Tips + Trends

Coffee Rituals and Cathedrals: How to Experience Addis Ababa’s 5 Must-Do’s

On her RTW journey in Ethiopia, Oneika Raymond had the chance to see teff, the grain used to make injera. (Photos: Oneika Raymond of Oneika the Traveller)

Ethiopia is often dubbed the “Cradle of Civilization,” and is a country of fascinating history and unbelievable beauty. While many tourists make a mad dash to other parts of the country, Addis Ababa, the capital and transport hub, is well worth a look around. Here’s what we suggest checking out on your next visit.

1. National Museum of Ethiopia

National Museum of Ethiopia
Tourists visit National Museum of Ethiopia

This museum houses one of the most important collections of art in Sub-Saharan Africa and gives a window into the country’s long and storied history. The National Museum of Ethiopia’s exhibits contain treasures that include ancient human bone fossils, to textiles, to weapons and jewelry unmarred by the passage of time.

2. Shola Market

undefined
Shopping for bargains in Shola Market.

While the Mercato market is better-known and the carries the distinction of being the largest in Africa, it’s also extremely touristy. So, for an authentic shopping experience, we recommend heading to the smaller and less flashy Shola Market, where locals run their daily errands. You’ll thank us when you get there: the bustle here is more manageable, and the hustle less aggressive (read: everything is cheaper and bargaining is less of a chore). The market sells everything from clothing and general bric-a-brac to food.

3. Holy Trinity Cathedral

undefined
The Holy Trinity Cathedral is one of Ethiopia’s most important houses of worship.

Addis Ababa’s Holy Trinity Cathedral is one of the most important houses of worship in the country. It’s the highest ranking Orthodox church and was built in commemoration of Ethiopia’s liberation from Italian occupation. If you’re lucky enough to attend a mass there, you’ll hear it conducted in Ge’ez, an ancient Semitic language still spoken by the clergy.

4. Food Tour With Go Addis

undefined
Dig in — and don’t be afraid to use your hands!

Ethiopia is renowned for its eats, and when in Addis Ababa we recommend you sign up for a food tour so you can sample the staples, like injera, a sour bread. Go Addis offers a top-rated food tour with a range of stops designed to get your better acquainted with the best cuisine the city has to offer. Our tip: go with an empty stomach, and don’t be afraid to use your hands.

5. Ethiopian Coffee

coffee ritual Addis Ababa
The pleasure of coffee is magnified during a traditional coffee ritual.

One of the most salient parts of Ethiopian culture is the coffee ceremony, a highly ritualized tradition involving the preparation and consumption of coffee. Part social occasion, part religious observance, the ceremony can be up to a three-hour affair. While coffee ceremonies for tourists are a bit difficult to find, good, strong Ethiopian coffee is served up in abundance. Head to Tomoca Coffee for some of the best, and buy some beans to bring home with you, too.

Oneika Raymond is the personality behind Oneika the Traveller, an award-winning travel blog dedicated to inspiring, encouraging, and empowering women and people of color to see the world.