Ethiopia’s second largest city, with a population of 420,000, DIRE DAWA started life in 1902 as a major stop on the railway from Addis Ababa to Djibouti. Originally known as Addis (“New”) Harar, it overtook the original Harar in size in the 1970s, and has been a pivotal trade link to the ports of Djibouti and Somaliland since the closure of the Ethiopian border with Eritrea in the late 1990s. In tourist terms, it is of interest mainly as the air gateway to Harar, which lies 65km to the southwest. During the rainy season, its warm, dry climate can make a refreshing contrast to the cold drizzly highlands.

Easily explored on foot, Dire Dawa is bisected by the Dechatu Wadi, a normally dry watercourse crossed by a bridge and a cement causeway. Northwest of the wadi, the rather genteel city centre, also known as Kezira, comprises a neat grid of French-laid roads emanating from the old railway station and lined with tall, shady trees. East of the wadi, Megala is a more traditional Islamic quarter of narrow roads and alleys leading south to the arched facade of the rather wonderful Kafira Market, which is often attended by Somali, Oromo and Afar in traditional garb, and tends to be busiest in the morning.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Ethiopia features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

A first-timer's guide to Ethiopia

A first-timer's guide to Ethiopia

Ethiopia is one of the oldest countries in the world: its long archaeological history – which traces back to the first humans – has left behind a successio…

04 Sep 2017 • Nellie Huang insert_drive_file Article
17 striking portraits of Ethiopia's Omo Valley tribes

17 striking portraits of Ethiopia's Omo Valley tribes

Renowned the world over for its decorated tribes, the Omo Valley is a stop on many a tourist route in Ethiopia. But visits to the area can cross ethical boundar…

20 May 2016 • Tim Draper insert_drive_file Article
Ethiopian Christmas celebrations in pictures

Ethiopian Christmas celebrations in pictures

Today Ethiopia is celebrating Christmas. Following the Julian calendar, this East African, Orthodox Christian nation celebrates Christmas on the 7th January eac…

07 Jan 2016 • Karoki Lewis insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Privacy Preference Center

Necessary

Mandatory - can not be deselected. Necessary cookies help make a website usable by enabling basic functions like page navigation and access to secure areas of the website. The website cannot function properly without these cookies.

PHPSESSID,aelia_cs_selected_currency,cookie_notice_accepted,RS,bp-message,bp-message-type,id,UIDR,w3tc_logged_out,__cfduid
__cfduid

Statistics

Statistic cookies help website owners to understand how visitors interact with websites by collecting and reporting information anonymously.

__utma,__utmb,__utmc,__utmz,_ga,_gid,__atssc,__atuvc,__atuvs,di,dt,ssc,ssh,sshs,uid,uit,xt
__utma,__utmb,__utmc,__utmz,_ga,_gid
__atssc,__atuvc,__atuvs,di,dt,ssc,ssh,sshs,uid,uit,xtc

Marketing

Marketing cookies are used to track visitors across websites. The intention is to display ads that are relevant and engaging for the individual user and thereby more valuable for publishers and third party advertisers.

__gads,PISID, BEAT, CheckConnection TempCookie703, GALX, GAPS, GoogleAccountsLocale_session, HSID, LSID, LSOSID, NID, PREF, RMME, S, SAPISID, SID, SSID,__utmv, _twitter_sess, auth_token, auth_token_session, external_referer, guest_id, k, lang, original_referer, remember_checked, secure_session, twid, twll,c_user, datr, fr, highContrast, locale, lu, reg_ext_ref, reg_fb_gate, reg_fb_ref, s, wd, xs
__gads,PISID, BEAT, CheckConnection TempCookie703, GALX, GAPS, GoogleAccountsLocale_session, HSID, LSID, LSOSID, NID, PREF, RMME, S, SAPISID, SID, SSID
__utmv, _twitter_sess, auth_token, auth_token_session, external_referer, guest_id, k, lang, original_referer, remember_checked, secure_session, twid, twll
c_user, datr, fr, highContrast, locale, lu, reg_ext_ref, reg_fb_gate, reg_fb_ref, s, wd, xs