The 10 Largest Cities In Ethiopia in 2024

Written by Doug Shaffer
Updated: September 13, 2023
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One of the biggest benefits of traveling is experiencing the different cultures that make up another country. Every region around the world has unique food, festivals, and wildlife that make each trip an adventure. 

For instance, travelers who choose Ethiopia as their destination can experience one of the oldest civilizations in the world. The country dates back thousands of years and offers visitors the chance to explore ancient ruins, archaic architecture, and an inside look at the region’s history.

While the area is known for its rich history, Ethiopia has a fun and vibrant atmosphere catering to all visitors. Festivals and events such as Timket and Meskel provide opportunities to experience the country’s culture first-hand. A rich food scene also provides visitors with various healthy and flavorful options to indulge in. 

An overview of the Largest Cities in Ethiopia ranked by area.

In the following sections, we’ll look at 10 of the largest cities in Ethiopia by land mass and explore what there is to see, do, and experience in these regions of the country.

10. Awasa

Awasa provides a great opportunity to relax along the lake while traveling

Awasa provides a great opportunity to relax along the lake while traveling.

©Fernando Tatay/Shutterstock.com

Area: 68.5 kmĀ² 

Awasa is known for its lakeside setting and offers travelers a place to unwind from the hustle and bustle of Addis Ababa. This lake city is known for its proximity to the water and delicious seafood restaurants. For anyone looking to spend a day or two relaxing on the water, this is the perfect place to do so. You may even see a few hippos while you take in the lake. 

9. Jimma

Jimma is one of the top producers of coffee in Ethiopia

Jimma is one of the top producers of coffee in Ethiopia.

©MattiaATH/Shutterstock.com

Area: 89.94 kmĀ² 

For any travelers that love coffee, Jimma is a must-visit location. Jimma is often referred to as the birthplace of coffee and features some of the best cups of brewed java worldwide. In addition to tasting, visitors also have the opportunity to explore coffee plantations and learn about what goes into producing coffee. 

Those who aren’t as interested in the history of coffee still have many opportunities to explore the city. Jimma is home to several historic locations, including the Aba Jifar Palace, where the city’s last king lived. Explorers can also visit the Keffa Biosphere Reserve to see some of the native wildlife and fauna of the region. 

8. Mekele

Africa, City, City Street, East Africa, Ethiopia

Mekele has a wide range of activities for travelers to explore from historical sites to natural wonders.

©iStock.com/heckepics

Area: 129 kmĀ² 

Another city in the country of Ethiopia that has a lot to offer travelers is Mekele. This historic city is home to several key cultural sites, including the Palace of Yohannes IV, where the emperor of the region once lived. Visitors looking to learn more about the emperor and the city can do so at the Atse Yohannes Museum. 

Along with a rich history, Mekele offers a breathtaking landscape that features the Gheralta Mountains, where explorers can hike and rock climb. Those who want the ultimate adventure can also explore the Danakil Depression, which houses the world’s only permanent lava lake. 

7. Dessie

Lake Hayq provides travelers with the opportunity to explore the beautiful scenery by boat

Lake Hayq provides travelers with the opportunity to explore the beautiful scenery by boat.

©Radek Borovka/Shutterstock.com

Area: 130 kmĀ²

Travelers looking for the ultimate adventure will want to include Dessie in their plans when booking a trip to Ethiopia. Dessie is a scenic area with a beautiful landscape comprising the Ethiopian Highlands, Kombolcha, and Lake Hayq. Each site offers different opportunities to explore nature, including hiking, trekking, and even boating in some spots. 

On top of exploring the wondrous nature of Dessie, several historic locations spread throughout the city offer a look at the region’s culture. For instance, Dessie is home to the first university in Ethiopia, Haile Selassie I University. 

6. Adama

Adama offers unique places to explore like nearby Awash National Park

Adama offers unique places to explore like nearby Awash National Park.

©esfera/Shutterstock.com

Area: 172 kmĀ² 

Two of Ethiopia’s most prominent tourist destinations are Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa. However, Adama is perfectly located between the two popular cities and offers an excellent place for travelers to stop between locations. 

