No photography is allowed in the museum, but you can take photos inside the cathedral without flash 100 bir for museum, ~200 bir for a guide for museum and cathedral.
Unity Park. 9-4 daily, last entry at 3pm. Opened in October 2019 this is one of the must see sights in Addis Ababa. The expansive site is home to the Palace of Emperor Menelik II, including his Throne Room and Banquet Hall, along with two newly constructed zoos (still being built as of Jan 2020), exhibitions, sculptures, and wonderful beds of flowers. It is probably the best presented site in Ethiopia, the pet project of the Prime Minister, whose office is also on the sight. Allow 2-3 hours to visit. Note that security is extremely strict, with no food or water allowed to be brought in (but can be bought inside) and cameras have to be checked, but mobile phones are fine. You will need to show your passport to enter. For non-Ethiopians 600 bir (USD20) for normal entry, or 1,500 bir (USD50) for VIP entry with a guide allowing access into the Palace on a three hour tour.

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Events and Festivals

Addis International Film Festival

This acclaimed film festival features both international and local movies, documentaries and shorts. It celebrates the growing African motion picture industry from May 14 through 19.

Tensae Cycle Race

An annual Easter race, athletes from all over the world come to compete and watch as cyclists complete 22 laps around the Addis Ababa Stadium.

Ethiopian Film and Music Festival

Two festivals in May that bring Ethiopia's culture center stage, you can expect outdoor film screenings, as well as a series of musical events and concerts that celebrate the wide variety of genres and styles that have emerged in the country.

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Weather

As Addis Ababa is located at around 2,400 metres above sea level, it rarely gets warm and temperatures can actually drop close to zero during the colder months. Temperatures rarely hit more than 30 °C though during the hotter days in summer. Temperatures average between 21 °C (July-August) to 25 °C (March-May) during the day, dropping to a rather chilly 5 °C (December) to 10 °C (April-August) at night. The rainy season lasts from late May to September, with July and August seeing much more rain than any other month, around 300 mm each month. October to January is fairly dry.

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Avg Max24 °C24 °C25 °C24 °C25 °C23 °C21 °C21 °C22 °C23 °C23 °C23 °C
Avg Min15 °C16 °C17 °C17 °C18 °C17 °C16 °C16 °C16 °C15 °C14 °C14 °C
Rainfall15 mm35 mm65 mm85 mm75 mm120 mm235 mm245 mm140 mm30 mm5 mm5 mm
Rain Days357101020272618411

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Getting There

By Plane

Bole International Airport (ADD) is the busiest airport in East Africa. It is the main hub for Ethiopian Airlines, one of the most successful and reputable airlines in Africa, offering superior service on international flights to any of the US carrier members of the Star Alliance. The airport also hosts Lufthansa, Sudan Airways, Kenya Airways, British Airways, KLM, Turkish Airways, Emirates, Gulf Air, Egypt Air and fly Dubai. There are daily flights from Europe, the United States, Asia, and many African cities including Accra, Bamako, Brazzaville, Cairo, Dakar, Dar es Salaam, Djibouti, Khartoum, Harare, Johannesburg, Nairobi. From the U.S., there are direct flights from LAX, Newark Liberty, and Washington, D.C., stopping over at either Dublin or Lomé.

There are two terminals. Terminal 1 (the older, smaller one) is for all domestic flights and most flights to cities in neighbouring nations (Djibouti, Nairobi, Khartoum, etc.). Terminal 2 (the newer 2003 building) is for all other international flights of Ethiopian Airlines and most other companies – arrangements may change so check first. Terminal 2 is said to be the largest terminal in sub-Saharan Africa. There are ATMs accepting Visa and Mastercard and forex services taking a wide range of currencies. Travellers' cheques and cash can usually be exchanged at the airport.

