Top 10 Places to Visit in Ethiopia

  1. Lalibela: in many ways, Lalibela is the beating heart of Ethiopia. A place of beauty, spirituality, and mystery. Lalibela is simply magical. 
  2. Simien Mountains National Park: a stunning mountain range, the Simiens have some of the best views, wildlife, and lodges in the country. 
  3. Danakil Depression: a volcanic wilderness, the Danakil Depression in the remote Northeast of Ethiopia is one of the hottest place on the planet, and the most visually staggering. 
  4. Omo Valley: in the far south, the Omo Valley is home to eight tribal communities, living as they have for millennia. A humbling and often times challenging destination, the Omo will make you reflect on what it means to be human. 
  5. Bale Mountains National Park: the verdant jungles of the Bale Mountains are the perfect spot for cosy cabins nestled in the forest, and day trips exploring the wildlife, waterfalls, and mountains peaks of this amazing national park.  
  6. Gheralta Mountains: the towering sandstone cliffs combined with the unending flatlands make for a scene straight out of Mad Max, and if you scale those mountains, you'll discover extraordinary secrets. 
  7. Community Trekking: atop the high plateaus in rural Lalibela and the highlands of Tigray, an initiative known as community trekking offers insights into local way of life, and some of the best views you'll ever see. 
  8. Bahir Dar, Gonder, and Axum: looping clockwise from Addis Ababa, these towns are ancient capitals, spiritual hubs, and remarkably beautiful towns in the north of Ethiopia. 
  9. Harar: an ancient walled city in the arid east of Ethiopia, Harar is strikingly different from the other towns in the north of Ethiopia, and as the sun sets, you won't believe what you'll find outside the city walls...
  10. Rift Valley: a series of beautiful lakes run south of Addis, surrounded by the Bale Mountains to the east and the Omo Valley to the south. A road trip through the Great Ethiopian Rift is one of the great adventures of Ethiopia. 
Places to visit in Ethiopia
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Things to consider when planning a trip

Ethiopia is big. To make the most out of your time in the country, think about what excites you most... 

  • Landscapes, scenery and stunning viewpoints
  • Trekking and hiking
  • Historical monuments
  • Learning about local way of life and Ethiopian culture
  • Seeing the highlights
  • Tracking wildlife
  • Luxury lodging in beautiful regions
  • Camping and getting off the beaten track
  • Road trips

Our ultimate Ethiopia travel guide can help you understand the major travel routes, and what to consider when travelling here. 

Map of Ethiopia

Map of Ethiopia

More Remarkable Places to Visit in Ethiopia

Extraordinary destinations off the beaten track

If you head off the main trail and up into the mountains, deserts, and forests, there's a lot to be discovered in Ethiopia. 

Often times, the best moments on a trip to Ethiopia can't be planned. Just head out on your adventure, and the magic happens. Some of our personal favourite off the grid locations include: 

  • Erta Ale, Dallol, and the Danakil salt lakes. The geology here is genuinely unbelievable, it does not feel like you are still on planet Earth. The intense heat of the Danakil adds to the surreality of the experience. 
  • The community guesthouses in Wollo. The highlands around Lalibela offer some of the best trekking experiences. The Mequat Mariam guesthouse left us totally amazed, humbled, and inspired. We fell in love with Ethiopia in these highlands. 
  • Epic wildlife in Gambella National Park. A few specialist operators (Brilliant being one of them), can operate in this region. A total wilderness, Gambella is truly off the beaten track. 
  • Lale's Camp in the Omo Valley. An exclusive tented camp, deep in the Omo Valley on the banks of the Omo River. If you want to truly explore the Lower Omo Valley, this is the way to do it. 
Places to visit in Ethiopia

Hidden Gems Across the Land

No matter where you are in the country, there's always something special to discover around the corner. Here are some of our favourite hidden treasures in Ethiopia: 

  • Abuna Yemata Guh in the Gheralta Mountains. Centuries ago, the imposing red rock cliffs of Tigray were seen as the perfect spot for a hidden church, hewn into the rock. Still in use today, a climb up the sheer rock face takes you to this incredible monastery. 
  • Lalibela Cross in the rock churches of Lalibela. This isn't the only ancient artefact hidden within these rock churches, but it's certainly one of the most important.
  • The island monasteries on Lake Tana. From a lakeside lodge in Bahir Dar, head out on a boat trip on Ethiopia's biggest lake and you'll find dozens of ancient island monasteries, adorned with beautiful frescos, biblical paintings, and centuries-old manuscripts. 
Places to visit in Ethiopia

Extraordinary Places in Ethiopia

Lalibela

Lalibela

A place of faith, festivals, mystery and legends that will engage your heart as much as your mind. Atop wide valleys and weather-gouged escarpments, Lalibela is the living, beating…

Simien Mountains National Park

Simien Mountains National Park

Jaw-dropping plateaus, ridges, gorges and gullies characterize this UNESCO World Heritage Site. With some of the world's best trekking routes, endemic wildlife and luxurious lodges…

Danakil Depression

Danakil Depression

A geological depression caused by the continental drift of three tectonic plates, the Danakil Depression is one of Earth’s most unusual environments. Renowned as the ‘hottest …

Omo Valley

Omo Valley

Experience another way of life as you’re welcomed by some of the 88 cultural communities of the Omo Valley. Famed for its cultural traditions and tribal diversity, this remote …

Bale Mountains National Park

Bale Mountains National Park

The Bale Mountains are one of Ethiopia's most beautiful wilderness destinations. A verdant, jungle environment packed with endemic wildlife, staggering vistas, boutique lodges and …

Gheralta Mountains

Gheralta Mountains

The sandstone cliffs in Gheralta are one of Ethiopia's most iconic landscapes. There are plenty of hiking opportunities along these plateaus, and within the crevasses and caverns …

Ethiopia Community Trekking

Ethiopia Community Trekking

Trek through rural Ethiopia and stay overnight at charming, community run guesthouses with views among the best you'll find anywhere in Africa. The majority of money for our …

Bahir Dar

Blue Nile Falls in Ethiopia

Situated on the outskirts of the famous Lake Tana, 600km north of Addis Ababa, Bahir Dar is the third largest and arguably the most beautiful city in Ethiopia. As the capital for …

Gonder

Gonder

Known for its remarkable collection of crumbling castles, fortifications and 17th century churches, Gonder is often referred to as the “Camelot of Africa”. This small city in …

Axum

Axum

The original capital of Ethiopia, Axum was once a hugely influential city back in the days of the Axumite empire. Its glory days are long gone, but the relics that remain from that…

Harar

Harar

Dating back to the previous millennium, the beautiful city of Harar is one of the oldest cities in Ethiopia. Located on the border of the far eastern Somali region, this UNESCO …

Great Lakes of Ethiopia

Great Lakes of Ethiopia

Ethiopia is home to over 20 lakes, most of which are a result of the Great African Rift Valley which extends from Jordan all the way down to Mozambique in Southern Africa. The rift…

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