Addis Ababa, capital of Ethiopia, may change all your preconceptions about an African city. Modern, solid buildings host prestigious institutions such as the headquarters of the African Union, a handful of UN offices and posh hotels to keep all those dignitaries in the lifestyle to which they are accustomed. Addis has as many museums and grand churches as most European cities. At the Ethiopian National Museum say hello to Lucy – the remains of the oldest known humanoid – or join the dreadlocked pilgrims at the Haile Selassie Church.
The Great Rift Valley, which is visible from space, cuts through Ethiopia.
This is not to say that Addis doesn’t have its sweaty, dusty, life-affirming side. Take a deep breath and dive into Merkato, East Africa’s largest marketplace, or sit down on the floor for a meal of Ethiopia’s famed cuisine before exploring Addis’s lush nightlife.