Bahir Dar

Bahir Dar, also spelt Bahar Dar, on the southern shore of Lake Tana, the biggest lake in Ethiopia, is the third largest city in the nation, after Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa, with a population of a quarter of a million. It's the capital of the Amhara region, dominated by the Amhara people, the Ethiopia's second largest grouping; the Ethiopian official language is Amharic. Bahir Dar is a clean and well-maintained city by African standards. Even the cheaper accommodation has neat, but basic, services.

Get in

By plane

  Bahir Dar Ginbot Haya Airport (IATA: BJR) is 8 km (5 miles) west of downtown.

Ethiopian Airlines operates scheduled flights every day from Addis Ababa (IATA: ADD) and Lalibela (IATA: LLI). There are three to five direct 1-hour flights per day from and to Addis Ababa. Multi-stops flights to Lalibela connect to Gondar (IATA: GDQ) and Axum (IATA: AXU) in the north.

In September 2015, adult 1-way direct trip from Addis Ababa were around 3091 birr ($148) for foreigners, or 1163 birr ($56) for Ethiopians and residents (or those who have flown Ethiopian internationally - note that you can get the discounted prices by simply booking a ticket, for instance a refundable Nairobi to Addis fare, for the near future).

By car

Routes through Bahir Dar

Bahir Dar is 555 km north-east by road from Addis Ababa, using national highway 3. It's 170 km south of Gondar via road 3, and 314 km east of Lalibela via Woleta.

By bus

The city is connected by daily buses to/from Addis Ababa and Gondar. Many private minibuses also run to/from Gondar and Addis Ababa. They often do not leave from the bus station but are instead arranged through your hotel or by local touts (who will find you before you find them!). The minibuses are more expensive but faster, especially to Addis Ababa. Try Selam bus or Sky bus for a more comfortable (and potentially safer) ride.

To get to Bahir Dar from Lalibela by bus, take a dawn bus to Gashina (about two hours south of Lalibela) and change there to the Woldia - Bahir Dar bus, which passes through Gashina around 10:00. To get from Bahir Dar to Lalibela, take the dawn Bahir Dar - Woldia bus and catch the last Lalibela bus at Gashena, which passes through around 15:00.

By boat

A ferry service runs between Bahir Dar and Gorgora via Dek Island and villages on the lakeside.

Get around

Bajajs (three wheel rick-shaws) are the most common form of transportation in the city. There are also blue minibuses, but few still exist as means to get around town. Bajajs are inexpensive and cost no-more than two birr per line of road and ten birr for a private charter.




Bahir Dar has a big and colorful market that is open every day. Saturday is the biggest day. Sunday has very few activities.

The local specialty is small footstools covered in goat hide. Find them along the road that runs from Ghion hotel to the main highway. They can apparently be "unstuffed" for travel.

There are ATMs that accept Visa cards at Dashen Bank and Wegagen Bank.




Prices are changing quickly. The Ghion Hotel was permanently closed early 2015, it will become a recreational area.




There are some internet cafes.

Go next

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