Lalibela Travel Guide

  • Things to Do
    by Carla10
  • Things to Do
    by Carla10
  • Things to Do
    by Carla10

Lalibela Highlights

  • Pro
    flynboxes profile photo

    flynboxes says…

     A must see in ET 

  • Con
    boltonian profile photo

    boltonian says…

     Beggars, noise, snail paced internet 

  • In a nutshell
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    Ramonq says…

     Historical Rock Hewn churches 

Lalibela Things to Do

  • Highland Trekking

    Abune Yosepf is a beautiful, still not too much discovered -and therefore incredibly authentical- massif of highlands northeast of Lalibela.Lalibela itself lies already inside the mountains of Lasta, with great views of the whole and seemingly endless world of peaks and valleys, but trekking up Abune Yoseph is even more breathtaking- and you are...

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  • TESFA trekking

    Tesfa (Tourism in Ethiopia for Sustainable Future Alternatives) is an organization that organizes hikings in the Mequet plateau south-west of Lalibela with the latter as base. The aim of the organization is to show you the beauty of the mountains and the countrylife there, bringing an amount the revenues back to the local community.Some of the...

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  • VISIT THE ROCK-HEWN CHURCHES

    The 11 medieval monolithic cave churches of this 13th-century 'New Jerusalem' are situated in a mountainous region in the heart of Ethiopia near a traditional village with circular-shaped dwellings. Lalibela is a high place of Ethiopian Christianity, still today a place of pilmigrage and devotion.There are two main groups of churches – to the north...

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Lalibela Hotels

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Lalibela Restaurants

  • At the airport

    This place is OK and has a relaxed atmosphere. Located upstairs, right above the main hall. Some works of art by local artists can be admired here. Open the window and see your plane arrive, which will then be directed away from the runway by a ground handler with his paddles. Our serene stay here came to an abrupt end when we were urged to board...

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  • Refreshing juices!

    This local restaurant/bar is run for several years by a gentle lady who serves you with a big smile. Locals also come here, so you can feel in Ethiopian atmosphere here, while watching the passers by.The restaurant offers you excellent food at an equal excellent price!For a dish you will pay for example 35 birr, or +/- $2.It is not haute cuisine,...

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  • one of most amazing restaurant on earth

    Ben Abeba is a new restaurant in Lalibela, Ethiopia, offering traditional Ethiopian food as well as western style food in comfortable surroundings with spectacular views from a choice of dining areas.Lalibela is a tourist destination that is growing in popularity as word of the wonderful ancient rock-carved churches spreads. the absolut amazing...

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Lalibela Nightlife

  • Local nightlife

    It was quite a surprise to discover this Tej House ...Tej is a local brewed honey based alcoholic drink. There are different 'strongnesses' in alcohol: one kind without alcohol, one with a little, and one with a lot. I tried the one with a little but I didn't really like it. Maybe I should have tried the one with a lot of alcohol.In this pub there...

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  • HAVE A TEJ - OR TWO!

    Tej is a thick and tart honey wine that actually tastes pretty good. They ferment this stuff for about 1 year. Yep, a year. This Tej House serves 3 varieties:• Normal• Strong• Kick your ass (so my local guide said)It can be very strong and so tart that you may only want one. It is served in something resembling a laboratory beaker. You hold the...

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  • Even More Local

    Opposite Tej House is a late bar for locals. We had a great laugh with tour guide Mary, and her friends. Cheap beer and music until midnight, then no music but cheap beer until the early hours.Very friendly until we started to talk football with the locals. After many Tej and beer drinks, my anti Manchester United comments did not go down too well...

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Lalibela Transportation

  • Airport

    Tiny airport with one or two flights per day.Small cafe inside, and one shop.Get a window seat, great views of the mountains around Lalibela.

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  • From the airport

    With only one flight per day, the airport is not the busiest. It is over 20km from town, so your choices are limited.Taxi costs 60 Birr per Person, and they usually try to arrange the hotel for you.There are many agents for hotels here.You are likely to share a minibus taxi with others.The drive takes about 30 mins and involves a journey through...

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  • ETHIOPIAN AIRLINES OFFICE

    Lalibela may not have banks, but it does have an Ethiopian Airlines office. It seems to be open 7 days a week, but times vary. The really nice guy who works here sold me a ticket to get back to Addis Ababa. No problem. The funny thing is I met this same guy in Addis Ababa 5 months later walking down the street!The office is located in the town,...

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Lalibela Shopping

  • THE STUDENT SHOP

    Buy your souvenirs here! They say they buy children’s educational materials with the money made. I am not sure, probably true. What they are great at is prices! And they have a fantastic collection. Question any price and it goes from being good to great. They undersell the others. You are happy, they are happy. If it does help the kids – great....

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  • GIFT SHOPS AT THE AIRPORT

    There are 2 gift shops in this picture taken in the airport. The shop on the left is run by a nice guy with OK prices who will negotiate to reasonable levels. Its not the cheapest, but he has a good selection and more in the back. He has some good postcards and will negotiate down on those too. He is friendly and helpful.The shop on the right is...

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  • Guides

    You may get a guide to show you around the churches. I'm not very "guide-friendly", so the 1st day I didn't and just wandered around. But after seeing the real maze that the churches are, I decided to take one for the second day. It was a good decission, as he showed me corners and corridors I didn't notice in my first visit and explained me...

