A Budget Backpacker's Guide to Addis Ababa
Feb 16, 2006

A budget backpacker's guide to Addis Ababa - Cheap hotels, local bars, and restaurant recommendations.

8.75 birr = US $1 (approx.)

PLACES TO STAY

(7) National Hotel - I lived here for months.  Downstairs the rooms are rented by the hour - avoid them.  But upstairs there are some nice old rooms with style - high ceilings and big comfortable beds.  My room had a huge balcony overlooking the street, in the middle of the party, every night.  Stay elsewhere if you're looking for a quiet place.  Shared bathroom - 40 birr/night. 

(9) Taitu Hotel - The first hotel in Addis Ababa.  The main building has been redone and the rooms are expensive.  In buildings in the back, there are cheaper rooms (starting at 46 birr).  The Taitu is a good budget option in the center of the Piazza.

(10) Park Hotel & Cheap Local Hotels - If you're looking for even cheaper there is Park hotel.  You'll find it on a dirt road a couple of minute walk from the center of the Piazza.  With a big of haggling I think that you can get a room for about 20-25 birr.  Next door to the Park hotel are some true local hotels - very little English is spoken.  I've heard rumors of rooms for 10-15 birr/night. 

(12) Baro Hotel - The most popular place for the tourists.  The rooms start at 50 birr/night.  The cheapest rooms have showers, but not much ventilation so they smell a bit.  The more expensive rooms are nicer.  The Baro is definitely best place in Addis to meet other travelers. 

PLACES TO EAT

(2) Raizel is by far the trendiest cafe in the Piazza with polished glass and aluminum furniture.  The crowd generally consists of the hip, the hipper, and the runway models.  The macchiatos are amazing. 

(3) Rooftop Italian - enter through the bakery (mediocre) and walk up 4 flights of stairs - At the restaurant on the roof, the fresh bread is delicious, and the soup is spectacular.  The pasta was good too, but I always showed up for the soup.  The food is almost as good as anything that you'd find in San Francisco.  The difference is that here a two-course lunch of pasta and soup costs only $1.25.  Note:  I recommend this restaurant for lunch instead of dinner - by dinnertime they're usually out of the soup. 

(4) Omar Khayyam. Stylish and cheap!  I ate there almost every day for the fantastic mixed grill with 3 types of lamb (lamb kebabs, lamb chops and lamb sausage) plus soup, rice, vegetables, french fries, and bread - all of that for only $1.  Draft beer is $0.20 a glass, shots of Araki are $0.30, and half bottles of drinkable local red wine are $1.  Note:  everything is great except the chicken soup - avoid it - it's a watery porridge lacking any chicken.

(5) Best Juice - The best juice shop in the Piazza. 

(7) National Hotel - I also ate regularly at my hotel.  The restaurant was surprisingly nice.  On occasion, I'd order Kitfo - Ethiopia's National dish; raw beef, ground up, and mixed with lots of butter, and a served with a very spicy berbere powder.  But, most times, I'd go vegetarian and order the tasty and artistic, "mixed salad" with decoratively cut beets and potatoes. 

(8) Port Snack - Cheap food, open 24 hours.  They guys who work here don't speak English.  Ask another customer to translate, or if nothing else, just point at another diner's food that looks good.

(11) Cheap Eth.  Food - This place has no sign, but it's a couple of doors up from the Baro on the same side of the street.  All they serve is Injeera with vegetables or meat, but it's good and cheap. 

(13) Enrico's was the first patisserie in Addis Ababa, and has fantastic little cakes.  Their specialty is small custard cakes - balls filled with custard, yellow cake with custard layers, and a white cake with delicate flaky crust layers, custard layers, cake layers, and a powdered sugar top (my favorite) - all done perfectly.  My only complaint about Enrico's is they are extremely popular, and far too often, they're sold out of everything.

(14) Pizza - Good cheap pizzas. 

