The Bole international Airport has a national flights building too. It is a rather modern medium size airport.
Tourist visas are available at arrival. You must have a 20 USD NOTE ready for the visa payment. They don't accept another currency, but you can go to the nearest bank to change if you need to.
To go to the city centre you can take a blue taxi (about 40-50 birr, 4-5 USD) or take a minibus (about 15Birr, 1,5 USD). To take the minibuses, go out of the airport, avoid the taxi drivers and look for the samll blue vans. Ask the driver if they go to PIAZZA or MESKEL square, the 2 main destinations. If you are not really sure, take a taxi.
There are no minibuses in the national arrivals building, so if you come from an ethiopian city and want to take a minibus go first to the international arrivals building.
Ethiopian are one of the best airlines in Africa, safe and reliable. Not the cheapest option to fly there from Europe. But if you plan to take internal flights (only available with Ethiopian) they offer good discounts if you already booked with them the international flight.
So ask your local handler about the prices of combined flights (TO Ethiopia and AROUND the country). I booked only a Lalibela-Addis flight from Spain and it happened to be the same price when I asked about prices in Addis, so you better book in advance if you wanna take internal flight, some might be full.
Once there is easy to change dates (no charge) or even cancel the flights.
Going from Bole International Airport to your hotel? Do not pay more than 40-50 Birr! They will always ask for at least 100. Remember - they are mostly dishonest and will take you for a ride financially!
Please feel free to add this to your "Custom Travel Guide" and print it off before you go!
Arrange, and pay for, a taxi before you leave the airport, after customs. The price is generally fixed, but you can ask around different companies. They are safe, fast and reliable, even in the middle of the night, to my uncertain knowledge
Arriving at Bole Intl. airport is convenient. It's a new small airport, and it's easy to find what you are looking for. Shortly after you enter the building you find the "visa on arrival" counter. Just line up in queue, and 4-5 officers will issue the tourist visas quickly. Make sure to have your passport and 20 USD ready. For a single entry visa you don't need photos and you don't need to write anything. The visa is valid for 3 months.
20 meters away from here you find 2 different exchange bureau (Dashen and Ethiopian Bank). The exchange rate here is the same as it is in the city. Change only USD/Euro to Ethiopian Birr. Other currencies gives a terrible bad rate. Make sure to keep the receipt because you need it when you shall change back the Birr when leaving Ethiopia. ( I found only 1 ATM in the city, inside Sheraton Hotel).
Shortly after that you line up in the queue for the immigration police. Have your passport and the immigration card ready. If the police ask for the visa receipt, just show him that. They have a webcam for photo.
Then turn right and walk 30 meters to pick up your checked baggage at the baggage belt.
The custom officers are in the same hall as the baggage belts. There are no green and red entrance, so the custom officers will ask what you have in the bags. In most case they just smile and let you trough. I guess they are checking the Ethiopians more carefully to find any items to be declared and paid tax for.
You are now entering the last door and will come into a hall full of people. But it's safe and well organized. Many dealers will ask you for transport to the city. Just look after dealers with registration ID card walking around. Take your time and bargain the price. Normal price is 80-100 Birr. Then follow that person out of the terminal and walk 200 meters to the parking area. The taxis and matatus are waiting here. There are no taxis waiting right outside the terminal as there is in other airports. The airport is 8 km from the city centre.
Blue taxis in Addis are expensive and they charge for a short ride at least two to three dollars. But to be fair, taxi drivers in Addis, compared to those in many Third World countries, are honest and gentlemen. Most of them do not cheat or lie.
Mini-buses on the other hand, are cheap. But can tourists ride these mini buses? May be some can but I could not come near them. First, they are cramped with passengers, different types of passengers, small and big who will sit on the lap of each other. Second, it takes a long time to reach your destination. These mini-buses stop regularly on their way. Last, even if you reach your destination, there is no body to tell you unless you know some amheric.
NTO (National Tour Operations) are a very reasonably priced car hire company for all vehicles from Sedans to 4x4 and busses. They have a desk at the airport and another office at the Hilton. On 4 Nov '05 I was quoted the following rate on a Mercedes with driver: US$68/day incl. 75km/day free thereafter US$0.60/km. Overtime starts at 16h00 and is charged at US$2.60/hour. Salomon is a very friendly guy, when I told him we'd be arriving the night before but only wanted the car from the next day, he offered free transport from the airport to the Sheraton (I thanked him for this but the Sheraton offers a free airport shuttle) Salomon can be called directly on his mobile +251 911 639 381. Tell him you got the number from here he should be nicely suprised.