Access into the terminals is restricted, as of July 2012. Taxis and anyone who comes to meet you will be out in the carpark, though a dozen of the top hotels still have a booth inside the arrivals area. Similar rules apply at the other airports in the country, for both arrivals and departures. Many hotels will send a vehicle to pick up guests if you have arranged it. The Sheraton Addis, Dreamliner, Hilton Addis, most other hotels, and many popular guesthouses provide a regular shuttle service for guests. There is a public transport stop a bit outside, under the highway (Ring Road) bridge. As of 2017, the airport is more than 4 km (2.5 mi) from the closest Light Rail Transit Station, which makes it unconnected in practice. In the future, a new line is planned to connect Bole Airport to the rest of the Light Rail Transit network.

There is a fixed taxi fee of 300 birr to get from the airport to practically any place in the city center, as of December 2018. Taxi drivers gather in a parking lot next to the airport. Most likely they will approach you shouting "Taxi!". Legit drivers should have their car marked in yellow/green color and place a license in a visible place.

Foreigners are often greeted by a throng of locals attempting to "help" load their luggage into cars. They're largely harmless and just looking for a tip, but it could be easy to lose a bag. An appropriate tip for a minor task like loading luggage into a car is 5 to 15 birr (ignore requests for more money just because you are a foreigner). If you have one person help you, twenty will ask for a tip. If you have a driver pick you up at the airport they will typically take care of any tips for you. Avoid walking alone around the airport, especially at night.

The main Ethiopian ticket office in Addis is said to be in the Hilton Hotel.

By Train

Addis Ababa Furi-Lebu railway station is an impressive new station unfortunately located almost 20 km (12 mi) south of city center, far away from anything. Taking a taxi is the best option, expect up to 45 minutes for a trip to the central city.

The railway line connecting Addis Ababa with the port city of Djibouti, via Dire Dawa opened in 2016/17. Journey time is about twelve hours and as of 2019 there is one train every second day. Tickets can be bought at the railway station or at a ticket office next to the old colonial Legehar station (a portmanteau of the French name for station, la gare) on Churchill Ave.

By Car

Cars are available for hire from several major travel agencies. For guided tours with transportation provided check out Abeba Tours located in the Ras Hotel. Most tour companies provided a driver and/or English speaking guide, fuel, and insurance. These tours typically cost €80- 100 a day all inclusive.

By Bus

Public and private buses and minibuses run between major towns in Ethiopia. Most buses can be caught near the train station Addis Ababa. Travel times can vary depending on road conditions and traffic incidents.

  • Bahir Dar- Travel to Bahir Dar can range from eight to ten hours by bus.
  • Dessie- Dessie is approximately 12 hours from Addis Ababa by bus.
  • Lalibela- Lalibela is a two day journey with a stop in Dessie by public bus.

Selam Bus is a new upscale bus line connecting Addis Ababa with several major towns in the north. Prices are fixed and non-negotiable and service is convenient. Cake and drinks are provided on long distance journeys.

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Getting Around

By Car

Few people bother renting a car, other than expats who basically have their own car. It's neither necessary nor economical to travel around by car. If you insist, take a taxi or a car with a driver.

By Taxi

Uber does not operate here yet, but there are a few alternatives. Zayrides is one that has worked, albeit somewhat more wonkily. It's often easier to find a cab on the street, unless you're somewhere inside a restaurant or hotel until the driver arrives. They will typically call you when they accept the ride to confirm your location and then again when they arrive. The car's location in the app will often not update.

Small blue Lada taxis
Small blue Lada taxis are more expensive. Negotiation is the norm and you often have to press quite hard to get a bargain as a foreigner. They can be contracted for a single trip, an hour, or a full day; just negotiate. Do not be surprised if the price of the taxi increases at night for the same trip. For example the trip Piazza-Bole Airport can be as low as 100 birr at day, but rises to 150 after dark.

Yellow taxis
Yellow and green taxis usually hang around hotels like Sheraton. They are more expensive, but reliable. If you're willing to pay for peace of mind, slightly better drivers and a car that wasn't featured in the Flintstones, use these cars.

By Public Transport

Blue and white minibuses
Blue and white minibuses/taxis travel quite efficiently around town. Since they are full with people most of the time, it is very cheap too; usually between 1–3 birr depending on how far you are going. To catch a minibus, stand on the side of the road and hail it. This can be done anywhere it is possible for the bus to stop. The conductor inside will call out the destination, and if that's where you want to go: get on. You pay the conductor when he signals to you that he wants money (which might take a few minutes). To get change. To get out say "woraj alle", or just "woraj". It is worth having an Ethiopian guide with you if it is your first time using these taxis, since it can be quite chaotic to find out what minibuses go where, and from what places.

