Destinations
Trip Types
  • Travel Style
  • Interests and Activities
  • Tour Ideas by Month
  • Continents and Regions

Ethiopia Classic History and Religious Heritage Tour

  • Highlights
History, art, architecture and nature lovers: Ethiopia is bursting with such a rich culture that many of its sites are listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites today. Prepare for a trip back in time through hundreds of years of fascinating history, exploring the country's past and present as you journey from Debre Libanos to the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Addis-Adeba, past Lake Tana's beautiful m...

History, art, architecture and nature lovers: Ethiopia is bursting with such a rich culture that many of its sites are listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites today. Prepare for a trip back in time through hundreds of years of fascinating history, exploring the country's past and present as you journey from Debre Libanos to the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Addis-Adeba, past Lake Tana's beautiful monasteries, the Tigray Region and Lalibela. You'll return home with enough memories, souvenirs and wonderful photographs to last a lifetime!

See more

Customizable tour itinerary

This tour idea is fully customizable

This itinerary has been crafted by our Local Agency with one idea in mind: to inspire you. Every element can be adapted to your needs and your interests, from duration to accommodation and activities.

Day 1: Arrival In Addis Abeba

We will welcome you at the airport and transfer you to your hotel. For your first day in Ethiopia, we will take you to mount Entoto, a green and peaceful hill that is 3,000 metres (9,842 ft.) high above sea level and provides an exceptional panoramic view over the capital city below.

We will then visit the Entoto Maryam Church, a typical building with its octagonal shape and colours, as well as Menelik II Museum. Lunch in town, overnight and dinner at the hotel, with spa available to unwind completely.

Visited:
Addis Ababa
Accommodation
Night at Saro Marina (Addis Ababa)

Day 2: Debre Libanos Monastery

Debre Libanos Monastery was founded during the 13th century and has greatly suffered from wars and occupations. The church, dating back to 1961, is adorned with beautiful stained glass windows made by the artist, Afewerk Tekle.

A small path leads to a cave that houses the tomb of Saint Tekle Haymanot, a very important pilgrimage site for the Ethiopian church. The path goes through a gorge where you can have a look at the famous Portuguese Bridge, a century-old stone construction that is falling apart. It was built using crushed ostrich egg shells as cement instead of the traditional limestone. Overnight and dinner at the hotel.

Distance: 306 km (190 miles)

Visited:
Debre Markos
Accommodation
Gozamen (Debre Markos)

Day 3: The Blue Nile River

You will leave for Bahir Dar (arrival late morning and transfer to the hotel). You will then have lunch in town and visit the Blue Nile Falls. The Nile (the Egyptian river) has two main tributaries: the Blue Nile and the White Nile. Legend has it that the Blue Nile was born from a book with flipping pages that transformed into water and whose first lines were written with the tears of God. The Blue Nile falls' name comes from 'Tiss-Abay' which means 'smoke-water'. After this hike, you will be able to rest in a place dedicated to your well-being.

Distance: 256 km (159 miles)

Visited:
Debrezeit
Accommodation
Kuriftu Resort & Spa**** (Debrezeit)

Day 4: Boat Trip Across Lake Tana

You will enjoy a boat trip on lake Tana and visit Dega Stephanos, a medieval monastery located on the lake. This place of worship houses a precious collection of icons and manuscripts. It is associated with many folk tales and legends.

After stopping for a picnic lunch, you will visit the Bete Maryam church and the city of Bahir Dar. It is built on the bank of lake Tana, dotted with numerous little islands. Christian churches and monasteries were built there as early as the 13th century. Fishermen and monks still use papyrus boats on the lake. Overnight and dinner at the hotel.

Distance: 40 km (24 miles)

Visited:
Debrezeit
Accommodation
Kuriftu Resort & Spa**** (Debrezeit)

Day 5: Gondar: The Culture Capital 

Gondar is a key stop along Ethiopia's historic route. In 1636, King Fasilides made Gondar the capital. His successors have built impressive residences worthy of their family name. Nowadays, remains, of both medieval castles and oriental palaces, testify to the former splendour.

The massive walls are graciously and harmoniously adorned with balconies and tall windows. The society that prospered in Gondar became more interested in culture, art and the human spirit than in war. Your tour continues with the visit of the Debre Birhan Selassie church. After having lunch in town, you will go back to the hotel.

Distance: 180 km (111 miles)

Visited:
Gonder
Accommodation
Landmark (Gonder)

Day 6: Simien, A Symbol For The Protection Of Nature

Stopping for a nature break: the Simien mountains national park is listed a UNESCO world heritage site for its protection of nature. It is impossible to travel around northern Ethiopia without visiting this nature reserve, full of fauna and flora and home to many endemic species.

The spectacular relief consists of mountain peaks, narrow valleys and plateaus overlooking deep gorges, sometimes up to 1,500 metres deep. You will have dinner and spend the night there, in a lodge surrounded by amazing scenery.

Distance: 170 km (105 miles)

Visited:
Simien
Accommodation
Simien Park Lodge (Simien)

Day 7: Meet The Locals

Today we will drive from Simien to Axum. On board our comfortable, air-conditioned vehicles, you will be able to admire the landscapes of northern Ethiopia, see the inhabitants in their everyday life. We will have lunch on the way. Overnight and dinner at the hotel.

