Addis Ababa City Tours

ADDIS ABABA CITY TOURS - Private one day sightseeing tour of Ethiopia’s Capital and biggest city. Continue reading to find best places to visit in Addis Ababa, interesting things to do in Addis Ababa, must-see Addis Ababa points of interests and what to do in Addis in 1-day.Buildings in Addis Ababa City near Tewodros Square



Thinking of what to do in Addis Ababa in one day?

Planning a unique trip to Addis Ababa?

Wondering which top tourist attractions to include in your itinerary of visiting Addis Ababa?

Of course, you want to make the best use of your vacation time in Addis Ababa. Everything we do is tuned to make that happen. Please, see reviews about our city tours in Addis Ababa on TripAdvisor how we did it and come back to this page for details.

If you make your mind at the last moment to visit Addis Ababa, don’t feel you miss a great deal. We have last-minute one day tours of Addis Ababa and day trips nearby. Please contact us for our last-minute travel deals. Or book 12 to 6 hours before tour start time.

Let us begin with common questions visitors ask about Addis Ababa. We provide short helpful answers for frequently asked questions about visiting Addis Ababa. Points of Interest to visit and activities to do in Addis Ababa City Tour are also included.

  • When was Addis Ababa founded? – Addis Ababa City was established in 1886 Gregorian Calendar or 1879 Ethiopian Calendar.
  • Who founded Addis Ababa? Empress Taitu (Emperor Menelik II’s wife) loved the area Addis Ababa is set at now. With Taitu's suggestion, Emperor Menelik II established Addis Ababa.
  • What achievements did Emperor Menelik II bring to Addis Ababa or Ethiopia? After founding Addis Ababa city, Emperor Menelik II introduced Ethiopia with new technologies like train, telephone, postal services, electricity, automobile, roads, water pipelines, hospitals, pharmacy, bank, paper money, printing press, newspaper, hotel, police, cinema, Red Cross, telegraph, eucalyptus tree, and other technological achievements.Holy Trinity Cathedral in Addis Ababa
  • Where was the capital of Ethiopia before Addis Ababa? – At Mount Entoto (north of Addis Ababa). The grass roofed palace of Emperor Menelik II can be visited together with St. Mary Church at Mount Entoto.
  • Why did they move from Mount Entoto to Addis Ababa? - Push factors to move the capital city from Entoto Mountain to Addis Ababa were lack of firewood and water. Dangers of thunderstorms during the rainy season at Mount Entoto were another reason. Introduction of Eucalyptus trees from Australia to Ethiopia also contributed for making Addis Ababa a fixed capital as Eucalyptus trees grow fast and solved the firewood shortage. The abundant water sources in Addis Ababa including the famous natural hot springs (Filwoha) were pulling factor move from Mount Entoto to Addis.
  • What does “Addis Ababa” mean in English? – Addis Ababa (must actually be spelled as "Addis Abeba" and written as አዲስ አበባ in Amharic) means “New Flower”.
  • Which flower is Addis Ababa named after? - Addis Ababa gets its name from a yellow daisy flower. It is, in Amharic language, ADEY ABEBA (Bidens Macroptera). Adey Abeba is also known as Meskel Flower.
  • What is Addis Ababa's elevation? - About 3,200 meters at Mount Entoto and average elevations in Addis Ababa City is 2,400 meters above sea level. Addis Ababa is the highest capital city in Africa in elevation. Addis Ababa is World’s third ranking capital city in altitude – after La Paz, Bolivia (3,640 m or 11,942 ft) and Quito, Ecuador (2,850 m or 9,350 ft).
  • How big is Addis Ababa? – Addis Ababa is Ethiopia’s biggest city with an area of about 527 Square kilometers.
  • What is Addis Ababa's population? Addis Ababa is the biggest city in Ethiopia with at least 5 Million inhabitants in 2020.
  • What is Addis Ababa known for? – Addis Ababa is the Political Capital of Africa. Because, it is the seat of the headquarters of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA). And the headquarters of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) (Now African Union (AU). Addis Ababa is the biggest diplomatic seat in Africa. There are more than 130 countries having their embassies in Addis Ababa.
  • How is the weather in Addis Ababa generally? Addis Ababa, set at an average elevation of 2,300 meters (about 7,500 feet) above sea level, enjoys a mild climate generally. The Northern and Central parts of Ethiopia, including Addis Ababa, has two generalAdey-Abeba-Meskel-Flower-Addis-Ababa-City-is-named-after-Merit-Ethiopian-Experience-Tours.jpg seasons - Dry Season (from end of September to beginning of June) and Wet or Rainy Season (from beginning of June to mid-September). The coldest month around Addis Abeba is November where night temperature can be as low as 10 °C (50 °F) and average day time temperature would be about 24 °C (75 °F).
  • What is best to buy from Addis Ababa?
    1. Ethiopian Coffee - Tomoca Coffee Shop in Addis Ababa sells one of the best quality Ethiopian Coffee.
    2. Handwoven cotton scarves and dresses – Shiro Meda local market in Addis Ababa is the best place for these.
    3 - Locally produced Leather Products - Zaaf Leathers and the small leather shops around stadium are the best places to buy these items in Addis Ababa.

