Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – On Travel Website Lonely Planet’s Top 10 Cities

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia has been named by Lonely Planet as one of the top 10 cities in the world to be visited for the year 2013. Wondering why? Find out.

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia has been a popular destination for foreigners visiting the country for over a century. Founded in 1886 by Empress Taytu Betul, the wife of Emperor Menilik II, the city has never stopped growing. It has ever since been the seat of power of the successive governments that came afterwards. Today, it has become the place where tourists, expats and locals like to intermingle in a laidback attitude. It has become so popular a destination that the most popular travel site, Lonely Planet, has included Addis Ababa in its “Best in Travel – Top 10 Cities” list, ranking it at number 9 out of 10 cities, spanning three continents, to be visited in 2013.

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
According to the site, the most endearing attributes of Addis Ababa are the fact that it is an “Ethiopian city evolving at pace” - in lieu of the fact that the city’s skyline has been changing at a very rapid rate, especially in the last 5 to 10 years.

Everywhere one goes in the city there seems to be something either being built or being brought down to give space for something new. Traffic jams are nowadays more common than ever as Addis Ababa’s residents put up with the inconveniences in anticipation of the changes that are to come.

But, the bustling energy of the city, or the “confidence and stamina” as Lonely Planet puts it, belies the gusto with which the city’s residents have for fun and entertainment once the sun sets.

Every corner of the city caters to its specific clientele – from the luxurious Sheraton’s “Gaslight” crowd to those that bar-hop the lowly, meter-by-meter shacks that pass as drinking establishments along “Chechnya” (so called because of the hidden risks that came with hanging out in the area - like the snipers during the war in the place’s namesake). One need only find the crowd one can associate with and plunk down for an unforgettable night on the town.

One common thing that can be noticed in all the places is the sprinkling of foreign faces that stand out and yet, oddly, do not look out of place. Tourists, expats and diplomats alike rub shoulders with the local populace without giving it a second thought. The intermingling becomes absolute sometime midway through the night when everyone (that still can) is on their feet dancing to tunes ranging Ethiopian folksongs at “azmari-bets” to selections from the latest, bestselling albums on the charts.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise then, that the “groovy city”, Addis Ababa, is one of the best places to visit. Home to big organizations like the African Union and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa  (UNECA) it has had a groove for as long as there have been visitors from abroad to add a flavor to the local spicy nightlife. And one thing that can’t be denied is that Ethiopians have always known how to have a good time. Just ask the old-timers that used to hang out in the “Arada” and “Piazza” of yesteryears.

On a final note, unlike the major metropolises where the prices of commodities and real-estate have leapt in folds with each foreigner that has set foot in it, the Ethiopian capital has been going it at a pace all of its own – for now at least. This was the point that Lonely Planet meant by “Best for: culture, food, value for money”. Any foreign currency can be stretched to an unbelievable limit as can be seen by the number of wily foreigners that have made the city their home and can also be seen braving the crowds of Merkato looking for bargains instead of opting for the pricier goods at the supermarkets on Bole road.

So, time to pack your bags! See you in Addis Ababa!


  1. A holiday in this country should be a wonderful experience,

  2. Thank you, for your careful observation & written report of the beloved country, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

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