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Book a flight to Addis Ababa with Qatar Airways and discover an ethnically diverse city with a vibrant coffee culture and a surprisingly strong jazz scene. Addis Ababa is Ethiopia’s cultural heartland, making it an impressive and evocative destination. Bordered by sweet-smelling eucalyptus trees, the capital is home to modern multi-storey buildings, sitting side by side with traditional ones.
Addis Ababa is a sprawling metropolis of more than 4.6 million people, presenting a frenetic ambiance that just adds to its urban charm. Immerse yourself in its history and culture by visiting the Ethnological Museum (National Museum), located in the grounds of Addis Ababa University. Widely regarded as the best museum in Africa, it offers a glimpse of the everyday Ethiopian life, as well as introducing you to the customs of various Ethiopian tribes.
The Merkato, Africa’s biggest open market, is a must-see when you travel to Addis Ababa Here, you’ll find knick-knacks, silver jewellery, textiles, spices and even recycled goods.
If you want to take a short break from city life, head for Mount Entoto, the capital’s highest peak and a place of deep historical significance. It was here that Emperor Menelik II – who reigned from 1889 to 1913, and is considered the founder of modern Ethiopia – set up his “palace”. You can take a guided tour of the mountain.
Addis Ababa is the heart of Ethiopia’s sporting activities. The Addis Ababa Golf Club provides first-class challenges to those looking to test their skills on the greens. However, if you prefer something a little more active, then there are various rock climbing tours available. And if you fancy getting your running shoes on and going up against the world-famous Ethiopian runners, put your name down for the Great Ethiopian Run 10k, held every year in November or December.
Bird-watching tours are available for those who want to get closer to the local wildlife. Alternatively, if you want to relax, then pay a visit to the city’s famous hot springs.
Addis Ababa is also known for its café culture, which is no surprise, given that coffee was believed to have originated from Ethiopia. Several of the city’s cafés have outdoor seating areas, which are ideal for people-watching. If you’re into jazz, Addis Ababa’s nightlife offers just that. The city has its own brand of jazz, which had been stifled during the 20-year communist regime. However, the genre is making a dramatic comeback and the city is replete with jazz lounges, making for an engaging nightlife.
Most people don’t travel to Addis Ababa with food in mind, but come away pleasantly surprised by its rich and unexpected culinary scene. With no factory farms, vegetables are rarely, if ever, treated with pesticides, making them as organic as you could wish for. Vegetables play a huge part in Ethiopian cuisine, so watch out for mouth-watering and highly spiced dishes, involving chickpeas, chilli peppers and spinach.
Ethiopian cuisine is as nutritious as it is flavoursome and you might want to take a tour of some of the local restaurants and cafés. High-end dining establishments are also plentiful in the city centre, but if you’d rather eat as the locals do, pay a visit to the smaller restaurants off the beaten track, where vegetarian dishes are the stars of the menu. Expect to try food such as refried beans with tangy peppers, crisp salads and savoury flatbreads or injera.
As with food, most people don’t travel to Addis Ababa with shopping in mind. However, you can find practically anything you want in this bustling city. In addition to the markets, there are several supermarkets and shopping malls where you can buy designer goods.
Bargain hunters will be rewarded in most markets in Ethiopia, such as the Entoto (Shiromeda) Market, where haggling is part and parcel of the shopping experience. Handmade items, such as the toga-style shamma for men, and other unique examples of craftsmanship, are common here. Prices are negotiable, but it’s worth remembering to always end your haggle on a friendly, positive note – even if you end up not buying.
Essential facts about Addis Ababa
Enjoy a hassle-free journey with all the information you need to know before your trip