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Addis Ababa

Addis Ababa

With a population of 7,384,569 the city is the largest in the country. Many of the wealthiest people live in the southeast (Bole), southwest (old airport), CMC, Ayat and Lamberet parts of town. There are more than 120 international missions and embassies in Addis Ababa.

 Climate

Temperatures in Addis Ababa are remarkably constant from month to month. The average highs are between 17°C (63°F) and 22°C (71°F). The average lows are between 11°C (51°F) and 14°C (58°F). The warmest months being from February to May. It is often 27°C (81°F) at lunchtime and 3°C (37°F) at night: In the Addis evenings always take a second layer with you.

GET AROUND

  • Taxi price on Mini bus
  • Short trip    1.35 ETB
  • Medium trip   2.70 ETB
  • Buy 

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.

Get Money

ATMs/Cash Machines - are found throughout Addis Ababa. Dashen ,D.H. Geda Tower (next to Friendship City Center) accept both VISA and Mastercard,), Edna Mall , HILTON is best place to change/get money. It has 4 ATMs.

FOOD

 Budget

Addis has hundreds of cake and coffee cafes. They 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 Piassa 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. 25 birr up to 45 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 Theater building, at the end of Churchill Ave. Reasonable prices and good food. From Injera to Club Sandwhich.

Restaurants that do not have an English menu are cheaper. Example: Connection between Bole Road and Tele-Bole, next to Bole roundabout, at NOC-Fuelstation, close to German Kantine. You can have lunch (local food, spaghetti) for less then 20 birr. If you don't have a translator, ordering is a lot of fun.

Mid-range

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.

  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 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 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 the states. They have an extensive menu, ranging from arabic to ethiopian food. They do have a consistency which is quite hard to find here. 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 can not find this coffee anywhere else.

 Sishu: 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.

 Addis Cuisine. Wollo Sefer. Bole end of Ethio Chinese Friendship Road,on the north side of 6 lane road. Good western and Ethiopian food.

Canaan, from the airport-roundabout, down bole road, take small road on the left (before Bole Mini). Very nice pizza. Less then mid-range, a bit more than budget

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 ala 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.

Splurge

  Fisherman Restaurant Mickey Leland Street, Near Atlas Hotel. Is a half-Chinese, half-Tibetan restaurant serving an excellent range of asian cuisine and specializing in seafood.

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

Castellis in 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 dissapointment, even at lunch time, as this is a trendy place to be seen.

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. Will need a reservation. Amazing cous-cous, yet a difficult place to find. This has a middle eastern influence, but the desserts western and are amazing.

Liquid Lounge: Teppanyaki, Bar and Grill* The newest dinning 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 everyday. 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 then 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 center.

Drink

If you want to drink the national drink of Ethiopia, you have to try the 'tej' which brewed from honey. You can also try 'tela' which is like a beer.

Liquid Lounge Teppanyaki (food cooked in front of you) is the most exciting dinning experience in Addis. They offer freshly imported sushi everyday. This place is very trendy, they have VIP areas upstairs . On the weekends it gets busy. Located in Kazanches, Nigist Towers Building (Right next to the intercontinental hotel)

Champions is the lounge across the street from Boston Day Spa building. Hookah and drinks are modestly priced and the atmosphere is very "Turkish", makes for a nice relaxing night.

Affoy This place, it's a little run down upstairs where the bar is and the hookah, but the pizzas are good.

Gaslight is the fancy nightclub at the Sheraton. Inside, it feels like an upscale Western disco. Don't wear jeans or trainers / sneakers, as they have a fairly strict dress code. Although there is no entrance fee, be prepared to pay heavily for drinks.

 Memo This club is popular for its late night atmosphere. Filled with 'working girls' this club is one of the few that charges admission and be warned about the price they charge you for drinks . However the music is loud and good, the kitchen is open late and it makes for a great night.

 Club Deep The cover charge is small, but the drinks are inexpensive. However it is better to not go to the bathrooms here as they are filthy beyond belief.

 Meda Sports Bar and Grill has a large, spacious bar which is comfortable for chatting or watching a game. The downstairs lounge provides a more intimate setting for quiet conversations. And upstairs, the loft has a relaxed, casual dining atmosphere.

 The Black Rose The energetic atmosphere is dark yet comfortable and fashionable, and the bar serves a variety of drinks. Live jazz jam session in Addis every thursday night.

 Divine On Bole Road on the top floor of Sheger House, It features a very western-oriented playlist along with ample space for relaxing and a pumping dance floor on weekends.

 Bailamos On the top floor of the Novis building on Bole Road is a club which features a surprisingly vibrant salsa scene in the Weekends. Bailamos has live music every Saturday (Soft rock, salsa, R&B etc...) and the band is surprisingly good. However, this is considered a lower end club, more targetted to those with a limited budget/college students.

