Addis Ababa

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Addis Ababa (አዲስ አበባ) is the capital and largest city of Ethiopia. It has a population of 3.4 million (2007).

Understand[edit]

Lion of Judah statue outside the National Theatre

There are more than 120 international missions and embassies in Addis Ababa, making the city a hub for international diplomacy concerning Africa. The headquarters of the African Union and the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) are both in the city. The European Union and the United States both have two delegations in Addis Ababa, one for bilateral relations with Ethiopia and one for the African Union.

The city is divided into ten boroughs, known as subcities, then further divided into wards (kebeles). Suburbs include Shiro Meda and Entoto in the north, Urael and Bole (home to Bole International Airport) in the east, Nifas Silk in the south-east, Mekanisa in the south, and Keraniyo and Kolfe in the west. Many of the wealthiest people live in the southeast (Bole), southwest (old airport), CMC, Ayat and Lamberet parts of town.

Climate[edit]

Temperatures in Addis Ababa are remarkably constant from month to month. The average highs are between 17°C (63°F) and 22°C (71°F). The average lows are between 11°C (51°F) and 14°C (58°F). The warmest months are February to May. Temperatures and climate can vary due to elevation. Due to altitude there is a huge day to night range of temperature: it is often 27°C (81°F) at lunchtime and 3°C (37°F) at night: In the Addis evenings always take a second layer with you.

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

Bole International Airport (IATA: ADD), the busiest airport in East Africa and the hub of Ethiopian Airlines, is serviced by several international airlines with daily flights to Europe, United States, Asia, and many African cities including Accra, Bamako, Brazzaville, Cairo, Dakar, Dar es Salaam, Djibouti, Khartoum, Harare, Johannesburg, Nairobi. There are two terminals. T1 (the older, smaller one) is for all domestic flights and most flights to neighbouring nations (but not Kenya). T2 (the newer 2003 building) is for all other international flights – arrangements may change so check first.

As of July 2012 access into the terminals is restricted. Anyone at the airport to meet you, plus taxis, will be out in the carpark. A dozen of the top hotels still have a booth inside the arrivals area. Similar rules apply at the other airports in the country, for both arrivals and departures. As of July 2011 a taxi to the city costs 100-150 birr. If you have a prior arrangement, many hotels will send a vehicle to pick up pre-booked guests from the airport. The Sheraton Addis, Dreamliner, Hilton Addis, and most other hotels provide regular shuttle service for guests. This is also the case with many popular guesthouses.

By car[edit]

Routes through Addis Ababa

Most of the major roads are in good condition.

By bus[edit]

Terminals:

  • Autobus Terra, corner of Fitawrari Habte Giyorgis St and Central African Republic St / Somalia St, on the north-west side of Mercato. This is the main bus terminal where most of the national buses arrive and depart.
  • Buses west to Nekempte and beyond go from Asco on the old Ambo Road.

Get around[edit]

Sample minibus prices

  • Very short trips 1 birr
  • Short trips 1.50-3 birr
  • Medium trips 3.80 birr
  • Long trips 7 birr
  • Very long trips 8 birr

Sample taxi prices

  • Short trips within one area 30 birr
  • Other short trips 60-80 birr
  • Medium trips 80-120 birr
  • Long trips 120-180 birr
  • Very long trips 180+ birr

As of February 2014

Very few streets have names and when they do, they may not be named correctly on a map; use landmarks to navigate the city.

Blue and white minibuses

Blue and white minibuses/taxis travel quite efficiently around town. Since they are full with people most of the time, it is very cheap too; usually between 1-3 birr depending on how far you are going. To catch a minibus, stand on the side of the road and hail it. This can be done anywhere it is possible for the bus to stop. The conductor inside will call out the destination, and if that's where you want to go: get on. You pay the conductor when he signals to you that he wants money (which might take a few minutes). To get change. To get out say "woraj alle", or just "woraj". It is worth having an Ethiopian guide with you if it is your first time using these taxis, since it can be quite chaotic to find out what minibuses go where, and from what places.

Small blue Lada taxis

Small blue Lada taxis are more expensive. Negotiation is the norm and you often have to press quite hard to get a bargain as a foreigner. They can be contracted for a single trip, an hour, or a full day; just negotiate. Do not be surprised if the price of the taxi increases at night for the same trip.

Yellow taxis

Yellow and green taxis usually hang around hotels like Sheraton. They are more expensive, but reliable. If you're willing to pay for peace of mind, slightly better drivers and a car that wasn't featured in the Flintstones, use these cars.

Airport shuttle

If you need an airport shuttle to your hotels or other destination, there are some taxis parked outside the airport. They probably take you anywhere you want to go but negotiate the fee before you board. If you want a peace of mind, you can reserve a shuttle service called iEthio.com before you arrive.

See[edit]

If you walk along the road from Meskel Square to Sidest Kilo, you'll probably find it quite entertaining and interesting. You'll see the Africa Hall, the palaces and the Parliament building, the Hilton Hotel, the marvellous architectural adventure of a building hosting the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Sheraton Hotel, the first modern school (which Emperor Menelik II built in the 1880s), the Trinity Orthodox cathedral, the National Museum, and the Addis Ababa University (which hosts a former palace and museum).

Arat Kilo Avenue is marked by a statue built in commemoration of the Ethiopian day of victory during the Second World War, while Sidest Kilo Avenue is marked by a statue commemorating some 39,000 residents of Addis Ababa killed by Italian fascist troops. Around Arat Kilo, you will find part of an old town known as Serategna Sefer (literally, the residential area of labourers).

