Addis Ababa Overview
Ethiopia's capital city Addis Ababa is the country's largest city, and among its population of over 3 million live many of the country's wealthiest people. Home to more than 120 international missions and embassies, the city is an important diplomatic hub in Africa. Addis Ababa was established in the 19th century, and, to Western travellers, it symbolises an ancient and mystical world. It's also the ideal place to sample and learn about Ethiopian culture through its fabulous museums. Great food and excellent places to stay help to make the city such a buzzing place. Enjoying a mild climate all year round, much of the city can be explored on foot -- take in Meskel Square, the Africa Hall, the Parliament and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as well as the Holton and Sheraton Hotels. The city's cathedral is an imposing sight, while near Arat Kilo lies part of the old town, which is interesting and atmospheric. The city's marketplace is located at the bottom of the 3,300-meter-high Entoto Mountains, where many of the city's early churches can be found. This area has a refreshing and rural feel with superb views over the forests and beautiful landscapes dotted with farmland. Entertaining annual events include the Addis International Film Festival, the Tensae Cycle Race and the Arba Minch Festival of Music and Dance.
Things to Do
With enough sights, landmarks, history and things to do to warrant more than a stopover, Addis Ababa is the reason many people travel to Ethiopia -- to immerse themselves in the city's friendliness, attractions and vibrant culture.
Addis Ababa has a truly impressive market called the Mercato, which is thought to be the country's largest and where shoppers can buy tourist souvenirs and many other objects. Haggling and bargaining is standard!
Food in the city is generally cheap and trying Injera, the national dish, is a must! This yeasty flatbread has a unique, springy texture. Most Ethiopian restaurants will serve it, for example, the Oda Cultural Restaurant and Café.
The National Museum of Ethiopia is home to Ethiopia's treasures and many precious archaeological artefacts. There's also the city's Ethnological Museum: easily one of the Africa's finest museums with a range of culture and history over two levels.
Calendar of Events
The Ethiopian events and festivals held in Addis Ababa mark the country's rich traditions, with cultural and sporting highlights held throughout the year in the capital.
Addis International Film Festival. This award-winning film festival features national and international films and documentaries celebrating Africa's flourishing film and motion picture industry. The festival is in the middle of May.
Tensae Cycle Race. An annual race at Easter time brings cyclists from all over the world to take part in this spectacular event, where participants ride 22 laps of the city's stadium.
Arba Minch Festival of Music and Dance. In December, music and dance are celebrated in the capital as well as in southern regions of Ethiopia, showcasing a variety of local cultures and long-standing African traditions.