Orange/yellow public buses
These buses connect the whole city for a fare of 0.5–3 birr (2016). There are no schedules or maps available, however if you wait on a major street where a crowd gathers you can ask other people or the cashier – which is always in a cabin at the back door – for your destination. Line 31 for example is a convenient line from Meskel Square to the National Museum or Trinity Church. The buses are often overcrowded, so watch your belongings.

By light rail
The Chinese built a system of light rail lines (one of the first in sub-Saharan Africa) in the 2010s. There are two lines that cross near Meskel square:

West–East green line 1 is from Tor Hailoch station to Ayat.
North–South blue line 2 is from Kality station to Menelik II Square station (aka Piazza).

Cost is 2 birr for an 8-station trip and up to 6 birr to go everywhere. Development along light rail stations is going on at breakneck pace and many former slums have been replaced by relatively upscale housing businesses and retail.

During peak hours the light rail is so crowded as to be almost dangerous.

By Foot

Walking in Addis Ababa is relatively safe and convenient. Many neighbourhoods are close together and major roads often have sidewalks.

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Eat

Food is generally cheap. Make sure you try the national dish injera at least once, since there is no other food like it. It is a yeast-risen flat bread with a unique, slightly spongy texture. It is traditionally made out of teff flour. In making injera, teff flour is mixed with water and allowed to ferment for several days, as with sourdough starter. As a result of this process, injera has a mildly sour taste. It's what the locals eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Most ordinary Ethiopian restaurants have it, and a serving for 2 people with free refills can be as cheap as 15 birr.

Ethiopian, western, and a diversity of other international restaurants are available in Ethiopia's capital. For traditional Ethiopian food check out one of the many cafes. Pastries and desserts are also readily available. Italian influence on the area has made spaghetti and pizza a staple for the area.