If you go past Sidest Kilo, the road becomes steeper and many of the attractions will be on the right side of the road. The Entoto college (previously Teferi Mekonnen School) and the US Embassy are on this side of the street. After the Embassy there's an open market called Shiro Meda where traditional craftsmen sell their homemade fabrics, pots and other craftwork. The marketplace is at the foot of the Entoto Mountains, which rise up to 3,300 m (10,827 ft) above sea level.

You can take a taxi or a bus to the mountain unless you are of a mind to try it yourself. On the mountain, you will find the first churches of Addis Ababa, called Saint Mary and Saint Raguel, and a smaller palace of Menelik II. Walking the mountain, especially between the churches, is refreshing and gives the chance to see rural life, the city, forest and unbelievably beautiful landscape intersected by farmlands and farmers trails. It is from here that Menelik II and Queen Taitu conceived the establishment of Addis Ababa. You can get a sense of the city plan by viewing the city from here.

Museums[edit]

  •    Addis Ababa MuseumBole Rd / Airport Rd / Africa Ave (near Meskel Square). Tu-F 08:30-12:30, 13:30-17:30; Sa 08:30-11:30. Focuses on artefacts and exhibits from Addis Ababa. The building was once a palace where Ras Biru Habte-Gabriel, a former Minister of War, resided.
  • Ethiopian Railway Museum.
  •    Ethnological MuseumAlgeria St. M-F 08:00-17:00; Sa-Su 09:00-17:00. Also known as the Museum and Library of the Institute of Ethiopian Studies, this is a fascinating museum with exhibits about the history and culture of Ethiopia. There are many displays of the various ethnic groups found in Ethiopia with information about each of their lifestyles. Ethnic outfits, instruments, tools, and other artefacts accompany each ethnic exhibit, making it one of the most interesting museums in the city.
  •    National Museum of EthiopiaKing George VI St (between Arat Kilo Ave and the University of Addis Ababa Graduate School). 08:30-17:00. A world-class museum. The most famous exhibit is the replica of Lucy, an early hominid. With Ethiopian civilization being one of the oldest in the world, the artefacts within the museum span thousands of years, including some from its earliest days. A wide variety of artefacts are featured, from sculptures to clothing to artwork. Both traditional and modern art are featured.
  • National Postal Museum (next to the main post office). A small but good collection of Ethiopian stamps.
  •    Natural History MuseumQueen Elizabeth II St. Tu-Su 09:00-11:45, 13:30-16:30.
  •    "Red Terror" Martyrs Memorial MuseumBole Rd (adjacent to Meskel Square). Daily 08:00-18:30. About those who lost their lives in the time of the Derg. Opened in 2010 with an excellent, modern style of display. Donation.

Churches and mosques[edit]

  •    Anwar MosqueMercato district. It's quite impressive.
  •    Gola Saint Michael Churchcity centre (next to the Federal immigration office). Very interesting place and one of the many old churches in Addis Ababa. One can see old paintings by many Ethiopian celebrity artists. Has a museum displaying church articles given by many famous people of the country including the emperor Haile Selassie and his Empress.
  •    Holy Trinity Cathedraloff Niger St. 08:00-13:00, 14:00-18:00; museum: 08:00-12:00, 14:00-17:00. It was built to commemorate the country's liberation from the Italians, and many victims killed by the Italians during occupation are buried here. The locals call the church Haile Selassie Church because Emperor Haile Selassie's body was moved here in 2000. It was once the largest Ethiopian Orthodox cathedral. Includes a small museum. Shoes must be left outside.
  •    Medhane Alem (near Bole International Airport). This cathedral, whose name means "Saviour of the World", is the second largest church in Africa.
Saint George's Cathedral
  •    Roman Catholic Cathedral of NativityWawel St, Mercato district.
  •    St George's Cathedralnorth end of Churchill Rd (north-west side of Menelik Sq). Museum: 09:00-12:00, 14:00-18:00. Built in 1896 to commemorate Ethiopia's victory over the Italians. The cathedral is a octagonal building. As you walk around it, you will notice people praying beside the walls, but it is unlikely that you will find an entrance. The Cathedral houses a small museum and close to it you will likely meet one of the archdeacons of the Cathedral. If he offers to be a guide, take his offer and visit the Cathedral with him. The interior is beautifully decorated with huge paintings and mosaics, and will make the trip worthwhile. It is worth visiting the museum with a guide as well to see ceremonial clothes and ancient manuscripts.

Other[edit]

