How To Explore Africa’s Sleeping Giant, Addis Ababa

  • Tall monument in the city centre of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

  • swimming pool and the Addis Ababa skyline

  • Donkeys walking down a hill

  • Church with a blue framed patio in Addis Ababa

  • Hotel Lobby featuring traditional Ethiopian Art.

  • skeleton bones on a black table

  • Ethiopian coffee ceremony

Ethiopia is often described as Africa’s sleeping giant, and there’s a good reason for that. As the capital of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa has a unique buzz and excitement that keeps the city alive 24/7, all year round.

Besides the fact that Ethiopia is one of the world’s most ancient and independent nations and also one of the earliest places ever inhabited by humans, it is also the birthplace of Arabica coffee where you can find the world’s finest coffee beans.

Enjoy a Sip
The cult of coffee has been spreading across the world for close to five centuries and Tomoca Coffeehouse is the best place to experience a fresh cup of this roasted brew. With several coffee houses throughout the capital; Tomoca does not serve traditional style coffee as seen in some of the major attractions across Ethiopia. The ordering system allows for visitors to purchase coupons from the cashier and handing it over to the baristas who call out the orders once it is ready. Visitors stand while sipping on their coffee and carry on with their day.

The country’s official language is Amharic and the local currency is called the Birr, but don’t fret, the US Dollar is widely accepted in shops, hotels and informal markets like the Addis Mercato open-air market. The Addis Mercato is the biggest in Africa and can be explored with a tour guide. Shops range from fruit sellers to incense and electronic shops. The mass of shops, stalls, and locals wandering around may seem overwhelming yet upon closer inspection, this is the perfect place to hunt for bargains.

Sights to See
Discover the rich history and traditions of this ancient kingdom and its vibrant landscapes of dramatic beauty. Addis Ababa was founded in 1886 and has expanded into a major city over the last 100 years. Take a steep drive up to Entoto hill, the highest point in the city, and experience panoramic views of the city’s skyline. Entoto Hill is known as the lungs of Addis Ababa due to its dense forest and also home to a monastery, St. Mary’s Church, and Emperor Menelik II’s palace. Both historic buildings are open to the public, although photography is not allowed in St. Mary’s Church which showcases an impressive display of royal regalia from the country’s emperors.

Explore Local Museums
Roaming the city’s streets, you will stumble across the fascinating Ethnological Museum, the former palace of Haile Selassie which showcases the cultural and social history of Ethiopia. Another gem located nearby is the National Museum on King George VI Street which is home to “Lucy”, the museum’s greatest treasure. This skeleton dating back to about 3.2 million years ago is one of the most visited artifacts in Africa.

These fascinating historical museums are best viewed with a tour guide to learn the most about history and culture.

Dine in Ethiopia
Ethiopian cuisine is famous for its rich aromas and generous use of herbs and spices and typically consists of vegetables and very spicy meat dishes, customarily presented on a beautifully woven basket-like table. The dishes are served together on a large plate which is layered with a pancake-like bread called Injera. Get cultural and use your hands and the bread to scoop the various flavorful stews and sauces. Another delicacy in Ethiopia is honey wine or Tey, also called mead in other parts of the world.

Souvenir Shopping
Let your loved ones share in your experience of Ethiopia by taking home a piece of Ethiopia. Salem’s Ethiopia and the All in One Souvenir & Gift Shop on Nigeria Street is the perfect outlet to pick up some souvenirs.

Addis Ababa’s allure is easy to appreciate as you journey through this amazing city as part of your African experience.

This post was written by Hilton Suggests Team Member, Driaan J. Are you interested in traveling to Addis Ababa? Let us know if we can help you with any other recommendations. Tweet us for more great local travel tips!

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