The capital of Ethiopia: in the Amharic language, it means “the new flower.” This is truly a piece of heaven with its climate and nature. As a resident of 7 years, here are my suggestions for not to miss in Addis Ababa:
1Admire the panorama from Mount Entoto.
Get on a bus from Addis Ababa to the highest point of the city and watch the view from 2800m (close to 9200feet).
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2Enjoy the colorful traditional dances.
There are two types of “Habesha Bet”s: Yod Abyssinia for example is a bit more touristic, and Fendika is more popular among the locals. You may prefer to just watch or join in on the incredibly colorful traditional dance performances.
3Don’t miss out on the local cuisine.
I find how Ethiopians process and consume meat are especially interesting: try “gomen besiga,” (lamb and spinach) “kitfo lebleb” (raw beef) and “tegabino” (chickpea puree). And if there’s a brille tej (honey liquor in glass bottle) on the side – you’re almost a Habesha now! Try the Kategna Restaurant for authentic Ethiopian cuisine.
4Try raw meat.
If your stomach can take it, definitely try raw meat at “Yilma.” And imbibe the local “arake” (anis drink.)
5Visit the Netsa Art Village.
To experience the developing contemporary art scene, go visit the Netsa Art Village. Say hello to Tamrat the founder, from me.
6Tour the National Museum of Ethiopia.
Visit Lucy, the oldest hominid ever found.
7Enjoy a night out at the Jolly Bar.
The pride of African Nightlife! A small warning though: single men are not allowed in.
8Get high on the local “khat.”
Chewing the leaves of this local plant, also known as “qat” will give you a slight buzz, somewhat between to that of caffein and chewing tobacco. The taste is kind of bitter, so some prefer to chew it with a little sugar or gum. You may buy khat either from the VIC place at the Olympia district or right off the street in bundles. Then grab a hookah, order some coffee and enjoy some friendly conversation. Note: don’t forget to dress warm and drink lots of water.
9See the Merkato, the largest open air market in the world.
Don’t expect anything fancy: there’s nothing you cannot find here. Watch out for the pickpockets though!
10Ato Basket is THE place for souvenir shopping.
You will want to buy some souvenirs to take back. Don’t listen to anyone else: just go to Ato Basket at the Old Airport district. Buy the most authentic goods for the cheapest price. They sell souvenirs at the Merkato too, but it’s huge and you’d need to know where to buy each item.
11Drink coffee at Tomoca.
Ethiopia is the birthplace of coffee and Tomoca is the oldest cafe around here. Since you’re here, I suggest you try the coffee made with local beans. Though “Yirgacheffe” beans are the best around here, they may be a little difficult to find. “Sidama” beans however, are easier to find. If you’re lucky, you might get a chance to watch a “coffee ceremony.”
12Take a walk around Piassa, the old city.
The Piassa district is one of the best places you can visit to get some “air de Addis Ababa.” The oldest hotel of the city, Taitu Hotel was built in 1881. You’ll come across some very old patisseries and restaurants, as well as the jewelers street.