  • Africa Hall (located across Menelik II Avenue from the Palace). This is where the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa is headquartered as well as most UN offices in Ethiopia. It is also the site of the founding of the Organization for African Unity (OAU) which eventually became the African Union. Security is tight and you won't be admitted unless you have an appointment.
  •    Tiglachin ("Our Struggle") monument. Sometimes erroneously called Derg Monument, which Ethiopians find offensive because it is not a monument to honor the Derg regime. This massive statue monument was built in the 1980s. The sides have a tribute to Ethiopian and Cuban soldiers who died in the 1977-1978 war against Somalia. If you want to take pictures, there is a guy asking for a small fee.
  • Ethiopian National Library.
  •    Lion of Judah of Menelik (near the former railway station). Commemorates Emperor Menelik. It was erected in 1930 and looted by the Italians a few years later. It remained in Rome for 30 years before being returned in the 1960s.
  •    Lion of Judah of Haile SelassieGambia St (outside the National Theatre). A carved statue commemorating the silver jubilee of Emperor Haile Selassie in 1955.
  • Menelik's old Imperial Palace. It remains the official seat of government.
  • National Palace. Formerly known as the Jubilee Palace, built to mark Emperor Haile Selassie's Silver Jubilee in 1955, which is the residence of the President of Ethiopia. Taking pictures is prohibited and even pausing to peer over the wall will attract security.
  • Netsa Art Village. Authentic and interesting art in a beautiful park across from the French Embassy. 3 birr entrance. 20birr for cameras.
  • Parliament Building (Near Holy Trinity Cathedral). Built during the reign of Emperor Haile Selassie, with its clock tower, it continues to serve as the seat of Parliament today. Photography is prohibited.
  • Shengo Hall. Built by the Derg regime of Mengistu Haile Mariam as its new parliament hall. The Shengo Hall was the world's largest pre-fabricated building, which was constructed in Finland before being assembled in Addis Ababa. It is used for large meetings and conventions.

Do[edit]

  • Hager Fikir Theatre, John Melly St, Piazza district. The oldest theater in Ethiopia.
  • Jan Meda Race Ground.
  • Bihere Tsige Recreation Center.
  • Addis Ababa Golf Club.
  • Entoto Mountain, north side of the city. Walk from St. Mary church, the first church of Addis, and St Urael church and see the city from the top of the mountain.
  • Fendika Azmari BetZewditu St, Kazanches (west of Guinea Conakry St). Music, song and dance including including a traditional azmari minstrel.
  •    YewedaleZewditu St, Kazanches. Performances by traditional azmari minstrels.

Learn[edit]

Addis Ababa University is the largest and the oldest university in Ethiopia. It was originally named "University College of Addis Ababa" at its founding, then renamed for the former Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie I in 1962, receiving its current name in 1975. Although the university has six of its seven campuses within Addis Ababa (the seventh is located in Debre Zeit, about 45 kilometres away), it also maintains branches in many cities throughout Ethiopia, leading to the claim of being "the largest university in Africa."

The government assigns qualified students to these universities upon completion of secondary school. Students also attend other private colleges, such as Unity College. Addis Ababa University was founded in 1950 at the request of Haile Selassie by a Canadian Jesuit, Dr Lucien Matte as a two-year college, and began operations the next year. Over the following two years an affiliation with the University of London was developed.

There is also Theological College of the Holy Trinity, a theological school of higher education located in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. It provides religious and secular education to both clergy and lay members of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, as well seeking to be a centre of theological and ecclesiastical study for all Oriental Orthodox Churches as well.

Originally founded as a high school by Emperor Haile Selassie in 1942, the college division was added in 5 October 1960, and the elementary education section eliminated on 18 December 1961 and the college became one of the chartered units of this first National University of Ethiopia.

Work[edit]

  • There is a high demand for IT professionals.
  • Many start-up companies search for individuals with computer networking and consulting background.
  • Addis Ababa has the highest number of NGOs in Africa, and possibly in the entire Third World. They are well known for paying good salaries for their employees.
  • The unemployment rate in Addis is low according to the Nazret.com (8% of the population in Addis Abeba are currently unemployed) (2008)
  • Many expatriates work in NGOs and small start-up IT companies.
  • Comparing to other African cities, Addis Ababa has a high number of big, medium and small sized computer training schools, governmental and private learning institutions. Many students who attend there hope to land an IT or consulting job in the very scarce job market of the city.

Buy[edit]

  • Mercato. The mercato (Italian for market, as the main covered market still in use dates from the colonial administration of the late 1930s) is the largest outdoor market in the world, and you can get anything from tourist goods (t-shirts, wood crafts, etc.) to fabric to metal goods there. Haggling and bargaining are standard procedure, and foreigners (especially those of European ancestry) should expect to be charged higher prices. To ensure a positive experience, maintain a sense of humour, don't be afraid to negotiate aggressively, and above all don't let yourself be bullied by the many "brokers" who frequent the market, and will try to steer you towards certain stores in exchange for a kick-back from the merchant. You will be able to negotiate lower prices if you can avoid brokers, and especially if you have a local friend or guide to buy things on your behalf. Closed Sunday.
  • Shiromeda Market. Between Sidist Kilo & Mt Entoto. If the madness of Mercato isn't for you, Chiromeda is a pleasant alternative. Haggling and bargaining is still the status quo, but you could walk away with a traditional dress from as cheap as 100 ETB.
  • Friendship Supermarket. Bole Road (airport end). Well-stocked western-style supermarket - and they accept Visa.
  • Edna Mall on Telebole. Contains a large book store, and Ethiopia's only 3D multiplex cinema (three screens), which plays both Amharic and English-language films. Western films typically are shown within a week to a month of their U.S. release, though occasionally they may operate on European release schedules (for instance, Skyfall began showing at Edna Mall over a week before its U.S. premiere). The center of the mall features an indoor amusement park with carousel, climbing tubes, and bumper cars; it's a fun place for small children, but really crowded on the weekends and holidays. Also located nearby are several dance clubs.
  • Dembel City Centre
  • Getu Commercial centre
  • Addis Sheraton Shopping
  • Loyal Shopping centre
  • Arat Kilo Shopping centre
  • Piassa Shopping centre
  • Bambis department store, expensive euro-style supermarket located in Kazanches, near the Radisson, Hilton, and Sheraton hotels. Features an extensive selection of Greek products, and high quality fresh/frozen meats.
  • New York Supermarket, near Bole Olympia
  • Shoa Supermarket on Bole Rd.
  • Novis Supermarket on Bole Road, near Friendship

Get money[edit]

Ethiopia operates a cash economy. Domestic credit cards are non-existent, and international cards are accepted in very few locations (mostly those catering to expatriates).

