8 of the best parks to explore in Addis Ababa
Grab some respite from city life at these glorious green spots
For all its buzz and urban energy, Addis Ababa has been going through a transformation that has seen a growing number of parks popping up all around the city. Here are some of the top options for green space when you’re in town.
Set around the highest point in Addis Ababa – Mount Entoto – this park is a must-visit for any nature-lover. It’s filled with activities, including a zipline, rope course, spa and archery area, while paved roads around the mountains offer bike lanes and running tracks alongside hiking roads. There are also several local restaurants in the park, plus an art gallery run by the Addis Ababa University Alle School of Fine Arts and Design. Perhaps most importantly, an incredible view of the city is available from the summit of the mountain.
This park was first established in 1963 to mark the inauguration of the Organisation of African Unity. The trees in the compound were planted by heads of state attending the inauguration and each tree is labelled with the name of the country and its leader. But as well as being a historic location, Africa Park is also perfect for picnics and family outings, particularly as it holds a cafe, several fountains and a children’s playground. It also houses two other parks – Ethiopia Park and Addis Ababa Park – meaning you get to enjoy three green spaces in one visit.
First constructed in the 1970s to cement the relationship between Ethiopia and Cuba, this historic park houses several sculptures and monuments that pay tribute to both Ethiopian and Cuban soldiers. Being located in the heart of the city makes it easily reachable for people, and once you’re there you can purchase tea or coffee from a stall near the entrance, next to a small book kiosk where you also borrow books to read in the park for a fee. The huge trees interspersed with park benches offer a reprieve from the city hubbub.
One of the oldest parks in the city, Ambassador Park is a popular destination for families, friends and couples. The beautiful grounds are filled with a variety of flowers set along winding walkways that truly ease the spirit. There’s also an excellent restaurant where visitors can grab a beer after gazing at the gorgeous scenery.
One of the larger green areas in the city, Friendship Park has many amenities that make it worth a visit, including a beautiful lake filled with fish, waterlilies and even the occasional duck. It’s also the ideal place for those keen to embark on an early morning run, thanks to paved roads that are great for running and long staircases if you’re after some intensive cardio. Early morning yoga sessions are also available in the park by appointment. Reward yourself after all that exercise at one of Friendship Park’s two restaurants, followed by a treat at the ice cream store if you’re feeling indulgent or just stopping by the juice bar if you want to keep the healthy vibes flowing.
One of the lesser-known parks in Addis (and also known as Central Park), this hidden treasure in the Bole area is a welcome break from everyday life. As you wander, look out for the stone structures that adorn the exterior walls and run alongside the neighbouring riverway, giving the park an otherworldly feel. The creative construction, verdant grounds and variety of flora make this a great park for anyone wanting to seek out a tucked-away gem.
Found in the compound of the National Palace of Ethiopia, this one-of-a-kind park is home to all kinds of wildlife, more than a few of which can be found in the zoo, aquarium and aviary. There are pavilions for each region of Ethiopia, giving an introduction to the diverse culture of the country, and if you want to keep up the historical learning afterwards, parts of the palace are available to view on a guided tour.
Filled with ancient trees, this well-maintained park is also the home of the St George Gallery, which hosts contemporary visual art exhibitions. The park is a scenic and cosy place to spend an afternoon, whether you’re reading a book, enjoying a cup of coffee or just sitting back and relaxing.