  • Where to buy souvenirs and gift items in Addis Ababa?

The best local market for handmade local crafts and traditional Ethiopian women dresses is at Shiro Meda Market on the way to Mount Entoto. If you are comfortable with big crowd and want to do your shopping like a local, Merkato is a great marketplace in Addis Abeba. Bargain for price and be cautious of pickpockets in Addis Mercato.

  • Is Addis Ababa safe for tourists?

In compared with many African cities, Addis Ababa is safe for visitors. It is at the bottom of the list in crime rates among capital cities in Africa. Addis Ababa was among the 10 safest cities in Africa in 2019 as to Safari Bookings rating.

But, to make your time safe and best in Addis Ababa, take appropriate cautions especially of pickpockets when visiting crowded places like Merkato Market. Asking permissions before you take photos of individuals avoid unwanted argument, in case. And, be careful if you are approached by a stranger and offered a tour guide service, to join a coffee ceremony, etc.

  • How many days do you need to visit Addis Ababa?

You can visit few important places in Addis Ababa in half day tour. 4 to 5 hours is enough for highlights of Addis Ababa. If you want a comprehensive city tour in Addis Ababa, you need two days (2-days).

Our one full day sightseeing city tour is a great combinations of best places of visits and things to do in Addis Ababa. This full-day tour in Addis Ababa is best for first-time visitors of the city.


Points of interest and attractions to visit in Addis Ababa, local activities to try, and things to do in Addis Ababa

Merit Ethiopian Experience Tours organizes private trips of Addis Ababa in short highlight (about 4 hours) or complete city visit (about 9 hours).

Itineraries of all our Addis Ababa City Tours include visiting: -

  1. Holy Trinity Cathedral – the primary religious site in Addis Ababa for Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Christianity followers. Holy Trinity Cathedral in Addis Ababa is the second highest in rank after Saint May of Zion in Axum, North Ethiopia.
  2. Merkato (Addis Mercato) local market - the biggest outdoor (open-air) market in the African Continent. Merkato has a wide variety of items for sale you can imagine. Walking in the Ethiopian spices and used times selling area in Merkato is worth trying.
  3. National Museum of Ethiopia – the most predominant museum in Addis Ababa. National Museum is most renowned for housing the fossils of Lucy (3.2 million years old). Lucy or Dinknesh is the oldest potential ancestor for every known hominin species discovered in Ethiopia.

Typical Addis Ababa City Tour Itinerary includes visiting popular sights of the city. With private tour see churches of the Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity. Holy Trinity Cathedral and St. George are among them. With Addis Ababa City Tour visit the famous local market of Merkato (the biggest in Africa). Visit National Museum of Ethiopia and Ethnological Museum (Ethnographic Museum). Drive to Entoto Mountain for the panoramic view of Addis Ababa.

City tours in Addis Ababa, common places/activities visitors would see, visit and experience are: -Painting at National Museum of Ethiopia in Addis Ababa to visit during city tour of Addis Ababa

National Museum of Ethiopia has many historical, archaeological and cultural artifacts. Here, visit some of the oldest stone tools human beings ever used. National Museum is home to the fossil remains of hominids including the fossil remains of Lucy (3.18 million years old).

Mount Entoto – Addis Ababa elevation of 3,200 meters above sea level at Entoto Mountain makes it the highest African Capital City. The view of Addis Ababa from Mount Entoto is superb. Visitors of Addis Ababa can visit St. Mary church and see how women carry firewood. 

St. Raguel or Elias church at Mount Entoto – This is the oldest church in Addis Ababa (140 years old). It is famous for its old but beautiful hand painted wall paintings. The paintings are as old as the church and never restored.

Entoto Maryam Church is the second oldest church, after Elias or Entoto Raguel church, around Addis Ababa constructed by Menelik II in 1882. Entoto Maryam is notable for its octagonal church and is where Emperor Menelik II (the founder of Addis Ababa) was crowned at. At the compound of Entoto Maryam, visitors can visit a small museum about the church and Menelik's reign. About 100 meters down the hill, visit the remains of Menelik's grass-roofed palace.

Holy Trinity Cathedral is the highest-ranking religious site in Addis Ababa City. It is the second most important in the country Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity followers. Holy Trinity dates back to the beginning of the 1940s. Trinity Cathedral is unique for its beautiful architecture, and stained-glass windows. Its museum has a great collection of manuscripts, icons, and crosses. See old holy books written on goatskin and royal crowns of Emperor Haile Selassie I.

Ethnological Museum - also known as Ethnographic Museum is one of the best museums in East Africa. It is at the main campus of Addis Ababa University. This museum was the former house of Ethiopia's last Emperor - Emperor Haile Selassie I. Ethnological Museum is one of the top places to visit in Addis Ababa to get great introduction about Ethiopia’s history, culture, nature, people and religion.