PLACES TO DRINK

(6) Lots of little bars - Within two blocks of the National Hotel there are perhaps 50 bars.  I never managed to count them all.  Random doors would just open up on Friday and Saturday nights and people would be serving booze inside.  I particularly liked some of tiny bars across from the National.  Poke your head in around Sunset and you'll probably find yourself invited to a coffee ceremony.  Show up around midnight and the party is just starting - the drunks will be happy to meet a foreigner and will probably buy you a beer. 

(7) National Hotel - I have to confess that I really liked my hotel.  I lived there, I ate there and I drank there.  The National hotel has some of the largest hookers anywhere in Ethiopia, which makes it a well, experience.  It also has very cheap draft beer.  I liked to start my evenings with a couple of beers on the patio in front watching the people walk by. 

OTHER

(1) Book stalls - A great place to find used books.  There are a dozen used books stalls along either side of this little side street.

(15) Money - There are still no working ATMs in Ethiopia.  However, you can get money off of your ATM card at a steep commission from Daschen Bank offices at the Sheraton or on Bole Road. 


Comments
EuroThug - Apr 09, 2006

Is it so stunning in National Hotel?
Packed with working girls?
Are Nattional Hotel the most interesting picup joint in the Piazza area?
Daytime joints in Addis?
Anyway I seen some perfect working girls from Nazareth.
Have you experience the Nazareth nightlife?
It seams that the girls there are much taler and slimmer than in Addis.
Do you have time to comunicate?
I like more personal info about the working girls;-)...

--

This actually is not a site for sex info.

But if you're looking for restaurant recommendations I'd be happy to provide that.

-Adam


wediliban - Oct 24, 2006

great site.i am doing a research .human rights and prostitution in ethiopia.  could not find recent work.  your pictures spoke volumes.would you permit to use photos for a class project?  thanx.


Farang - Oct 25, 2006

What kind of hotel can you get for like 100-200 birr per day?  Only found information about cheap hotels and very expensive hotels ;D

--

What exactly are you looking for in a hotel?

If you want to stay in the Piazza, you might want to check out the nicer rooms in either the Baro or the Taitu.  The Baro is more social, the Taitu is nicer.  The main building of the Taitu is actually a bit glamorous, and the history of the place is a definite plus. 

This guy gives a much more detailed review of the Taitu (and says the prices for the nicer rooms start at 145 birr)

http://www.africa-ata.org/ethiopia_hotels.htm

-Adam


Glenice Gare - Jul 11, 2007

We are 67 and 69.  Not trekkers, but ok health.
We have travelled a fair bit, last year- Turkey, Mexico City, Croatia etc...do you think we are getting a bit long in the tooth for independant travel?
We're not that keen on tours, can we get around easily to the sites at Lalibela etc (from Addis) or do you think we need to join a group? 
We don't go for the expensive hotels etc.  just backpacker types
thanks for any advice
D & G


Addis_Temari - Jul 11, 2007

Man thanks for the info on this site.  Any hotel suggestions near the university?

AT


amy chapman - Oct 08, 2007

is it easy to find places that do trips down to the south or is it best to book before you go?  Can you just turn up at Baro hotel and get a room?  Your journal is really helpful, it has really given me an excellent insight into what to expect!  Thank you

--

The Baro hotel isn't massive.  You'll probably find a room, but you could consider arranging a reservation before you arrive.  If it's full you could always try the historic Taito hotel around the corner.

As for trips down South, tour guides will find you in the streets. 

But I'd recommend making your own way down there by local transport.  It's a bit slower and more difficult, but it'll give you more interactions with the locals and will probably be a much more rewarding experience. 

-Adam


Emma - Nov 10, 2007

The Daschen Bank (between numbers 3 and 4 on your map) has a new 24hour ATM which takes visa (and i assume mastercard).  Its the only ATM we saw in the whole country though...


Bruce - Nov 17, 2007


After liveing in Papua New Guinea for several years & porking the local babes where no for-play is required as they are juiced up 24 hours a day,have never kissed a babe since are the bitches in Ethiopia the same?  if so i am comeing across.


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