Tourism Ireland

Under $100: Addis Ababa

by Akhil Kalepu

Oct 12, 2014

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia © Derejeb | Dreamstime


Ethiopia is one of the oldest nations in the world, a founding member of the United Nations and the sole African country never to be colonized. With an exchange rate of 20 birr to a dollar, Ethiopia is a great destination for budget-minded travelers, containing a wealth of natural beauty and historic sites.


St. George’s Cathedral is one of the most recognizable landmarks in the city, which is open to the public and also houses a museum. There is an awe-inspiring set of paintings around the worship area, depicting scenes from the Bible and Ethiopian history. Entry costs 50 birra per person, and they will allow visitors during off-service hours for an additional 50–100 birra tip.


Housed in the former palace of Emperor Haile Selassie is Addis Ababa’s Ethnological Museum, hailed as one of the finest contemporary museums in Africa and costing only 50 birra. The first floor is organized by the life cycle, starting with childhood with exhibits on rites of passage, games and traditional stories. Adulthood features traditional medicine, handicrafts, hunting and war, and death is an exhibition on religion and burial tombs. The second floor is dedicated to a variety of Ethiopian art, showcasing religious iconography, magic scrolls and traditional music.


Community markets are a great place to observe the life of your destination and Addis Mercato is a particularly vibrant one to visit. The name is derived from the country’s occupation under Mussolini’s Italy, and has become the self-claimed largest open-air market in Africa. There are plenty of vendors selling unique souvenirs, in addition to some great Ethiopian street food and coffee.


As the day comes to a close, nothing is quite as fitting as the sweet sounds of jazz serenading the setting sun. Ethiopia’s jazz culture was huge in the 1960s, garnering their own sub-genre called Ethiojazz. The scene was suppressed by the politically authoritarian Derg, though the music made a slow comeback in Addis Ababa. Located inside the Taitu Hotel, the Jazzamba Lounge is a dream destination for jazz aficionados, with nightly performances attracting top local and international acts. Entry is only 80 birra and they keep jamming until 1 a.m.



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