ATMs/cash machines - are found throughout Addis Ababa. Dashen Bank is a principal member of both VISA and MasterCard International and has ATMs. Some of the ATMs found at D.H. Geda Tower (next to Friendship City Center) accept both VISA and MasterCard, Dembel City Centre (quite hidden, use the main entrance, than to the left, at the window), Edna Mall, in some hotels (Hilton, Sheraton, Intercontinental, Wabi Shebelle Hotel, Ethiopia Hotel, Semein Hotel, Harmony Hotel). Also near the National Museum (Lucy Gazebo Restaurant), ground floor of Getu Commercial centre just at the entrance and some branches of Dashen Bank. Note that not all cards are accepted everywhere, Dashen Bank ATMs accept VISA/MasterCard/Cirrus/Plus while Zemen bank ATMs do not accept MasterCard (which seems to be hit or miss in Ethiopia). Most ATM machines have a 4000-6000 birr limit per day, but most do not charge a local ATM fee (international or third-party ATM fees from your financial institution may apply, however).

Warning: Some ATM machines are targeted for "skimmer" scams, allowing thieves to steal your ATM card information. To protect yourself, the safest ATMs to use are the ones located at the Hilton (Dashen, Zemen, CBE); Radisson Blu (Dashen, Zemen, Wegagen); or Sheraton (Dashen) hotels.

There is an illegal black market where you can get a slightly better rate, especially if you bargain. Check your money very carefully before you leave and do not allow it to leave your hand after your final count. Most souvenir shops off Churchill Rd and Zambia St do it.

Eat[edit]

Food is generally cheap. Make sure you try the national dish injera at least once, since there is no other food like it. It is a yeast-risen flat bread with a unique, slightly spongy texture. It is traditionally made out of teff flour. In making injera, teff flour is mixed with water and allowed to ferment for several days, as with sourdough starter. As a result of this process, injera has a mildly sour taste. It's what the locals eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Most ordinary Ethiopian restaurants have it, and a serving for 2 people with free refills can be as cheap as 15 birr.

Budget[edit]

This page uses the following price ranges for a typical meal for one, including soft drink:
Budget Below 50 birr
Mid-range 50-250 birr
Splurge 250+ birr

Addis has hundreds of cake and coffee cafes. They sell various coffees, tea - black unless you ask for "machiatto" - and sometimes fruit juices. There are also juice beits. The cafes along Bole Road and around the Piassa area are of a high standard and relatively inexpensive. Most are very similar to each other.

Most cafes serve the common drink called 'sprice juice' (fruit pulp served in layers in a glass). There are usually three layers from a selection of avocado, mango, papaya, banana, guava etc. The juice is eaten with a spoon. It is colorful and tastes delicious. Single fruit juices are also great, such as orange, papaya, mango, and pineapple - beautifully fresh. 7 birr up to 25 birr in Hilton.

  • Yemi Burger- Haya Hulet. Burger, fries & Mirinda/Coca Cola for 23 ETB. Wonderful staff and known by many expats and the 'best chips in Addis'.
  • Cafe Chocolata, Victory Rd (near Shoppers Mart supermarket). Serves drinks and snacks and is very nice. All the staff are former street girls and prostitutes who are trying to make something of their lives.
  • City Cafe on Bole has delicious cakes and pastries as well as high quality Ethiopian espresso coffees. You can sit on the porch and watch the activity on one of the main roads in Addis.
  • National Cafe, at the end of Churchill Ave (in the National Theatre building). Reasonable prices and good food. From injera to club sandwich.

Restaurants that do not have an English menu are cheaper. Example: Connection between Bole Road and Tele-Bole, next to Bole roundabout, at NOC-Fuelstation, close to German Kantine. You can have lunch (local food, spaghetti) for less than 20 birr. If you don't have a translator, ordering is a lot of fun.

Mid-range[edit]