Antica, off Cape Verde St / EU Rd, Bole (in the residential area just behind the Sudanese restaurant, near Desalegn hotel). Decent pizza, and one of the only delivery services available in Addis that does not require bulk orders. Pizza tends to arrive cold.
Bruno's, Meskel Flower Rd, across from the Dreamliner hotel (look for the Italian themed gate). A quiet, tucked-away Italian restaurant, it has some of the best pizza in the city, on a beautiful compound. Parking is extremely limited both on the street and within the restaurant; if you plan on dining in, take a taxi.
Buffet de la Gare Hotel, south of Churcill Ave, off Ras Mekonen Ave, Leghar area, Kirkos subcity (behind Lion of Judah, next the old railway station), ☏ +251 11 551 7125, +251 11 551 7888, fax: +251 11 515959. Quiet ambiance remaining from decades when railway was working, with old Italian regulars. Fair quality/price ratio. 120 birr.
Giordana's/Capri restaurant (Capri Gourmet), ECA Rd (in a small side street off of Djibouti St. Pass Lion International Bank on your right and take first left). The friendly Giordana is a well known TV chef. This place is worth seeking out for its excellent pasta and other Italian food.
2000 Habesha Cultural Restaurant (Habesha 2000), TeleBole Rd (between Atlas Hotel and Edna Mall). One of Addis Ababa's famous cultural restaurants, it has traditional singing and dancing at night. If you're feeling brave, try the gored gored (cubes of heavily salted and spiced raw beef). Waiters are well mannered and kind, and most are very talented dancers. Features a large buffet with many kinds of wat/wot (Ethiopian stew), injera, shiro, vegetables, and other dishes. Their "fasting" menu (meatless or vegan dishes typically served to religiously observant diners) is excellent and will satisfy most vegetarians and vegans.
Kaldi Coffee, Bole Rd. With a sign similar to Starbucks. Has great porridge. A few other locations around the city.
Lime Tree, Boston Partners Building, Bole Rd (above the Boston Day Spa). While Ethiopian food is delicious there comes a time when you might want to try something else. Extensive menu, ranging from Arabic to Ethiopian food. They do have a consistency which is quite hard to find here. Own brand of coffee, which is a more bitter version of the general Ethiopian coffee you find, but if this appeals to you then you can not find this coffee anywhere else. Limetree owns several other restaurants in town, ask them for recommendations for a bit more variety.
Sana'a Restaurant, KL_02_246 St, Gabon St, Olympia area, Kirkos Subcity (next to Deluxe Furnitures Bldg, not far from Bole Rd), ☏ +251 911 51 4899, +251 11 466 8237. A very popular restaurant with amazing Yemeni food, visited by locals and middle-east customers. But indoor room can be a little bit noisy. 250 birr.
Sishu, Alexander Pushkin St (another location Mickey Leland St near Ghana St). Fabulous burgers (often called the best in Addis), nice salads and juices. Designed like a living room, with little bookstore. They only serve American coffee.
Trianon Cafe and Restaurant, Piazza Area, Cunnigham St. Huge hall where the locals gather to enjoy pizza, pasta and meat dishes. Decent price.
Yod Abyssinia, Seychelles St. A traditional cultural restaurant, favored by expats and the diplomatic community for treating visitors. Serves Hakim Stout, an excellent (even by international standards) dark Harari beer produced by Heineken that can be difficult to find. Multiple locations, but the popular ones are in Bole and in Mekanisa/Sar Bet area (Old Airport, on Seychelles St. about 600 m due west of Adams Pavilion).
Island Breeze, Cunningham Street, Piassa (A blue building on the corner, across from the post office). A tropical island themed restaurant serving Mexican food and pizza. Pizzas are made with high quality cheese, lacking at most other places. 100–150 birr.
Cupcake Delight Bakery, Djibouti St, Bole (Across from the Beer Garden Inn). A bright, vibrant, bustling cafe serving cupcakes, cakes, fruit juices and coffees. 20–30 birr per baked product.
Rodeo Addis, Bole Rd, Wollo Sefer area, near crossing Ethio-China Friendship Rd (leaving Wollo Sefer roundabout toward Meskel square on Bole Rd, turn on first left just after the "Rodeo" signboard, then turn on first left again), ☏ +251 11 551 0694, +251 911 39 2868. Texas-style restaurant with meat and American specialities. Good ambiance at night. 200 birr.
Istanbul International Restaurant, BL_03_646 St, off Bole Rd, Bole subcity (500m south from Edna Mall, in front of Ukraine Embassy), ☏ +251 91 017 4728, +251 91 047 4717, ✉ istanbulrest.20@hotmail.com. Turkish cuisine with various dishes, feature classical "mixed kebab" as well as less known specialities like "tray kebab". The appetisers are tasty. 200 birr.
Asli Mendi Ethio-Arabic Restaurant, Zimbabwe St, off Bole Rd, Rwanda area, Bole subcity (next to Aladdin restaurant, near Japan Embassy), ☏ +251 91 182 0129. Yemeni-style cuisine, decorated as a Bedouin tent, quiet ambiance. 190 birr.
Five Loaves Bistro and Bakery, Côte d'Ivoire St, Aware area, Yeka subcity (near Ethiopian Woman Federation Memorial Sq, around Aware Adebabaye), ☏ +251 91 122 2976, +251 91 341 6161 (Theo), +251 91 120 3207 (Lili). W-M, closed on Tuesday. A bakery which also propose lunch with high quality product, including strawberry tartlets, French cheese, hams and a "Gorgonzola burger". Brunch on Sunday. 250 birr.
Dashen Terara Traditional Restaurant, D.A.R Sahara St, Aware area, Yeka subcity (in front of Meles Zenawi Foundation, near Ethiopian Woman Federation Memorial Sq), ☏ +251 11 554 1437, +251 91 120 1723, +251 93 251 3395, ✉ tsegedagnew@yahoo.com. High-quality traditional Ethiopian cuisine, in a nice house and garden. One of the oldest restaurant in Addis Ababa, it was relocated in 2015. Probably one of the best option for farenjis to discover in quiet ambiance Ethiopian dishes: chikena tibs, beyayentu. 210 birr.
Yilma, BL_03_519 St, off Mike Leyland St, Chechenia area, Bole subcity, ☏ +251 91 149 0909. The best restaurant for Ethiopian traditional beef meat, it serves only tibs (cooked) and tresega (raw), as well as many different style of meats. Local drink speciality is called "punch". Populated with upper-class of Addis Ababa. 200 birr.
Café du Louvre, Louvre Grand Hotel, off Togo St, Aware area, Yeka subcity (near British Embassy, in front of Mesrak Tvet Collage, logo on top visible from Togo St), ☏ +251 11 618 7755, +251 91 191 9382, +251 91 082 8747, ✉ info@louvregrandhotel.com. A French restaurant decoration them on old Paris. Special dish is Coucous every Thursday for 350 birr. As at 2020 the hotel was a pleasant spot but the food was not exciting best to come here for red wine and cheese. 220 birr.

