Harar (sometimes spelled Harrar or Harer) is an ancient city in eastern Ethiopia with a population of about 75,000. For centuries, Harar has been a major commercial centre, linked by trade routes with the rest of Ethiopia, the entire Horn of Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, and, through its ports, the outside world.
Harar Jugol, the old walled city, was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2006 in recognition of its cultural heritage. It is considered the fourth holiest city of Islam by Sunni Muslims (after Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem, with 82 mosques, three of which date from the 10th century, and 102 shrines.
- There is a bus service from Addis Ababa (the capital) and Dire Dawa. From Dire Dawa there are minibuses for 30 birr.
- Harar is 54 km by asphalt road from Dire Dawa.
- Harar is served by Dire Dawa International Airport. From the airport you need to take a shared taxi (50 birr per person in 2020) to the minibus station from there its 45 minutes by minibus to Harar.
The blue and white minibuses and rental vehicles are available.
In the old town - Jugal - there is no need to take rickshaws, etc., as it is very walkable, and also as the alleyways are very narrow and crowded it is probably easiest to walk.
- A mansion that once housed the renowned French poet Arthur Rimbaud. The mansion is now converted to a museum.
- The old town is home to ninety-nine mosques and many more shrines, centred on Feres Magala square.
- The St Mary Catholic Church is a pleasant spot. It is reached by walking east down the main street in the old town turning left immediately after the Jamai mosque and then taking the next right. The church is behind a large unmarked solid metal gate.
- Notable buildings include Medhane Alem Cathedral and the sixteenth century Jamia Mosque.
- The nearby town of Ejersa Goro, where the former emperor Haile Selassie was born.
- Abdela Sherif Museum, Harar Jugol, ☏ , ✉ Abdelasherif@yahoo.com. Daily 08:00-12:00, 14:00-18:00. 50 birr.
- A long standing tradition of feeding porridge to hyenas one night a year on a shrine on the hill, developed in the 1960s into a nightly feeding show for the benefit of tourists. For a 100 birr fee (Sep 2016; as of July 2019 100 birr for locals, 200 birr for tourists) you can watch the Hyena and feed them yourself with rotten meat. Any bakjaj (tuk-tuk) or taxi driver knows the current place and can take you there at 07:00 for 100-200 birr. There are two feeding sites. The eastern one you can reach on foot (see google maps for the exact location). You do not need a guide (100 birr, July 2019) but it might be nice to have someone to tell you info in English.
- Get lost in the old town of Harar (Jegol) and wander around brightly colored houses and small vendors. Some local houses can be visited, the guides will show you which one- or try to find them on your own.
- At the meat market inside the old town one can see birds of prey sitting around, where they wait for their moment to snatch a piece of meat (closed during the summer).
- Timkat is celebrated, though on a much more modest scale than in Northern Ethiopia. Activities take place at Feres Megala and culminate in a procession at 15:00. The upstairs terrace of the cafe on the north side of the square is the best vantage point.
- Handicrafts are available at the market.
- The spice market (just outside the walls near the bus station) has a huge variety of coffee and spices and is worth a visit.
- Harar coffee.
- Fresh Touch Restaurant (close to the Harar gate). Has Ethiopian and Italian food. Deservedly popular with locals and tourists. As usual in Ethiopia if you order local food the prices are quite reasonable but you can splurge on Italian food if you wish.
- Hirut Restaurant (past the law courts on the street heading north off the main road near the Ras Makonnen statue). Good Ethiopian and Italian food. Outside garden and inside plants make for pleasant dining
There are very few mid-range accommodations. Dire Dawa has a better selection of hotels and restaurants.
- Tewodros Hotel, from 250 birr (double), a friendly, bit rundown place next to the main road just outside the wall. The owner is a friendly guy who knows everybody as he is working as a guide for a long time.
- Tourist Hotel, from 40 birr (single), very noisy (disco-cum-brothel), try to get one of the rooms which are furthest from the disco area.
- Amir Redwan Guesthouse (Argobaberi), ☏ . Check-in: anytime, check-out: 12:00. A traditional Harari house founded by tourist guide Amir Redwan. 350 birr.
- Sherif guest house, Jegol (marked on google maps). A cozy and clean place, bathroom inside, running water, friendly staff. Located near eastern hyena feeding site.
- Wonderland Hotel (just outside the Harar gate). Good rooms and facilities. Friendly staff. Breakfast included. There is also a restaurant. US$22 per double.
To Addis Ababa there are buses leaving daily early morning (04:30 or 05:00). Tickets for 350 birr (July 2019). Buy your ticket a few days in advance. There are a few companies and most of the offices are located at Charleville Ave, near Bank of Abyssinia. The ride takes 11 hours and takes you to Meskel Square in Addis.