What to Do in Ethiopia

Are you looking for Ethiopia travel tips?

As part of our “Travel Tips” series we interviewed Marcello Arrambide who traveled throughout Ethiopia for roughly three months and lived there for two months.

Marcello share’s with us his Ethiopia travel tips and knowledge on what to do in Ethiopia Africa for those looking for the best places to see, eat, stay, drink, and explore.

Take it away Marcello…

Why Visit Ethiopia?

Karo tribe people are famous for their body painting Ethiopia
Karo tribe people are famous for their body painting

Ethiopia has a tremendous amount of history and culture and is one of the most ancient civilizations that we have today. It is one of the only places in the world that has a completely unique culture that isn’t similar to others.

The costs of traveling to Ethiopia are extremely cheap, the food is delicious, crime is almost nonexistent, and if you like coffee why not go to the place that invented it?

Best Things to See and Do in Ethiopia

The Omo Valley is a very interesting cultural experience as they are one of the last parts of the world that haven’t been influenced by the western world.

Ethiopia is the only place you can access Somaliland (Somalia), the real-life Camelot can be found in Gondar, the second Jerusalem in Lalibela, and the history of a powerful empire in the city Axum.

Don’t forget the bustling an interesting capital, Addis Ababa, that can easily be called the capital of Africa. Once you head to the East you can visit the fourth most religious city for Muslims in Harar and feed hyenas.

Best Areas to Explore in Ethiopia

Aerial view of the city of Addis Ababa during sunset
Aerial view of the city of Addis Ababa during sunset

• Addis Ababa
• The Northern circuit; Axum, Gondar, & Lalibela, Semene Mountains
• The Southern Circuit: Awasa, Omo Valley, Rift Valley Lakes
• The East: Harar & Somaliland (Somalia)

Where to Eat in Ethiopia

I tended to already stay away from restaurants and big hotel chains to eat and Ethiopia proved that right. The food is already extremely reasonable and the best places to eat in Ethiopia are in local restaurants.

Anyone is going to serve you some of the best coffee you ever had and the prices many times will be under two or three dollars. There aren’t many street vendors in Ethiopia, the local restaurants are the way to go.

You Can’t Visit Ethiopia Without Eating _______

Food in Ethiopia is very unique, while they do have popular choices like many varieties of meat, the sponge like bread called Ingera is unique to their culture and country.

Most Ethiopians eat with their hands and you typically pick up your food with the engineer of bread. You have to try the lamb or beef tibs.

Where to Drink Coffee in Ethiopia

I kid you not when I tell you that I used to drink six or seven machiatos every day because the coffee was that good. There is a coffee ceremony that you should definitely experience which is very unique.

You can find the coffee anywhere in the country including local cafés, hotels, restaurants, and corner stores.

Where to Stay in Ethiopia

Accommodation in Ethiopia is very reasonable, even in the developed cities like Addis Ababa you’re going to pay anywhere between $7-$15 a night for a private room with a shared bathroom and up to $20 to $30 for a private room and bathroom.

Markets or Shopping Districts in Ethiopia

Addis Ababa is home to Merkato which is one of the largest markets in Africa and the largest open air market on the continent.

To add to the interesting nature of the surrounding area, this is a Muslim neighborhood where you can find very interesting people and things to see.

Major Events and Festivals in Ethiopia

A large crowd of people with colorful umbrella accompany the Tabot, a model of the arc of covenant, during a colorful procession which is part of Timket celebrations of Epiphany, commemorating the baptism of Jesus in the river of Jordan
: A large crowd of people with colorful umbrella accompany the Tabot, a model of the arc of covenant, during a Timkat colorful procession

Timkat, Timkat, Timkat! This is where Ethiopians celebrate Epiphany, commemorating the baptism of Jesus in the river of Jordan. It’ss one of the most colorful and best festivals to witness in the country. Timkat is celebrated on January 11th.

Meskel, or finding of the true cross, is also a large celebration where we can see thousands of people celebrating, eating, singing, and an endless amount of flowers being thrown.

I would also recommend that you check out the new year celebrations that are held on September 1 every year. Consider that Ethiopians have their own calendar (dates listed above are in a Western calendar).

What’s the Best Way to Get Around Ethiopia

Traveling around the country is very cheap, if you’re going over long distances I would recommend that you fly. I bought two round-trip tickets to three different cities for only $210, the roads are atrocious between cities so it is best to fly since the prices are so cheap.

Within city limits you can use local transport which depending on the city can be a combination of toyota vans, three wheeled tuk tuks, and even motorcycle taxis.

Is Ethiopia WiFi friendly

The only thing that Ethiopia does not have is good Internet access, after the war with Eritrea their access to the coast was cut off along with its Internet access. The only place to find good Internet access is a large hotel chains.

It does not have to be a brand name hotel like Hilton or Sheraton but make sure you find a big hotel and you will surely find Internet access.

Most of the time you will be able to find it for free as well as long as you buy something, my favorite is six or seven machiatos.

Best Time of Year to Visit Ethiopia

The Blue Nile waterfalls in Ethiopia, in Africa
The Blue Nile waterfalls in Ethiopia, in Africa

The best time overall to visit the country would be in the fall between September to December. You can avoid the rainy season in most parts of the country and the weather is also very temperate.

When I was living in Addis Ababa, the days were warm, but not hot, and the evenings were very cool.

Getting There and Away

The best way to get to Ethiopia would be to fly directly into the country. Flying between countries in Eastern Africa is tremendously expensive and considering the mountainous region that Ethiopia lies in it’s very hard to get information during countries.

The only border that can be crossed by land is via Kenya and even that has seen significant problems. Fly into the capital Addis Ababa, Ethiopian Airlines is one of the best airlines in Africa.