  • Addis Cuisine. Wollo Sefer. (Bole end of Ethio Chinese Friendship Rd, on the north side of 6 lane road). Good Western and Ethiopian food.
  • Anticaoff Cape Verde St / EU Rd, Bole (in the residential area just behind the Sudanese restaurant, near Desalegn hotel). Decent pizza, and one of the only delivery services available in Addis that does not require bulk orders. Pizza tends to arrive cold.
  • Brick-oven Pizza across the street from Wanza hotel. Has an amazing green chili sauce.
  • Bruno's, Meskel Flower Rd, across from the Dreamliner hotel (look for the Italian themed gate). A quiet, tucked-away Italian restaurant, it has some of the best pizza in the city, on a beautiful compound. Parking is extremely limited both on the street and within the restaurant; if you plan on dining in, take a taxi.
  • Canaan (from the airport roundabout, down Bole Rd, turn left (before Bole Mini). Very nice pizza. Less than mid-range, a bit more than budget
  • Giordana's/Capri restaurant (in a small side street off of Djibouti St. Pass Lion International Bank on your right and take first left). The friendly Giordana is a well known TV chef. This place is worth seeking out for its excellent pasta and other Italian food.
  • 2000 Habesha Cultural Restaurant (Habesha 2000), TeleBole Rd (between Atlas Hotel and Edna Mall). One of Addis Ababa's famous cultural restaurants, it has traditional singing and dancing at night. If you're feeling brave, try the gored gored (cubes of heavily salted and spiced raw beef). Waiters are well mannered and kind, and most are very talented dancers. Features a large buffet with many kinds of wat/wot (Ethiopian stew), injera, shiro, vegetables, and other dishes. Their "fasting" menu (meatless or vegan dishes typically served to religiously observant diners) is excellent and will satisfy most vegetarians and vegans. The old restaurant at the south end of EU Rd near Bole Rd was demolished for road construction in 2012.
  • Kaldi Coffee, Bole Rd, with a sign similar to Starbucks. Has great porridge.
  •    Lime TreeBoston Partners Building, Bole Rd (above the Boston Day Spa). While Ethiopian food is delicious there comes a time when you might want to try something else. Extensive menu, ranging from Arabic to Ethiopian food. They do have a consistency which is quite hard to find here. Own brand of coffee, which is a more bitter version of the general Ethiopian coffee you find, but if this appeals to you then you can not find this coffee anywhere else. Limetree owns several other restaurants in town – ask them for recommendations for a bit more variety.
  • Liquid LoungeNigist Towers Bldg, Kazanches (next to the (fake) Intercontinental hotel). A two-story establishment focusing on Asian food, including stir-fry and sushi in the evenings (salmon and tuna only, and it is not as fresh as the Sheraton). The a la carte menu offers a few burgers, sandwiches and other lunch items. In the evenings, it becomes a booming club, with excellent dance music and a relatively sophisticated middle-class young crowd. Very trendy, and has VIP areas upstairs. On the weekends it gets busy.
  • Meda Bar and Grill (on the way from Addis Ababa Stadium to Gotera around Lancha). Bar and restaurant, clean with many selections of meals, cocktails and a wine bar.
  • Sana'a Restaurant, Gabon St. A very popular restaurant with amazing Yemeni food.
  • Sishu, Churchill Ave (by National Bank. Pass through Ministry of Urban Development and Construction and the Ethiopian Teachers' Association). Fabulous burgers (often called the best in Addis), nice salads and juices. Designed like a living room, with little bookstore. They only serve American coffee.
  • Team Mini, Bole Rd. Friendly, high quality restaurant with traditional Ethiopian food. Try the mesir besiga (ground meat with lentils). Performances by traditional singers and dancers at night. The entertainment is not as good as that at Habesha, but the food is generally better.
  • Yod Abyssinia. A traditional cultural restaurant, favored by expats and the diplomatic community for treating visitors. Serves Hakim Stout, an excellent (even by international standards) dark Harari beer produced by Heineken that can be difficult to find. Multiple locations, but the popular ones are in Bole and in Mekanisa/Sar Bet area (Old Airport, on Seychelles St. about 600 meters due west of Adams Pavilion).
  •    Island BreezeCunningham Street, Piassa (A blue building on the corner, across from the post office). A tropical island themed restaurant serving Mexican and Pizza. Pizzas are made with high quality cheese, lacking at most other places. The fajitas are absolutely perfect! 100-150 Birr as of June 2014.
  •    Cupcake Delight BakeryDjibouti St, Bole (Across from the Beer Garden Inn). A bright, vibrant, bustling cafe serving cupcakes, cakes, juices, and coffees. The carrot cake is top of the line. 20-30 Birr per baked good as of June 2014.

Splurge[edit]

  • Aladdin Restaurant. Bole Rwanda St. Serves Middle-Eastern food. Very expensive but authentic and delicious.
  • Castellis in Piazza. Churchill St/Piazza area. Top Italian restaurant here since 1942. With famous guests such as Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt there is a reason that Castelli's manages to attract such a crowd. This is where the Italian embassy staff goes to eat. Amazing food, amazing desserts, call for a reservation or risk disappointment, even at lunch time, as this is a trendy place to be seen.
  • Fisherman Restaurant. Mickey Leland St, (near Atlas Hotel). A half-Chinese, half-Tibetan restaurant specialising in seafood and serving an excellent range of Asian cuisine.
  • Green View Italian Restaurant / Pizzeria, Bole Mickey Leland St, (near Atlas Hotel). Excellent pizza. There is another location near CMC.
  •    Sangam RestaurantBole Rd. Excellent place for Indian food and sweets, often used by the Indian embassy. Loads of variety with rice, chapati, naan. Pleasant atmosphere and price is very good.
  •    Serenadebetween Tewodros St & Welete Johanis St, Ammest Kilo (near Nazareth School, but difficult to find). Will need a reservation. This has a Middle-Eastern influence, with great couscous, but the desserts are Western and are amazing. Owned by Limetree.
  • Top View Restaurant. Megenagna area, above the traffic circle, near the Israeli embassy. Very good food but can be expensive for dinner.

Drink[edit]

The national drink of Ethiopia is 'tej', which is brewed from honey. You can also try 'tela' which is like a beer.

