How to Visit Ethiopia on a Budget

travel visit ethiopia on a budget

Ethiopia: A Beautiful Country Indeed

Ethiopia hasn't been on a lot of travellers' radars until very recently, but all that is about to change. This beautiful country is home to ancient historical sites, scenic landscapes, tasty food, and fabulous festivals.

Interestingly, Ethiopia still uses the Coptic calendar, which is 7 years behind the Gregorian calendar, meaning that you're literally travelling back in time!

In this post, we'll take a closer look at the best way to visit Ethiopia on a budget. With whatever you've got left over, you can start planning your trip to come back!

Ethiopia's National Airline is a Great Value

First of all, you need to think about how to actually get to Ethiopia. Not many budget airlines fly there, but there is some good news.

The national carrier, Ethiopian Airlines offers very reasonably priced flights. They have expanded their services in recent years too, so you can fly into the capital city Addis Ababa from Europe, North America, and across Asia.

It gets better though! If you fly into the country with Ethiopian Airlines, they'll offer you a 50% discount on internal flights within the country.

This means that you'll make a massive saving when it comes to visiting cities and towns such as Bahir Dar and Jijiga.

ethiopian airlines


Yes, of course it will be cheaper to get a local bus than an internal flight but remember how big this country is. If your time is limited, then you may not want to take an overnight bus or spend multiple hours when such great value flights are on offer!

Ethiopian Public Transport

If, however, you're not constrained by time and you want to get a real insight into Ethiopian life, public transport is a great way to save yourself some money.

The country may not have any trains, but there's a network of buses, cabs, and cars which operate at all hours of the day, making it easy to get to even the most hidden away places!

public transport in ethiopia bajaj


Obviously, there are pros and cons to using public transport. The major con is that in the heat it can get very hot, sweaty, and uncomfortable.

However, if you're travelling on a budget sometimes you have to make sacrifices, and comfort is often one of them!

The best part of public transport though is getting an insight into everyday life here, and you're sure to end up chatting to a kind and friendly local on your journey. They're also a great way to get around on your own DIY tour!

Tailor Your Tour of Ethiopia to Use Local Businesses

If the public transport all seems a bit overwhelming, then you'll be pleased to know that there's a way around that. You can book tours which will enable you to see the best Ethiopia has to offer in a safe and tourist-friendly way.

However, you can negotiate with your tour company on what's included. In many Ethiopian towns, there are great accommodation and food options that are much cheaper than what's traditionally included.

This is good for you, but also good for locals as it means that one hotel or restaurant doesn't have a tourist monopoly!

However, if you really must book an all-inclusive tour, then...

Don't Book Tours Before You Arrive in Ethiopia

If you start looking for tours before you arrive in Ethiopia, you'll see prices that will quite frankly make your eyes water. And then you probably won't want to do them. And that's a shame, because tours do help the local people and economy.

There's a way around that though!

If you book with an agent in your own company, you'll have huge commission, an inbox full of emails, and a feeling of disappointment when you're sitting next to someone who booked the tour in person and paid less than half you did.

Most tours can be booked the day before or even on the morning. It's the best way to do it!

Make Sure to Taste Authentic Ethiopian Food

One of the major costs for a budget traveller is food. And if you're eating out at fancy restaurants, then your costs will quickly tot up.

Ethiopian food is delicious though, and you don't have to head somewhere with a Michelin Star to get good quality! Hole in the wall spots offer the real Ethiopian food and it will fill and warm you.

Honey and peanut butter on flatbreads always hits the spot, no matter what time of day it is!

Check Out the Local Ethiopian Markets

Even the thriftiest traveller can't resist a bargain, and we all have family and friend that we want to spoil post trip.

Well, rather than an expensive souvenir shop or duty free in the airport, stock up on trinkets at the local markets.



These cool places are always a hive of activity, and best of all there's no entry fee. Markets, bazaars, and souqs are the place to head if you want to find a set to enjoy your Ethiopian coffee (which by the way is beautiful), jewellery, or some even more unusual gifts!

It's a good idea to keep an eye on your valuables while market shopping though - as some are less safe than others!

Go Hiking

To be honest, going to Ethiopia and not hiking is a mistake, whether you're travelling on a budget or spending every night in a five star hotel!

Home to some of the most spectacular panoramic views in Africa, there are mountains and hills across the entire country which are just waiting to be discovered. Before venturing out, make sure you choose the right types of hiking gear.

hiking in ethiopia lalibela


Whether you're exploring Lalibela after visiting the rock-cut churches, in the Simien Mountains National Park, or somewhere like Debark or Dinsho, you'll be astounded by the beautiful landscapes.

Just make sure that you take plenty of water and sun protection to keep safe and healthy, and your camera so that you can share how beautiful Ethiopia is with everyone back home!

Final Thoughts

So, those are just a few of the best ways to visit Ethiopia on a budget.

We hope that you've found this post helpful and insightful and it's got you really excited for your upcoming trip. Ethiopia is just waiting to welcome you and be discovered!