  • China Bar And Restaurant - A high-end Chinese restaurant in Meskel Square. This restaurant provides traditional chinese dishes at a reasonable price. The entrees are good and desserts are great.
  • Restaurants in the Sheraton - High end Ethiopian and western restaurants at western prices check out the options at the Sheraton.
  • Top View Restaurant - An upscale restaurant with amazing views. This is the most beautiful restaurant in Addis Ababa. It was originally a grand housed built by a minor royal, Dejazmach Wendirad Defabachew, who was a hero in the Battle of Adwa 1896. It is now a series of tasteful buildings, small gardens and ornate fountains overlooking all of Addis Ababa and the Entoto Mountains. Sitting on the terrace and enjoying a good meal outdoors is one of the best dining experiences in the city. The food is good. Not fantastic, just good. Service is good, but in slow times you may need to peek your head inside and ask them to come. The only drawback of this place is that you almost exclusively need to take a small taxi to get here. Near the Megenagna Roundabout, Addis Ababa Ethiopia telephone 627340/50.

La Mandoline, Chechenia, next to Caravan Hotel. Delicious French cuisine. Great outdoor seating area. Breakfast on weekends. As at 2020 food here was great but not cheap. Main course plus a few drinks and dessert cost $60-70 for two. edit
Le Diamant, National Tower 4F, General Abebe Damtew St, Leghar (New red & white building written "Debub National Bank", next to Stadium, behind Ethiopian Hotel), ☏ +251 91 152 8585, ✉ info@lediamantaddis.com. Open in 2017, held by a French-Mexican chief and a French owner. (updated Mar 2017 | edit)
Gusto Ristorante, ZTE Tower, 3F, Churchill Ave, Posta Bet area (at crossing with Zambia St, near Tiglachen monument, in front of Tikur Anbessa Secondary School), ☏ +251 11 126 2126, +251 93 449 7861, +251 93 449 7862, ✉ reservation@gustoaddis.com. A luxury Italian restaurant, with meats pizzas and seafood. Tagliatelle Bolognese for 200 birr & Ossobuco for 350 birr.
Jewel of India, KL_02_246 St, Gabon St, Olympia area, Kirkos Subcity (Facing Sana'a, not far from Bole Rd), ☏ +251 11 557 2510, +251 91 121 3795, +251 91 121 4320, +251 91 120 0230, fax: +251 11 553 3489, ✉ info@jeweladdis.com. Indian restaurant with 500+ entry on it menu. Eating is possible inside and in terrace. 300 birr.

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Drink

The national drink of Ethiopia is 'tej', which is brewed from honey. You can also try 'tela' which is like a beer.