  • Affoy. The upstairs, where the bar and hookah are, is a little run-down but the pizzas are good.
  • Bailamos. Bole Rd (on the top floor of the Novis building). Club with a surprisingly vibrant salsa scene on the weekends. Live music every Saturday, soft rock, salsa, R&B, and the band is surprisingly good. However, this is considered a lower end club, more targeted to those with a limited budget such as college students.
  •    Black RoseBoston Bldg, Bole Rd (above the Boston Day Spa). The energetic atmosphere is dark yet comfortable and fashionable, and the bar serves a variety of drinks. Live jazz jam session every Th night.
  • Club Deep. There is a small cover charge, but the drinks are inexpensive. Avoid the bathrooms as they are filthy beyond belief.
  • Divine. Bole Rd (on the top floor of Sheger House). Very Western-oriented playlist, with ample space for relaxing and a pumping dance floor on weekends.
  • Dome Club. Concorde. Debre Zeyit Rd. Sticky and dark, more of a dive bar/club.
  • Gaslight. Fancy nightclub at the Sheraton. Inside it feels like an upscale Western disco. Don't wear jeans or trainers/sneakers, as they have a fairly strict dress code. Although there is no entrance fee, be prepared to pay heavily for drinks.
  •    Illusioncnr Ras Desta Damtew St & Itegue Taitu St (under the Ambassador Theatre). Dance till 5AM. Very crowded on weekends, yet that adds to its charm.
  • Meda Sports Bar and Grill. Large, spacious bar which is comfortable for chatting or watching a game. The downstairs lounge provides a more intimate setting for quiet conversations. Upstairs, the loft has a relaxed, casual dining atmosphere.
  • Memo. This club is popular for its late night atmosphere. It is one of the few clubs that charges admission, and be warned about the price of drinks. But the music is loud and good, the kitchen is open late and it makes for a great night.

Sleep[edit]

Caution NOTE: The Ethiopian dialing plan changed on 17 Sep 2006. Six-digit telephone numbers changed to seven digits. Many of the accommodation listings here appear to still have the older 5 digit numbers following the country code of +251 and the city code of 11. Addis Ababa local numbers should contain 7 digits. Please check the number before calling and please plunge forward and update any numbers that are incomplete.

Budget[edit]

Some of the prices below are still a few years old. As of 2013, it is still possible to find "rooms" for 50 Birr, but a somewhat decent room will cost about 100 Birr, and most cost 150 Birr and up. Most tourists stay in the piazza area, where there are many hotels ranging from very cheap to moderately cheap. Except for the cheapest, most of them have running hot water and are fairly clean; below are just a few examples. More cheap hotels are around Mike Leyland Street in Bole area.

  • Taitu Hotel, In Piazza. All taxi drivers know this place, many travelers and overlanders here. Rooms are about 380 Birr in the main building and 150 Birr in the cheapest annex building. A large room with balcony is 177 Birr. Rooms are mostly clean and have good and large beds. Good value for money, very quiet. Large restaurant and nice outside Cafe. Only toilets and shower are in despicable condition. The main building is the oldest stone-building in Addis, and the hostel is the first hotel in Ethiopia. From 150 Birr for doubles (as of 2013).
  • Baro Hotel, Piazza and across from Wutma Hotel, ☎ +251 11 155 1447. +251 11 157 4157 Fax +251 11 553 7439, (abenet@baro.com.et). Some travelers and overlanders here. Small restaurant on site but very limited food selection. Old decor and cramped, but decent value. They now take VISA without commission. They might not actually "confirm" your booking till you get there anyway. From 150 Birr (as of 2013).
  • Wutma Hotel, Piazza and across the Baro Hotel. Some good and clean rooms, some not so much, so have a look first. Restaurant downstairs that often has UK Premier League and other foodball games on a big screen with lots of locals coming to watch, so expect noise. From 210 Birr with ensuite toilet/shower (as of 2013).
  • Worku Bikila Hotel. Dukem, (about 20 km south-west of Addis Ababa), Thriving hotel for budget to mid-range travellers.
  • Wanza Pension +251 11 5156177. In Bole area, close to intersection Bole Rd on Democratic Republic of Congo Rd (the road is better known as "Olympia Rd" by locals). Reasonably clean if you ignore the occasional cockroach. From 150 Birr shared bathroom, 200 Birr en-suite (as of 2013).
  • Park Hotel, a cheapy starting at 20 Birr, the rooms aren't exactly clean
  • Fin-Fin Hotel, (opposite the Filwoha Hotel).
  • Hawi, Debre Zeit Rd, (south of the city centre).
  • Holiday Hotel, Haile Gebresilassie Rd, (near the Plaza Hotel).
  • Yordanos Hotel +251 11 515711fax: +251 11 516655. Haile Gebresilassie Rd.

