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What do you need to travel to Ethiopia?

by Pilar Dujan | Tue 02 May 2023
Map of ethiopia

Ethiopia is one of the gems of Africa. Its cities are filled with history from a long long time ago, you can see the Rift Valley where the continent is literally being split in two from the ground up and their coffee is one of, if not the best in the world. This and all the other amazing stuff Ethiopia has to offer make the African country a destination you shouldn’t miss

But what do you need to cross the borders? Learn about what you need to travel to Ethiopia here.

Requirements to visit Ethiopia


Pretty much every foreigner wishing to travel to Ethiopia is going to need to get a visa, no matter the reasons for the trip. You will need to fill out a form with personal information, the reason for your visit and the amount of time you will spend in the country.

There are two online visas for Ethiopia (to visit for 30 or 90 days) that are exclusive for tourism. You can find out if your country of birth is eligible for this in our eligibility checker

You should apply for these visas at least 15 days in advance.


All visa types for Ethiopia require a passport that is valid for at least 6 months from the date of entry

Travel insurance

Even though it is not mandatory, it’s advisable to take out a travel insurance policy before arriving in Ethiopia


The currency of Ethiopia is the Ethiopian birr. You should exchange your currency to birrs at the airport (although you can also do this in banks) because paying with credit card is not accepted in every place. Besides, you will need coins for tipping, as it is very common in the country. 

Fasil Ghebbi fortress in Ethiopia

Things you need to know when traveling to Ethiopia

Do you need a transit visa to travel to Ethiopia?

Yes, all foreign travelers wishing to enter Ethiopia have to get a visa, no matter the reason. 

Do I need any particular vaccines to visit Ethiopia?

There are no mandatory vaccines to enter Ethiopia unless you come from a country where Yellow Fever still exists. If that’s your case, you will need to present proof of vaccination against the disease. It is also recommended that you be vaccinated against Tetanus-Diphtheria or Tetanus-Pertussis, MMR (Measles, Rubella and Mumps) and Hepatitis A.

Safety in Ethiopia

Ethiopia is considered a safe country, especially for tourists. Of course, as with most major cities, there is a risk of small theft or robberies, so try to avoid crowded places and stay alert at all times. We also advise you to review the latest security reports issued by your government to avoid any dangerous areas.

Read all about the safety in Ethiopia and many travel tips to stay safe in this article.

How to travel around Ethiopia?

These are the main forms of transportation you can use to move around Ethiopia:

  • Buses: the cheapest option. You can travel through small towns and cities on minibuses. There are luxury buses with air conditioning that travel between the bigger cities, but they are more expensive. If you want to get on a luxury bus, try to purchase the tickets at least one day before.
  • Taxis: you can share them or use them privately. The shared taxis have certain designated routes and will include other passengers, which would not be the case with a private taxi. Always agree on the price of the trip before the driver gets going. 
  • Rental cars: tourists can’t drive them on their own because of the conditions of the road, but you can rent them with experienced drivers. This is the more expensive option but the one that gives travelers the most freedom.
  • ZayRide: it’s the Ethiopian version of Uber.

When is the best time to visit Ethiopia?

As is the case with many countries, Ethiopia has a wide variety of climates, so there isn’t really a best time to visit Ethiopia (they all are!). 

However, we can tell you that the low season is between April and September because of the heavy rainfall you could experience. 

From October to March the weather is drier and hotter, so this would be the better time. Learn more about the country’s three seasons here and discover all the festivals and festivities you could experience in each time of the year.

dry vegetation and small palm trees in ethiopia

Travel tips for Ethiopia

  • Did you know that Ethiopia has a different calendar to the rest of the world? It has 13 months and it’s several years behind the Gregorian calendar (the one we use). 
  • But that’s not all: they also start the day at 6:00 in the morning instead of 00:00! Take all of this into account when planning your trip to avoid any mistakes.
  • Homosexuality is still illegal and could put you in prison for 1 to 5 years. 
  • Discover the most important cities in Ethiopia and what to do when you get there.
  • Visagov has picked their choice of the 3 main activities to do in Ethiopia. Get to know them here.
  • Don’t forget to purchase travel insurance before starting your holiday! It could be very useful. 

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