Best Places To Go in Addis Ababa

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Article Index
Best Places To Go in Addis Ababa
Banks and Forex bureaux
Shopping in Addis Ababa
Internet and communication
Cafes and Restaurants
Edna Mall Cinemas
All Pages

The highlight of any ethiopia tours is no doubt the Addis Ababa Nightlife. We look at the best places to go in Addis Ababa for an enjoyable trip to Ethiopia.

Checking out the City:

Festival at Meskal squareAddis Ababa is Ethiopia's capital and is home of the several panafrican institutions and Ethiopian businesses and companies. Addis Ababa may not be as tidy as Cape Town or Kigali but it has views and historical landmarks you would not find anywhere. Walking along the street starting from Meskel Square to Sidest Kilo is very comfortable and entertaining. It will give you the chance to see the Africa Hall, the palaces and the Parliament building, the Hilton Hotel, the marvellous architectural adventure of a building hosting the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Sheraton Hotel, the first modern school (which Menelik the II built in the 1880s), the Trinity Orthodox cathedral, the National Museum, and the Addis Ababa University (which also hosts a former palace and museum).  Arat Kilo Avenue is marked by a statue built in commemoration of the Ethiopian V-day during the Second World War, while Sidest Kilo Avenue is marked by a statue commemorating the ~39,000 residents of Addis Ababa killed by Italian fascist troops.

Around Arat Kilo, you will find part of an old town known as Serategna Sefer (literally, the residential area of labourers). If you want to proceed past Sidest Kilo, the road becomes steeper and much of the attractions will be on the right side of the road. The Entoto college (previously Teferi Mekonnen School) and the American Embassy are found on this side of the street. After the American Embassy there is an open market called Shiro Meda where traditional craftsmen sell their home made fabrics, pots and other crafts. The market place is at the foot of the Entoto Mountains that rises up to 3,300 m (10,827 ft) above sea level. You can take a taxi or a bus to the mountain unless you are of a mind to try it yourself. On the mountain, you will find the first churches of Addis Ababa called St. Mary and St. Raguel as well as smaller palace of Menelik the II.

Walking on the mountain, especially between the churches is refreshing and gives you the chance to see rural life, the city itself, forest and unbelievably beautiful landscape intersected by farmlands and trails of farmers. It is from here that Menelik II and Queen Taitu conceived of the establishment Addis Ababa. You can get a sense of the city plan yourself by looking from here at the current city. Addis is beautiful!


Bank and forex Bureaux in Addis Ababa:


By 2011, ATM - Cash Machines - are found throughout Addis Ababa.  Dashen Bank is a principal member of both VISA and MasterCard International and has deployed 55 ATMs in Addis Ababa and around the major cities like Bahir Dar, Gondar, Mekelle, Awassa, Dessies, Nazret, Dire Dawa and Harar.

Some of the ATMs are found at D.H. Geda Tower (next to Friendship City Centre) accept both VISA and Mastercard, Dembel City Center (quite hidden, use the main entrance, than to the left, at the window), Edna Mall at the main entrance , in some Addis Ababa hotels (Hilton, Sheraton, Intercontinental, Wabi Shebelle Hotel, Ethiopia Hotel, Semien Hotel, Harmony Hotel). Also near the National Museum (Lucy Gazebo Restaurant), ground floor of Getu Commercial centre ( there is a good restaurant in 4th floor by the way. It’s called cloud 9) just at the entrance and some branches of Dashen Bank .

Please note that not all cards are accepted everywhere, Dashen Bank ATMs accept VISA/Master card/Cirrus/Plus. CBE ATMs are now internationalised and have touch screen technology.

HILTON is best place to change/get money. It has 4 ATMs (outside near Hair Salons) and inside on ground floor two banks, Nib and United, have forex bureaux that are very quick for changing your hard currency cash. The Commercial Bank just few metres away from the Elephant Café, Bole Road has a good exchange rate too.

Cash on Credit Cards at Dashen Bank in Sheraton but at 6% and US$ 500 max per day.

There is a black market where you can get a slightly better rate, especially if you bargain, check your money very carefully before you leave and do not allow it to leave your hand after your final count. Most souvenir shops off Churchill Road and Zambia Street do it.

