Must-see attractions in Ethiopia

  • The Sunken Rock Hewn church of Bet Giyorgis (St  George), Lalibela, Northern Ethiopia, Ethiopia, Africa

    Bet Giyorgis

    Lalibela

    When you think of Lalibela, you're thinking of Bet Giyorgis. Resting off on its own, St George’s Church is Lalibela’s masterpiece. Representing the apogee…

  • Simien Mountains National Park

    Northern Ethiopia

    No matter how you look at it, the Unesco World Heritage–listed Simien Mountains National Park is one of Africa’s most beautiful ranges. This massive…

  • Ethnological Museum

    Addis Ababa

    Set within Haile Selassie’s former palace, and surrounded by the beautiful gardens and fountains of the university’s main campus, is the enthralling…

  • Orthodox Christian pilgrim men being hauled up a 15m cliff face by monks to reach the mountain-top church and monastery of Debre Damo, Northern Tigray province, Ethiopia.

    Debre Damo

    Northern Ethiopia

    Debre Damo is one of Ethiopia's most important monasteries and is thought to date back to Aksumite times and the 6th-century reign of King Gebre Meskel…

  • National Museum of Ethiopia.

    National Museum

    Addis Ababa

    The collection on show at the National Museum is ranked among the most important in sub-Saharan Africa, but sadly many of its exhibits are poorly labelled…

  • Bet Maryam, rock-cut church in Lalibela, Ethiopia.

    Bet Maryam

    Lalibela

    Connected to Bet Medhane Alem by a tunnel is a large courtyard containing three churches. The first, Bet Maryam, is small, yet designed and decorated to…

  • The church of Debre Berhan Selassie in Gondar.

    Debre Berhan Selassie

    Gonder

    Welcome to one of Ethiopia's most beautiful churches. Appealing as it is on the outside with its stone walls, arched doors and two-tiered thatch roof, it…

  • Coffins filled with possessions of victims of Derg, Red Terror Martyrs Memorial Museum.

    'Red Terror' Martyrs Memorial Museum

    Addis Ababa

    ‘As if I bore them all in one night, they slew them in a single night.’ These were the words spoken by the mother of four teenage children all killed on…

  • Bet Medhane Alem, rock-cut church in Lalibela, Ethiopia.

    Bet Medhane Alem

    Lalibela

    Resembling a massive Greek temple more than a traditional Ethiopian church, Bet Medhane Alem is impressive for its size and majesty. Said to be the…

  • Bet Amanuel rock-hewn church in Lalibela, Ethiopia.

    Bet Amanuel

    Lalibela

    Free-standing and monolithic, Bet Amanuel is Lalibela’s most finely carved church. Some have suggested it was the royal family’s private chapel. It…

  • Yemrehanna Kristos

    Lalibela

    Despite Yemrehanna Kristos being one of Ethiopia’s best-preserved late-Aksumite buildings, few people reward themselves with a visit. And a reward it is…

  • Ura Kidane Meret monastery, Lake Tana, Amhara, Ethiopia

    Ura Kidane Meret

    Lake Tana & its Monasteries

    The Zege Peninsula’s largest and most famous monastery is hardly the most attractive on the outside, but its maqdas (inner sanctuary) is beautifully…

  • A man entering the grass and moss covered bastion of the island monastery, Narga Selassie, on Lake Tana

    Narga Selassie

    Lake Tana & its Monasteries

    Set in the middle of the lake on Dek Island, Narga Selassie is peaceful, atmospheric and little visited. Built in the mid-18th century, it has a Gonderian…

  • Kibish

    Southern Ethiopia

    The main settlement in this area is the colourful village of Kibish. Set in a bowl in the forested hills, it is a fascinating place populated by the…

  • Bale Mountains National Park

    Southern Ethiopia

    More than any other park in Ethiopia, this national park is known for its wildlife, but it’s a very beautiful place, too. As you approach from Dodola,…

  • Dega Estefanos

    Lake Tana & its Monasteries

    One of the lake’s most sacred monasteries, Dega Estefanos (men only) was rebuilt in the mid-19th century and though the church isn’t too interesting, it…

  • Ashetan Maryam

    Lalibela

    Set at 3150m, atop Abune Yosef mountain, is this monastery where the local priests believe they’re ‘closer to heaven and God’, and it’s easy to see why…

  • Lake Awasa

    Southern Ethiopia

    With its mountainous backdrop, Lake Awasa is a lovely sight. You could easily spend a few pleasant hours strolling the lakeshore trail at the end of town,…

  • Mekina Medane Alem

    Lalibela

    Two to three hours’ walk from Geneta Maryam and six hours’ walk from Lalibela, this remote church was, according to Ethiopian tradition, constructed by…

