many guides still write about the famous train linking Djibouti to Addis Abeba; unfortunately, this train does not operate anymore, and even goods transportation stopped one year ago, on that line; in the past, the train stopped at Dire Dawa, and from there, you could go to Harar in less than two hours with a bus or taxi. So, getting to Harar by air or road are the possibilities left.
Selam bus and Sky (see websites) bus operate the line to Harar; if one wants to use these companies, he has to buy a ticket in advance at their offices in Addis, or at a shelter in the bus station, and the next day, be at the station at 5:30 am!
If you are not an early bird, like to sleep a bit in the morning, until 9:00 am you can catch a mini (bus) to Nazaret, and from there catch another (mini) bus to Harar; the risk is to arrive late in Harar (9-10 pm) or even to stop before, and have to wait next morning to resume the trip; in Ethiopia, buses do not drive at night, or only if they are sure to arrive not too late.
I travelled to Harar using this last solution, and was very happy to arrive at 9 pm in Harar.
If you travel by minibus, you have to get your luggage tied on the top of the vehicle (picture 3); the trip is long (12-13hours), but don’t worry there is at least one stop for lunch in a bus station where are restaurants (picture 2), simple, but good; at the beginning, you may sometimes be worried about the efficiency of the ropes on the roof of the bus, and check by yourself (picture 1).
In the minibuses you can enjoy the beautiful landscapes, in the plains of Awash (picture 4) or the green Amhara mountains (picture 5)
Bus is the cheapest transportation mean in Ethiopia: from Addis to Harar you will pay 70+ 120 bir, for about 500 km (12 US $)
Bus station next to Merkato in Addis; everybody and taxis know.
You can get to harar via bus (11-12 hours) or by plane (1 hour) Dire Dawa and then a 1 hour minbus or cab ride up the hill. I chose to fly..plane was full of aid workers on their way further East..it was a full flight (At Addis the Dire Dawa flight departs from the international terminal and yes it is still a small F-50 prop plane. Onc you land you can either hire a cab and go straight there for 20 dollars or so or go the cheaper route and go to the bus station and take a minbus up the hill where the whole trip will cost less than $5.
The Dire Dawa airport was interesting for me since I like planes and they had to Russian planes that fly fresh Chat up North to Djibouti and Eritrea each day. The four engine Illyisain (sp?) was taking on a load of around 10 tons of fresh chat when I was there. This part of Ethiopia is a large growning region for the nations chat exporters.