Have a layover in Addis? Wondering what to do? We’ve got you covered!
Sign up for our Full Day Tour ($135 per person) which combines our city tour, market tour and food tour. You’ll get a great insight to the city, get a crash course in Ethiopian customs and culture while enjoying the best Ethiopian food on the planet. The tour includes absolutely everything: a private vehicle, two great guides throughout the day, church and museum entrance fees, lunch, coffee and the food tour.
Our city tours are totally customizable – we don’t have an itinerary! Tours are intimate and never exceed 8 people per guide: we want you to feel like you’re visiting old friends seeing the city on your own terms. Not like your being shuttled around with lots of other tourists!
Rather strike out on your own? Here are some suggestions:
Start the day with coffee:
Well this one is obvious. The airport is located right in town, so you if you travelled light you can walk to a great coffee shop within 15 minutes or less. Sit on one of the many verandas and watch the city go by while you enjoy your coffee. We recommend ordering a ‘macchiato’ – if you like more coffee than milk ask for a black macchiato, ‘tikur macchiato’ in Amharic. Or just keep it simple, ordering a buna, for a straight, strong black coffee. A lot of cafes also serve fresh juices like mango, avocado, papaya, guava and more – ask the waiter what juices are in season and shortly thereafter stunning layers of fresh fruit juice will appear. Our favorite spot for macchiatos is the Alem Buna in Kazanchis (nearby to the Hilton Hotel) – but there are several other locations throughout town.
Visit a museum or two:
We recommend the Red Terror Museum. This museum deals with a heavy subject: the famine and communist regime of Ethiopia. However, it is worth a somber 45-minute visit to fully appreciate the history of Ethiopia and see how far the country has come in just 30 years. Make sure to get a docent at the museum – they have personal histories and really powerful stories.
Stop by Salem’s for some quality handcrafted gifts:
Salem in her lovely shop
Salem’s shop has responsibly and beautifully made crafts from all over Ethiopia. She stocks a wide range of items from jewelry to textiles to baskets and more. These items are high quality (although still very affordable) and a great place to buy gifts or spoil yourself. Lots of the textiles are made on site, so you can watch scarves and blankets being woven as you peruse the shop. She also offers trainings for rural craft makers to help finalize their crafts for the foreign market. Several of her items are sold in American shops (like Anthropology and West Elm) at 10 times the price!
Beef for lunch:
Ethiopians take their meat very seriously. Butcher houses will be packed every day of the week except for Wednesday and Friday when Ethiopian Orthodox Christians fast (eat vegan). However, you can still find Muslim or Protestant butcher houses open on those days. So, wander the busy streets of Addis Ababa and venture into a butcher shop for lunch. Just make sure the butcher house is busy – that way you know the meat is fresh. Order ‘shekla tibs’ which is beef served over a clay pot and delivered to your table still sizzling over charcoals.
Rest and recharge at one of Addis’ salons and spas:
The two we recommend are Oasis for all things pampering – from morocco baths to manicure and pedicures or the Radisson Blu for massages. Spa treatments at both places are incredibly affordable – a massage is $20 USD or less! Ethiopians take their spa and salon game seriously with most middle to upper class Ethiopian women visiting a spa at least once a week. The salons are not just for the women; men’s barbershops offer great shaves and head messages.
Dinner at one of our favorite Ethiopian Restaurants:
‘Gomen be siga’ = Collared greens with beef
Kategna is an excellent Ethiopian restaurant that caters to upper-class Ethiopians. Unlike most Ethiopian restaurants, they serve a wide variety of dishes all in one place. And you can order half portions, which means you can try a ton of different things!
Kategna also makes several dishes that aren’t commonly found outside of the home. These dishes are complicated to make, and most people trust only their family members to make them. Kategna takes great care in what they cook and are one of the few restaurants that serves ‘doro wat’ (chicken stew). We also recommend ‘gomen be siga’ – collared greens stewed with butter and beef. For the vegetarians out there, try their ‘dirkosh firfir’ – sun dried injera rehydrated with butter and spices. And an added plus: their beers are also always ice cold!