Addis Ababa is a compact city with a population of some four million in an area of more than 45 It lines at a height of 2.200-2,500m surrounded by wooded hills and gullies which reach 3,200m to the north of the city in the Entoto mountain range.

The capital enjoys a mild Afro- Alpine climate with an average temperature of 160C. April and may are the driest months and the rainy season falls in the months of July, August and September. During the dry season the days are pleasantly warm and the nights cool; in the season both days and nights are cool.

Addis Ababa has grown at an astonishing speed since it was established in 1886. Today it enjoys the status of being the diplomatic capital of Africa. AU and ECA have their head quarters here. The regional head quarters of many other important groups like UNDP, UNICEF, and UNHCR, FAO, UNCTAD, ILO, ICO and ITU are all in Addis Ababa. It also hosts some 70 embassies and consular representatives.

There were many innovations in the region by the city’s founder, Emperor Menelik.  The first hotel Taitu Hotel the first modern school, Menelik Hospital, were established in the years 1907, 1908and 1909 respectively. Hydro- electric power, telephone and telegraph systems and postal communications were also started during his reign. Seventy of the private homes erected at this time are still preserved today.

These include sheik Hojele palace, Ras  Birru Residence (Today’s Addis Ababa Museum) Bitwoded  Hailegiogis  House and Ras Wube Residence (today’s Addis Ababa Restaurant). Their architectural style is unique and fascinating and therefore attracts the attention of visitors.

There are a number of high quality hotels equipped for foreign guests ranging from the five stars Hiton and Sheraton to cheaper but still comfortable hotes such as the Atlas, Cental Venue, Crown, Ethiopia, Ghion, Axum,  andRas hotels.

Cinemas, theaters and restaurants specializing in traditional food such as Habesha, Top View, Makush etc  should satisfy the  taste of every visitor. Bank, telephone and postal services are also widespread, reaching out all over the city.

The two or four lane avenues give glimpses of the modern parts of the city and a walk along them brings the aroma of coffee from roadside restaurants. Modern structures such as the AU, ECA, Banks, the post Office the Sheraton Hotel and the National palace grace different parts of the city.

A number of statues adorn the city commemorating different events. Menelik monument, near St. George Cathedral, is a standing testimony of the famous battle of Adwa in 1896 where Africa triumphed over colonialism. Abune Petros Statue at Arada stands where the patriarch courageously faced the firing squad in defiance of the fascists.

The Marty’s Satue at Sidist Kilo tells the wold (and reminds Ethiopians) about the wild acts and genocide of the Italian general on 19 February 1937. The Freedom Tower at Arat kilo commemorates the successes of the Ethiopians agaist the Italians and against the political treachery of the British. The Dilachin Monument stands in front of the post Office in memory of those who fell in the 1977/78 war against Somalia.

Addis Ababa, sometimes called Eucalypto polis is indeed delightful. To add to its charm there are a number of parks. Bihere – Tsige, at the southern part of the city is a tropical gardern with some varieties of exotic and endemic a number of lions which are the national symbl of Ethiopia. The park behind the American Embassy. Known as Hamle 19, is another interesting place to visit.

The city also hosts nine museums, each specializing in different aspects of the country’s rich tradition history and natural resources.

The National Museum at Amist kilo exhibits archaeological collections, historical findings from early periods of Ethiopian history, Ethnographic objects and selected paintings and sculptures by Ethiopian artists. St. George’s Cathedral Museum displays costumes, parchments, crosses and wall paintings that throw light on some aspects of the cultural tradition of the country’s log history.

Ethiopia, “a rich cultural mosaic”, is home to more than 80 tribal groups, each with their own language. As the capital city, Addis Ababa gives a unique opportunity for people of different cultures to mingle. There are moments of special jubilation where manifestations of these cultures can be seen.

The Meskal ceremony (the finding of the true cross) falls on 26 September each year. A large bonfire is lit in Meskal square and priests officiate. This is repeated all over the city in small neighbor groups.

On Ethiopian Epiphany (19 January), known as Timket, members of the Orthodox Church remember their baptism in a colorful celebration which begins on the previous evening. Thousands of people gather at Janmeda for singing dancing and a speech from the patriarch.

The largest open market in Africa is in Addis Ababa; in the western part of the city know as Mercato, it is a bustling, colourful place operating every day from sun rise to sun set with Saturday being the busiest occasion. Nearly 50, 00 buyers and almost anything can be bought somewhere. There are souvenir shops at strategic stops, selling souveniers and Ethiopian hand crafts.

Addis Ababa is in the geographical center of the country and roads connect it to all regions. Bole International Airport connects it with major destinations in Africa, Asia, America, Europe and the Middle East.

Numerous taxis are available for transport within Addis and a number of travel and tour organizations provide cars for modest rental charges. Addis is also known for its natural host spring that gushes out from the hills at the center.

Filwoha, as hot springs are known to the Ethiopians, are used for both relaxation and medical treatment. Menelik and his wife, Taitu frequented this place and during one of such visits the queen was inspired by a flowering memosa tree to give the new. Addis is now voted by Lonely Planet (the world’s leading guide book) as one of the top ten capitals never to be missed in 2013.

Eskinder Hailu - Manager, Highway Tours

Eskinder Hailu
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