Addis Ababa: Things to Do Around The Bustling Capital of Ethiopia

By Jenna Jolie

Too many visitors bypass Ethiopia's rambling capital, viewing it solely as a gateway to its famed northern circuit. Those who do risk losing out on one of Africa's fastest developing cities; a cultural and gastronomic hotspot with some of the country's  most excellent museums, restaurants, and experiences. 

Addis Ababa - The bustling capital of Ethiopia

Where is Addis Ababa?

Ethiopia's busy city, Addis Ababa, lies at the heart of this unique and beautiful country.

For starters, it is physically located in the center of this vast country and, at 2355 m above sea level, has a lofty position overlooking great portions of the rest of it. The city itself has a population of roughly 2.7 million people, while the Addis Ababa metropolitan region has a population of about 4.8 million.

Addis Ababa is also Ethiopia's cultural center, with numerous prominent museums, large colleges, and many Ethiopian Orthodox monuments and treasures. In addition, Addis Ababa serves as the country's commercial center, despite the fact that it is generally largely rural. 

Addis Ababa - The bustling capital of Ethiopia

Addis Ababa - The bustling capital of Ethiopia

What is the best time to visit Addis Ababa?

To get the finest experience in Addis Ababa, visit during the proper time of year. The Addis Ababa weather will have a significant influence on your vacation to this place. Nobody likes to run around a new city in the rain. When it rains in Addis, it rains heavily, the streets flood, and the hustle and bustle may devolve into anarchy. Ethiopia's rainy season lasts from mid-June until mid-September.

The actual dry season begins in November and concludes in early April. By far the greatest time to visit Addis Ababa. The streets are dry and clean, and you won't have to dash from one location to another to dodge the rain. Don't be concerned about becoming overheated. Addis Ababa is located at an elevation of 2,355 meters above sea level, which results in cold mornings and nights with magnificently bright sunny days in between.

How to get around Addis Ababa?

There are several methods to travel around Addis, and the one you select depends on your plans for the day. Here are some pointers to help you navigate the city.

  • Bus

Avoiding public transportation is generally a smart idea. They are inexpensive, sluggish, unreliable, and full of pickpockets. If you wish to take public transportation, seek out minibusses.

  • Minibus 

Addis has a wide network of blue and white minibusses that serve as the city's primary mode of public transportation. The minibusses are a quick, economical, and effective method to travel about. They operate from early morning till approximately 8 or 9 p.m.

You can board at almost any major intersection, but to ensure you get on the proper one, listen for the destinations yelled by the conductors.

  • Tram

Addis has two tram lines that run north to south and east to west. The trams go through the city center, stopping at around 39 stops. The tram can be a good method to escape traffic, but be cautious because pickpockets do operate in carriages.

  • Taxi

Taxis are available in Addis Ababa from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. If you intend to do some touring, it is worthwhile to hire a cab for a full or half-day, but make sure to negotiate the price before you begin. Taxis are easily accessible, and your hotel may arrange one for you. Taxis are by far the most convenient mode of transportation.

Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, is one of the fastest-growing cities on the African continent

Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, is one of the fastest-growing cities on the African continent

Top 5 things to do and see in Addis Ababa

1. Meskel Square

Meskel Square is Addis Ababa's most recognized landmark. It's more of a semi-amphitheater than a plaza, and it's also the site of the Meskel Festival, a yearly crucifix festival.

On September 27, thousands of people assemble here (17 Meskerem in the Ethiopian calendar) to participate in torchlight processions and view the festival's massive bonfire. The area, whether in the early morning or late at night, provides a glimpse of daily life amid Addis Ababa's immense urban sprawl. The African Jazz Village, the Red Terror Martyrs' Memorial, and the Oromo Cultural Center are also within walking distance.

2. Ethiopian National Museum

At first glance, it's difficult to realize that Ethiopia's national museum contains possibly Africa's most historical find, housed in an unpretentious concrete-block structure designated by a modest sign. Lucy, a 3.2-million-year-old hominid fossil, enters the picture.

The fossils, discovered in 1974 in Ethiopia's remote Northwestern Afar region, are thought to be those of one of humanity's oldest surviving progenitors. The whole basement is devoted to Lucy's tale, her discoveries, and the larger theme of human development. The bones of Selam, a newborn hominid thought to predate Lucy by more than 100,000 years, are also on exhibit, along with two castings of Lucy (the genuine fossils are preserved for preservation).

The top floors are also worth seeing, notably for the Ethiopian art, which is said to date back to the 1300s, and a plethora of relics, some of which predate the 1st century.

 The national museum in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Africa

 The national museum in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Africa

3. Merkato Market

Africa's largest outdoor market is so enormous that it feels more like a makeshift hamlet than a place of business. Merkato may be an overpowering assault on the senses for a novice, with its bustling mass of people in flux, blaring automobiles, and endless herds of cattle. It's business as usual for the dealers and customers, and while it appears to be a free for all, the stalls are generally sorted by product. Fresh fruits and vegetables; coffee beans and jebenas (Ethiopian coffee pots); fragrant spices and bulging grain sacks; colorful shawls and knock-off apparel; and homeware and recycled items all have their own area among the chaos. Travelers can find out some Ethiopian souvenirs at Merkato Market

Because the market is notorious for pickpockets and minor theft, taking a guided tour is typically the most secure way to visit.

4. The Entoto Hills

The Entoto Hills, which rise like a majestic crown from the city's northern outskirts, provide a glimpse of Ethiopia's beautiful Highlands. The panoramic vistas from Mount Entoto, the range's greatest summit, display Addis in all its enormous, expansive beauty.

Emperor Menelik II and his wife Taytu Betul are said to have paused here before deciding to build Addis Ababa in the beautiful valleys below. The Emperor's last residence before establishing the permanent capital in 1886 is marked by a tiny cluster of cottages. In the Ethiopian Orthodox faith, the mountain is considered sacred, with several churches dispersed around its crest.

5. Unity Park

The Unity Park, Addis Ababa's newest major attraction, was inaugurated in 2019 by Nobel Peace Prize winner Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

Most Ethiopians had never been inside the grounds of Ethiopia's National Palace, a hidden structure from which the country had been controlled for almost 130 years. It now houses a number of cultural attractions, including a modest museum, a stately dining hall, and Emperor Menelik II's old palace complex.

There's also a tiny zoo with rare black-maned lions, which were previously abundant across Ethiopia. Set high on a hill in the city center, it offers a panoramic view of Addis, as well as something even more unusual than an Abyssinian lion: verdant parkland in the city center.

Addis Ababa's fascinating and diverse history and culture are one of the best reasons to visit the city when you're planning a trip. Known as a vibrant and bustling city, you will not be satisfied with the tourist atmosphere here. The things to do in Addis Ababa that I listed in the article will be useful for your travel plans. 

Besides, you also need to apply for an Ethiopia visa and reputable travel insurance to be able to travel to a foreign country with confidence. Contact Ethiopia Immigration Service immediately to find the most reliable e-Visa services.