Addis Ababa is the capital of Ethiopia, a quickly-evolving city whose recent economic growth is one of Africa’s greatest success stories. Founded just over one hundred years ago, the capital is a multifaceted city that towers 2,400 meters above sea level on the Abyssinian plateau. There isn’t a cloud in the sky for about eight months out of the year, and the warm sun beats down on culturally-stimulating museums, world-class restaurants, fashionable boulevards and hip clubs. The city has many surprises up its sleeve, ready to impress even the most well-traveled visitors.
Best Time to Visit
If you are planning a Travel to Ethiopia then the best time to visit is between October and June, when it is the dry season. Rains tend to stop in early October, meaning afterwards the highlands are lush and green – perfect for trekking amongst pretty wildflowers that have sprung up. Be sure to bring a sweater all year round due to Ethiopia’s elevation.
Top Places to Visit in Addis Ababa
1. National Museum
National Museum is a great introduction to the rich history of both Ethiopia and the continent as a whole. The highlight of the extensive collection is Lucy, the famously-fossilized hominid dated at 3.2 million years old. Four main exhibition sections nearly overflow with artistic treasures, historic artifacts and cultural gems, including memorabilia from former rulers, ethnographic displays and archaeological finds from throughout the country.
2. Ethnological Museum
The city’s Ethnological Museum is another fascinating museum, showcasing body art, music, religion, burial rites, traditional games and more from thousands of years of Ethiopian history. Housed in Haile Selassie’s former palace, the grand building itself is just as interesting as its collections.
3. St. George’s Cathedral
Constructed in 1896, the small but beautiful church contains a museum featuring weapons and battle uniforms from the war for independence from Italy, and the walls are lined with fine examples of Ethiopian artwork. Visitors are welcome even during services, but they must remove their shoes before stepping inside.
The city’s nightlife really gets going around 11 pm and the party lasts until dawn. High-end bars stocked with top-shelf international spirits sit next to traditional pubs serving up tall glasses of tej, Ethiopia’s national drink. A mixture of honey and beer-like tela, the alcoholic drink is sweet and strong. Although many night spots feature international DJs spinning the latest hits, don’t leave Addis Ababa without seeing a traditional music show. Belly dancers often sway to the azmari music, the traditional style played on single-string acoustic violins.