Traveler Tips

Welcome to Ethiopia, the cradle of Mankind and Finding place of our Ancestral Hominids!


To make the most out of your stay in Ethiopia, we would like to tip you on some of the things worth knowing during your stay here.


ETHIOPIA – One of the few Africa countries never to lose its independence, Ethiopia is as large as France and Spain combined and has one of the richest histories on the African continent.


LAND – Ethiopia covers an area of 1.4 million square Kilometers (944,000 square miles).


CLIMATE – There are two seasons: The dry season, October – May, and the wet season, June – September.


TOPOGRAPHY- Ethiopia has an elevated central plateau varying in height between 2,000 and 3,000 meters. In the North and central of the country, there are some 25 mountains whose peaks rise above 4,000 meters. The most famous Ethiopian river is the Blue Nile (or Abbay), which flows north a distance of 1,450 Kilometers from its source in Lake Tana to Join the White Nile at Khartoum, Sudan.


PEOPLE: The population is estimated at 78 million.


ECONOMY: About 90 percent of the population earns a living from the land, mainly as subsistence farmers. Agriculture is the backbone of the national economy, and the principal exports from this sector are coffee, oil seeds, pulses, flowers, vegetables, sugar and foodstuffs for animals. There is also a thriving livestock sector, exporting cattle, hides and skins.


LANGUAGE: Ethiopia is a multiethnic state with 83 languages and 200 dialects. Amharic is the working languages of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, while Oromiffa, Tigrigna and Guragina are widely spoken.


ELECTRIC SUPPLY: Ethiopia uses 220 volts 50 cycles AC. Plugs are European two-pin.


TIME: Ethiopia is in the GMT +3 time zones. It follows the Julian calendar, which consists of 12 months of 30 days each and a 13th month of five or six days (on a leap year).


CURRENCY: The units of currency are the birr and cents. Notes are 100, 50, 10, 5 and 1 birr. The one birr coin is also in circulation. ATM’s (Automatic Teller Machines) are found in major Addis Ababa hotels, shopping malls and at the Bole International Airport. It is important to retain currency exchange receipts.


BANKING HOURS: Banking Hours are usually 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday to Friday and 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturdays. Most banks work through lunch time; however, foreign exchange services are closed during lunch hours (noon-1 p.m.).


COURIER AND MONEY TRANSFERS: Money transfer can be made through Western Union and Money Gram. Both have representative branches in Addis Ababa and also make their services available from private and national banks. For courier services, DHL, FedEx, UPS, TNT AND EMS have offices in Addis Ababa.


COMMUNICATIONS: Telephones, Fax machines and Internet access are available in Addis Ababa in most hotels and at private Internet service center around the city.

WORKING HOURS: Government office hours are 8:30 a.m. -12:30 p.m. and 1:30 – 5:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Working hours on Friday are 8:30 – 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 – 5:30 p.m. Private businesses are often open on Saturdays.


PUBLIC HOLIDAYS: Public holidays are celebrated according to the Ethiopian (Julian) Calendar (see ‘Time’). The calendar is seven years behind the Western or Gregorian calendar, with the New Year falling in the month of September.


  • September 11: Ethiopian New Year
  • September 27: The finding of the True Cross (Meskal)
  • August 19: Eid ulFitr – the end of Ramadan*
  • October 26: Id ul Ahda (Sacrifice)*
  • January 8: Ethiopian Christmas (Genna)
  • January 20: Ethiopian Epiphany (Timkat)
  • March 2: Victory of Adwa (1896)
    February 15: Birth of Prophet Mohammed PBUH (Mauwlid)
  • April 13: Ethiopian Orthodox Good Friday
  • April 15: Ethiopian Orthodox Easter Sunday
  • May 1: International Labor Day
  • May 5: Ethiopian Patriots (1941) Victory Day
  • May 28: Fall of the Dergue (1991) day
    *These holidays are subject to moon sighting.


HEALTH REQUIREMENTS: A yellow fever certificate is required for some African destinations. Vaccination against cholera is also required for any person who has visited or transited cholera – infected are within six days prior to arrival in Ethiopia.


CUSTOMS: Duty free imports are permitted for up to:


a) 200 cigarettes, 100 cigars or 250 grams of tobacco
b) 2 liters of alcoholic beverages
c) Half a liter of perfume
d) Souvenirs (by visitors) with a value not exceeding 500 birr


IMMIGRATION REQUIREMENTS: Visas are required for all foreign visitors to Ethiopia, with the exception of nationals of Kenya and Sudan. Visa applications may be obtained at Ethiopian’s diplomatic missions overseas. Nationals of 37 countries allowed receiving their tourist visas on arrival in Ethiopia. The list includes: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Kuwait, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, North Korea, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russian, Federation, Slovakia, South Africa, Taiwan, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom and United States.


BOLE INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT: The airport is about 5 kilometers from Meskel square and Addis Ababa’s central business district. Passengers entering and departing Ethiopia must fill in entry and exit cards. Free luggage carts and paid porters are available in the baggage hall. All bags must go through X-ray check before you exit.

When flying out of Bole International Airport, please note: Terminal 1 – all domestic flights and flights to Burundi, Djibouti, Rwanda, Somaliland, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, and Yemen. Terminal 2 – all other international flights.


SECURITY: Security at the airport is tight, and travelers need to produce their air ticket and passport to enter the terminal.