Northern Ethiopia is the historic heartland of Ethiopia. Administratively, it consists of most of Amhara, all of Tigray, and the northern part of Afar. Historically, it encompassed the old provinces of Gojjam, Begmender, Tigray and Wollo.
- 1 Abi Addi - also spelled Abiy Addi
- 2 Adigrat - second-largest town, used mainly as a stopover point by travellers
- 3 Adwa and nearby Yeha with its ancient temple
- 4 Axum (also spelt Aksum) – capital of the former Kingdom of Axum, famous for its stelae and cathedrals
- 5 Bahir Dar – on Lake Tana with its island monasteries and churches, where the Blue Nile flows out
- 6 Debre Marqos - a stopover point on the way from the capital to Bahir Dar
- 7 Dessie - a stopover town on the two-day bus ride from Addis Ababa to Lalibela
- 8 Gondar – Medieval capital with royal castles
- 9 Hager Selam — Hager Selam (Degua Tembien)
- 10 Hawzien – a base for exploring the many rock-hewn churches of north-eastern Tigray
- 11 Lalibela – rock-cut churches
- 12 Mekele – capital of Tigray, home to the palace of Emperor Yohannes IV
- 13 Shire - also known as Inda Selassie
- 14 Wukro - another base for exploring the rock-hewn churches of Tigray
Generally speaking, Northern Ethiopia can be divided into two geographical regions: the highlands to the west, consisting of Amhara and Tigray and containing Ethiopia's highest peak at Ras Dashen, and the Afar lowlands to the east, containing the country's lowest point in the Danakil Depression.
The Ethiopian Highlands are very different from what one might imagine when thinking of East Africa. The landscape, both natural and cultural, is unique to this area, and several endemic species can be found here.
Tigray is the homeland of the Tigray people, who speak the Tigrinya language. In Amhara, Amharic is spoken.
The highlands were the centre of the Kingdom of Axum in the first millennium AD, and contain many historic sites such as the many rock-hewn churches of Tigray, the stelae of Axum, the castles of Gondar, and Ethiopia's most popular attraction - Lalibela.