This ancient and beautiful country has a lot to offer tourists and there is plenty to see and do in Ethiopia, although getting to attractions is not always easy and visitors may sometimes find sightseeing challenging. However, many of the attractions in Ethiopia are incredibly impressive and rewarding for travellers and it is worth negotiating the chaos to seek them out.
Ethiopia is a fascinating country and most tourists travel to Addis Ababa, the colourful capital, to start their exploration. It is worth spending at least a day in Addis Ababa to experience the vibe of this enormous African city. The city has some lively markets and worthy attractions, including the Ethiopian National Museum, resting place of 'Lucy', the famous early hominid fossil.
Northern Ethiopia holds the greatest attraction for visitors as one of the country's richest regions for culture, history and natural splendour. The Historic Route has some breath-taking assets and constitutes a fairly well-beaten trail on which travellers can feel safe. The medieval city of Gondar, with more castles, palaces and churches than any other city in Africa, is wondrous. The ancient capital of the Queen of Sheba and Ethiopia's holiest city, Axum, where the original Ark of the Covenant containing the Ten Commandments is said to rest, is also extremely interesting.
The ancient city of Harar, fourth holiest city in the world for Islam, boasts 82 mosques within its fortified walls. Ethiopia's top attractions, however, are undoubtedly the 13th-century rock-hewn churches of Lalibela, among the most incredible man-made structures in the world, revered and renowned among Ethiopians and foreigners alike and the venue for some of the most famous religious festivals in Ethiopia. Having taken at least 24 years to complete, the astounding rock churches are believed to have been created with the help of angels.
The Mercato is one of the largest outdoor markets in Africa and Addis Ababa's most colourful sight. There are tinkers, tailors, spice merchants, camel traders, and purveyors of just about every possible commodity under the sun, including, of course, wonderful Ethiopian coffee. Needless to... see full details
National Museum of Ethiopia
This museum has a varied range of exhibits displayed across three floors and covering a wide scope of Ethiopian history from the prehistoric to the contemporary. The museum is not world-class in terms of its facilities or exhibition space, but it does contain some... see full details
St George's Cathedral
St George's Cathedral was founded by the great Emperor Menelik to commemorate his 1896 victory over the invading Italian army. A relic of St George was carried into battle by the Ethiopians and the emperor built the cathedral to pay tribute to the... see full details
Lalibela is one of the world's most remarkable spiritual sites, home to Ethiopia's astounding rock-hewn churches and an important pilgrimage site for Ethiopia's Orthodox Christians. There are 13 churches in total, all carved from a single piece of granite, and all in current use.... see full details
Axum is a city in far northern Ethiopia that is believed by Ethiopian Christians to be home to the Ark of the Covenant, housed in the 16th-century Church of St Mary of Zion. Visitors cannot see the Ark - nobody is permitted to... see full details
Harar is a fascinating, exotic town of considerable interest to visitors willing to make the 320 mile (520km) journey east from Addis Ababa. Harar is the fourth holiest city in Islam, forbidden to outsiders until 1887 when it became part of the Ethiopian Empire.... see full details
Bahir Dar is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Ethiopia and is known for its wide, palm-lined avenues and many attractions. The charming town of Bahir Dar sits at the southern edge of Lake Tana, which is the source of the... see full details
Gondar is a city like no other, scattered with ancient castles and churches, magnificent mountain scenery, and a pleasantly cool climate. Situated 460 miles (748km) north of Addis Ababa, this is the next clockwise step after Bahir Dar on the official Historic Route through... see full details