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After an epic vacation to the Seychelles with my two boys, we returned to London via Addis Ababa on Ethiopian Airlines. Rather than fly home directly, I decided to stay a few days and explore the capital, catching up with friends who work there and exploring with my 3 year old and my 1 year old. I used a mix of private drivers and taxis during my visit and stayed within Addis Ababa itself, as people told me it was not safe to drive outside of the city so I didn’t want to test my luck.
Visit the National Museum
The National Museum of Ethiopia is free to enter and has the feeling of a natural history museum with its early hominid skeletons in the basement. The most famous exhibit is “Lucy,” a skeleton found in 1974 in the Afar region of Ethiopia. Lucy famously toured the United States from 2007 to 2013 before returning to Ethiopia. Lucy and her neighbor in the basement, “Selam,” scared my son so just consider yourself warned if you have little kids.
Shiro Media Market for Local Textiles
Shiro Media is a group of stalls near the Spanish Embassy. There is not a defined sidewalk so I would suggest going either only with older children or with a baby in a carrier. There were beautiful cotton items but a rather intense shopping experience: I had people grab my face (just to touch it).
Drink Some Coffee
Dinner and Dancing Show
A Canadian woman founded Sabahar in 2004 in the area near the airport. More than 20 sets of hands touch each product they sell, and you can follow the whole process from silkworms up to seeing completed items in the retail shop. It was a great environment to explore as a family because it is gated and there is a lot to see on the grounds. The items are more expensive than at the markets, but the organization says in turn it pays its workers a livable wage and provides medical care. When I visited, there was a “seconds” pile where everything was 20% off. I bought silk napkins to bring back to London.
Many points enthusiasts headed to Africa find themselves in the Addis Ababa Bole International Airport (ADD) at some point due to its variety of connections. Whether you are flying on Ethiopian Airlines or another carrier, it’s worth considering using your layover in Addis Ababa with your family to explore some of the capital’s sights.
The city has a surprising range of points hotels including a brand-new Hyatt Regency in Meskel Square available for 12k World of Hyatt points per night. There’s also the previously mentioned Hilton Addis Ababa, as well as the Radisson Blu (from 44k points per night), Best Western Plus Bole (from 20k points) and the Sheraton Addis (Category 7, from 60k Marriott points).
Have you been to Addis Ababa? What did you like best?
Planning a family trip to Africa? Here are some more resources:
- A Guide to Planning Your Family’s African Vacation
- We’ve Taken Our Kids on Safari and You Can, Too
- How to Use Hotel Points to Visit the Seychelles
- Miles Away: A Trip to The Seychelles, Africa’s Tropical Paradise
- Why the World of Hyatt Credit Card Is Great for Family Travelers
- United to Fly Nonstop From Newark to Cape Town, South Africa
- Painting the Town Red: A Review of the Radisson RED in Cape Town, South Africa
Know before you go.
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