Bailamos, Bole Rd (on the top floor of the Novis building). Club with a surprisingly vibrant salsa scene on the weekends. Live music every Saturday, soft rock, salsa, R&B, and the band is surprisingly good. However, this is considered a lower end club, more targeted to those with a limited budget such as college students.
Black Rose, Boston Bldg, Bole Rd (above the Boston Day Spa). The energetic atmosphere is dark yet comfortable and fashionable, and the bar serves a variety of drinks. Live jazz jam session every Th night.
Divine, Bole Rd (on the top floor of Sheger House). Very Western-oriented playlist, with ample space for relaxing and a pumping dance floor on weekends. edit
Dome Club, Debre Zeyit Rd (Hotel Concorde). Sticky and dark, more of a dive bar/club.
Gaslight. Fancy nightclub at the Sheraton. Inside it feels like an upscale Western disco. Don't wear jeans or trainers/sneakers, as they have a fairly strict dress code. Although there is no entrance fee, be prepared to pay heavily for drinks.
Illusion, cnr Ras Desta Damtew St & Itegue Taitu St (under the Ambassador Theatre). Dance till 05:00. Very crowded on weekends, yet that adds to its charm.
Aladdin restaurant, Zimbabwe St, off Bole Rd, Rwanda area, Bole subcity (near Japan Embassy), ☏ +251 11 661 4109, +251 11 861 7731, +251 92 992 3492, ✉ aladdinrestaurantplc@gmail.com. Armenian and Mediterranean restaurant. Serves fine Middle-Eastern food, various mezzes including a gorgeous tabbouleh. In quiet atmosphere, perfect for a romantic diner. Very expensive but authentic and delicious. 290 birr.
Castellis in Piazza, Churchill St/Piazza area. Top Italian restaurant here since 1942. With famous guests such as Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt there is a reason that Castelli's manages to attract such a crowd. This is where the Italian embassy staff goes to eat. Amazing food, amazing desserts, call for a reservation or risk disappointment, even at lunch time, as this is a trendy place to be seen.