Adama is home to a stunning nature scene with options for visitors to explore, like the Bishoftu Crater Lakes, Oromia Forest, and Awash National Park. Throughout the area, travelers can experience a wide range of wildlife, including baboons, lions, and elephants

5. Gondar

Travelers can learn about Gondar's past at the Royal Enclosure

Travelers can learn about Gondar’s past at the Royal Enclosure.

©WitR/Shutterstock.com

Area: 192 kmĀ² 

Travelers who genuinely want to immerse themselves in the culture and history of Ethiopia will want to plan a stop in Gondar. This historic town was once the country’s capital from 1632 to 1855. Today, it provides visitors with the opportunity to learn about the city’s past through historic locations like the Royal Enclosure

This UNESCO World Heritage Site provides a one-of-a-kind experience as people can explore several castles and palaces that date back to the 17th and 18th centuries. 

4. Bahir Dar

Bahir Dar is closely located near the breathtaking Blue Nile Falls

Bahir Dar is closely located near the breathtaking Blue Nile Falls.

©Bildagentur Zoonar GmbH/Shutterstock.com

Area: 257 kmĀ² 

Bahir Dar offers travelers the best of both worlds ā€” historical sites and a stunning landscape to explore. One of the most visited sites in the city is the Ura Kidane Mehret monastery, where guests can take in the building’s stunning murals and religious artifacts. The region is also home to Ethiopia’s largest church, Bet Medhane Alem.

After exploring the inner city, it’s worth the trip to explore the shores of Lake Tana, where Bahir Dar rests. This stunning lake is the largest in Ethiopia and the Blue Nile’s source. With the help of local guides and captains, adventurers can even go down the lake to explore the Blue Nile Falls

3. Harar

Experience the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to feed wild hyenas in Harar

Experience the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to feed wild hyenas in Harar.

©Homo Cosmicos/Shutterstock.com

Area: 334 kmĀ² 

While Harar has historical sites like many other cities throughout the country, its local traditions make this a must-visit on your trip to Ethiopia. One of the most engaging traditions is feeding wild hyenas at night. 

Originally, the tradition started as a way to protect local children from hyenas in the 19th century. However, the nightly ritual has now become an interesting phenomenon that people all around the world travel to Harar to experience. 

2. Addis Ababa

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, City, Urban Skyline, Aerial View

Travelers can see the fossilized remains of the earliest known human ancestors in Addis Ababa.

©iStock.com/derejeb

Area: 540 kmĀ² 

Addis Ababa is one of Ethiopia’s most unique cities and offers a memorable experience for travelers. Visitors looking to take a step back in history can visit the National Museum of Ethiopia where the fossilized remains of Lucy, one of the earliest known human ancestors, reside. 

For individuals looking to take in more of the city, Addis Ababa is home to one of the largest open-air markets in Africa. At the Mercato market, travelers can purchase locally handcrafted goods, including pottery, textiles, and jewelry.

1. Dire Dawa

Dire Dawa Station

Tour the Dire Dawa Railway Station to learn of its importance to the city and the region.

©me, Bamse / CC BY-SA 3.0 – License

Area: 1,213 kmĀ² 

As the largest city by land mass, Dire Dawa offers several options for travelers exploring the vast region. The area has historical sites like the Dire Dawa Railway Station to investigate. Visitors can also mingle with locals in the city’s large marketplaces, the Central and Kefira markets.

One of the biggest attractions for travelers to Dire Dawa is the Awash National Park. This magnificent landscape lets visitors get close to several wildlife species, such as baboons, elephants, and antelopes.

Summary of the 10 Largest Cities in Ethiopia

RankCitySize By Area
1Dire Dawa1,213 kmĀ²
2Addis Ababa540 kmĀ²
3Harar334 kmĀ²
4Bahir Dar257 kmĀ²
5Gondar192 kmĀ²
6Adama172 kmĀ²
7Dessie130 kmĀ²
8Mekele129 kmĀ²
9Jimma89.94 kmĀ²
10Awasa68.5 kmĀ²

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Olleg/Shutterstock.com


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