Working ATM at airport is in Immigration area next to banks. By September 2011, there is an ATM available in the Bole airport at the left side of the customs exit (about 10m away)





Shopping: Best supermarkets and Shops in Addis Ababa


Merkato: The merkato is the largest outdoor market in the world, and you can get anything from tourist goods (t-shirts, wood crafts, etc.) to fabric to metal goods there. Haggling and bargaining are standard procedure, and foreigners (especially those of European ancestry) should expect to be charged higher prices. To ensure a positive experience, maintain a sense of humour, don't be afraid to negotiate aggressively, and above all don't let yourself be bullied by the many "brokers" who frequent the market, and will try to steer you towards certain stores in exchange for a kick-back from the merchant. You will be able to negotiate lower prices if you can avoid brokers, and especially if you have a local friend or guide to buy things on your behalf.

Friendship Supermarket - on Bole Road: Well-stocked western-style supermarket - and they accept Visa. There are colourful ethiopian souvenirs in the underground floor. Make sure you bargain hard here!

Edna Mall on Telebole – Not only Edna mall has modern shops with the latest gadgets and clothing but Edna mall also is synonymous of Cinemas in Addis Ababa. It has a very good cinema Hall and they are not behind with the latest movies. Some movies are screened in 3D at 60birr per person.

Dembel City Centre - Dembel City Centre is fine building in Bole area with a collection of nice supermarkets and shops . Those who go shopping in Dembel City Centre are rewarded with a fine restaurant - Cafe: The Dembel Dome.

Getu Commercial centre -It is located on Bole road with good brand and souvenirs shops. And again, there is a good buffet restaurant in the 5th floor, the Cloud 9. The view over the city from cloud 9 is fantastic. In the week end you can watch premiership matches and other live sports from here. A well-known -New York Café - is opposite the building while - the Elephant Walk café – is a bit down on the same bole road.

Bambis department store - run by an Italian Lady, very good product

New York Supermarket - near Bole Olympia

Shoa Supermarket on Bole Rd -

Novis Supermarket - on Bole Road, near Friendship

Fantu Supermarket - on Bole road in same building as Wassamar Hotel


Keeping in touch:  Internet cafes and phone shops in Addis Ababa


Ethiopia uses GSM network and operated by Ethiopian Telecommunications Corporation. Currently there are decent coverage around big cities such as Addis Ababa, Dire Dawa,Bahir Dar, Debre Markos, Dese, Gonder,Harar, Mekele, and Nekemete. It is expanding into most small cities.

Roaming charges are very steep. For a short visit, your best option for mobile access is to rent a SIM card with a phone. Only a few stores rent SIM cards: You can rent SIM card and phone inside Addis Ababa Sheraton hotel but is it very expensive. Another option is to rent a SIM card and mobile phone from local stores (for example Red Zebraes).

A third option is to buy a sim card that will cost you about 40 birr at telecom offices (October 2011). Ask a cell phone retailer (there are many of them, especially in the piazza). If the retailer does not sell them, he or she will point you in the right direction. Be prepared: you will need a passport sized picture and a photocopy of your passport that the seller will keep. The quickest way to get an own SIM card is probably in Hilton Hotel. If you have all needed documents (photocopy of your passport and two passport sized pictures), it will take you less than 5 minutes to get your SIM card.


In Addis Ababa, especially in Bole Subcity, you can find quite a number of internet cafes. Some cafes still use Dial-Up connections, but broadband becomes more popular. Most of the high-end hotels have internet connections (either Ethernet or WiFi), which are reasonably fast and often free for hotel guests.

A general problem about Internet in Ethiopia is the unstable international high-speed connection. If it is not working, even broadband cafes only deliver Dial-Up speeds and less. The local definition of highspeed broadband is 128k bits. Another general problem is the shortage of electricity, forcing daytime blackouts of whole areas 1-2 days a week, so it is good to plan ahead where you are going for internet access. During the winter months of 2009 (Jun-Aug), electricity had gone off on one side of the city for one day, and another side for the next.

Skype and similar services are forbidden by the government. According to local press, Ethiopia today has the fourth worst internet in the world. It’s hard to believe there is anyone behind them. Internet services in Ethiopia are awful.

Arkies Business Center - Piazza, next to 'Taitu Hotels'

Broadband Internet in DH Geda Tower -next to Friendship City Center / Bole Road. 128kbps, many seats, but mostly completely occupied. The good thing is, that is is easy to find.

Nina Internetcafe - across from Baro Hotels, inside Wutema Hotels

TG Business Center - Bole, from Airport (Big Roundabout) to the right, junction with Cameroon Road (locally known as "Bole-Tele") has broadband but only 3 seats. Most of the time it is not crowded, so a good connection can be expected.


