Addis Ababa (locally known as Addis) is the capital city of Ethiopia, based at the heart of the country. It is the country’s commercial and cultural hub that holds a number of important monuments and attractions, many with religious or historical significance. Like many unique locations, to truly understand and appreciate the city, you would need to visit. However, in this article, we’ll be highlighting some of the things you can spend your time on in Addis and how we would spend just two days in this magnificent, sprawling city.
ArrivalTo arrive in Addis, you’ll need to fly to the closest airport which is conveniently located just outside of the city, with the centre of Addis being roughly half an hours drive. We’d recommend picking up a map from the airport so that you have something to refer to if you head out into the city without a guide. Typically, there will be a number of taxis ready at the airport to take you to your destination so you’ll never be stuck for a lift! Equally, if you choose to book one of our Ethiopia tours, all transfers are arranged so you’ll have nothing to worry about.
Day 1 – AM
The first day in any city can be a little overwhelming, especially one such as Addis, but we’d suggest you jump in with both feet and explore what the city has to offer! One of the highlights of Addis is the market, which is the largest in Africa. This sprawling spider’s web of intertwined streets and alleys is a sight to behold, with people rushing in every direction!
The market will appeal to all senses, from the sights and smells of the spices and food being cooked to the sound of people bartering with vendors. When visiting the market, there are a couple of things to be aware of: firstly, because of the amount of foot traffic, it leaves very little room for real road traffic, causing drivers to take any gap between people that they can. Keep your wits about you and you’ll be fine. Also, the market porters are the lifeblood of the market, stocking and transporting goods from vans to stalls using either themselves or their donkey companions. Often, their load can be pretty heavy so they’ll be gunning to get to the stall, so make sure you’re aware if someone is trying to get through.
The market is a real highlight of the city and should be at the top of your list if you visit Addis. You’ll find anything and everything there, although looking for something specific could take some time! We’d also suggest checking out the food stalls, either grabbing some traditional Ethiopian spices to cook with or picking up a fresh samosa and coffee.
Day 1 – PM
For the afternoon, why not spend some time exploring the National Museum of Ethiopia? Exhibiting a number of archaeological and historical artefacts, the museum is perhaps most commonly visited to see the fossil remains of the oldest skeleton ever discovered, more commonly known as Lucy. Naturally, the actual fossil remains are kept stored away in the museum with replica bones on display. The museum also displays a number of ancient human tools and pieces for Ethiopia’s vibrant history.
The museum opens from 9:00 am – 5:30 pm daily.
For your first evening in the city, visiting the Yod Abyssinia restaurant is a must! The restaurant combines traditional Ethiopian food with live entertainment and is an experience you’ll never forget! Offering good value for money and freshly cooked injera, Yod Abyssinia is the perfect place to spend your first evening in Addis.
Yod Abyssinia open 24 hours except for Monday (7:00 pm – 12:00 am)
Day 2 – AM
Having danced the night away to some traditional Ethiopian entertainment, we’d suggest heading to the Red Terror Martyrs Museum which will provide a sobering and enlightening experience. The Ethiopian Red Terror (also known as Qey Shibir) was a violent political campaign of repression that took place in Ethiopia from 1976 to 1977. The museum was designed to commemorate those who lost their lives during this brief but infamous period of Ethiopian history. The displays in the museum include torture instruments, skulls and bones, coffins, clothes and photographs of victims. A truly humbling story told wonderfully by the dedicated guides of the museum.
The Red Terror museum opens daily from 8:00 am to 6:30 pm.
Day 2 – PM
Before heading to your afternoon activity, we’d suggest stopping off for a coffee and a bite to eat. For some of the best coffee in the city, head to Tomoka, where you’ll find freshly ground beans and a unique community spirit where everyone enjoys a great cup of coffee.
For your second and final day, we’d recommend taking part in one of the many food tours that run throughout the city. Essentially, this is your chance to experience a lot of different parts of the city and many different styles of Ethiopian cuisine in a short space of time. Most tours will be on foot, meaning you’ll be walking around parts of the city to each stop and refuelling with cold beer and freshly cooked food. This is something that we can offer during your visit to Ethiopia, get in touch if you’d like to find out more!
Finally, for your last evening in Addis, we expect that you’ll likely want to have a break from Ethiopian food and return to something reminiscent of home, and what better food for that than pizza? Effoi Pizza is the best pizza place in town and will guarantee to serve up some sublime slices for you to enjoy. Most of the pizzas on offer will cost between 100 and 150 birr, roughly translating to between £2.50 to £4.00, a bargain! Using very nearly 100% locally sourced ingredients, they offer a variety of flavours to suit all preferences, a perfect combination of Ethiopia and home.
Effoi Pizza opens from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm Thursday to Saturday. Sunday – Wednesday hours are from 11:00 am to 10:00 pm.
Feeling inspired to visit Ethiopia? We’d love to take you and show you the sights! Why not check out our tours and experience packages to see which one takes your fancy? Or you can get in touch to discuss further details here.