Top places to visit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Photo of Top places to visit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 1/1 by Muluken Girma

View of Meskel Square (the central Square in Addis Ababa)

Addis Ababa is Ethiopia's Capital and biggest city. Addis Ababa is also the biggest diplomatic seat in Africa. Hosting more than 110 embassies, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), and the Headquaters of the African Union (AU), Addis Ababa is referred to as 'the Political Capital of Africa'.

Addis Ababa is of interest to first-time foreign visitors. Transit passengers using Ethiopian Airlines, Africa's Biggest Airline, with a layover at Addis Ababa may consider including the following places-to-visits in their city tour itinerary.

Here is a list of must-visit museums, religious sites, and a local market in Addis Ababa.


1 - National Museum of Ethiopia (የኢትዮጵያ ብሔራዊ ሙዚየም)

It displays ancient archaeological discoveries including the famous fossil remains of Lucy (or Dinknesh). Lucy is the oldest hominid who lived some 3.2 million years ago in the North East part of Ethiopia. The National Museum of Ethiopia in Addis Ababa is also a great place to learn about the old history of Ethiopia and amazing cultures of Ethiopians.

Ethnological (Ethnographic) Museum is found inside Addis Ababa University. This museum is one of the best ethnographic museums in Africa. Visitors can learn a lot about the cultures of the 80+ linguistic groups of Ethiopia. The building of the museum was where the famous Ethiopian Emperor Haile Sillassie I lived for nearly 25 years before he made it Ethiopia's first university.

Zoma Museum is fairly new museum in Addis Ababa. This museum is unique and worth visiting for its unusual artworks made on mud walls. Different Ethiopian artists show their artistic pieces of work on dirt (mud) walls. Zoma Museum also has a huge garden to learn about the different plants and special spices (herbs) Ethiopians use to cook their delicious meals.


1 - Holy Trinity Cathedral (ቅድስት ሥላሴ ካቴድራል)

Being one of the oldest Christian religious sites in Addis Ababa, Holy Trinity Cathedral is the most important (the holiest) church in Addis Ababa for Ethiopian Orthodox Christians. The Cathedral was established right after Ethiopia became independent from the five years (1936-1941) Italian Occupation.

Holy Trinity Cathedral is worth visiting for its uniquely beautiful building architectures, and for the colorful artistic stained glass windows. The Holy Trinity Cathedral is also a place where most notable Ethiopians are buried at including the founder - Emperor Haile Sillassie I.

2 - Saint Raguel Church at Mount Entoto (እንጦጦ ራጐኤል ቤ/ክርስቲያን)

Saint Raguel (or Elias) church, located at Entoto Mountain, is Addis Ababa's oldest church founded by Emperor Menelik II.

The octagonal shaped church of Saint Raguel is typically interesting for the beautiful never-restored hand paintings inside the church which depict biblical scenes as figurative teaching for people who cannot read.

Inside the compound of Saint Raguel Church, visitors can see an abandoned 700 years old cave church.


1 - Lion of Judah Monument

There are two monuments of the Lion of Judah in Addis Ababa found on the Churchill Street. It is worth stopping at the Lion of Judah Monuments and learn Ethiopian history especially related with the reign of Emperor Haile Sillassie I (1930/31-1974).

Lion (with black mane) was the national symbol the Solomonic Dynasty in Ethiopia. Emperor Haile Sillassie I is the last Emperor of the Solomonic Dynasty which supposedly started in the 9th BC with Emperor Menelik I (the son of the Ethiopian Queen of Sheba and King Solomon of Jerusalem).

2 - Statue of Emperor Menelik II

Emperor Menelik II is the founder of Addis Ababa city. Menelik II ruled Ethiopia from his palace at Mount Entoto (few kilo meters north of Addis Ababa). Then he moved his capital from Mount Entoto to Addis Ababa in 1887. His wife, Empress Taitu, gave the name 'Addis Ababa' to the city. 'Addis Ababa' means 'the New Flower' in Amharic language of Ethiopia.

Photo of National Museum of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa Arada, Ethiopia by Muluken Girma

Statue of Emperor Menelik II in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

The statue of Emperor Menelik II is one of the best stops to include in Addis Ababa City Tour Itinerary. Emperor Menelik II is most notably famous for his victory at the Battle of Adwa over invader Italians in 1896. Emperor Menelik II has made Ethiopia the only country which was not colonized by foreigners. Viva Menelik II!!

See other recommended attractions (places) to visiting in Addis Ababa.


Merkato Market in Addis Ababa boosts to be Africa's biggest outdoor market. Despite its rank, Merkato Market is really huge and busy market with almost everything you can imagine for sale available.

Interesting parts of Merkato, especially for first-time visitors, are the local spice market, the Chat (Mild Stimulant leaves) selling area, and the place where locals recycle used items, and the second-hand tools selling area.

These are just a few of several interesting places to visit in Addis Ababa. Please, check out one day tours in and around Addis Ababa for more details and booking private guided tours of Addis Ababa.