Though a sprawling city, Addis Ababa is – with a little patience – fairly easy to get around.
Addis buses are considered poor man’s transport. They’re cheap but slow, run less regularly than the minibuses and are notoriously targeted by pickpockets. The minibuses are a much better bet.
Parking isn’t usually too much of a problem in Addis Ababa. Most of the larger hotels and restaurants have guarded parking spaces and don’t usually mind you leaving your car there. In other places, it’s worth paying for a guard.
Whenever you park on the street a ‘parking warden’ (we’re not sure how genuine they are) appears and leaves a little note on your windscreen noting the time of arrival and they then charge you based on that (per hour Birr1 to Birr2).
There are plenty of petrol stations scattered around town, including one on Angola St, near the French embassy.
Addis Ababa is served by an extensive network of little blue-and-white minibuses, which are fast, efficient, cheap and a great way of getting around.
Minibuses operate from 5.30am to around 9pm (till 8pm Sunday). Journeys cost roughly Birr2 (though exact prices depend on the distance).
Minibus stops can be found near almost every major intersection. Major ones include Arat Kilo, De Gaulle Sq in Piazza, Meskal Sq, Ras Mekonen Ave near La Gare and in front of the main post office on Churchill Ave.
To catch the right minibus, listen to the destinations screamed by the woyala (attendants) hanging out the windows. ‘Bole!’, ‘Piazza!’ and ‘Arat Kilo!’ are the most useful to travellers. If confused, ask and someone will point you in the right direction.
Most taxis in Addis operate from 6am to 11pm. Short journeys (up to 3km) usually cost foreigners Birr60 to Birr80 (more at night). Medium/long journeys cost Birr100/140. If you share a taxi with strangers, the normal fare is split between the group.
If you want to visit a lot of places in Addis Ababa, negotiate with a driver for a half- or full-day fare (Birr600 for a full day is pretty reasonable). A ‘city tour’ lasting a couple of hours should cost around Birr300 to Birr350.
Taxis can be found outside larger hotels, as well as the National Theatre, national stadium and on De Gaulle Sq in the Piazza. At night, many line up outside the nightclubs.
Uber has yet to arrive in Addis, but the word is that they're not far away and will probably be operational some time in 2017.
Addis Ababa's newly minted tram or light-rail system is little used by tourists, but it can be a useful way to avoid traffic congestion on the streets down below or alongside. Two lines – one roughly north–south, the other east–west – cross the city centre with 39 stations. Many of the stations are aimed more at locals than tourists, but it's worth knowing where they go just in case.
Tickets cost between Birr2 and Birr6, depending on the distance you travel, and can be purchased at the stations. Be careful, however, as pickpockets are known to work the carriages.
- North–South (Blue) Line Runs 16.9km from Menelik Square (north) to Kaliti (south). Useful stations at Menelik II Square, Meskal Square and Merkato.
- East–West (Green) Line Runs 17.4km from Ayat in the east to Tor Hailch in the west. Stations include Meskal Square and Mexico Square.