If you're having trouble with the dialling code changes in Ethiopia goto this website where you can input the old number and it will generate the new number for you: http://www.nazret.com/converter/
Ethiopian Airlines provides service to domestic airports in Ethiopia and its the only airline to do so. From Addis you can fly to aksum, Arba Minch, Dire Dawa, Bahar Dar, Gonder and Lalibela. Prices for foreign national are higher than for the locals but if u have a Ethiopian residence permit than you pay price as a local.
A nice airport with a few shops and bars.
Most shops and banks close at night, so no good if you have an early morning flight.
Very expensive bars once through departure security, so stay land side as long as possible for more Ethiopian prices.
When you arrive from the UK, $20 visa must be purchased.
When leaving, there is no longer any departure tax to pay.
Expect to pay about 40-50 Birr from Addis to get here (10 min journey), a little more at night.
From the airport, head to the right, to catch the official yellow cabs. They have set prices (Approx 60 Birr to Addis).
I flew into Addis Ababa with Ethiopian Airways from Lagos, Nigeria. The plane was in perfect shape. There was just a minor incident with a passenger lady – I felt like Adam Sandler in the movie "Anger Management".
Anyway, the airport is modern and clean and there are no real cues. There is even an Internet Café which costs about US$1 per 10 minutes or so. I was very impressed! And by the way, I advise you to take a hotel shuttle bus to the hotel. It worked perfectly fine for me.
My first visit to the country, and arrival could not have been better. No waiting at all at immigration. You're supposed to complete a landing card, but I didn't know. The friendly immigration officer let me complete it at her desk (more or less, she was quite happy to skip most of the details) and away I went.
My bags were there 5 minutes later. The Hilton desk is right opposite the arrival gate, so 5 minutes after that I was on my way to the shuttle bus.
I used BMI from London to get to Ethiopia.
My flight stopped in Beirut on the way out, but I think some stop in Amman. We were on the ground for only 45 minutes. Some passengers got off (none boarded) and the crew changed. The rest of us stayed on board. A bit of an irritation when it’s a long flight anyway.
We were about 45 minutes late leaving LHR - air traffic, so probably not BMI’s fault.
Service was pretty sparse. A breakfast just after leaving LHR. A “dinner” just after Beirut. When we got to Addis Ababa 4.5 hours after Beirut, I was ravenous. Suggest you pack snacks...
The cabin crew - mixed. Some pleasant, some very sour.
The plane - Airbus 321. Comfortable enough.
BMI did change my flights twice (same day - different times) as they brought in the winter timetable.
Ok as value for money - about £500 return from Edinburgh, booked 8 months in advance.
My hotel (Hilton) offers an airport shuttle. They charge $5, but some hotels will do it free.
On arrival I'd certainly recommend it. Maybe you'll relish the prospect of doing battle with a local taxi driver just after arrival off a long flight, but not me!
By all accounts the cost of a taxi is about the same as the cost of the Hilton shuttle.
I just had to go to the Hilton desk opposite the arrival gate, and 5 minutes later I was on my way to the bus. I was the only passenger, so I got a brief cultural introduction to the country as well
Worth the $1 tip
Here are some pictures of Addis Ababa Bole airport.The first pic is the interior of International terminal at 4 am.The hall looked so empty ,almost no flight departure,only my flight arriving from Cairo at 3.50 am. We had to apply for visa first then pass the immigration later.The visa couter is on left hand side if you facing the immigration counter. There were almost no queue at visa on arrival at that time so everything went smoothly.During waiting my domestic flight at 7am,I walked around see some group of passengers lying down on the floor wait for their flight as well.I asked some security staff if any exchange shop open at the moment,they said yes,but it’s in the luggage carousel area,so I just asked them if I can walked back in ,and they said ok.Actually it’s not their working hour but security were very kind to help and called someone from exchange for us.The rate was very good both Euro and US dollar. The second pic ,walking from terminal 1 international to domestic terminal.Walking outdoor at night quite chilly at that moment.When I arrived at domestic terminal around 5.30am ,there were already many people queuing for baggage screening area .
At least 3 flights departing about same time from domestic terminal,and we have to walk from terminal to aircraft for boarding.My aircraft was a small aircraft Dash 8 .It’s not free seating system, if we check in the first ,we may ask for our preference seat but I didn’t ask for anything cuz it’s such a small aircraft so it’s about the same for me ,unless you want to take picture so better sit in the front row. On first pic,that’s the domestic terminal. Second pic, look a little bit to the right, is international terminal .Pic 3, This is my airplane Dash 8.Pic 4,that’s the Dash 8 as well .Pic 5. fasten seat belt in Ethiopian language.
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