Addis Ababa is an iconic establishment of the 19th century, Ethiopia’s capital and largest city. Dotted with beautiful landscapes, this city offers a wide range of fun activities and attractions. Visitors can spend days discovering and exploring round the expanses of wilderness. With a wonderful selection of Ethiopian food and numerous options of places to stay, guests truly get to experience this ancient city and its mystic. Here are some of the must-see attractions in Addis Ababa. Top unique things to see and do in and around the city.
We also recommend our guide to the top 10 most beautiful towns in Ethiopia.
Holy Trinity Cathedral
Holy Trinity Cathedral is the highest ranking Ethiopian cathedral in Addis Ababa, known to be the second most important place of worship, following after the old church of St. Mary of Zion in Aksum. The Cathedral is home to late Emperor Haile Selassie, and his wife; Empress Menen Asfaw. The Cathedral is a big representation of European history as it houses tombs of the Emperor and Empress, holds artifacts, graves and memorials of ministers killed by the Derg for their opposition in 1974, graves of patriots that fought the Italian Occupation, the tomb of British suffragette Sylvia Pankhurst who also protested Italian Occupation, and the tomb of Meles Zenawi who was the prime minister of Ethiopia till his death in 2012. With its building of granite and stained glass depicting a visual representation of the Old and New Testament, the Cathedral is both beautiful and historical.
The soviet style Tiglachin Monument is a memorial to Ethiopian and Cuban soldiers which were involved in the Ogaden war.
Mausoleum of Menelik II
Mausoleum of Menelik II is a great place to visit as it gives a visual experience of the culture and history of Ethiopia and gives a great view of Addis Ababa. The Mausoleum, in the crypt beneath the sanctuary are the tombs of Emperor Menelik II, and the archbishop Matewos of Addis Ababa.
Ethnological Museum in Addis Ababa is regarded as highly educative with the display of Ethiopian diverse cultures both historical and present. The Museum also has a section and showcases the Ethiopian Christian religious art through artifacts and religious paintings. The museum, apart from being educative and splendid is also very organized thus presenting clear depictions of Ethiopian history to visitors.
Simien Mountains National Park
The Simien Mountains National Park is said to be home to rare animals like the Gelada baboons, and the Walia Ibex, which is a type of goat. The mountains also allows for hiking which offers views of the beautiful landscapes. The park also displays the traditional agriculture of the area.
Bete Maryam Mausoleum
The Bête Maryam Mausoleum, located South of Menelik’s palace is popular for holding the tombs of Empress Taytu Betul , Emperor Menelik, Empress Zewditu and Princess Tsehai Haile Selassie.
Wonchi Crater Lake
Wonchi Crater Lake is a stunning landscape and is amazing to be seen from the top of mountains. Situated between Ambo and Weliso, this natural wonder makes for a perfect day trip outside the city. Tourists are always rewarded with the stunning sights of the lush greens, hot mineral and springs. The Lake also holds lodges and camp sites. It is both beautiful and natural and very picturesque.
St. George Cathedral
St. George Cathedral which is the Ethiopian Orthdox church, is shaped like an octagon, and is beautified by stained glass and works of art by Greek, Armenian and Indian artists; is one attraction that also enlightens on Ethiopia as it houses ecclesiastical items like prayer sticks, holy scrolls, the imperial throne, ceremonial umbrella, the coronation garb of Zewditu and Haile Selassie. The Museum also holds displays of weapons used during the battle of Adwa.
Bora Amusement Park
The themed Bora Amusement Park, although small, is one attraction to visit with the ferris wheel which gives a view of the Addis Ababa airport, face paint booth, ice cream, pool, merry-go-round and 8-D cinema.
National Museum of Ethiopia
The National Museum of Ethiopia is one attraction that enchants every individual as it holds artistic treasures with the occupation of fossilized remains of hominids which are great apes, a display of Selam which is said to be 3.3 million years old, art works in chronological order from traditional to contemporary, collection of secular arts and crafts like traditional weapons, jewelry, musical instruments, amongst others, and articles of human history that all represent the ancient and medieval periods in Ethiopia. Visiting this place is one of the best things to do in Ethiopia.
Red Terror Martyrs Memorial Museum
Red Terror Martyrs Memorial Museum established in 2010 is a memorial to those who died during the Red Terror under the Derg government. The Museum is said to be funded solely by donations from visitors and it showcases a sad chapter in Ethiopian history with displays of torture instruments, skulls and bones, coffins, bloody clothes, photographs of victims.
Lion of Judah Statue
Lion of Judah Monument in Ethiopia is a statue which is a symbol of Ethiopian emperors and Ethiopia. Birthed on the eve of Haile Selassie’s coronation in 1930. The Monument is situated at the square of Addis Ababa rivalry station and is an important symbol among members of Rastafarian movement. An iconic landmark of the city and the nation. Looted by Italians in 1935, the Lion of Judah Monument was returned to the city in the 1960s.
Lake Tana which is the source of Blue Nile and the largest lake in Ethiopia is definitely one not to miss with its presentation of old monasteries, old buildings and paintings which can be properly viewed during the boat travel. At the lake, there is also access to good food, hotels, bars, clubs, great music and nature at its finest.
Blue Nile Falls is breathtaking. It is said to be the largest waterfall in the world. It brings it’s visitors close to nature, offers views of landscapes, and it is very impressive after the rainy season. A short distance from the Blue Nile is the first ever stone bridge constructed in Ethiopia.