Mid-range[edit]

  • Balu, Near Piazza.
  • Beer Garden Inn. Near the airport, its menu specialises in German delicacies such as cheese noodles and grilled chicken washed down with wheat beer. A half litre costs 11 Birr.
  • Bourgainvillier guest house +251 911 627898. [www.ethiopiatjazz.com]. Has small rooms but it is clean and athlete Haile Gebre Selassie sister, Azaltich Gebre-Selassie offers nice hospitality. You need to book in advance.
  • Damu-Damu Hotel.
  • Martin's Cozy Place-German Guesthouse, (near the Atlas and almost opposite the side of the hotel). A favorite for business people or expats having to base themselves in Addis. Martin offers a range of services for tourists and it is a homey place to shack up for a few nights. April 2013: single room 252 Birr (14 USD) shared bathrooms.
  • Maskal Flower Hotel, (near Debre Zeit Rd), ☎ +251 xxxxxxx.
  • Ras Hotel, Churchill Ave/Gambia St, (just north of the railway station), ☎ +251 11 517060, +251 11 447060. One of the oldest hotels in Addis. Single rooms costing around 120 br
  • Tourist, near the Grand Palace and Trinity Cathedral.
  • Wabe Shebelle Hotel +251 (0) 11 551 7187. $52.
  • Yilma Hotel, Mekanessa area. This hotel is about US$25 per night for tourists. Restaurant/cafe with cableTV that plays news and sports channels. They serve food until 10PM-11PM. The staff is very nice and friendly. They have room service for no added charge. The rooms are minimal but have decent bathrooms with hot water heaters for the shower, flush toilets, and tiled floors. Ask for "Fish" the manager and you will surely be treated well.
  • Z Guest House. This a nice family-run bed & breakfast in a quiet residential area of Addis Ababa offering clean rooms and beautiful furnished apartments with fully-equipped kitchens and satellite TV. It’s located less than one mile from Piassa, only about 12 minutes from the airport. From US$29.95/night for a single suite.

Splurge[edit]

  • Addis Ababa HiltonCentral Menelik Ave +251 11 518400fax: +251 11 510064. Airline agents, money changing, restaurant, bar, gym, sauna, swimming pool, internet access.
  • Carrera Lodge, Rossevelt St, ☎ +251 11 517400, +251 11 447400.
  • Dimitri Hotel. Yeka district. Peaceful surroundings in contemporary city area, opened 2008. Many free services, including in-room wireless internet and premium satellite TV.
  • Faro Hotel +251 11 6621186. Brand new Ethiopian/Euro-style "boutique" hotel, minutes away from Bole Airport, Bole Rock Gym, Boston Day Spa, Friendship Center and Lime Tree restaurant. Woman-owned, with a welcoming staff. Internet and kitchenette in each room, new bathrooms with modern steam shower units, very comfortable new beds with duvets. Full dining facilities; a bar & juice counter in the lobby and will soon have a swimming pool on its roof. Some rooms have good views. The Faro takes cash or Visa. From US$100 per night plus 25% tax and service charge
  • Harmony HotelBole Sub city Kebele 03 House # New +251-11-618-31-00, e-mail: . Comfortable four star hotel in Bole (near airport). The new wing has rooms of a good international standard. Fast wired and wireless internet in rooms. It is still under construction in December 2012, so expect a few rough edges. The restaurant provides a good breakfast. There is also a swimming pool under construction. US$150.
  • International Hotel, downtown near beginning of Bole Rd. About US$40 per night. Clean and rooms are huge with living room, separate bedroom, many bathrooms include large tub. Staff is very nice and rooms have enormous balconies overlooking the green open areas of the Sheraton hotel as well as views of Mt. Entoto. A great place to stay if you need easy access to the Bole Airport without risking traffic delays. Upwards of US$65 for a single, US$85 for a small double, payment in cash only, no Visa (2008 prices)
  • Panorama Hotel. Nice, clean rooms. 4 star dining and bar. Very nice lobby area. From US$59/night
  • Sheraton AddisCentral Yohanis St +251 11 517-1717fax: +251 11 5172727, e-mail: . Known to expats as the "Sheza", this obscenely luxurious hotel was built by an Ethiopian billionaire, who is also Ethiopia's largest employer after the government. This is the place to go for 5 star opulence. It also one of few places in Addis where you can get cash from an ATM or credit card.
  • Wassamar HotelBole Rd +251 11 661-0059, e-mail: . Comfortable three/four star hotel in Bole (near airport). Several floors of rooms all of good standard. Wired and wireless internet are available. A courtesy bus is available to and from the airport. USD95.

Stay safe[edit]

  • Addis is safer than most cities in Africa. Gang violence and similar serious activities are unusual. However, you may encounter some pick-pockets and con-artists around and inside Bole Airport, Mercato, Piazza and many other areas. Keep your belongings close, and pay attention to your surroundings. A common tactic is to show you a tray of things to buy with one hand and to try your pocket with the other. The good news is most of these pick-pockets are unarmed and young boys. If they know that you are aware of what they are up to, they may get intimidated and go away. However, some can be quite persistent and even involve older boys.
  • Be aware of your belongings on Line Taxis: They usually get very crowded - keep your wallet/phone/bag close to you.
  • The major and important roads and areas are patrolled by the 'Federal Police' or, as the city residents refer them Federal. They have a reputation of being merciless with suspected criminals. In contrast, the Addis-Ababa city police, who most of the time patrol the less important city streets, markets and neighborhoods are more tolerant and less respected police officers.
  • For all emergencies ☎ 911. In Addis, major streets are generally safe at night.
  • In a total difference of other African cities, in Addis-Ababa, police officers never approach foreigners to ask them to present a passport, ID or "legal" papers. Once you show your passport at the airport, you are free to move around pretty much anywhere. The only time you need your passport or ID is for hotel registration (booking) and other similar and few instances. (It is important to have your ID with you at all times, however.) Many visitors appreciate that they don't have to be questioned who they are or where they are from by a police officer who wants to extract bribe money from them, every time they turn around. This could be one of Addis-Ababa's appeals.

