5 spots you absolutely have to stop at in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Africa is an amazing continent with a diverse range of stunning cities spread out across it. Nairobi is a popular destination as is Cape Town. But the city of Addis Ababa in Ethiopia certainly needs to be added to that list for any traveler.

The capital of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa is a bustling metropolis with more than 4.5 million people in the overall metropolitan area. And the entertainment options it offers are a stark contrast to many of the other nearby communities.

Experience the majesty of Unity Park

Unity Park, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Africa

ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA – OCTOBER 10: A view of the Unity Park at National Palace compound in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on October 10, 2019. Ethiopia turned a late 19th-century palace in its capital Addis Ababa into a major tourist destination. The brainchild of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, Unity Park was constructed on a 40-acre National Palace compound at the heart of the city, comprising of historical buildings where both imperial and Marxist governments passed decisions that affected millions of Ethiopians. The park also includes a spacious green area including a botanical garden, a zoo where primates and endemic black-mane lions will roam among 300 individual animals of 46 species, to be watched from an artistic tunnel with grass portions for viewing. (Photo by Minasse Wondimu Hailu/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

The once mysterious National Palace of Ethiopia, Unity park was opened to the public in 2019. As such, it’s still a relatively new attraction in the city, for locals and tourists alike. And it has a lot to offer anyone who stops by.

It is loaded with a variety of cultural attractions and events, including a museum. But one of its biggest draws is the small zoo on the grounds which is home to incredibly rare Abyssinian lions. They used to roam the region freely but this zoo is a unique opportunity to see them.

Check out the Ethio-jazz scene

Ethiopia is home to its own unique jazz scene. It was born from the combination of Western jazz with Latin rhythms and Ethiopian folk music. While there aren’t a lot of Ethio-jazz clubs left in the city, the scene is making a comeback in a big way.

There is an increasing number of clubs either featuring the music or entirely focused on it. This is something worth experiencing in Addis Ababa as Ethio-jazz and the scene around it have a key place in Ethiopian culture and history.

Hit the Addis Ababa Merkato

Merkato, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Africa

ADDIS ABABA- ETHIOPIA – APRIL 12: People shop from Merkato Open Bazar with the upcoming Ramadan amid coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on April 12, 2021. (Photo by Minasse Wondimu Hailu/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

If you’ve ever spent time in a central market in a city while traveling, you think you know what you’re in for at the Merkato in Addis Ababa. The simple reality is you are not. It has more than 7100 vendors and employs more than 13,000 people.

It is a must-visit location in Ethiopia as a whole as it’s the biggest market in Africa. This is the kind of place that is almost guaranteed to have everything you’re looking for, not to mention an almost endless supply of things you have never even dreamt of.

Visit the National Museum of Ethiopia

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Africa

ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA – DECEMBER 28: A general view of the skyline of the western section of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on December 28, 2020. It has been a tumultuous year for the country of 109 million people, with an ongoing conflict in its Tigray region, recent ethnic violence in the west, and its August parliamentary election postponed until June 2021 due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. (Photo by J. Countess/Getty Images)

Ethiopia is a country with a history that goes back through the ages for untold millennia. In fact, that historical relevance is millions of years old in some cases. And you can get a great overview of it at the National Museum of Ethiopia.

This museum has floors devoted to the artistic evolution of the region, the culture of Ethiopia, and even both the archaeological and anthropological aspects. This is where you’ll find the fossilized remains of “Lucy,” the partial skeleton of a species that went extinct three million years ago.

Wander the Piazza District

If there are two things that the Piazza District is famous for, its incredibly strong coffee and pickpockets. And the almost disturbingly strong coffee is the one you actually want to experience. That being said, don’t let the pickpockets deter you from visiting.

The Piazza District came into being during the Italian invasion of the country many years ago. There are a variety of stunning colonial-era buildings to check out. Again, you need to stop for a cup of jet fuel that the locals claim is coffee.