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Travel Warning WARNING: While the Ethiopian government and Tigrayan rebels signed a peace agreement formally declaring a cessation of armed conflict in 2022, the security situation in Northern Ethiopia remains in flux. Many governments still advise against visiting the northern regions of Ethiopia since hostilities can resume in an instant.

The area was heavily mined during the war, so landmines pose a major threat to people in the region. Eritrea was not a party to the cease-fire negotiations even though it was involved in the conflict, although there hasn't yet been any indication that Eritrea is continuing military actions in the region.

Government travel advisories
(Information last updated 27 Jul 2023)

Northern Ethiopia is the historic heartland of Ethiopia. Administratively, it consists of most of Amhara, all of Tigray, and the northern part of Afar. Historically, it encompassed the old provinces of Gojjam, Begmender, Tigray and Wollo. Most of the locations of the historic Kingdom of Ethiopia are located in the north of the modern-day country, as well as most of the main tourist sites.


Map of Northern Ethiopia
  • 1 Abi Addi Abiy Addi on Wikipedia - also spelled Abiy Addi
  • 2 Adigrat - second-largest town, used mainly as a stopover point by travellers
  • 3 Adwa and nearby Yeha with its ancient temple
  • 4 Axum (also spelt Aksum) – capital of the former Kingdom of Axum, famous for its stelae and cathedrals
  • 5 Bahir Dar – on Lake Tana with its island monasteries and churches, where the Blue Nile flows out
  • 6 Debre Marqos Debre Markos on Wikipedia - a stopover point on the way from the capital to Bahir Dar
  • 7 Dessie - a stopover town on the two-day bus ride from Addis Ababa to Lalibela
  • 8 Gondar – Medieval capital with royal castles
  • 9 Hager Selam Hagere Selam (Degua Tembien) on Wikipedia — Hager Selam (Degua Tembien)
  • 10 Hawzien – a base for exploring the many rock-hewn churches of north-eastern Tigray
  • 11 Lalibela – rock-cut churches
  • 12 Mekele – capital of Tigray, home to the palace of Emperor Yohannes IV
  • 13 Shire Shire Inda Slasse on Wikipedia - also known as Inda Selassie
  • 14 Wukro - another base for exploring the rock-hewn churches of Tigray

Other destinations[edit]


Generally speaking, Northern Ethiopia can be divided into two geographical regions: the highlands to the west, consisting of Amhara and Tigray and containing Ethiopia's highest peak at Ras Dashen, and the Afar lowlands to the east, containing the country's lowest point in the Danakil Depression.

The Ethiopian Highlands are very different from what one might imagine when thinking of East Africa. The landscape, both natural and cultural, is unique to this area, and several endemic species can be found here.


Amharic, the official language and lingua franca of Ethiopia, is spoken natively within the Amhara region. Tigray is the homeland of the Tigrayan people, who speak the Tigrinya language, though most people also speak Amharic as a second language.

Get in[edit]

Get around[edit]


The highlands were the centre of the Kingdom of Axum in the first millennium AD, and contain many historic sites such as the many rock-hewn churches of Tigray, the stelae of Axum, the castles of Gondar, and Ethiopia's most popular attraction - Lalibela.

  • 1 Blue Nile Falls Blue Nile Falls on Wikipedia - especially impressive during the wet season, can be visited as a day trip from Bahir Dar.




Stay safe[edit]

Between 2020 and 2022, Ethiopian forces and local Tigrayan militias (and later, Eritrean forces) fought a civil war that resulted in an Ethiopian victory. During the war, between 80,000 and 380,000 civilians were killed (depending on the source), and many more became refugees in neighboring countries. All armed parties involved committed crimes against humanity and other war crimes against civilians, and the region was heavily mined. Even though the conflict is formally over, many remnants of the war remain in the region, including ruined buildings/tanks, landmines, and possible animosity towards the government in Addis Ababa. Visitors here should exercise extreme caution.

Violent conflict can still resume in an instant, with little to no warning.

Go next[edit]

This region travel guide to Northern Ethiopia is an outline and may need more content. It has a template, but there is not enough information present. If there are Cities and Other destinations listed, they may not all be at usable status or there may not be a valid regional structure and a "Get in" section describing all of the typical ways to get here. Please plunge forward and help it grow!