Addis Ababa’s mercato is the largest market in this region of Africa. Elsewhere in Ethiopia are many exciting shopping streets where you can hunt for all kinds of souvenirs or simply watch the frenzy of shoppers, sellers and artisans at work. There are modern malls in larger cities, but if you want to get to know the local culture, the small town markets and street stalls are where to head.
Typical shops offer handmade crafts such as baskets, gold and silver (sold by weight), woodcarvings, leather shields, carpets, spears, and drums. Ethiopia is a religious country so prayer scrolls, illuminated manuscripts and metal and wood crosses are also popular souvenirs. Spices and fresh produce like fruits and vegetables are abundant in the markets and a great way to try the native flavors.
In addition to the mercato, Addis Ababa is also home to exciting shopping areas like the main street along Churchill Avenue and the lively Piazza District, best known for their gift and jewelry shops. The Haile Selassie Shop is just one of the many souvenir shops along Churchill Avenue, offering all sorts of handmade mementos. Small arcades can also be found in large hotels, like the Adis Sheraton Shopping Center and the Bole Dembel Shopping Center, but expect higher prices at the upscale locales.
Bargains are abundant in the mercato, where haggling is a widely accepted practice. In addition to local art, jewelry, and spices, Ethiopian coffee is a particularly good buy which you can get for cheap in Harar’t.