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Lalibela Local Customs

  • More Timkat

    Foreigners, non-christions, etc are very welcome at the celebrations...There was even a little boy who walked up to us to say "Thank you for celebrating with us". It was so beautiful!

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  • Timkat / Epiphany!

    On the 19th of january the orthodox Ethiopians celebrate Epiphany! It 's one of the highlights in their festive season. Literally every village celebrates this day and it can take up to a week of festivities.We were so lucky to celebrate this in the Mequet mountains south-west of Lalibela in a village...!

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  • DO NOT PUT YOUR NAPKIN ON THE PLATE!

    After you have finished your meal you may, out of habit, place your napkin on your plate. Do not do it here! If there is any food left, the restaurant will give this to poor people after they close. If you put the napkin on it – they won’t. It is a really hard habit to break, but please remember to leave your napkin on the table when you finish.

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Lalibela Warnings and Dangers

  • Coffee Anyone

    Another common plot is for local children to invite you to their home to have their mother perform a coffee ceremony. Sounds good, but they expect you to pay up to 1000 Birr afterwards.I didn't fall for it but others did

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  • Sob story

    Many children here will tell you stories of their hardship.The most common story was about their family living many miles away.They all seemed to carry their school report stating that they were top of the class and destined for great things. If only they can afford to buy books, maybe you can help?While it is tempting to help, give a donation to a...

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  • I am Hungry

    All over Ethiopia, you will, by now be used to kids coming up to you. Some to ask for money, but many just to chat. Here we found many wanted nothing more than to give us their e-mail address (or get ours).The main annoyance was a really obese kid who walked alongside us for 20 mins shouting 'I am hungry'.This went on until a local man come over...

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Lalibela Tourist Traps

  • THE SHOE KEEPERS

    It’s great. You have to take your shoes off to enter the sacred Churches. The shoe minder protects your shoes. In fact, he moves them at least once when you go through a passageway between 2 churches and come out in a different place. Then there’s the guards as well. They guard the entrances to some of the other sacred Churches. You are safe and...

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  • THE WILD ANIMAL TRICK

    This scam is repeated the world over. Baboons, monkeys, birds and who knows what else. Wild creatures are grabbed and/or tied up by locals, usually children. They invite you to take pictures. Then they ask for $20! Do 1 of 2 things:1) Do not pay them. Tell them that they never had an agreement with you to pay money. That’s right, teach them a...

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  • THE NOTEBOOK SCAM

    The notebook scam has been around long enough that it is in the guide books. I have only ever seen this here in Lalibela. Several boys will approach you and tell you that they play soccer (football). In fact – they need your help! They need you to sign their sponsor form and – of course – make a donation. The form usually has a picture of someone...

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Lalibela What to Pack

  • TOILETRIES & COSMETICS

    Lalibela has VERY limited shopping opportunities outside of some cold drinks. The town does not even have a bank. On top of that there is a 100% import tax on all goods from outside Ethiopia. Lalibela gets most of its goods overland from Addis Ababa, increasing the price. Finding women’s hygiene products and things like deodorants is not...

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  • WET WIPES

    Why should babies be the only ones to have these hygienic wipes? I don’t know why, but the adult version of this fantastic travel product always seem to be more expensive than the kids version, even though what’s inside is exactly the same. You need to use your right hand to eat food in Ethiopia. Good luck to you if you are left handed. Sometimes...

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  • ESSENTIALS - HATS

    Ethiopia may be mostly highlands, but they often get MONTHS of sunshine without much rain. It still gets hot and you are very close to the Equator. A good all around hat would be a very good idea. One that will not be destroyed during packing and repacking. Even the locals find the sun very strong and often use umbrellas (pictured) to shield...

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Lalibela Off The Beaten Path

  • People of Lalibela

    one remark with these pictures: Ethiopia is the only African country so far where I've seen boys or men carrying kids and babies.....If someone contests, please let me know .... :-)

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  • Wander through the village

    This place is more or less Mecca for the local Christian population. When you are walking to the Churches you will pass through these mud huts that the locals live in. For me it was almost as much fun walking through here as it was going to the Churches.

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  • The market

    Though it's not a remarkable market (compared to Merkato in Addis...) it maybe a nice visit if it's your first ethiopian market or if you have some spare time.To get there, take the track after Bet Gyorgis, it's about 10 minutes walking.

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Lalibela Sports & Outdoors

  • Trekking for the outskirts churches

    Lalibela stands on the Lasta mointains, 2630m, and is surrounded by hills and mountains. If you wanna visit the churches outside Lalibela, a good option is to trek up. Most of them are only 4-5 hours away walking, so it can make a good daytrip... and excellent exercise too!

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  • Footballmatch

    The Lal Hotel, where we stayed in Lalibela was just beside the large footballfield. We heard there was a big match at the last day, we were there. Many local boys asked us to attend this big match between two local teams from Lalibela. And so we did.There were a lot of supporters for both teams. We didn't know the teams and we didn' t know who won....

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  • Lalibela Hotels

    8 Hotels in Lalibela

    184 Reviews and Opinions

Lalibela Favorites

  • Getting sick

    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...

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  • THE 3 DAY WEDDING

    HELLO!You are looking at a tip I have not added content to yet. If you need information about this now, please email me and I will update it immediately. Thank you for your patience.DAO

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  • The Crosses

    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...

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