Ethiopia has been in the spotlight, lately, thanks to this season of 90 Day Fiancé: The Other Way. But before a ridiculous reality show brought it kicking and screaming onto the small screen, this African country was a popular tourist destination.

Described as a cross between a naturalistic haven — filled with backpacking and natural wonders — and a hidden wonder of African history, the country has both an archaeological pedigree and a seemingly untouched beauty that puts it in a class by itself.

Many travelers take a necessary trek to Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia, upon their arrival. But, as more people travel in the hopes of having an authentic experience, tourists in the “Land of Thirteen Months” marry the esoteric with the practical as they visit all the places that the locals love to frequent.

“The beauty of wild mountains is only surpassed by the awe-inspiring religious architecture that draws visitors to this amazing country,” reports Travel & Destinations. “It’s where legends of the Ark of the Covenant live side by side and in harmony with ancient Islamic mosques.”

So, if you’re looking to travel like a local, consider these five places the next time you’re in the gorgeous African country. You definitely won’t regret it!

Awash National Park



The Awash National Park is one of the few parks in the world that is located in a dry savannah instead of a lush tropical locale.

Located just outside the capital city of Addis Ababa, Awash is home to many of the country’s natural wonders, including Mount Fantelle, the Filwoha Hot Springs, and Lake Beseka.




If you’re looking to go shopping in Ethiopia to support the local economy, a stop in Jinka is a must-do.

Located just outside the South Omo zone, Jinka is one of the truly rural towns in the country that seems completely untouched by its thriving tourism. Every Saturday, the local vendors offer the best of their handmade wares, so make sure you patronize them.

Babile Elephant Sanctuary



Only about 1,000 elephants remain in Ethiopia, and the Babile Elephant Sanctuary is responsible for keeping them safe.

The Churches of Lalibela



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In medieval times, Christianity invaded Ethiopia. The missionaries came into the country and built churches made out of the rocks that were native to the area. Today, about 11 of those churches remain, and some of the more devout locals make periodic pilgrimages to them.




Deriving its name from the Arabic word for “the city,” Harar is a walled city in the easternmost part of Oromia.

Once considered a major commercial port in Ethiopia, today the walled city is popular amongst Muslim locals because of its nearly 100 mosques in the city. But just outside the city walls is the local custom of the ritual feeding of hyenas — a must-try if you’d like to experience Ethiopia like a local.