Global warming and climate variability are emerging as the foremost environmental problems in the 21st century, particularly in developing countries. Ethiopia is one of the countries located in the sub-Sahara region and climate variability has a significant impact on the economy of the country. The aim of this study is to characterize annual and seasonal rainfall and annual temperature variability, and to measure trends on both the spatial and the temporal scale for ten selected stations in the Tana basin region, Ethiopia. The Mann–Kendall test and Sen's slope estimator were used to assess trends and variability of rainfall and temperature. The spatial distribution of rainfall and temperature was determined using the inverse distance weighted technique. Results indicated that the amount of rainfall decreased for the majority of the stations. The annual rainfall showed significant decreasing trends with a magnitude ranging from −5.92 mm/year at Injibara to −9.74 mm/year in Wegera. However, a positive trend of annual rainfall was observed at Addis Zemen (1.81 mm/year). The minimum, maximum and mean temperatures have increased significantly for most of the stations. An increasing trend of annual maximum temperature was obtained between 1980 and 2015; an increase of 1.08°C was observed.