Best “insiders” tip for travelers to Ethiopia

Many people don’t know that Ethiopia is the religious homeland for Rastafarians (mostly Jamaicans). The last King of Ethiopia is their God and there is a city just outside Addis Ababa which can be considered the Jamaican homeland.

It’s a surreal experience to go to Africa and see all the Rastas around, definitely something you should check out.

Ethiopia is also the gateway to Somaliland (Somalia) which most people find extremely dangerous, I love Somaliland and would highly recommend that you visit.

Ethiopia travel
Why not kiss a Hyena??

I love Ethiopia because _______

Ethiopian culture resembles no other and being such an ancient civilization it’s extremely interesting and fascinating to get to know.

Supposedly, their history descends directly King Solomon. It is extremely cheap, the people are friendly, open to new cultures and people, and the women are beautiful.

Tours of Ethiopia

If you did not want to travel to Ethiopia as an independent traveler, G Adventures offer guided tours. We partner wtih G Adventures for their commitment to the supporting the environment and conserving local cultures.

BIO: Marcello Arrambide is a day trader that has been living overseas in 10 countries across 4 continents. You can find out more about Marcello on his travel blog WanderingTrader, on his Day Trading Academy site, as well as on Facebook and Twitter.

More Northern Africa travel tips

You may also like

You may also like

25 thoughts on “What to Do in Ethiopia”

  1. Great interview, Marcello! We’ve long been fascinated by Ethiopian history, music, cuisine and culture, so at some point we’re just gonna have to go there to experience it for ourselves. Thanks for the tips (but not for reminding me how long it’s been since I’ve had some good injera)!

  2. Correction: you can also cross by land through Djibouti.

    Thanks for writing about Ethiopia, a land that I also love!

  3. Ethiopia has long been a country that I’ve dreamed of visiting, mostly for its world class cuisine, but also for the fascinating history and incredible culture. Hoping to visit Ethiopia on my next trip to East Africa!

  4. Ethiopia is on my bucket list and I hope to get there whenever I finally make it to Africa, so I love the tips. The country sounds even better than I imagined. If the Ethiopian calendar is anything like the Hebrew calendar in Israel, the holidays etc are probably not on the same Latin/Western dates every year, right? Do you know where I can find an updated Ethiopian calendar in English?

    1. I am a tour guide based in Mekele the second biggest city in Ethiopia and the I deal city to start the tour to the danakle desert and the volcano.

      I believe Ethiopia is more worth than what is being explained by some bloggers, They have not mentioned trust attractions like the wonderful Dakakle desert with colorful lakes salt mountains the salt lakes and the wonderful Active volcano and more.
      I can post you the Ethiopian calendar if you want, you can write me on [email protected] or you can get more information at our face book page group “inspiration Tour Northern Ethiopia.

    2. I know am late but still when u lookn for Ethiopian calander u can download from play store and type ETHIOPIAN CALANDER. thxs

  5. Thank you for all of this wonderful information on Ethiopia. My husbnd and I are travelling there from Canada for one month in December and really looking forward to it

  6. Im coming into adddis ababa tomorow and staying for a week, will like to get someone that willl show around.will be glad if I can get any reliable contact. Tanks

  7. I am planning a big family trip, renting an appartment for a month Between dec 26 to Jan 20… Some of the places I must visit are Bahar Dar, Caves in the south, Erta Ale lava, Simien Mnts, Gondar, Harar (my birth place), and the Capital

    1) How much spending should take in USD?
    2) Should I rent a car and drive or fly? if flight, should I book online or travel agent within the country

  8. Ethiopia is such a wonderful country gives amazing nature enjoy. Historic places in Axum, Gonder, Bahir Dar in North Ethiopia brings you Ethiopian’s magnificent history, which encompasses legend and tradition, mystery and fact, from a powerful and religious ancient civilization.

  9. Ethiopia is a land of contrasts and diversity. It is a land of remote and wild places which you might have ever visited in your life. The best tourist attractions in this place include.
    ◾Lake Tana
    ◾Blue Nile Falls
    ◾Lake Assal
    ◾Simien Mountains National Park
    ◾Ras Dashen
    ◾Awash national Park
    ◾Mount Entoto
    ◾National Museum of Ethiopia
    ◾Lake Abbe
    ◾Sof Omar Caves
    ◾Mago National Park
    ◾Yangudi Rassa National Park
    ◾Omo National Park

  10. Great tips! I had a round trip around northern Ethiopia last month. Unfortunately, Ethiopian Airlines raised their prices by up to 300% recently and it’s not that cheap to fly anymore. But in general I don’t think it does a lot of harm to travelers. Ethiopia is so amazingly beautiful that I wouldn’t even dare using a plane. I can’t imagine missing all those spectacular views I’ve seen using cars and public buses 🙂

  11. We have houses/apartments for rent in Addis Ababa according to your needs if you are staying here for at least a year. Please contact me at +251 938 59 40 60.

  12. I need ++++ to Lalibela, My nephew recommended to me trekking in Ethiopia is more than the given pleasure. My stay in the church was so nice and indeed Ethiopia is such a facicinating country.

    I started to trek the highlands around Lalibela with Dega Trekking with Ato Hailu ( donkey owner ), smart guide Abebe. I afraid when at the first but non if I was relaxed then with nature. Nature is here. The farmers treated me like of tired football player in Barclays, finally, my trekking was perfect. I recommend you because I wish everyone to had it..

  13. A must is hiking in the Simen Mountains, although the tribes were great also. We spent 30 days in Ethiopia and we can’t wait to be back.

  14. Thank you!! I love when the people seen the amazing things in Ethiopia! If any one of you get a chance to visit Ethiopia please check it out my brother Simon Taye website
    He is one of the Tour guide for the
    His contact number

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top