Addis Ababa, often overlooked as a tourist destination, has emerged as one of the most visited cities in Africa, but not for the reasons you might think. Many travelers find themselves in Addis Ababa as a transit hub, courtesy of Ethiopian Airways, which connects numerous cities across the continent. If you have a layover of 8 to 24 hours between connecting flights, the airline offers you the opportunity to exit the airport and experience the city. And believe us, Addis Ababa has transformed into a captivating stopover destination in recent years!
Exploring the City
Gone are the days when a layover in Addis Ababa meant a dull and tiring wait at the airport. Today, the city, whose name means ‘New Flower,’ is experiencing a renaissance. The streets are now clean and wide, and as you journey from Bole International Airport, just 10 minutes from the city center, you’ll be greeted by meticulously landscaped greenery lining the roads. The vibrant display of flowers in various shades of red, pink, and orange is a visual delight as you speed through the streets.
Parks and Green Spaces
However, what truly sets Addis Ababa apart is its commitment to green spaces. Over the past three years, the city has introduced three stunning parks:
Friendship Park (Sheger Park Friendship Square):
This park, situated near the Grand Sheraton Hotel, replaced an entire slum area. It features a man-made lake fed by natural rivers and surrounded by lush greenery and colorful flowers. The view of the city from this park is nothing short of spectacular.
Unity Park: This park encompasses the National Palace, built by Emperor Haile Selassie I. It not only impresses with its size and architecture but also serves as a living testament to the political, cultural, and social history of Ethiopia. From walking through the halls of history to encountering a variety of wildlife in the first city zoo, Unity Park offers a captivating experience.
Entoto Park: Located on the outskirts of the city, Entoto Park preserves the pristine Entoto forest. The refreshing greenery comes with a caveat: it can get quite cold due to the park’s higher altitude. Expect some walking, but the reward is a peaceful natural retreat. Serendipity might also introduce you to cultural events hosted by local students, showcasing the rich tapestry of Ethiopian traditions.
More to Explore:
Beyond its scenic beauty, Addis Ababa has so much more to offer. From the beautiful people and their rich culture in dress, dance, and food to a variety of activities beyond shopping for gold or leather, this city has something for everyone.
Considering the hundreds of flights transiting through Addis Ababa, carrying thousands of passengers with layovers ranging from 6 to 24 hours or more, the city’s transformation into a captivating stopover destination is a significant development.
So, if you find yourself dreading your next long layover in Addis, especially if it falls during the day, consider making the most of your time by exploring this dynamic city. The airport is conveniently located in town, and the hotels where you’ll stay during your layover are just a stone’s throw away. And for the perfect experience, time your visit around sunset – the views are a photographer’s dream!