The best day trips from Addis Ababa
Looking to get away from the bustle of Ethiopia’s capital? Here are a few ideas to get you going.
While there’s plenty to do in an energetic hub like Addis Ababa, it’s also a city surrounded by interesting and beautiful places nearby. This means you can reach some great spots in a matter of hours, sometimes even quicker. The five destinations we’ve picked below each offer their own unique sites and local flavour, so whether you’re looking for a natural, historical or recreational day out, you’re sure to find the perfect location.
It’s also advised to check local and national travel advice before travelling outside of Addis Ababa to make sure the areas you’re visiting are easily reachable. Going with a guide or recognised tour operator may also make the journey easier.
You barely have to leave the city for this mountaintop escape, the peak of which offers the best view of Addis Ababa. Once you arrive, your senses will be overwhelmed by the smell of eucalyptus trees, which were first brought over from Australia. You can also visit one of the oldest churches in the city, Entoto Maryam Church (built around 1877) and the neighbouring museum honouring the church’s founder, Emperor Menelik II, and Empress Taitu, whose former palace still stands on the grounds. The museum has some of their personal items on display, including traditional clothes, crowns, jewels and even their royal bed. Since 2020, the Entoto area has been transformed into a city park and now boasts all kinds of attractions, including cafes, horseback riding, go-karts, art galleries and playgrounds for children.
Bishoftu, formerly known as Debre Zeit/Zeyit, sits a small way outside Addis Ababa. The town has some crater lakes, made in the aftermath of volcanic explosions, and a more traditional landmark (or watermark, as the case may be) in Lake Hora, believed to be the second-deepest lake in Ethiopia. Bishoftu is also known as a prime spot for boutique hotels, like Kuriftu Resort and Spa, which provides guests with lots of water-based activities. For those who prefer to stay on dry land, there are still plenty of scenic lakeside views. You may even spot a flamingo or two by the water.
Angled as one of the oldest parks in Africa, the land of Menagesha was first protected by Emperor Zere Yacob in the 15th century. It’s an ideal spot for hikers and nature lovers, with dozens of trails accessible throughout the forest, taking up approximately 2,500 hectares. Botanists and admirers of all things flora will enjoy spotting junipers, redwoods and yellowwoods, and all visitors should look out for monkeys, bushbucks (an antelope species) and countless birds, including the yellow-fronted parrot and the Abyssinian woodpecker.
This Weliso resort was once a vacation home belonging to Haile Selassie, Ethiopia’s last emperor. The lodge occupies nearly 100,000 square meters and includes an expansive forest with distinctive trees and active wildlife, like monkeys and a variety of bird species. There’s also a horse ranch on the compound. Here, you have the opportunity to experience a tranquil setting and the healing powers of natural hot springs. There’s also the option to stay in traditional-style housing – the distinctive Dorze hut is a particular favourite.
Nestled between Ambo and Weliso, Wenchi is a must-see volcanic mountain that surrounds a lake with a natural hot spring waterfall. Make sure your phone battery is fully charged before you arrive, because you’ll be taking a lot of photos of the incredible scenery – a seamless blend of lush valley forestry and farmland. There’s also a nearby island monastery that’s only accessible by boat or canoe, which you can sail off to for a shoreside picnic lunch. The journey to and around Wenchi will take around half a day.