Wireless Internet

3G Internet services (known as WCDMA or UMTS) are available in many parts of Addis Ababa. A special SIM card and capable phone is needed. Price is 0.04 ETB Cents per 100 KB. Also CDMA is available, that needs special devices (prices around 0,10 ETB per Minute, around 128kbits). EVDO requires a USB device and is faster than CDMA but requires monthly payment of 500 ETB/month for 2 GB data plan. CDMA and EVDO are also available in all regional and most zonal capitals in Ethiopia.


Eating Out: Best Restaurants and coffee Shops in Addis Ababa

This guide uses the following price ranges for a typical meal for one, including a soft drink: 

Budget  Below 50 ETB

Mid-class  50-200 ETB 

Luxury  200 ETB+


Food is generally cheap. Make sure you try the national dish Injera at least once, since there is no other food like it. It is a yeast-risen flat bread with a unique, slightly spongy texture. It is traditionally made out of teff flour. In making injera, teff flour is mixed with water and allowed to ferment for several days, as with sourdough starter. As a result of this process, injera has a mildly sour taste. It's what the locals eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Most ordinary Ethiopian restaurants have it, and a serving for 2 people with free refills can be as cheap as 15 birr.



Addis is not short of good restaurants and coffee cafes. Most cafes sell various coffees, tea - black unless you ask for "machiatto" - and sometimes fruit juices. There are also juice beits.

The cafes along Bole Road and around the Piazza area are of a high standard and relatively inexpensive. Most are very similar to each other. Most cafes serve the common drink called 'sprice juice' (which is just fruit pulp served in layers in a glass). There are usually three layers from a selection of avocado, mango, papaya, banana, guava etc. The juice is eaten with a spoon. It is colorful and tastes delicious. Single fruit juices are also great, such as orange, papaya, mango, and pineapple - beautifully fresh. 10 birr up to 25 birr in Hilton.

Cafe Chocolata - on Victory Road (near Shoppers Mart supermarket) serves drinks and snacks and is very nice. All the staff are former street girls and prostitutes who are trying to make something of their lives.

City Cafe  - on Bole has delicious cakes and pastries as well as high quality Ethiopian espresso coffees. You can sit on the porch and watch the activity on one of the main roads in Addis.

National Cafe - in the National Theatre building, at the end of Churchill Ave. Reasonable prices and good food, from Injera to Club Sandwhich.


General Tip! Restaurants that do not have an English menu are cheaper. Example - Connection between Bole Road and Tele-Bole, next to Bole roundabout, at NOC-Fuel station, close to German Kantine. You can have lunch (local food, spaghetti) for less than 30 birr. If you don't have a translator, ordering is a lot of fun.



Habesha Bole Road- This cultural restaurant has traditional singing and dancing at night. If you're feeling brave, try the gored gored (cubes of heavily salted and spiced raw beef). Waiters are well mannered and kind, and most are very talented dancers. >> Review Habesha Restaurant

Meda Bar and Grill - Found on the way from Addis Ababa Stadium to Gotera around Lancha. It is the best place where you can relax, eat and get at ease. It is a beautiful bar and restaurant in town known for it is clean and mouth-watering meal with many selections of cocktail and wine bar. It is a place not to miss in Addis.

Team Mini -  on Bole Road. This friendly, high quality "cultural" restaurant serving traditional Ethiopian food. Be sure to try the mesir besiga (ground meat with lentils). At night, Team Mini features performances by traditional singers and dancers. The entertainment is not as good as that at Habesha, but the food is generally better.

The Limetree - on  Bole Road, Boston Partners Building. While Ethiopian food is delicious there comes a time when you might want to try something else. The limetree is equivalent to a small diner in Europe or the states. They have an extensive menu, ranging from arabic to ethiopian food. They do have a consistency which is quite hard to find in Addis Ababa. They do have their own brand of coffee, which is a more bitter version of the general ethiopian coffee you find, but if this appeals to you then you cannot find this coffee anywhere else. >> Review Limetree Restaurant & Cafe

Sishu- on Churchill Avenue, by National Bank. Pass through Ministry of Urban Development and Construction and the Ethiopian Teachers' Association. Fabulous burgers, nice salads and juices. Designed like a livingroom, with little bookstore. They online serve american coffee. >> Review Sishu Cafe

Pizza Deli Roma - Deli Roma is a chain with at least 3 locations. Bole Road, coming from airport, go to the right (pass Alizee Club), after about 50m on the right side; Bole Road on the left side on the way from Demble building to Meskal square. One of the best pizza in town.

