Addis Ababa is a perfectly pleasant city to start your visit to Ethiopia. A night here gives you time to acclimatize to the high altitude (at 2,3550m) of most of northern Ethiopia. (This is not to be under-estimated.) Here daytime temperatures remain a pleasant 23-27C throughout the year. Addis Ababa (meaning New Flower) became the permanent capital in the 1880’s. It is often referred to as the diplomatic capital of Africa, as it is the headquarters for the UN Economic Commission for Africa and the African Union. The plus point is that this means there’s a wealth of hotels and restaurants to choose from, even an Ethiopian jazz club.
There’s certainly plenty to see for a day or two. We recommend a guided tour to see some of the museums and churches. This will get your acquisition of Ethiopian history off to a good start. The museums are not well curated, with little signage, so your guide can explain the background of some of the exhibits.
Main highlights of Addis Ababa
- National Museum of Ethiopia – where the bones of Lucy, our oldest pre-historic ancestor – are on display
- St Georges Cathedral
- Addis Ababa Museum
- Red Terrors Martyr’s Memorial Museum
- Kiddist Selassie Church
- Mercato is the largest market in Africa and a heaving mass of traders and hawkers.