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Sleep

Addis Guest House, Djibuti St. The restaurant at Addis Guest House run by an American raised Ethiopian named Yonas serves a good selection of western foods including great French toast for breakfast. It is worth the trip just to meet Yonas who may be the best tour guide you can find in the city. edit and are fairly clean; below are just a few examples. More cheap hotels are around Mike Leyland Street in Bole area.
Itegue Taitu Hotel, St between Cunningham St and Dejazemach Jote St, Piazza area, Arada subcity, ☏ +251 913 803224, +251 929 308230, +251 963 979797. As at 2013 rooms are about 380 birr in the main building and 150 birr in the cheapest annex building. A large room with balcony is 177 birr. Rooms are mostly clean and have good and large beds. Good value for money, very quiet. Only toilets and shower are in despicable condition. The main building is the oldest stone-building in Addis, and the hostel is the first hotel in Ethiopia: it was built by Empress Taitu Betul around 1906.; As at late 2019 it was impossible to book this hotel through their website -you need to ring them.; There is a large restaurant and nice outside cafe. Vegan lunch buffet for 105 birr every day (2020). The toilets in the restaurant are excellent. The buffet is something of an institution and popular with locals and tourists.
Baro Hotel, Mundy St (Piazza and across from Wutma Hotel), ☏ +251 11 155 1447, +251 11 157 4157, fax: +251 11 553 7439, ✉ abenet@baro.com.et. One of the cheapest options in Piazza. Small restaurant on site but very limited and expensive food selection. Old decor and cramped, but decent value. Accept Visa without commission. They might not confirm your booking until you arrive. Single 230 birr.
Wutma Hotel, Mundy St (Piazza and across the Baro Hotel). Some good and clean rooms, some not so much, so have a look first. Restaurant downstairs that often has UK Premier League and other foodball games on a big screen with lots of locals coming to watch, so expect noise. From 210 birr with ensuite toilet/shower.
Worku Bikila Hotel, Dukem (about 20 km south-west of Addis Ababa). Thriving hotel for budget to mid-range travellers. edit
Park Hotel. A cheapy starting at 20 birr but the rooms aren't exactly clean.
Filwoha Hotel, ☏ +251 11 511404. Near the hot springs.
Hawi, Debre Zeit Rd (south of the city centre).
Holiday Hotel, Haile Gebresilassie Rd (near the Plaza Hotel), ☏ +251 11 661 2081.
Axum Hotel, Haile Gebresilassie Rd, ☏ +251 11 188832.
Beer Garden Inn. Near the airport, its menu specialises in German delicacies such as cheese noodles and grilled chicken washed down with wheat beer. A half litre costs 11 birr.
Desalegn Hotel, 390 Cape Verde St, ☏ +251 11 6624524, ✉ desalegn@telecom.net.et. US$76.
GT Guest House, Sierra Leone St (a mile from Mesqel Sq), ☏ +251 922 451639, ✉ lewamgebre@gtguesthouse.com. Provides accommodation for business, leisure travellers, families and groups.
Martin's Cozy Place-German Guesthouse (near the Atlas and almost opposite the side of the hotel). Popular for business people or expats based in the city. Offers a range of services for tourists and it is a homey place for a few nights. single room 252 birr shared bathroom.
Ras Hotel Ras Hotel, Churchill Ave/Gambia St (just north of the railway station), ☏ +251 11 517060, +251 11 447060. One of the oldest hotels in Addis. Single rooms cost around 120 birr.
Wabe Shebelle Hotel, ☏ +251 11 551 7187. US$52.
Yilma Hotel (Mekanessa area). Costs about US$25 per night for tourists. Restaurant/cafe with cableTV that plays news and sports channels. They serve food until c. 22:00-23:00. The staff is very nice and friendly. They have room service for no added charge. The rooms are minimal but have decent bathrooms with hot water heaters for the shower, flush toilets and tiled floors.
Z Guest House. This a nice family-run bed & breakfast in a quiet residential area has clean rooms and beautiful furnished apartments with fully-equipped kitchens and satellite TV. Is less than one mile from Piassa, only about 12 minutes from the airport. From US$29.95/night for a single suite.
Keba Guest House, Yeka Subcity, Wereda 8, Kebele 13/14, Houseno 556,Yeka 34155 Addis Ababa (near the UK embassy), ☏ +251 910137131, +251 921332889. Family run place,reasonable rooms and very helpful staff. Only downside a little distance from major sights. Can book with internet booking sites. Tucked away in back street very near the Le Louvre Hotel and near to UK embassy. If you don't have GPS you need to familiarise yourself with the route from the embassy as taxis will have trouble finding the guest house but will know the embassy. 25 per double$.
Tirago Hotel, off Mike Leyland Street (Not far from Haile Gebreselassie Rd). This hotel is newish as of 2020 and everything works. The staff are very helpful and the manager speaks fluent English. Can book on internet booking sites. 1495ETB per double.
Addis Ababa Hilton, Central Menelik Ave, ☏ +251 11 518400, fax: +251 11 510064. Airline agents, money changing, restaurant, bar, gym, sauna, swimming pool, internet access.
Dimitri Hotel, Kebele 16-18 CMC Road, ☏ +251 11 645 3282. Yeka district. Peaceful surroundings in contemporary city area. Many free services, including in-room wireless internet and premium satellite TV.
Ghion Hotel, Ras Dasta Damtew St (near Maskal/Abbiott Square), ☏ +251 11 513222, +251 11 443170.
Harmony Hotel, Bole Sub city Kebele 03 House # New, ☏ +251 11 618 3100, ✉ info@harmonyhotelethiopia.com. Comfortable 4-star hotel in Bole (near airport). Rooms of a good international standard. Fast wired and wireless internet in rooms. There is a good restaurant, plus fast food outlet and Indian restaurant. There is also a swimming pool and health centre. US$70.
Bole International Hotel, 2221 Cameroon St (downtown near beginning of Bole Rd), ☏ +251 11 663 3000. About US$40 per night. Clean and rooms are huge with living room, separate bedroom, many bathrooms include large tub. Staff is very nice and rooms have enormous balconies overlooking the green open areas of the Sheraton hotel and views of Mt. Entoto. A great place to stay if you need easy access to the Bole Airport without risking traffic delays. From US$65 for a single, US$85 for a small double, payment in cash only, no Visa.
Jupiter International Hotel, Africa Ave, Airport Rd, ☏ +251 11 661696 (Bole), +251 11 5526418 (Cazanchise), ✉ Info@jupiterinternationalhotel.com. An aspiring 4-star hotel with two locations in Addis Ababa. The largest property located in the Cazanchise area in walking distance from the UNECA building, near the airport. USD90–200.
Panorama Hotel (Bole Sub-city Kebele), ☏ +251 91 183 6692. Nice, clean rooms. 4-star dining and bar. Very nice lobby area. From US$59/night.
Sheraton Addis, Central Yohanis St, ☏ +251 11 517 1717, fax: +251 11 517 2727, ✉ reservationsaddisethiopia@luxurycollection.com. Known to expats as the "Sheza", this huge luxurious hotel was built by an Ethiopian billionaire, who is also Ethiopia's largest employer after the government. This is the place to go for 5-star opulence. It also one of few places in Addis where you can get cash from an ATM or credit card.
Wassamar Hotel, Bole Rd, ☏ +251 11 661 0059, ✉ info@wassamarhotel.com. Comfortable three/four star hotel in Bole (near airport). Several floors of rooms all of good standard. Wired and wireless internet are available. A courtesy bus is available to and from the airport. USD95.

