Despite its rich cultural heritage, storied history and stunning scenery, Ethiopia flies under the radar for travellers. Don’t let its low profile fool you, Ethiopia is packed with must-see destinations.

Here’s our breakdown of the top 5 things you must see when travelling to Ethiopia:

1. City of Gondar – Fasil Ghebbi

Fasil Ghebbi, located in Gondar, is a historical site that offers a glimpse into Ethiopia’s past. This well-preserved UNESCO World Heritage site is commonly referred to as the “Camelot of Ethiopia” and is widely known for its impressive collection of medieval castles, palaces, and churches. At the heart of Fasil Ghebbi stands Fasilides Castle and a fortress built by Emperor Fasilides in the 17th century. 900 metres of ancient stone walls surround the site, with 12 separate entrances, as well as some impressive gardens.

Fasil Ghebbi served as the centre of the Ethiopian government until 1864, and even after its 19th-century decline, continued to be an important commercial and transport hub for Northwest Ethiopia.

For anyone interested in history and architecture, Fasil Ghebbi is a must-see Ethiopian destination, with the remarkable preservation of the site offering visitors a rare opportunity to step back in time and experience Ethiopia’s history firsthand.

2. Erta Ale Volcano

Located in the Danakil Depression, the Erta Ale Volcano, translated as “The Smoking Mountain”, is one of the most unique destinations in Ethiopia. Often referred to as the “gateway to hell”, it is Ethiopia’s most active volcano and one of the few volcanoes with a continuously bubbling lava lake.

Following a 10km hike to the summit, you’re met with a rewarding view of the 60x100m pool of lava, discovered in the 1960s and active since 1906, making it the world’s longest existing lava lake. After witnessing the lava spew and roil, travellers even have the unique opportunity to sleep on the rim of the volcano before their return hike in the morning.

Seeing Erta Ale Volcano up close is an unforgettable experience, and one of the top places to see for anyone travelling to Ethiopia.

3. Simien National Park

Northern Ethiopia is home to Simien National Park. Due to millions of years of geological processes, Simien National Park boasts a stunning landscape of dramatic cliffs, mountains and rivers that flow through the park’s rugged landscape.

If you want to stay overnight, there are camping spots where you can set up your tent and sleep under the stars. There are also multiple hiking trails where you’ll see incredible views of the mountains and maybe even spot some of the park’s unique animals, such as the rare Ethiopian Wolf or the Walia Ibex, a type of mountain goat only found in Ethiopia. Just remember to bring sturdy shoes and plenty of water, as some of the trails can be steep and challenging.

4. Sof Omar caves

Ethiopia also offers journeys through some of the world’s most breathtaking landscapes below ground, such as the Sof Omar Caves.

Named after Sheikh Sof Omar, an Islamic saint who is said to have used the caves as a place of refuge and meditation, the caves are still used as a pilgrimage site today, with visitors coming to pay their respects and seek blessings from the saint.

Carved out of limestone by the flow of the Weyib River, Sof Omar is Ethiopia’s longest cave at 15.1 kilometres (9.4 miles) long. The extensive passages house a range of impressive formations, such as stalagmites and stalactites, flowstones and waterfalls creating a stunning destination for travellers to see.

5. Blue Nile Falls

Blue Nile Falls, also known as Tis Ishat or the Smoking River, is one of Ethiopia’s most famous landmarks. The name “Blue Nile” refers to the river where the falls originate, with this rivers waters originating from the highlands of Lake Tana.

Located on the upper course of the river Nile, these waterfalls plunge approximately 45 meters (148 feet) into the gorge below. The falls are at their best during the peak rainy season in September, with the increased rain leading to a powerful display of the waterfalls’ force. Visitors can stay overnight in huts located next to the waterfalls, an option for those who prefer to fall asleep to the noise of crashing water.

Accessible via a scenic hike from the nearby town of Bahir Dar, Blue Nile Falls offers an unforgettable experience for travellers who want to witness the very best of Ethiopia’s natural landscapes.

Are you itching to visit these must-see destinations? Ethiopian Holidays can help you build you perfect vacation. Book now!