  • Babille Market

    Eastern Ethiopia

    If you’re travelling east of Harar on a Monday or Thursday, don’t miss the super-atmospheric livestock market in the village of Babille – it's one of…

  • Monday Market

    Northern Ethiopia

    Attracting up to 10,000 Afar, Oromo and Amhara, and even some traders from Djibouti, this market is epic. It’s Ethiopia’s largest after Addis Ababa’s…

  • Bete Selassie

    Lake Tana & its Monasteries

    Bete Selassie (men only) is a 30- to 45-minute walk inland from the Lake Tana shore at Zege Peninsula. The simple exterior of the church (rebuilt in 1858)…

  • Saint George Church

    St George Cathedral & Museum

    Addis Ababa

    Commissioned by Emperor Menelik II to commemorate his stunning 1896 defeat of the Italians in Adwa, and dedicated to St George (Ethiopia’s patron saint),…

  • Koremi

    Eastern Ethiopia

    With its superb architecture and dramatic setting, the clifftop village of Koremi, 19km southeast of Harar above the Erer Valley, is a definite must-see…

  • Fish Market

    Southern Ethiopia

    Lake Awasa’s fishermen head out in their little wooden boats in the afternoon and return the next morning laden with tilapia and catfish. The men are…

  • Royal archive and library buildings in the Royal Enclosure in Gondar, Ethiopia

    Royal Enclosure

    Gonder

    The Gonder of yesteryear was a city of extreme brutality and immense wealth. Today the wealth and brutality are gone, but the memories linger in this…

  • Tis Abay Waterfall, The Blue Nile, Ethiopia, Africa

    Blue Nile Falls (Tis Abay)

    Northern Ethiopia

    The Blue Nile looks like a sluggish beast as it meanders out of Lake Tana, but not far out of Bahir Dar you’ll see the Nile in a very different mood. The…

  • Holy Trinity Cathedral, Arat Kilo.

    Holy Trinity Cathedral

    Addis Ababa

    This massive and ornate cathedral is the second-most important place of worship in Ethiopia (ranking behind the Old Church of St Mary of Zion in Aksum)…

  • The walls of the fortified historic city Jugol, Ethiopia

    Old Town

    Harar

    Harar’s old walled town (known as Jugal) is a fascinating place that begs exploration. The thick, 5m-high walls running 3.5km around town were erected in…

  • Cross shapped windows in Bet Merkorios

    Bet Merkorios

    Lalibela

    Reached via a series of trenches and tunnels (one is long, narrow and pitch-black) that starts from Bet Gabriel-Rufael, this church may have started as…

  • Omo National Park

    Southern Ethiopia

    Omo National Park has long been one of the most remote parks in Ethiopia and travelling here can be incredibly tough – but never less than fascinating…

  • Lakes Afambo & Gumare

    Eastern Ethiopia

    The little-explored territory and salt lakes scattered around Asaita are something of a holy grail for serious adventurers. This area remains one of the…

  • Hyena-man of Harar feeding a spotted hyena.

    Northern Hyena Feeding Site

    Harar

    Located north of Fallana Gate, this is one of Harar's two hyena feeding stations. A highlight of any visit to Harar, this impressive spectacle begins…

  • Debre Libanos Monastery

    Northern Ethiopia

    Although no trace of the 13th-century monastery remains (a casualty of the Muslim–Christian Wars), the modern site is impressively set beneath a waterfall…

  • Eastern Hyena Feeding Site

    Harar

    One of Harar's two infamous hyena feeding sites, it is located about 1.5km east of Erer Gate (near the garbage dump). This site is usually more productive…

  • Bet Gabriel-Rufael

    Lalibela

    Its entrance flanked by a sloping sliver of rock known as the ‘Way to Heaven’, this imposing twin-church marks the main entrance to the southeastern group…

  • Bet Golgotha & Bet Mikael

    Lalibela

    A trench at the southern end of the Bet Maryam courtyard connects it to the twin churches of Bet Golgotha and Bet Mikael (also known as Bet Debre Sina)…

  • Church of Debre Sina

    Northern Ethiopia

    The most interesting relic of Gorgora’s former days as a short-lived capital is the attractive Debre Sina church. Built in 1608 by Emperor Susenyos’ son…

  • Washa Mikael Church

    Addis Ababa

    The Washa Mikael Church is a few kilometres east of Addis Ababa's town centre. Though local priests date it back to the 3rd century AD, it most probably…

  • Geneta Maryam

    Lalibela

    Geneta Maryam is thought to have been built around 1270 by Yekuno Amlak, who restored the Solomonic line. With its rectangular shape and 20 massive…

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