Bustling markets, excellent restaurants and a scenic waterfront make Bahir Dar one of the most captivating cities in Ethiopia. The town is set on cobalt-blue Lake Tana and charms visitors with its palm-lined streets and friendly locals.
Things to do in Bahir Dar
Bahir Dar lives up to its evocative reputation as the Ethiopian Riviera. The city is set on the banks of Lake Tana and is anchored by a breezy palm-lined boulevard. Venture into the lively Main Market to admire towers of colourful produce and shop for handmade souvenirs or stroll around the Fish Market to see Bahir Dar through a local lens. Visit in the early morning to watch fishermen bringing in their catches of the day.
Cruise boats depart from the harbour and take you out onto the shimmering Lake Tana. The lake is dotted with more than 35 islands, many housing ancient churches and medieval monasteries. Ura Kidane Mihret, one of the oldest monasteries, dates back to the 14th century. As you cruise around the lake, watch for hippos and crocodiles basking in the shallows. Day trips to the Zege Peninsula also showcase some of the most beautiful monasteries in Ethiopia, many decorated with brightly-coloured murals.
Bahir Dar is a launchpad for day trips to the Blue Nile Falls. The falls cascade down a 42-metre-high cliffside and create clouds of mist and colourful rainbows. A well-marked trail winds down to the falls and takes you over a picturesque bridge that was built in the 17th century.
Getting around Bahir Dar
The Bahir Dar lakefront is pedestrian-friendly and easy to get around on foot. Taxis are a fast and comfortable way to get around the town. You can also ride in three-wheel rickshaws known as bajajs while hiring a driver makes it easy to visit nearby sights and attractions. Gondar is three hours north and Addis Ababa is nine hours south.