​Distance: 260 km (161 miles)

Visited:
SimienAxum
Accommodation
Consolar Hôtel (Axum)

Day 8: Axum's Historical Sites

This day will be devoted to the Queen of Sheba. You will visit the stelae, the museum, the tombs and the church of Axum. You will have lunch in town. The Kingdom of Axum owes its power to its commercial relationship with Northeast Africa.

It started in the 4th century BC to be at its height during the 1st century AD. The Kingdom started to use the name 'Ethiopia' as soon as the 4th century. Besides, it is in Axum, in the church of St Mary of Zion, that the Ark of the Covenant is said to be located, next to the ruins of Queen of Sheba's palace. Overnight and dinner at the hotel.

​Distance: 45 km (27 miles)

Visited:
Axum
Accommodation
Consolar Hôtel (Axum)

Day 9: A Stopover In Mekele

Mekele is a place filled with history: Emperor Yohannes IV (1872 - 1889) was crowned there King of Kings of Ethiopia. Caravans coming back from the Danakil Desert can be seen in Mekele as it is located on the way to the Dallol Depression. Yeha temple, the oldest building in Ethiopia, dates back to the Pre-Aksumite period.

Built with golden-coloured sandstone on a dark hill, the view, when you get there, is breathtaking. The Church of Abraha Atsbeha in the Tigray Region, located in the middle of nowhere, inspires calm and silence. You will spend the night in a former governor's palace. The place looks a little bit dated (it certainly is an old castle) but has an authentic charm!

Distance: 270 km (167 miles)

Visited:
AxumMek’elē
Accommodation
Abreha Castle (Mek’elē)

Day 10: ​Singing Lalibela's Praises

Francisco Álvarez, a Portuguese missionary and explorer, wrote. 'In my opinion, there is nothing alike in the whole world, churches hewn skilfully out of solid rock.' For the three nights you will spend in Lalibela, you will be able to choose between two different hotels. One was chosen for its comfort, and the other one, more basic, for its unusual and enchanting atmosphere. You will certainly enjoy its simplicity that is in harmony with with this important place of worship that is Lalibela.

​Distance: 380 km (236 miles)

Visited:
Lalibela
Accommodation
Night at Hudad Lodge (Lalibela)

Day 11: The Churches Of Lalibela

Visit to the Yemrehana Krestos Church, which is located outside the city. After having lunch in town, you will visit the churches located in the north of Lalibela for the rest of the day. All the churches in Lalibela are hewn out of red rock. The craftsmen first formed a quadrangular block by digging a trench in the rock down to the ground. The block was then carved with pickaxes, from top to bottom, to create vaults and arches inside and windows and colonnades outside. Overnight and dinner at the hotel.

​Distance: 90 km (55 miles)

Visited:
Lalibela
Accommodation
Night at Hudad Lodge (Lalibela)

Day 12: Asheton Maryam Church 

We will go and visit Asheton Maryam Church on mule back or on foot (about 5 hours walk to get there and back), then after having lunch in town, we will visit the churches located in the south of Lalibela. This site has been listed a UNESCO world heritage site since 1978. Many pilgrims come here to pray. Overnight and dinner at the hotel.

Distance: 50 km (31 miles)

Visited:
Lalibela
Accommodation
Night at Hudad Lodge (Lalibela)

Day 13: Addis Abeba And The History Of Mankind

You will fly to Addis Abeba (arrival early afternoon). After having something to eat, you will step into the history of humanity with the visit of the national museum of Ethiopia where Lucy's skeleton is displayed. Overnight at the hotel to relax after your trip.

​Distance: 50 km (31 miles) (domestic flight not included)

Accommodation
Night at Saro Marina (Addis Ababa)

Day 14: Final Day - Holy Trinity Cathedral And The Marketplace

This last day still focuses on the theme of our tour (except for some shopping): historical sites. The Holy Trinity Cathedral was originally made of wood and decorated with intricate carvings. During the first half of the 20th century, the Emperor Haile Selassie inaugurated the present cathedral. Its architecture is surprising.

Then you will visit the Merkato, the largest open-air market in Africa: jewellery, earthenware, wickerwork, spices, fabric laid out on the stalls, etc. and lots of people, vendors, strollers, customers, etc. You will have dinner in an Ethiopian restaurant with traditional songs and dances. Transfer to the airport. We hope you've had an amazing time!

Visited:
Addis Ababa

Addis Ababa Debre Markos Debrezeit Gonder Simien Axum Mek’elē Lalibela

Price details

This tour idea is fully customizable

The price reflects this specific itinerary and is designed to give you an idea of the budget required for this destination. Throughout the trip-planning process, our local agency will tailor your itinerary around your budget.

Approx. $3,180 / 14 days
Excluding international flights
Price per person, based on double occupancy

Included in price:

  • English-speaking driver
  • English-speaking guide
  • The entrance fees for sites as mentioned in the programme
  • Air transportation Lalibela/Addis Abeba
  • The accommodations 3 to 4* standard
  • Meals with one soft drink for each meal as mentioned in the programme
  • Car transportation as mentioned in the programme
  • A recent vehicle 4*4 V8 ( above 6 people, we will use a recent and comfortable minibus)
  • A typical meal in a traditional restaurant with dances and songs

Not included in price:

  • The meals not mentioned in the programme
  • International flight and domestic flight
  • Visa £32 per person
  • Personal expenses
  • Personal insurances
  • Banking fees for money transfer
  • Drinks
  • Tips

Itinerary not quite right for you?

Other tour ideas