Addis Ababa, is the capital and largest city in Ethiopia. The city has been pretty much destroyed for re-building with construction sites at every corner, a way to bring Ethiopia out of its past. The dusty roads are not much to look at, but surely puts things in perspective when thinking about what this country has been through.
Here is what we did during our 1-day layover in Addis Ababa:
TAKE A TOUR OF THE CITY
We took a 5-hour tour around the city in the afternoon and hired a taxi driver outside the hotel to do it. We could not be bothered to bargain the price and agreed the pay their flat rate of $20 USD per hour (all taxi drivers and hotel receptionists will show you the same paper with set prices) – after some research online I realized what a rip-off this was. According to the Lonely Planet guide to Addis Ababa you can easily get a day tour of the city for 600 birr ($26 USD) after bargaining.
Stop by St George Church and Jubilee Palace but unless you are truly interested avoid the tour guides – they take a long time to explain in detail and if you are not interested it gets boring real fast!
VISIT THE MERKATO
Ask your driver to take you around the streets of the Merkato but think twice before casually walking around it. I would recommend admiring from the car as the Merkato has the worst reputation for pickpockets for both foreigners and Ethiopians. The streets are busy and chaotic – with shops in every corner, and every street selling their designated objects (carpet street, clothing street, jewellery street, recycled street) – it’s quite the site and has some picture-perfect spots into the daily Addis Ababa life.
GET TO KNOW LUCY
Stop by the National Museum home to the world-famous Lucy and get acquainted with one of the most important discoveries about humans. You’ll be surprised at how small our ancestors were – the size of only a child – but a quick and fascinating summary of Lucy and other extinct creatures make the National Museum a worthwhile visit.
ENJOY ETHIOPIAN COFFEE
We experienced the traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony at Yod Abyssinia – they have an area of the restaurant dedicated to coffee making where you can get close and watch their unique brewing process. The coffee tasted delicious – not as intense as Italian Espresso – but stronger and more flavourful than the American coffee.
HAVE A TRADITIONAL ETHIOPIAN MEAL
We also had a traditional Ethiopian meal at Yod Abyssinia – our day guide driver came with us and helped us order their special plate that was called “Mahad Rahel” (not sure if the spelling is right) and he also ordered a deliciously creamy beef dish on the side. We also tried a honey wine (in the middle, below) which is a specialty in Ethiopia. The food was great and tasty – a fun and interesting way to taste the Ethiopian flavours.
We had a late lunch here so we didn’t stick around for the evening cultural show – if you are interested in that – make sure to book in advance or you won’t find a table!
If you have more than a day in Addis Ababa consider doing the following longer trips (suggested by our driver):
- Lalibela Church
- Blue Nile Falls