Ethiopia is a a country with beautiful landscapes, many rivers and a great variety of local tribes. No doubt one of the must see sites in your tour to Ethiopia will be a visit to the colorful markets of Ethiopia. During your visit feel free to bargain for good price, it is part of local customs. Having a variety of markets in Ethiopia you can always proceed to the next market and buy any of your interest.

The different tribes and ethnic groups of Ethiopia have a weekly market where they buy and sell their products. Market places are colorful and lively places, attracting people from all around the region.

Markets are a great way to see people interact in their natural habitat. Even if curious tourists, marching in with their cameras throw the locals off a bit, they only smile and then return to their shopping list. In  this article we will describe some major Ethiopian markets.


Merkato is the largest open air market in Africa, covering several square miles and employing an estimated 17,000 people in 9,100 business entities.

A good start would be the Old Italian archways to the north. You can find countless electronics stalls. To the west you will find the bus station (not to be confused with the main bus station, called ‘Autobus Terra’. The newer buildings here offer a wide range of traditional Ethiopian clothes. There are a number of shops that will give you good opportunity to bargain.

To the south into the grid-iron pattern of the newer market you can find the grain stores, often highlighted by the presence of people and donkeys alike struggling to carry huge sacks.  Grain soon gives way to perfumes and stalls selling shampoos and soaps.


The small town of Turmi is the heart of the Omo Valley region where the Hamar tribe live. Turmi market takes place on Monday. The people of all the Hamar villages in the area walk for hours to trade animals, goods that they have made, food they have grown and firewood. Down two side alleys are the mills where Hamar women take purchased grains to be ground into flour. The place buzzed with activity.

Undoubtedly, the market is a great place to get a sense of the things that the Hamar need to carry out their daily lives. The more interesting aspect of being in the market was just watching the people. The weekly market is their opportunity to meet with members and sometimes even family from neighboring villages. Fascinating seeing the Hamar community come together to barter and to enjoy each other’s company.


Bati is a town in north-central Ethiopia. Located in the Oromia Zone of the Amhara Region, 415km north of Addis Abeba. Where the highlands and the lowlands meet, people from different ethnic groups are brought together. The Oromo, Amhara, Argoba, and Afar tribes, with their camels and distinctive knives, converge to buy, sell, and exchange many types of goods here. The landscape and scenery are very beautiful. Bati Market is huge, chaotic, and covers an entire hillside. It is one of the most interesting markets in Africa. The buying and selling process, from cereals to camels, is fascinating. If in the area at the right time of the week, either of the markets is well worth the relatively minor diversion, not only for the sheer scale of the phenomenon, but also for getting a glimpse of a facet of Ethiopian life that is very different from anything encountered in the highlands. As the second biggest market in Ethiopia, after Addis Abeba’s Mercato,

Bati Market is held every Monday. Senbete’s takes place the day before, every Sunday. Senbete is only 9km south of Ataye and the best open traditional market after the Bati Market.

KEY AFAR MARKET: This market usually takes place on Thursday and it is a good opportunity for the Hamers, And the Bannas to shop and to interact with each other. The market name means Red Soil; you will probably wonder why there is so much red in my pictures and why women have red painted hair; it’s due to the same soil. They are using the same essences to paint their hair.

So now you just have to choose which market to visit in your next journey to Ethiopia. You might as well decide to visit a couple of them while touring Ethiopia.

contact us for your next tour to Ethiopia.