An ancient and beautiful country, there is plenty to see and do in Ethiopia. But getting to attractions isn't always easy and visitors may find sightseeing challenging. However, many of the attractions in Ethiopia are incredibly impressive and rewarding and worth negotiating the chaos.

Most tourists travel to the colourful capital of Addis Ababa to start their exploration. It's worth spending at least a day here to experience the vibe of this enormous African city. It has some lively markets and worthy attractions, including the Ethiopian National Museum which is home to 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 breathtaking assets and constitutes a fairly well-beaten trail on which travellers can feel safe.

With more castles, palaces, and churches than any other city in Africa, the medieval city of Gondar is a wondrous place. Alternatively, the city of Axum is said to contain the Ark of the Covenant, while also being the ancient capital of the Queen of Sheba and the country's holiest city.

The ancient city of Harar, fourth holiest city in the world for Islam, boasts 82 mosques within its fortified walls. But Ethiopia's top attractions are undoubtedly the 13th-century rock-hewn churches of Lalibela. They are among the most incredible manmade 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 churches are believed to have been created with the help of angels.

Mercato, Addis Ababa


The Mercato is one of the largest outdoor markets in Africa and Addis Ababa's most colourful sight. Ideal for souvenirs, there are tailors, spice merchants, and purveyors of just about every commodity under the sun, including wonderful Ethiopian coffee. Mercato is memorable but...  see full details

National Museum

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...  see full details

St George's Cathedral, Addis Ababa

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

Bet Giorgis church, Lalibela


Lalibela is one of the world's most remarkable spiritual sites and Ethiopia's greatest tourist attraction. It is home to the country's astounding rock-hewn churches and an important pilgrimage site for Ethiopia's Orthodox Christians. There are 13 functioning churches in total, all carved from...  see full details

John baptising Jesus


Axum is a city in far northern Ethiopia. Its 16th-century Church of St Mary of Zion is said to house the Ark of the Covenant which visitors aren't permitted to see. Colossal stone obelisks dating back to 300 AD are remnants of...  see full details

A view over Harar


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...  see full details

Lake Tana church mural

Bahir Dar

Bahir Dar is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Ethiopia. Known for its palm-lined avenues, it sits at the southern edge of Lake Tana which is the source of the Blue Nile. The town is the main base for visiting...  see full details

Gondar churches


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...  see full details