There is a good chance you are not coming all the way to Ethiopia just to visit Addis Ababa. Your trip will probably be based around Ethiopia’s natural and cultural attractions like the churches of Lalibela or the Bale Mountains National Park. Addis Ababa with its lively hustle and bustle, however, is well worth spending some time in.
The city is full of a rich and interesting history and culture. It won’t take you long to get a feel for it, in fact, around 2 days in Addis Ababa is the perfect amount of time to take in all the great things that Addis Ababa has to offer. Follow our Addis Ababa itinerary to make the most of your time there.
Day 1 in Addis Ababa
First of all, find a taxi and book it for the day, this will simply take the pressure off of getting from A to B and will let you enjoy your day a bit more.
To begin with, head to the National Museum of Ethiopia, regarded as one of the most important in sub-Saharan Africa. The most famous exhibit is the paleontological showcase, found in the basement. There you can see two casts of Lucy, the partial skeleton of a specimen of Australopithecus afarensis, one sitting flat and the other standing like she might have 3.3 million years ago. It’s amazing to see how small our ancestors were and imagine them as hunters and gatherers. In the museum you will also find exhibits of the remains of extinct creatures such as a huge sabretooth and a gigantic savannah pig, and portholes into Ethiopia’s cultural history and artwork. You should grab a guide when you begin as their knowledge really brings the place to life, and be sure to tip them afterward.
From the National Museum it’s a short ride to the Ethnological Museum which is found within Haile Selassie’s old palace and is encompassed by stunning fountains and gardens. The Ethnological Museum is one of the finest museums in Africa and shows Ethiopia’s social and cultural history across two floors. Even if you are not a museum buff, this museum is well worth a visit as it provides a great glimpse into the life cycle of the different cultural groups in Ethiopia.
Now it’s time for a traditional lunch, and probably the best one in town. If you think you have tried good injera, a sourdough-risen flatbread and the national dish of Ethiopia, you haven’t yet. A quick hop from the museum is Itegue Taitu Hotel where they serve up a sumptuous feast of local Ethiopian food in their newly renovated stately dining room.
By now you are probably museum-ed out but it’s worth going to the St George Cathedral & Museum, even if it’s just to wander around the outside and take in the beautiful architecture. On the inside you’ll see stunning colors and flashes of art amongst the architecture, paintings, and mosaics as well as starry sky blue ceilings. The museum holds ancient crosses, crowns, religious scrolls, and the coronation garb of Zewditu and Haile Selassi. Once you’re done, it’s time for one of the best coffees in Ethiopia. A short walk away is Tomoca, the capital’s best coffee shop where you can smell the beans being roasted as you get closer.
In the evening head over to Yod Abyssinia for dinner. There they are known for excellent local cuisine and great tej (honey wine) but that is not all that’s on offer. At around 7:30pm the stage comes to life as local musicians, dancers, and singers perform traditional acts. They really put on a show here and it’s loads of fun.
Day 2 in Addis Ababa
After a night of trying some of the best local food, it’s time to try and recreate some of it. Book the My Guzo’s Culinary Tour and spend the morning learning how to make injera, flatbread, and all the stews you might find in a main course.