The village is divided in 2 main areas: uphill and downhill.
There is a paved road that connects both and is the main (in fact the only) street here.
The churches are in the middle and the hotels are some up some down. So no matter where you stay, you will have to climb to go or to return.
The bus station is uphill, bur downhill are some nice cheap hotels and a couple of good shops. Anyway, walking from one corner to another is no more than 20 minutes (down) - 35 (up).
Favorite thing: In spite of its touristic reputation, Lalibela is no more than a tiny village and there are very few streets (only 1 paved anyway). So don't expect big comfort, shops (only a few souvenir shops and 1-2 food shops), taxis and so. Most of the time you have to walk here and there along muddy tracks.
Favorite thing: Though most of the tourists come here just to visit the churches, a little walk around the village will show you interesting aspects of daily life in Lalibela. Streets are muddy ans narrow and most of the houses are made of adobe bricks.
Tickets – are 100 Birr and valid for your entire stay in Lalibela. They will allow you access to all the churches in town as often as you want on as many days you are staying here. Again there is a 2 hours lunch break! The place to buy the ticket is at the ticket office near the northwest cluster, a short walk downhill from the Seven Olives Hotel.
Guides – there are 16 officially registered guides available. They cost about 100 Birr for independent visitors or 200 Birr for a group. Its common to give a tip but its not a must. The rules of the official guides association are not allowing them to ask for a tip. Its possible to visit the churches without a guide but the advantage of a guided visit is that they can explain everything to you, show you details which might be missed and they know all the priest who are holding the keys for every church. So you don`t need to bother about finding them and last but not least all the unofficial guides will leave you in peace.
Torch – bring a torch as its quite dark inside the churches and difficult to enjoy all the details without enough light.
Low budget – travellers who can`t afford to pay 100 Birr to explore the churches but at least want to have a superficially impression of what a rock hewn church is, can visit Beta Gyorgis. Its not possible to go down to the bottom but its still impressive to see from above
The Bradt Guide – There is a mistake in the Bradt Guide! Don´t get confused but on the map of the church clusters they are mixed up. (But beside this – its an excellent book!)
When you visit the churches you will notice that each one has at least 2 processional crosses, showed to tourists by the priest. They are said to be given by King Lalibela as a present for each of the churches he built. Some are gold, some silver, most metallic, but all beautifully carved.
The famous Lalibela Gold Cross is at Bet Medhane Alem, but is not always shown to the public, ask your guide to try.
If you eat local food chances are it will catch up with you. I got a good case of the runs here and a nice little fever. Good news there is a Dr in town. They have the local Health Center down by the Churches or another place I went to down the street from the Ethiopian Airlines ticket office..5 min from the Blue Lal Hotel. Chances are you will deal with the local nurse first but they do have Dr's. I went in there looking for som Cipro and end the end the Dr. showed up and was ready to give me some other German drug. In the end he looked me over a bit and told me it was a passing thing that would go away in a day. They will charge you a buck or two to consult with the Dr....should have givin him a bit more.
If this is not your thing head to the Churhes and ask one of the UNESCO folks working on the roofs and they can tell you who they use for medical care.
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