The Ultimate Guide to the Best Experiences in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Distinctive, reserved and quaint …Welcome to Ethiopia!

Ethiopia is slowly gaining the attention of many travellers around the globe and understandably so because it could be the leading cultural destination in Africa.

A civilisation thousands of years old, no colonisation and isolationist policies have come together to ensure so much of their culture has been preserved through food, fashion, entertainment and history.

Here are our top five unique experiences from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

1.Tomoca Coffee

If you want to have an authentic, genuine coffee experience, ignore Italy, skip Colombia and head straight to Ethiopia. Being the place where coffee was first discovered and brewed, coffee is not just a beverage but a central part of Ethiopia’s culture.

You might have heard of the goat that discovered coffee… You can read that story here!

Tomoca, the leading coffee brand in Ethiopia has been in existence since 1953 and with 66 years of roasting and curing and roasting  they have perfected their craft and brought it to a transparent cup of finely prepared as Macchiato, Sprice, Café au Lait and coffee at their 11 locations around the capital.

Each store is  ornamented differently with roasting happening in some of the stores and you can watch as the indefinable magic happens behind a transparent glass wall. 

One thing to note when you visit Ethiopia, make sure you visit their very first store, Historica… you can literally smell the history and 60 plus years or roasting.

You haven’t been to Ethiopia if you haven’t visited a Tomoca store.

2. Beets Bakery

For the pastry lovers, Beets Bakery located right next  to the Tomoca store will help you pair your fine macchiato with a buttery croissant whose inside is just as good as the outside, freshly baked baguettes exquisite strawberry tarts and so much more.

Image courtesy of Beets Bakery

If you want to indulge your sweet tooth, do it with a good cup of coffee.

3. Dining

It wouldn’t be a complete experience if you went to Ethiopia and did not sample their delicious cuisine. The dining scene in Ethiopia is quite fascinating and with sharing being a strong part of their culture, traditional injera and other mixed dishes are served on a communal platter to be shared with friends and family.

Raw meat is a popular delicacy in Ethiopia and its uncommon to see groups gathered feasting on chunks of raw beef. I gave it a try, so if you’re feeling adventurous then this is what to order. 

If you are vegetarian or vegan, then you are going to thoroughly enjoy yourself. Wednesdays, Fridays and other lent days are fasting days for those of Ethiopian Orthodox faith and this does not mean not eating, they only have vegetarian and vegan dishes on these days.

After savouring traditional Ethiopian food, I would recommend you try out a national drink called tej, which is Ethiopian and Eritrean honey wine. It is served in a flask and after a few of those you will truly start to feel the warmth of Ethiopia.

With that said, the hospitality we experienced here is unmatched. 

4. Cultural Festival

From the moment you walk through the doors at the Ethiopian Cultural Ambassador, the mood changes when you see smiling musicians, dancers in traditional costumes and a cheering audience. These dance routines have been in existence for hundreds of years and the show runs till midnight.

Do not leave before the last performance, you do not want to miss the traditional dance of the Oromo. It is the stuff of movies and documentaries, an act that has to be seen to be believed.

5. Shopping

Before going back home, there are two things you must take back to your loved ones;

First, Tomoca coffee! You can get these at any Tomoca store in Addis

Second, traditional hand woven fabrics from scarves, dresses and other clothes. 

6. Monuments

One of the pleasures of exploring Addis is that you get to see their famous monuments like Victory Monument, Lion of Judah Statue, Yekatik 12 monument, Tiglatiglachin monument and so many others that share valuable insights on the history of Ethiopia.

Lion of Judah Statue
Victory Monument
Yekatik 12 monument
Emperor Menelik II Statue
Tiglatiglachin monument
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