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Work

There is a high demand for IT professionals.
Many start-up companies search for individuals with computer networking and consulting background.
Addis Ababa has the highest number of NGOs in Africa, and possibly in the entire Third World. They are well known for paying good salaries for their employees.
The unemployment rate in Addis is low according to the Nazret.com (8% of the population in Addis Abeba were unemployed in 2008).
Many expatriates work in NGOs and small start-up IT companies.
Compared to other African cities, Addis Ababa has a high number of big, medium and small computer training schools, governmental and private learning institutions. Many students who attend there hope to land an IT or consulting job in the city's very tight job market.

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Learn

Addis Ababa University is the largest and the oldest university in Ethiopia. It was originally named "University College of Addis Ababa" at its founding, then renamed for the former Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie I in 1962, receiving its current name in 1975. Although the university has six of its seven campuses within Addis Ababa (the seventh is located in Debre Zeit, about 45 kilometres away), it also maintains branches in many cities throughout Ethiopia, leading to the claim of being "the largest university in Africa."

The government assigns qualified students to these universities upon completion of secondary school. Students also attend other private colleges, such as Unity College. Addis Ababa University was founded in 1950 at the request of Haile Selassie by a Canadian Jesuit, Dr Lucien Matte as a two-year college, and began operations the next year. Over the following two years an affiliation with the University of London was developed.

There is also Theological College of the Holy Trinity, a theological school of higher education located in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. It provides religious and secular education to both clergy and lay members of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, as well seeking to be a centre of theological and ecclesiastical study for all Oriental Orthodox Churches as well.

Founded as a high school by Emperor Haile Selassie in 1942, the college division was added in 5 October 1960, and the elementary education section eliminated on 18 December 1961 and the college became one of the chartered units of this first National University of Ethiopia.

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Keep Connected

Internet

Internet is slow and is better early in the morning or middle of the night. There are numerous internet cafes in Addis Ababa, Dire Dawa, Nazret, Bahir Dar, Gonder, Awasa and other cities; however their speeds are often dial-up at best, and some operate illegally. In Addis Ababa, connection speeds are more than adequate for performing tasks such as checking e-mail most of the time.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

Ethiopa's international telephone code is 251.

For all travellers, having a mobile phone is a must. It is cheap and easily available. There are only a few stores renting SIM cards including ArifMobile. However, purchasing a SIM is inexpensive, and can be done anywhere that sells phones. The best spot is to buy it at a Ethio Telecom shop to not get ripped of. A SIM card costs 15 birr and the system requires the seller to take a photo of you and your passport information to activate your SIM. You'll have to sign an agreement that you will not commit any crimes with your phone. All local stores will have calling cards you can purchase to call internationally. For domestic calls, phones are topped up with a prepaid card, available in denominations of 2000, 500, 100, 50 and 25 birr and smaller.

Post

The Ethiopian postal service is one of the most efficient postal services in Africa.

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Quick Facts

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Coordinates
  • Latitude: 9.01157
  • Longitude: 38.75933

Accommodation in Addis Ababa

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This is version 32. Last edited at 15:00 on Aug 24, 20 by Utrecht. 37 articles link to this page.

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