Exploring the world’s top tourism destination for 2015.
Ethiopia’s bounty of heritage sites has long drawn adventure and beauty seekers, but only now, it seems, is the country taking its rightful place amid the international spotlight. In early July, the European Council on Tourism and Trade voted Ethiopia the world’s top tourism destination for 2015 — celebrating the country for its “excellent preservation of humanity landmarks,” from the Camelot-like castles of Gondar to the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela.
Indeed, tourism to the country has grown consistently in recent years — rising from 468,000 visitors in 2010 to 681,000 in 2013, according to the World Bank. Economic growth, too, is clipping ahead in Ethiopia, with the International Monetary Fund classifying the country as one of the globe’s five
So as the new year looms on the horizon, and new opportunities for travel along with it, we present our editors’ top picks for where and what to visit in Ethiopia in 2016.
Considered the “Dubai of Africa,” Ethiopia’s bustling capital city thrives against a backdrop of seemingly ever-ongoing construction — from new roads and tall glass buildings to a light rail system and more.
While there: Drop in for a dance class at Destino, a contemporary dance company with a mission to support underprivileged youth; grab lunch at Sishu, an inviting cafe serving up the capital’s best burgers.
A burning hot, hostile desert in the northeastern corner of the country that was named the cruelest place on earth by National Geographic. A land of salt mines, colorful sulfur fields and camel caravans.
“New Jerusalem” that boasts 11 13th-century churches chiseled out of natural rock face (and said to have been built with the help of angels). The city remains a site of pilgrimage and devotion for Ethiopian Christians today.
While there: Dine at Ben Abeba, a unique cone-shaped restaurant offering a splendid diversity of cuisine and spectacular views of the surrounding hills.
Considered the fourth most-sacred Muslim city, the maze-like town — built between the 13th and 16th centuries — contains 82 mosques and 102 shrines. Also known for being the home of 19th century French “fugitive poet” Arthur Rimbaud.
Simien Mountains National Park
136-square-kilometer park in northern Ethiopia that plays home to the highest peak in the country as well as many endangered species, including the walia ibex (Ethiopian mountain goat).