Addis Ababa is the largest city in Ethiopia. The name of this city, ‘Addis Ababa’, means ‘New Flower’ in Amharic. Amharic is the national language in Ethiopia and it is predominant in the city. Nonetheless, Italian, Arabic, French and English are the major foreign languages used in Addis Ababa. This city was founded in 1886 and covers 250 square kilometres. Although it is close to the equator, Addis Ababa is the third highest capital globally. With such a lofty altitude, Addis enjoys a mild Afro-alpine climate.
Until today, Addis Ababa remains to be Africa’s unchallenged diplomatic capital as the mountain city hosts at least 70 embassies and consular representatives. The city has a cosmopolitan atmosphere as each of the nation’s ethnic community is represented in the capital. Additionally, there is a significant percentage of foreign residents in the city as well. This mountain city has a lot to offer, whether at day or night.
Here are some of the great places you should visit while the capital
- Entoto Panoramic View
This is a viewpoint in Addis Ababa on Mount Entoto. It gives you a windy but terrific panoramic view of Ethiopia’s capital, which is spread out below through towering eucalyptus trees. This place is the highest peak of the Entoto mountain chain. Apart from giving you the undistracted view of the capital, this is where Menelik II built his palace and lived. Therefore, this place holds historical value and far from that, it is also considered a sacred mountain and a host to numerous monasteries. Another notable thing about this place is that it has a number of celebrated churches; among them Entoto Mariam church (Saint Mary), built by Emperor Menelik and Saint Raguel.
- Ethnological Museum
Even if you do not consider yourself a museum person, you will want to visit this place while in Addis Ababa. This museum is situated in Addis Ababa University main campus. Locally, this university is popularly known as 6 Kilo campus and the museum is in the Social Science faculty. The entrance fee to the museum is 100 Ethiopian Birr. It is set within the former palace of Haile Selassie and surrounding it are beautiful fountains and gardens. Ethnological Museum is simply among the finest African Museums, displaying the full extent of Ethiopia’s social and cultural history across 2 floors.
- Abyssinia Ballooning
Would you love to see the whole Addis Ababa capital but time is not on your side? A hot air balloon adventure can definitely bridge the time gap and give you an extra layer of excitement. By visiting the Abyssinia Ballooning and booking the usually early morning trips, you will forever remember the incredible view of witnessing the beautiful African sunrise from 300 meters above the magnificent city of Addis Ababa. If you are a hot air ballooning fan, Abyssinia Ballooning should definitely be in your bucket list. Prices are between ETB 3750 and ETB 4250 per passenger. Any additional information can be accessed here.
- Lion of Judah Monument
This is the Ethiopian monarchy’s symbol and it is ubiquitous all across the country. The story behind this monument is what makes it significant. It was erected in the year 1930 on Haile Selassie’s coronation eve. In the year 1935, the Italians looted it and stored it in Rome next to the Vittorio Emanuele II Monument. Three years later, anniversary celebrations of the proclamation of Zerai Deress, an Italian emperor were held in Rome. It is during this event that a young Eritrean spotted the stolen statue and bravely interrupted the event’s proceedings in a defiant attempt to kneel and pray before it.
As expected, the police physically and verbally stopped his prayers. The young Eritrean, full of rage, attacked the armed men in blue and using his sword injured a number of them. While reiterating, he shouted that ‘The Lion of Judah’ is avenged and some reports claim that he killed five policemen before being shot. Seven years later, the Eritrean died in an Italian prison but he still remains a legend in Eritrea and in Ethiopia to date. Eventually, in the ‘60s, the Lion of Judah monument was returned and erected back in Addis Ababa.
- Lion Park
Do you love nature and some of its rare resources? The Lion Park at Addis Ababa will greatly interest you. You get to see lions and lionesses at the Sidist Kilo at the lion zoo. This park is the only lively lion home and has other rare animals like the lesser kudu and apes. It is home to the unique world’s Ethiopian Black Maned Lion that is only available in Ethiopia. This is one of the rare places that allow you to see wildlife and mainly, lions in the middle of a busy capital.
This list cannot be complete without including the famous Merkato market. It is claimed to be Africa’s largest market but it is definitely the largest outdoor market in the Addis Ababa city. It has a lot to offer and it is actually a place where you can cheaply access silver jewellery and pungent spices among other things. This is the ideal place to visit if you would appreciate experiencing the rich Ethiopian culture.
These are some of the best places to visit in case you are about to find yourself in Addis Ababa. There are a lot more things and places this city has to offer. It has all the necessary amenities to make you feel comfortable and so you will definitely enjoy your stay here. Addis Ababa is like home far away from home. Every moment will forever be memorable. Heading to Ethiopia, here are other places you should check out – Travel to Ethiopia: A land of culture, history and beauty
How to get to Addis Ababa
To start with, the Ethiopian Birr is the currency used in Addis Ababa. Therefore, if you are travelling there, you should consider exchanging your currency to the Ethiopian Birr. You can do this at the airport. Don’t change too much money because its harder to change your money back into dollars.
Getting to Addis Ababa by plane
Addis Ababa Bole International Airport is the busiest East African airport. This airport is the home to Ethiopian Airlines, which is one of the most reputable and successful African airlines. This airline gives superior service on international flights. This airport serves Kenya Airways, Gulf Air, fly Dubai, Lufthansa, British Airways, Sudan Airways, Egypt Air, Emirates, KLM, and Turkish Airways. To travel to Addis Ababa, you will find daily flights from the USA, Europe, Asia, and numerous African cities among them; Nairobi, Accra, Dar es Salaam, Brazzaville, Djibouti, Harare, Cairo, Bamako, Dakar, Khartoum and Johannesburg. When travelling from the USA, you can take direct flights from Newark, Washington, D.C, Liberty and LAX while stopping over at either Lome or Dublin.
Inside the airport, you will find Terminal 1 and Terminal 2. The former is for domestic flights and flights to neighbouring cities like Nairobi, Khartoum and Djibouti. Terminal 2 is for international flights of Ethiopian Airlines among other companies. Terminal 2 is claimed to be the giant terminal in Sub-Saharan Africa. In this airport, you will find ATMs that accept MasterCard, Visa and Forex services taking many different currencies. Money in the form of cash and Travellers’ cheque are exchanged in the airport. For more information on how to access Addis Ababa through buses, train and taxis among other transportation means, here is some detailed information.
While travelling to Ethiopia, Visas are a necessity. However, if you are a holder of service, diplomatic, UN, ADB and AU passports or a Djibouti and Kenyan citizen, you do not need a visa to travel to Addis Ababa, especially if you are planning for a short stay of at most 3 months. In order to successfully request for a business visa, you require an official Ethiopian invitation letter acquired after the online application and a valid passport with at least 2 blank pages and at least 6 months of validity remaining.
In order to access the country, the Ethiopian government requires every traveller who is over 1 year of age to have a yellow fever vaccination certificate. This is mainly a requirement for people travelling from countries which are popularly known for high risk of transmission of the yellow fever disease.
At the airport or on the flight, an entry card will be given to you to fill out. This card, together with your passport are the two documents that you should present in the immigration offices or to the immigration officer. Your passport is then stamped and you will be allowed to collect your baggage, after which you proceed to the customs clearance. Your luggage might be discreetly checked by the customs agents. You are given declaration forms either at the immigration offices or during the flight to report whether you are carrying an equivalent of $3,000 or more in cash. If you have that much money, you should officially declare on that form.