Looking to explore Ethiopia? Bahir Dar is a great place to get started. It is one of the leading tourist destinations in Ethiopia. The city is the third largest in Ethiopia after Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa. History records during his reign, Emperor Haile Selassie considered moving Ethiopia’s capital from Addis Ababa to Bahir Dar. This bustling city is well maintained and clean with an amiable atmosphere, and is famous for its historic monasteries, the Blue Nile Falls and Lake Tana. Bahir Dar is an amazing city and safe to visit compared to other cities in neighboring countries. The landscape is amazing and the weather is favorable all year round. By African standards, Bahir Dar is a well developed city. In 2002, the city also received an honorable mention at the 2000-2001 UNESCO Cities for Peace Prize in Marrakesh, Morocco.
Top 6 Things to do
As an established tourist destination, Bahir Dar has many activities to keep visitors busy throughout their stay. If you are planning a trip to this “Ethiopian Riviera”, you are sure not to miss some of its finest tourist attractions. Bahir Dar also has affordable lodges and exotics restaurants that serves both local and continental cuisines.
1. Explore Ancient Monasteries
Bahir Dar is a gateway to 37 ancient monasteries that have endured for centuries. These monasteries date back to the 16th and 17th centuries. These monasteries are well structured and the interiors are designed with pictures of martyrs. Ethiopians have a certain reverence for Christian martyrs and the walls of the monasteries tell the stories of different Bible legends. At each church, your local guide will explain the significance of each of the images. To date, explorers and tourists alike are still drawn by its romanticizing tales and flair.
2. Check Out the Blue Nile Falls
The Blue Nile falls is one of those fascinating places you don’t want to miss on your Bahir Dar trip. Known to locals as ‘Tis Islat’ which means ‘smoky waters’, the waterfall is a 400 meter wide gush of the river during the rainy season plunging down over a 45 meter chasm. This chasm sends a continuous shower as far as a kilometer away to drench awestruck onlookers.
3. Visit Lake Tana
Located in the Northwestern Highlands of the Amhara region in Ethiopia, Lake Tana is the largest Lake in Ethiopia and is the source of the Blue Nile. It is about 84 kilometers long and stretches as wide as around 66 kilometers. Lake Tana’s beauty is complemented by its azure waters, lush shoreline and birdlife variety. In 2015, The UNESCO Biosphere Reserve recognized Lake Tana for its natural and cultural importance.
4. Tour the Palace of Emperor Halie Selassie
Constructed on a hill overlooking the Blue Nile on Bezawits stands the palace of Emperor Halie Selassie. His Imperial Majesty, Emperor Halie Selassie is one of Ethiopia’s greatest rulers. Built in 1959, the Palace is located 5 kilometers off the eastern suburbs. The majestic area has a mile-long stretch of jacarandas framing the entrance.
5. Go Shopping at the Bahir Dar Market
Your trip will be incomplete without a visit to the Bahir Dar market. The market is busiest on Saturdays where people from nearby villages stream into the market to trade. Bahir Dar market is the most beautiful traditional market in all of Northern Ethiopia. Here you can buy different kinds of crops, crafts, spices, and souvenirs.
6. Experience the Coffee Ceremony
Across Ethiopia, it’s considered a sign of friendship and a mark of respect and honor to partake in the coffee ceremony. The whole process of making the coffee takes quite a while from roasting the beans to the eventual serving of the brew, all of which are usually done in the presence of guests. The coffee is consumed straight black with plenty of sugar or salt. It could also be consumed with snacks like peanuts and popcorn.
How to get There
You can get to Bahir Dar with either plane, bus or boat
- By Plane — Ethiopian Airlines operates flights from Aksum, Addis Ababa, and Lalibela to Bahir Dar Ginbot Haya International Airport. At the airport, there are taxis to convey you into town. Just be sure to negotiate well.
- By Bus — The City is connected with buses to and from Addis Ababa and Gondar. There are also mini buses that run the same route based on your preference.
- By Boat — Zege and the monasteries can be reached by boat. The boat usually leaves in the morning around 7 AM from the Marine authority. If you choose to travel by boat, be sure to arrive at least 30 minutes earlier so you can get tickets.
Bahir Dar is an amazing place. A visit here is worth every penny as the city promises nothing short of fun, discovery, and adventure. Ready to explore the city? Get in touch with us today to discuss your itinerary preferences.
Ready to experience the above activities in Bahir Dar? Here are the most recommended tours:
- 12 Days Historic Route with Tigray Church
- 14 Days Historic Route with Omo Valley
- 15 Days Discover the Historic Routes
- 17 Days Historic Route Awash Park, and Harar
Learn more about tours and travel Ethiopa now!