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Africa > East Africa > Ethiopia > Northern Ethiopia > Mekele


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Mekele is in the Tigrayan Highlands in Ethiopia. It is the capital of the Tigray region and has a population of 200,000.


Mekele (or the smaller towns of Wukro and Hawzien to the north) can be used as a base to explore the many rock-hewn churches scattered across the stunning high-desert landscape of northern Tigray. The churches are as rewarding to visit as they are (often) difficult to reach. Abuna Yemata Guh is a particular highlight, although not recommended for those without a head for heights. The tourist office in Wukro can help to arrange guides and transport.

Get in[edit]

By bus: Coming from Axum there are three types of buses: public buses, minibuses and shared taxi. The buses depart from Axum in the early morning. If you want to go to Mekele in the afternoon you have to go by either minibus with a stopover in Adwa or by shared taxi. Ask at the bus station for certain taxi companies. The public bus should be about 65 birr, the minibus 90 birr and the shared taxi around 100 birr. From Addis Ababa buses depart early morning from Meskel square, cost around 600 ETB and take about 14 hours (July 2019). It is advisable to purchase your tickets a few days in advance (e.g. Selam bus has their office near Meskel square, but there are also other companies). The bus passes Yangudi Rassa National Park which gives you some scenic views during your ride.

By plane: As of July 2011 there are daily direct flights to Axum, Addis Ababa and Lalibela. For other destinations you have to change flights.

Get around[edit]


Yohannes IV Museum
  • Yohannis IV Museum, opposite the Atse Yohannis Hotel. Formerly the palace of Emperor Yohannes IV.
  • Sit on the balcony of the Atse Yohannis Hotel (situated near Ethiopian Telecomms building, on the roundabout that has a sometimes-on fountain in its centre) and watch the world go by while having a coffee, cold beer, fresh juice, lunch or dinner. It's a nice view and you're up on the first floor so you're away from beggars and street-stares.
  • Abreha Castel Hotel.
  • Romanat Waterfall.
  • Haweltii Semaetat (ሃውልቲ).
  • Choma'a.


  • Walk around the town, the tree-lined streets are pleasant to walk around and observe life going on around you.
  • Chele Anka Waterfall - 8km out of Mekele, to the southwest - a nice hike to get there, more dramatic in the rainy season.


  • Traditional clothing and Jewelery.


There are quite a few 'ferenji' restaurants in Mekele, serving pizza, meat, chicken, fish, vegetables and salads. There's also lots of national food restaurants and many cake/pastry/coffee shops.

  • Geza Gerelassie - eating/drinking/dancing venue, has great beef dishes such as shish kebab and shekla tibs. Live Ethiopian music and dancing at the weekend (or is it Thursday and Saturday nights - maybe someone else can confirm?). Everyone gets up and joins in, it's good fun. They have good food too and a bar.
  • Pizza and other 'ferenji' dishes as well as national food in the Yordanos restaurant beside the Abreha Castle Hotel. They have another branch down the road into the town, called Yordanos Blue (this one doesn't have pizza but has everything else).


  • SUWA.
  • Mese.


  • Axum Hotel (on the way to Mekele City from Alula Abanega Airport).
  • Atse Yohannis Hotel (near Ethiopian Telecoms building, on the roundabout that has a sometimes-on fountain in its centre). One of the classic "Western" hotels in town. They have a huge selection of good food which is surprisingly cheap. 220-400 birr depending on room.
  • Planet hotel.
  • Seti Hotel (south of Lucy park). Rooms are simple with basic facilities included. 450 ETB for a double room (July 2019).

Go next[edit]

  • Hawzien to the north, in an area with many rock-hewn churches
  • Adwa and nearby Yeha with its ancient temple, further north than Hawzien
This city travel guide to Mekele is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.