Quick Guide to Addis Ababa

Addis Ababa and The Blue Nile Valley, Ethiopia:

First Impression:Guarded people, not overtly helpful or friendly but polite.  Addis Ababa is going through a transition from a patchwork city to an urban center. Tourism infrastructure is basic although I hear things have changed over the last 3 years.

What to wear:  Err on the side of conservatism, pants, and long sleeves, no cleavage, head scarf for religious sites.  Closed toed shoes for both city and valley.  I wore soft sole doc marten boots everywhere.  The weather around Addis Ababa is cool, so conservative dress won’t be uncomfortable.  In the evening I wore a wind proof jacket and jeans, as it does get chilly.

What I did:  St. George’s Art Gallery, Tomoca Café, Debre Libanos tour, the Holy Trinity Cathedral.

Where I stayed:Edna Addis Hotel.  Basic, Cheap, Clean. Location wise not too bad but not the most convenient.  Excellent porridge and coffee, nice little roadside terrace for an afternoon beer and place to journal or sketch.

Practical tidbits:

  • Bole Avenue might be the best and most convenient area to stay in from what I’ve heard.
  • People getting into your taxi randomly is not uncommon so don’t worry.
  • Do keep your valuables stored safely in your bag and keep your bag close.
  • Try to exchange money into Birr notes before arriving in country but if you can’t then bring USD for your airport taxi, it will also be easier to exchange later.

Fun Facts: 

Coffee was banned in Ethiopia from approximately the 12thto the 19thCentury by the Orthodox Christian Church.  Ethiopia is credited with the discovery of the coffee bean but it was the Yemeni who popularised it as a drink.


Last Impression/Wishes for “next time”: 

While Addis Ababa wasn’t my favourite place to travel; I probably would have had more fun if I was with a friend or two; I loved the day I spent in The Blue Nile Valley.

I definitely needed to buy more Tomoca coffee to bring home, and after reading Paul Theroux’s book ‘Dark Star Safari’ I wish I had hunted down some antique shops.

Next time I would travel to Lalibela, Erta Ale, Gondar, etc…


*This guide is strictly from my experience, none of the links are affiliates, I do not benefit monetarily from this guide.

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