A super quick guide to Addis Ababa
All the places you need to squeeze in on your next trip to the Ethiopian capital
Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, is a city that embraces contradiction like a spice; full of sharp flavours that are rich in complexity. Luxurious metropolitan high rises stand adjacent to humble makeshift dwellings. The rapid propulsion of modernity is juxtaposed with the hushed ritual of slow-coffee ceremonies. This is not your average travel destination. Here’s a quick guide to help you experience the best of it.
Asa Bet offers the best of Ethiopian cuisine but in new forms and fusions. It’s modern Ethiopian cuisine with a seafood focused menu that blends local and international flavours. The restaurant is the latest creation from local celebrity chef, restauranteur, and TV Personality Yohanis Gebreyesus. Pro Tip: If you can’t decide what to try, visit on a Sunday for an all-you-can-eat buffet so you can taste a bit of everything.
Lucky Building, Asabet
No, not the gallery – though drinks here really are an art. The Louvre is actually a kitschy, family-owned boutique hotel with a French restaurant and a secret subterranean wine cellar. Try Ethiopian wines in the quiet cellar or enjoy a cocktail on one of the busy patios. It’s also a great place to wander round and explore – as a nod to the Parisian museum of the same name, there’s an impressive collection of Ethiopian historical artefacts on display.
Togo Street/Yeka District, Sub City Kebele 13/14
Located in the heart of the vibrant Meskel Square, the Hyatt Regency is Addis Ababa’s newest luxe hotel. It doesn’t disappoint, with its culturally inspired decor and contemporary touches. It has two restaurants (one offering Levantine cuisine, the other serving dishes that combine western BBQ and pan-Asian flavours), and its busy Cascara Bar has a menu of coffee-inspired cocktails that you can drink in the garden overlooking a beautiful water feature.
In the birthplace of coffee, there are more places to drink a cup of joe than there are places to eat. With so many options, coffee in Ethiopia can get a bit overwhelming. The Coffee Museum by Hadero offers a multi-sensory coffee experience that gives visitors an inside look into the process of producing the coffee in their cup, from hand sorting to roasting, brewing, and cupping. The tour ends with a traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony tasting presentation. The museum also has a coffee bar where you can order coffee your way, plus a gift shop with coffee-related souvenirs.
Jackross – Salite Mehret Road
The old saying goes that good things come to those who wait – and wait you will in the lines that form outside this very popular ice cream shop. It’s worth it, though, for its delicious, natural, and high-quality dairy-based gelatos and vegan sorbets, that come in more than 50 different flavours.
Enisra is a women’s pottery collective established with the support of the government to empower women to support themselves through pottery and ceramic art. By organising, the women were able to strengthen their craft and even specialise in different techniques. The association provides studio space, a market, and even a daycare. It’s a great place to find reasonably priced pottery and ceramics to take home with you, while supporting these artisans in earning a sustainable creative living.
Probably the best gallery to visit to discover contemporary Ethiopian artists. With locations in Addis Ababa and London, AFA has established itself as a force within the global art industry with its roster of avant-garde Ethiopian artists. Pro Tip: If you’re going to buy some art, do so during their annual ‘Addis Calling’ exhibition to collect pieces by artists on the rise.
This multipurpose building is a hotel with several floors exclusively dedicated to co-working, conferences, office, and events spaces. It’s centrally located in the Atlas area, and with Addis Ababa’s increasingly congested roads, it’s an extremely convenient rendezvous point. Adore also has its own cafe and market which makes this the ideal setting for intensive work sessions when you are short on time.
Two parks, one mission. Although located across from one another these two parks are quite distinct. Friendship Park is a well-landscaped urban sanctuary full of walking trails, and a fountain with light-show, while Unity Park is the place to go for a taste of Ethiopian history, culture, and wildlife. Both parks seek to inspire visitors, while serving as a reminder that Ethiopia’s best moments lie ahead.
Located adjacent to the Addis Ababa city museum, on the perimeter of 19th century nobleman and military leader Ras Birru’s estate, this low-key bungalow has a secret. Perched above the Meskel Square amphitheatre, the Union’s large outdoor terrace has one of the best views of this bustling intersection. It’s the perfect place to grab dinner or drinks and watch the sunset against this lively backdrop.
This spot is mainstay for both locals and visitors alike. Established by renowned dancer and advocate Melaku Belay, it has remained a hub for local musicians and performers. Drop in on a random Thursday or Friday and prepare yourself for a magical night where live music, jam sessions, performance art, and traditional culture collide into an Ethio-bohemian rhapsody.