Merkato (Addis Mercato) Market (መርካቶ ገበያ) – is the biggest outdoor market in Africa. The Spice Market and the False Banana Tree Market are the best of Merkato. The Second hand items market and the recycling section of Merkato are worth visiting. Merkato (Addis Mercato) is a great place to meet people from more than 80 different ethnic groups of Ethiopia. Merkato is one of the main attractions in Addis Ababa. This busy market is among the top places to include in Addis Ababa City Tour Itinerary.

Red Terror Martyrs’ Memorial Museum is located near Meskel Square (the central square in Addis Ababa. This Museum honors "Red Terror" Military Campaign victims of the Communist regime known as DERG which ruled Ethiopia from 1974 to 1991. It is one of Addis Ababa’s museums to learn about the modern history of Ethiopia.

St. George's Cathedral is one of the oldest and historical churches in Addis Ababa. The copy of the Ark of the Covenant from St. George Cathedral accompanied Ethiopians during the Victory of Adwa (1896) where Ethiopians defeated Italian invaders and made Ethiopia the only African country which was never colonized. St. George Cathedral is known for its octagonal architecture and it has a small museum displaying a collection of ancient religious and historical antiques. St. George Cathedral, located in Piazza area of Addis Ababa, is also where Emperor Haile Selassie I was crowned.

MESKEL SQUARE - Sometimes written as MASKAL SQUARE and locally known as "Abiyot Adebabay" in Amharic language, Meskel Square is the biggest and central square in Addis Ababa city. The word "Meskel" means cross in Amharic (Ethiopia's official language) as the famous colorful religious festival of the finding of the True Cross of Jesus Christ is held at Meskel Square on September 26th and 27th.

The Ethiopian Orthodox Christians Meskel celebration honors the finding of the Cross upon which Jesus was crucified by St. Helena (the mother of the Emperor Constantine) in Jerusalem in the 4th Century. Meskel Celebration is registered by in UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2013.

Today, Meskel Square is the central place in Addis Ababa for public demonstrations and gatherings. In the mornings, visitors can see as locals practice sports, the new railway, busy traffic, and as long-distance buses pick their travelers. City Tour of Addis Ababa with Merit Ethiopian Experience Tours takes visitors to Meskel Square - among other interesting things to do in Addis Ababa.

Drive in Addis Ababa to see the Headquarters of the UN Economic Commission for Africa. Then see the HQ of the African Union, and the Lion of Judah Monument. Pass by Yekatit 12 Monument, and Meskel Square are few places to check out.

The cultural activity of Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony is among the top to do things first time visitors of Addis Ababa have to include in their tour. Read our blog post for details of how the Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony is performed.Girl on a Cultural Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony

Attend Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony, and learn how to cook Enjera or Injera (local Ethiopian bread). See how Ethiopians make local beer (known as Tella) at home. These are some cultural experiences visitors take part in city tour of Addis Ababa. Read our cultural activities and local things-to-do in Addis Ababa for better planning of visiting Addis.

The above places and things to do in Addis Ababa can be visited with our Half Day Addis Ababa City Tour. The layover private tour of Addis Ababa is best if you are in short of time. We help you choose what to see in Addis Ababa on a day transit visit. If you are Addis Ababa 1-day tour during transit, take our Full Day City Tour in Addis Ababa.

In addition to our most frequently booked city tours in Addis Ababa, we organize private tour of Addis planned and best fit for returning visitors of Addis Ababa. Our Special City Tour in Addis Ababa takes frequent visitors of Addis Ababa to not commonly visited but unique and interesting sites in Addis Ababa. Few places repeat visitors of Addis Ababa visit are Unity Park, Zoma Museum, ShollaArtistic works on mud wall at Zoma Museum in Addis Ababa Market, Salem's Leather, Entoto Park and more.

Please check the reputable travel website – LonelyPlanet about our Full Day City tour in Addis Ababa

Our city tour packages of Addis allow visitors maximum flexibility. Tourists with more than a day can book one of our day trips from Addis Ababa. Debre Libanos Monastery, Jemma River Gorge, Adadi Mariam Rock Church, and the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Steles of Tiya are the best places to visit with our private excursions from Addis Ababa.

We also host travelers on two days tour from Addis Ababa by drive and domestic flight. Rift Valley Lakes of Ethiopia, the walled city of Harar (UNESCO World Heritage Site), Awash National Park, and the impressive rock churches of Lalibela are the best sites we take visitors on tour from Addis Ababa for 2 days.

NOTE - Our Addis Ababa City Tour bus picks visitors from all hotels in Addis Ababa. Pickups from Addis Ababa Bole International Airport can be arranged. We offer flexible departure time and place for our Addis Ababa City Tours. Book Now and Pay Later after experience.

We follow safety measures to keep our clients and staff from Corona Virus (COVID-19), we use regularly sanitized vehicles. We provide free face masks, hand sanitizers, and wipes during the tour in and around Addis Ababa. Our tour guides closely watch to keep physical distancing during the trips.

Contact us to book or schedule city tour of Addis Ababa with us! We are also glad to help with free advices on what to do and where to go for visitors who have only one day in Addis Ababa.

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