Written by Ben Robinson
Many volunteers are able to spend just one day in Addis at the beginning or end of their stay in Ethiopia. Here Ben, a previous volunteer, outlines his recommendations of where to eat and what do with that day. One option in Addis is to stay at Leya Hotel, and these recommendations are written from there.
Breakfast – Sunbird Cafe
“Go out onto the main road outside Bole Mini and cross over the road. Turn right heading back towards the airport and go past the NOC petrol station. Just past here almost on the roundabout you will find Sunbird Cafe on the left. Its on the ground floor and has big glass windows and the name is massive so you can’t really miss it. Both the fatira and pancakes are good here as are most things on the menu.
Lunch – Taitu Hotel
For lunch go to the Taitu Hotel between 12 and 2.30pm. It’s situated in Piassa and is very well-known so you can always ask people. Get the vegan buffet as it’s a nice mix of Ethiopian and Italian style food. The hotel is also the oldest in Addis Ababa (and probably Ethiopia) and is a very charming and beautiful building. Also a good, comfortable place to stay, though not as inexpensive as some other hotels. If staying the evening in Addis, check out the ‘Jazzamba Lounge’ Jazz club, which is attached to the Taitu Hotel and is a fantastic place to catch some amazing local music – funky jazz, classical Ethiopian folk and more.
Dinner – Lime Tree Cafe
From the hotel go back onto the main road outside Bole Mini and stay on this side of the road and turn left. Walk for about 5-10 minutes, you will go past Kaldis Coffee, Friendship Supermarket, Parisien Bakery, and lots of cafe’s in buildings set back from the road. Once you are past all of these you will see a 3/4 storey glass building set-back from the road with a sort of car park down below. There is also a large Zemen Bank building to the left. You go down the ramps to the car park and into the glass building. There is a hotel lobby on the ground floor on the right. Lime Tree is on the second floor, and there is a cocktail bar on the first floor and Kiriftu Diplomat restaurant in the building as well.
Things to do –
Red Terror Museum:
If you were to do one thing in Addis this should be it. It’s a small museum about the oppressive Derg regime. No entrance fee, only donations (we donated 50 birr each). To get there go out onto the main road and cross over to the other side and flag down a blue and white minibus. All buses should go to ‘Stadium’ but you can always just check my simply asking ‘Stadium’. Take the bus all the way until it pulls into the chaotic ‘bus station’. The bus costs 3 birr.
Stadium is the central bus station and you can get anywhere in the city from here, so if in doubt just get a bus back to Stadium and go from there.
The bus station is essentially on Meskel Square which is the central square in the city – its worth climbing up the steps for a bit of a view of the city. To find the Red Terror Museum walk through Meskel Square to the opposite end to which the minibuses parked and back up the main road (stay on the same side of the road) that you came down for a couple of minutes. You will go past a cafe and then you will see the museum.
If after the museum you want lunch then you can just walk back to the bus station you can ask for the bus to Piassa (3 birr) and then find the Taitu Hotel from the bus terminal in Piassa – just get out at the end when everyone gets off.
If want to do more sightseeing before lunch then you can go to the Ethnological Museum which gives a good history of Ethiopia and has lots of traditional Ethiopian artefacts on display too. Take your student cards for a discount.
To get there go to bus terminal at Stadium and ask for ‘Arat Kilo’ (3 birr). At Arat Kilo then ask for the bus to ‘Siddist Kilo’ (1.5 birr). This has the ‘Yekatit 23’ monument in the middle of the roundabout. Then from here you carry on walking up the road, over the roundabout, straight ahead (Algeria St) for about 5-10 minutes. The museum is within the University Campus so if in doubt just ask for the university. Once you go through the main university entrance just keep walking in a straight line through the campus all the way to end, but once in the campus if you ask for the museum people will point you in the right direction.
If you are then going for lunch at Taitu (the buffet stops at 2.30pm) walk back to Siddist Kilo, take the bus to Arat Kilo (1.5 birr), and then take the bus to Piassa (3 birr). If going to the museum after lunch take the bus from Piassa to Arat Kilo (3 birr) and then go to Siddist Kilo.
St. George Cathedral, Derg Hammer & Sickle Monument and Lion of Judah
If you have time you can also go and see the St George Cathedral in Piassa There is also the Derg Hammer and Sickle monument on the main road from Piassa to Stadium if you are interested. At the bottom of this road you will find the Lion of Judah monument – the symbol of the Ethiopian monarchy.
If you are in Piassa then you can find buses that go all the way back Bole (5 birr). These are the ones with the Orange signs on top. You just get out when you see the Bole Mini sign on the main road. Say ‘waraj’ to stop the minibus. But if you can’t see then all the conductors know Bole Mini so you can always ask them.
If you are at the museum and are trying to get home from there, then walk to Siddist Kilo, take the bus to Arat Kilo (1.5 birr), then take the bus to Stadium (3 birr) and then from there take the bus to Bole (3 birr).
Of course if you don’t fancy the bus you can always get a taxi (the blue and white cars). From Piassa to Bole shouldn’t be more than 150 birr, medium trips e.g. Bole to Stadium, Stadium to Addis Ababa University should be around 100, and shorter journeys e.g. Siddist Kilo to the University about 50. Prices are a bit higher at night.
Going to airport
Aim to arrive at the airport 2 hours before your flight. Remember to go to the right terminal – the International and Domestic are close together, but make sure you’re not waiting in the wrong one. There may be queues to get into the airport, but don’t worry security is at the entrance, and its just one big queue to get through security and check-in and there shouldn’t be any queueing at all after that.
The man at Leya Hotel can arrange a taxi for you from the airport – arrange it with him the night before. We paid 70 birr.
I hope you enjoy your visit to Addis, and that your time volunteering goes well!”