The capital of Amhara Region and largest port on Lake Tana, Bahir Dar is a wonderful place to settle into for a few days. Not only does it boast a mellow atmosphere and lovely location on a lushly wooded stretch of lake shore teeming with wildlife, it also has excellent tourist facilities and provides a great selection of sightseeing opportunities.
The sprawling daily market, busiest on Saturday, is a fun place to explore, weaving between stalls that sell everything from traditional handicrafts to fresh tropical fruit and hardware. A host of great eateries and tourist-friendly traditional music venues means that Bahir Dar has the country’s most enjoyable nightlife outside Addis Ababa.
Architectural landmarks include the medieval church of Bahir Dar Giyorgis and an adjacent stone tower built for Emperor Susenyos in the 1620s. The Amhara Martyrs’ Memorial and Museum displays a vast collection of photographs and other artefacts documenting the last years of the imperial era, the formation of the Ethiopian People’s Democratic Movement’s in 1980 and the civil war against the Derg. A short taxi ride from the town centre leads to Bezawit Hill, with great birding and stirring views over the Nile River and Lake Tana. Bahir Dar is also the best base for exploring other local attractions such as the Lake Tana.