What can you do on a long layover in Addis Ababa?
No one loves long transit hours but at times we are left with no other choice than to wait, sometimes more than a day, to be connected on our next flights. Sitting idle at airports can be exhausting even if you have access to premium lounges.
When you find yourself in Addis Ababa on a long layover, take advantage to explore the city. You can get yourself a visa at the airport. Once you exit the airport, you will be met by a couple of tour guides who claim to be licensed guides (which I believe) with tour packages.
A day is enough to experience Addis Ababa.
I recommend that you employ the services of a Tour Guide as all the sites I visited do not have guides to tell you about the attractions. Only a few people speak English and it will be difficult to achieve more within a short time if you are without a guide.
Your guide will include a rented car in the cost of the package. Renting a car could be expensive since it has to be with you throughout the day and bring you back to the hotel or airport. So opt for public taxis.
Begin your tour by seeing the US$200M African Union Headquarters built by the Chinese Government. With a Floor area of 112,000 m2 (1,210,000 sq ft), the facility has everything you could think of including a Basketball court.
Head to the Unity Park. I call Unity Park the Summary Of Ethiopia. The Unity Park in Addis Ababa is like the whole of Ethiopia brought together in one place. So if you have a few hours to spend in Addis Ababa, you can forget any other attraction and just visit the Unity Park.
The Unity Park houses the only Black Lion in the world, it has zoos, a Banquet Hall that was built during the reign of Emperor Menelik II, Menelik II’s Palace Complex, and Throne House.
At Unity Park, you will find the Ethiopian Regional States Pavilion. Each of the eleven regions of Ethiopia is represented by a pavilion. The pavilions have information on each region’s culture, history, heritage, natural resources, and investment opportunities. Here you begin to wanderlust and wish you could visit some of these regions before leaving Ethiopia.
Unity Park offers so much. There is much to learn about Emperor Haile Selassie, religions in Ethiopia, and all the rulers the country has had.
If you still have time after exploring the Unity Park, drive through the city of Addis Ababa, make a stop at the Holy Trinity Cathedral, and then retire to the hotel or airport if you have to catch your flight the same day.
Enjoy your short stay in Addis Ababa!