 Dome Club (Concorde) Debre Zeyit Road, Addis Ababa. Sticky and dark, more of a dive bar/club.

  Illusions A place to dance till 5am. Very crowded on weekends, yet that adds to its charm.

Sleep

NOTE: The Ethiopian dialing plan changed on 17 Sep 2006. Six-digit telephone numbers changed to seven digits. Many of the accommodation listings here appear to still have the older 5 digit numbers following the country code of +251 and the city code of 11. Addis Ababa local numbers should contain 7 digits. Please check the number before calling and please plunge forward and update any numbers that are incomplete.

Budget

Please note, many of the prices below are a few years old, you can expect everything to be at least twice more expensive

  •   Filwoha Hotel,  tel +251 11 511404.
  • Yordanos Hotel, tel +251 11 515711, fax +251 11 516655.
  • Taitu Hotel, Piazza,
  • Baro Hotel, Tel - 251-11-155-14 47 or 011-157-41-57 Fax - 251-11-553 74 39
  • Axum, tel +251 11 188832.
  • GT Guest House,  +251-922-451639
  • Buffet de la Gare,  +251 11 51788
  • Ethio Comfort Guest House, +251 11 629 5546 (+251 91 166 2894
  • Maskal Flower Hotel, tel +251 11 517187.
  • Bourgainvillier guest house +251 911 627898.

 Splurge

  Addis Ababa Hilton, tel. +251 11 518400, fax +251 11 510064. Carrera Lodge, Rossevelt St, tel +251 11 517400, +251 11 447400.

  Ghion tel +251 11 513222, +251 11 443170

  Jupiter Internationa Hotel, Bole +251 11 661696;

  Sheraton Addis,  +251 11 5171717

   Stay safe 

 Addis is safer than most cities in Africa. Gang violence and similar serious activities are unusual. However, you may encounter some pick-pockets and con-artists around and inside Bole Airport, Mercato, Piazza areas. Keep your belongings close, and pay attention to your surroundings. The good news is most of these pick-pockets are unarmed and very young boys. If they know that you are aware of what they are up to, they get intimidated and go away.

 The major and important roads and areas are patrolled by the 'Federal Police' or, as the city residents refer themFederal. They have a reputation of being merciless with suspected criminals. In contrast, the Addis-Ababa city police, who most of the time patrol the less important city streets, markets and neighborhoods are more tolerant and less respected police officers.

 For all emergencies dial 911. In Addis, major streets are generally safe at night.

In a total difference of other African cities, in Addis-Ababa, police officers never approach foreigners to ask them to present a passport, ID or "legal" papers. Once you show your passport at the airport, you are free to move around pretty much anywhere. The only time you need your passport or ID is for hotel registration (booking) and other similar and few instances. (It is important to have your ID with you at all times, however.) Many visitors appreciate that they don't have to be questioned who they are or where they are from by a police officer who wants to extract bribe money from them, every time they turn around. This could be one of Addis-Ababa's appeals.

 Cope

 Watch what you drink or you can fall sick. It is important to remember to only drink bottled water. There are many brands to choose from; always check the plastic seal on all bottles before paying any vendor. Most travelers should be warned against eating vegetables such as those in salads that may have been washed in water. Try limiting fruits and vegetables to those you "peel" yourself such as oranges, mangos, etc.

Be prepared for culture shock. If you take photos of the people, ask first and offer to show them their picture if you have a digital camera with a display screen. Children enjoy seeing their pictures a lot of the time!

Your emotions are real. Many first time visitors may feel overwhelmed if they have not experienced this type of culture difference before. Be polite but not intrusive. It is OK to ask questions of the locals, but you should be prepared to be hassled a lot of the time, especially if you are white. Additionally, for foreign travelers who are black, especially American, although possibly able to "blend in", precautions are the order of the day (depending where you are, in Addis on Bole road they are used to seeing foreigners compared to the country side). If you prepare your mindset before arrival, you will be better able to cope.

 Telephone

The country code for calling Ethiopia is 251. The Ethiopian dialing plan changed on 17 Sep 2005, such that the two-digit city code changed to three digits (or, from outside the country, one to two digits) and six-digit telephone numbers changed to seven digits. The city code for Addis Ababa, as of Sep 2005, is 011 (or 11 from outside Ethiopia).

Mobile

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 60 birr (August 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.

Internet

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 128kbits. 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.

  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.

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Address

Head Quarters: Around the main post office near the foot of Chuchill Hill Addis Ababa

Email: [email protected]  

Phone:+251 11 551 1378

Fax: +251 11 551 1574

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