Liquid Lounge -  Located at Nigist Towers near the intercontinental hotel at Kazanches, they have taken the approach that people want a quick but delicious lunch with lots of variety. outdoor cooking on the stir fry wok allows you to assemble your own dishes, while the a la carte menu offers a few burgers, sandwiches and other lunch appropriate items. The portions are sized to fill you up, and if you want a lighter lunch the soup of the day, or anything from the tapas menu will leave you waiting for lunch time the next day. The food stays great during the night and day but the atmosphere changes from a casual patio lunch with the outdoor bbq and draft beer during the day to a more hip, smart casual lounge at night.



Fisherman Restaurant - Mickey Leland Street  near Atlas Hotel. It is a half-Chinese, half-Tibetan restaurant serving an excellent range of asian cuisine and specializing in seafood. >> Review fisherman Restaurant

Aladdin Restaurant  Bole Rwanda - Serves Middle-Eastern food.  Very expensive but authentic and delicious.

Castellis Restaurant  Piazza  - Top Italian restaurant here since 1942. With famous guests like Angelina Jolie, and Bradd Pitt, there is a reason that Castelli's manages to draw in such a crowd. Amazing food, amazing desserts, call for a reservation or risk disappointment, even at lunch time, as this is a trendy place to be seen. >> Review Castellis Restaurant

Top View Restaurant  - Past Bole airport near gutara. Very good food but can be expensive for a dinner meal.

Green View Italian Restaurant / Pizzeria Bole - Mickey Leland Street, Near Atlas Hotel. For an excellent pizza in Addis. There is another location near CMC.  

Serenade Restaurant  -  In the Ammest Kilo area, close to Nazareth School.  You will need a reservation. Amazing  cous-cous, yet a difficult place to find. This has a middle eastern influence but the desserts and starters are simply amazing. >> Review serenade Restaurant

Liquid Lounge - Teppanyaki, Bar and Grill - The newest dining experience in Addis (2011) The food is impeccable. The beef is hands down the best in addis, regardless if you order the Tibs or the beef satay. They also have fresh sushi every day. This place incorporates Japanese food, Tapas (appetizer plates) and the teppanyaki cooking where the Japanese trained chef cooks in front of you. The kitchen is open all night. Surprisingly, you get more than you pay for here.

Sangam Restaurant - Best place for indian food and sweets. Loads of variety with rice, chapati, naan.  Pleasant atmosphere and price is very good.  Located along  Bole road just before Ghettoo commercial centre. >> Review Sangam Restaurant


Have you been to one of the above mentionned restaurants? You can review Addis Ababa restaurants and Addis Ababa nightclubs in the directory. For best Bars and nightclubs in Addis Ababa, check out our Addis Ababa Nightlife page.



Ethiopia’s first complete family destination that will offer its discerning clientele a unique and distinctive shopping, entertainment and dining experience under one roof. The wait is truly over. presenting Matti Multiplex, Ethiopia’s first 3 screen movie Theatre complex that will showcase the latest and best of Hollywood, foreign, regional and local films. The Digital Projection System from world renowned Christie complemented by the best of Dolby Digital and THX (of Star Wars Fame) surround sound technology and latest bucket seats with drink holders provides you with a gold class movie viewing experience.

 Our exclusive partnership with the leading movie distributors only means that our customers who were denied the latest and the best will now get to enjoy their cinema, KING SIZE!!! That’s not all … a movie experience is never complete without a visit to concessions counter for your Flavored Popcorn, Nachos with jalapenos n cheese, Hot Dogs, Soda, and the Fizz!!! Screen 2 at Matti Multiplex is a multifunctional auditorium that is capable of playing host to an array of activities besides screening latest cinemas.

With a seating capacity of 400, this multi-functional auditorium is equipped with the state o f the art technology for staging live theatrical plays, elaborate musicals special events, live bands Y performances and conferences and conventions too. From professional cutting edge digital sound systems, projection equipment, motorized curtains, sophisticated lighting, conference equipments, wireless bi-lingual simultaneous interpreter systems, multimedia equipment, wireless voting systems to green rooms control room, equipment pits and back of house facilities, every perceivable requirement to stage a successful international quality event has been planned for and catered to.

The carefully planned seating configuration combined with special acoustic wall and ceiling panels only ensures that visitors enjoy the finest audio and visual clarity. Planning a world class event … we have the venue.

click here for Showtime and this week programme.



I hope you enjoy Addis Ababa, a city of beauty!