Last year I visited Ethiopia for the first time and stayed in Addis Ababa. Addis Ababa is typically a transit hub for those travelling to and from countries. That being said, with this post I want to show you that you can find plenty of things to do there and why it's a worth while stopover. This is an 8-day recap of my trip to Addis in April 2019. Noting the places, I visited and the restaurants I ate at.
Day 1. As it was our first day, we took the time to relax, get our bearings and find a driver during our stay. This was successful and we found Mango. He was a great driver and really friendly with recommendations of perfect places to see.
The most eventful moment of the day was on our way out for dinner. We decided to walk to find a nearby restaurant and ran into a couple of people who were trying to pick pocket us by act of distraction. Thankfully we noticed what they were attempting to do and managed to get away with our belongings. So my one tip for after dark is to remain vigilant.
Dinner location: Wow Burger (££)
Day 2. Today we decided to do a city tour. Within this tour we visited the Holy Trinity Cathedral. Paying an entrance fee gets you a guided tour around the cathedral. You'll get to see the inside of the cathedral as well as the museum on the grounds. Next up was the National Museum of Ethiopia home to the remains of (Lucy) one of our oldest ancestors. We also had lunch in a restaurant on the grounds of the museum. After lunch we went for a drive to the African Union Headquarters.
Dinner location: Diplomat restaurant (£££)
Pictured: Inside Holy Trinity Cathedral
Video: Stain glass windows in Holy Trinity Cathedral
Video:African Union Headquarters
Day 3. We ventured out a little further to Entoto Mountain. Prior to arriving at the top of the mountain, we stopped at a 1800-year-old cave like house, which you had to walk through the woods to reach. Whilst there we visited the outside of Entoto Maryam Church. Not far from the church is the remains of Menelik II's palace. The nearby Entoto Maryam Museum is full of the usual collection of royal clothes but interestingly it includes the royal bed and crown once used by King Menelik II.
Lunch location: Five Loaves (£££)
Dinner location: Lime Tree (££)
Pictured: Entoto Maryam Church
Pictured: Jazz at the entrance of the cave home
Pictured: From left to right, Jazz in the woods and the entrance to Menelik II's palace
Pictured: Jazz at a viewing point on Mount Entoto and at Maryam Church
Video: Mango posing with the view of the city behind him
Day 4. Thursday was all about visiting the volcano crater lakes. This was an early start as we were off on a short road trip to Oromo. Our first stop was to the Pyramid Resort in Bishoftu where we enjoyed fresh fruit juices with the view of Lake Bishoftu in the background. This brief stop was shortly followed by a drive to Lake Babogaya. We had a buffet lunch at the Adulala resort and then further explored the surrounding area and the Babogaya Lake itself with a boat ride around the lake.
Dinner location: Pizza Hut (£££)
Pictured: Lake Bishoftu
Video: Lake Babogaya
Day 5. Friday we were off to Washa Mikael rock hewn church made by two Ethiopian kings. It was excavated from one huge solid rock. The ruins of this church are all thats left as it stopped its use in 1878. There are suggestions that it was bombed during the Ethio-Italian war between 1928 and 1933. It's an underground church. From July to October it's usually flooded, so its best visited at the beginning of the year.
We next went to the Ethnological Museum in Haile Selassie's former palace. This is on the grounds of Addis Ababa University. You can choose to look around the museum yourself or have a very in-depth tour with a guide. Depending on how much time you have, you can decide which is best for you.
Lunch location: Five loaves (£££)
Dinner location: Fusion Bistro, located on Cameroon St. (££)
Pictured: From left to right. Washa Mikael Church sign and view from the top of the mountain
Video: Jazz at Washa Mikael
Day 6. This day was pretty much all about shopping. The first stop was Merkato for a tour. As it was such a hectic setting, we solely drove through whilst admiring all of the items you could buy from the windows. Our next top was a quieter location in comparison, Shiro Meda market to buy locally handwoven cloth.
Our last market stop was at Chiromeda market this was the quietest market we had come across. This is where we bought trinkets and gifts for friends and family. Our last stop was Edna Mall which is home to an arcade, shops and a cinema. This was just to have a look around and play in the arcade before Lunch.
Lunch location:Beemnet restaurant. (£££)
For dinner and entertainment this night. We headed to Yod Abyssinia (£££) , to watch a traditional Ethiopian music, singing and dance performance. This was definitely the highlight of my trip as it was so immersive and fun. Get your dancing shoes on as they just might pull you up on stage to join in.
Pictured: Yod Abyssinia Entrance Sign
Day 7. It's now Sunday, and we decided to have a rest day as we had been out and about non-stop throughout the week.
Day 8. Our final day of the trip we dedicated to visiting as many museums as possible. First was the Addis Abeba Museum. The second was Red Terror Martyrs Museum. It is a memorial to those who died during the red terror under the Derg government. It is an intensely emotional experience but it is definitely a must visit.
We next stopped for a lunch break at Antica. (££)
Next up was St George Cathedral & Museum and that point the sun had shown up adding grandeur to the scenery. Our last stop of the day was the Bete Maryam Mausoleum, this tour though enchantingly eerie is enriching. You have the chance to descend to the crypt beneath ground level. There you find marble tombs of Emperor Menelik, Empress Taitu and more. Note that soldiers are present outside the grounds to the mausoleum and were very strict on photo taking. I discovered that when I was told off for taking pictures of the landscape.
We had dinner at the Aladdin restaurant (£££), located on Zimbabwe St.
Pictured: View of the city from outside the Addis Ababa Museum
Pictured: View from outside of the museum
Pictured: Entrance of Addis Abeba Museum
Pictured: St George Cathedral
Day 9. - Day of departure.
On my future trip to Ethiopia there a few places of interest on my list. These are;
Rock Churches - Lalibela or Tigray
Blue Nile Falls
Simien Mountains National Park
Don't forget your mosquito repellent and malaria tablets!