Cope[edit]

Watch what you drink or you can fall sick. It is important to remember to only drink bottled water. There are many brands to choose from; always check the plastic seal on all bottles before paying any vendor. Most travelers should be warned against eating vegetables such as those in salads that may have been washed in water. Try limiting fruits and vegetables to those you "peel" yourself such as oranges, mangos, etc.

Be prepared for culture shock. If you take photos of the people, ask first and offer to show them their picture if you have a digital camera with a display screen. Children enjoy seeing their pictures a lot of the time!

Your emotions are real. Many first time visitors may feel overwhelmed if they have not experienced this type of culture difference before. Be polite but not intrusive. It is OK to ask questions of the locals, but you should be prepared to be hassled a lot of the time, especially if you are white. Additionally, for foreigners who are black, especially American, although possibly able to "blend in", precautions are in order (depending where you are, in Addis on Bole road they are used to seeing foreigners compared to the country side). If you prepare your mindset before arrival, you will be better able to cope.

Embassies[edit]

  • Finland FinlandMauritania Street, Nifas Silk Lafto Kifle Ketema (Old Airport Area), Kebele 12, House No 1431 +251-11-320 5920fax: +251-11-320 5923, e-mail: . Mo-We 8AM-4:30PM, Th 8AM-4PM, Fr 8AM-1PM.
  • Kenya KenyaEmbassy of the Republic of Kenya, Fikre Mariam Road, High 16 Kebelle 01 (P. O. Box 3301, Addis Ababa) +251-11-66110033fax: +251-11-6611433.
  • Serbia SerbiaW15 K26, House No.923, (P.O.Box 1341, Addis Ababa) +251 11 5517804fax: +251 11 5514192.

Connect[edit]

Telephone[edit]

The country code for calling Ethiopia is 251. The Ethiopian dialing plan changed on 17 Sep 2005, such that the two-digit city code changed to three digits (or, from outside the country, one to two digits) and six-digit telephone numbers changed to seven digits. The city code for Addis Ababa as of Sep 2005 is 011 (or 11 from outside Ethiopia).

Mobile[edit]

Ethiopia uses a GSM network operated by Ethiopian Telecommunications Corporation. There is decent coverage around big cities such as Addis Ababa, Dire Dawa, Bahir Dar, Debre Markos, Dese, Gonder, Harar, Mekele, and Nekemete. It is expanding into most small cities.

Roaming charges are very steep. For a short visit, your best option for mobile access is to rent a SIM card with a phone. Only a few stores rent SIM cards: you can rent a SIM card and phone inside Addis Ababa Sheraton hotel but is it very expensive. Another option is to rent a SIM card and mobile phone from local stores (for example, Red Zebraes).

A third option is to buy a SIM card, at about 60 birr (August 2011). Ask a cell phone retailer (there are many of them, especially in the piazza). If the retailer does not sell them, he or she will point you in the right direction. Be prepared: you will need a passport-sized picture and a photocopy of your passport that the seller will keep. The quickest way to get your own SIM card is probably in the Hilton Hotel. If you have all needed documents (photocopy of your passport and two passport sized pictures), it will take less than 5 minutes to get your SIM card.

Internet[edit]

In Addis Ababa, especially in Bole Subcity, you can find quite a number of internet cafes. Some still use dial-up connections, but broadband is becoming more popular. Most of the high-end hotels have internet connections (either Ethernet or WiFi), which are reasonably fast and often free for hotel guests.

A general problem with the Internet in Ethiopia is the unstable international high-speed connection. If it is not working, even broadband cafes only deliver dial-up speeds and less. The local definition of highspeed broadband is 128kbits. Another general problem is the shortage of electricity, forcing daytime blackouts of whole areas 1–2 days a week, so it is good to plan ahead where you are going for internet access. During the winter months of 2009 (Jun-Aug), electricity had gone off on one side of the city for one day, and another side for the next.

Skype and VoIP service are legal in Ethiopia. According to local press, Ethiopia today has the fourth worst internet in the world.

  • Dembel City Center on Bole Rd has "Hut Internet Cafe" on the 2nd floor with over 30 Internet capable computers for use every day 10AM-7PM.
  • Arkies Business Center, Piazza, next to 'Taitu Hotels'
  • Broadband Internet in DH Geda Tower, next to Friendship City Center / Bole Rd. 128kbit/s, many seats, but mostly completely occupied. The good thing is that it is easy to find.
  • Nina Internetcafe, across from Baro Hotels, inside Wutema Hotels
  • TG Business Center, Bole, from Airport (big roundabout) to the right, junction with Cameroon Rd (locally known as "Bole-Tele") has broadband but only 3 seats. Most of the time it is not crowded, so a good connection can be expected.
  • DMG Internet Center, near Edna Mall next to Kaldi's Cafe just off Djibuti St (the road leading from Tele Bole towards 22), has broadband connection and 11 terminals. 2 MB speed Internet, which translates to pretty decent speed for the country. Open M-Sa 8:30am–8pm.

Wireless internet[edit]

3G Internet services (known as WCDMA or UMTS) are available in many parts of Addis Ababa. A special SIM card and capable phone is needed. Price is 0.04 ETB cents per 100 KB. CDMA is also available, which needs special devices (prices around 0.10 ETB per minute, around 128 kbits). EVDO requires a USB device and is faster than CDMA but requires monthly payment of 500 ETB/month for 2 GB data plan. CDMA and EVDO are also available in all regional and most zonal capitals in Ethiopia.

Go next[edit]

This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!


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