The Mercato (from the Italian for "market"), is huge covering several square kilometers (and square miles) of space near downtown Addis Ababa. It is crowded and total mayhem and not nearly as picturesque as the Souks in North Africa. It is the largest outdoor market in Africa.
There is a bit of organization here as vendors of similar goods tend to be in clusters.
That being said, it is still worth a visit with a camera because there are some wonderful shots.
Visiting is not for the faint of heart, so you can visit it on many 1/2 day tours of Addis Ababa
The Mercato market is actually a part of a district with many buildings and street scattered around. The location is in the area close to the main bus station. It is said to be the largest outdoor marked in Africa.
The area around Mercato is very crowded, and it's easy to get lost. Get a guide, as I did. The guide will also help you with the bargain.
To be honest, I have seen better markets than this one.
To the West of the city, meant to be a must see.
Well, there are no guns or camels (Lonely Planet), instead expect muddy streets, hawkers and thousands of shops selling shoes and expensively prices clothes.
The largest commercial bazaar in Africa this are comprises grid after grid of shops, arcades and stalls selling everything from millet to machine guns! Its safe with the usual precautions when in large market. It would be advisable to walk around with a local as they can navigate the endless warren of shops with radar stealth. But dont despair its easy to circumnavigate and figure out if you have enough time. Everyone knows where it is and they all go there...don't miss it.
This huge area is probably the biggest open air market in east Africa. The word comes from the italian word for "market". It is all the area around the main bus station where there are thousands of street stalls, little shops, covered markets, spice markets etc.
The most interesting area for tourists is the "Addis Gebeya" (New Market) a covered market in an independent building where you will find all kinds of souvenirs, Tshirts... Bargaining is compulsory here.
You can come on your own to Mercato but you will easily get lost. If you are looking for something in particular, take a guide. Many boys will come to you offering their services, take any and give him a generous tip (2-3 USD is more than enough).
Try shopping on this huge marketplace. One of the biggest in Africa.
Concentrate only on special things like spices or food. You can´t see the whole mercato.
Ask for a local guide, and do not go alone ! You won´t find a way out.
I bought 1kg of whole black pepper for an extremly cheap price. This pepper will last for years !