The island of Zanzibar is a must visit in Tanzania if one wants to enjoy the nature’s best-kept secrets. Located in the Indian Ocean about 25 km away from the mainland Tanzania, Zanzibar is an archipelago which is a magical combination of pristine blue beaches and beguiling history. While one can head to Nungwi, Kendwa, Pongwe etc, to enjoy the gorgeous beaches located around the Island, to explore the history and culture one can visit the Stone Town.
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Stone Town, which is one of the oldest functioning towns of East Africa is an eclectic mix of Swahili, Arabic, European and Indian cultures. Once served as the Seat of Sultanate of Oman, Zanzibar thrived as a center for trade mostly spices and slaves. The town still boasts of the rich architecture and culture in its old houses and bazaars, and hence it was declared as UNESCO World Heritage Site in the year 2000. When I was planning my trip to Stone Town, I was a bit overwhelmed and excited about all the interesting places I across. I had about 2 days in this historic town and I wanted to do the most of it. However, during my stay the heat was a bit too much for me, I had to cancel out a couple of activities and take it easy on the touring. But that is not to say, I wouldn’t want you guys to miss out on all the amazing places and activities. Hence this post is solely dedicated to all things you cannot miss while in Stone Town, Zanzibar.
Stroll through narrow streets and alleys
Stone Town is a beautiful maze of narrow alleyways, which will give you a glimpse into the rich Zanzibari architecture. Admire the traditional houses, that still boasts the beautiful masterwork in the eye-catching wooden balconies and fancy doors. Get lost in time as you walk around these old streets, admiring the historic buildings, getting a peek into the local life.
Savor the traditional Swahili cuisine
Just like the inherent culture, the Swahili cuisine is a delectable blend of Indian, Arab and British flavors. My personal favorite and also a famous dish among the locals is the Uroja Soup, which is a delicious concoction flour, raw mango, coconut milk and local spices.
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Watching the Sunset at the Africa House Hotel
Stone Town is blessed with several restaurants offering the panoramic view of the sunset across the Indian Ocean. But I would highly recommend the rooftop restaurant at the Africa House Hotel as the view here is utterly gorgeous. Admire the golden hour as you sip on a cocktail, watching the sun glisten across the ocean, saying its goodbye for the day.
Forodhani garden and Zanzibari Pizza
As the sunsets, the Forodhani Garden located near the Old Fort lits up with street vendors selling local delicacies. Although there was a wide range of food stalls, being a vegetarian I choose just to have the famous Zanzibari Pizza, which technically is a rice crepe with fillings like mango, Nutella etc.
The famous doors of Zanzibar
The famous doors of Zanzibar might not go unnoticed by any person strolling through the streets of Stone Town. The elaborately designed doors are a prominent part of the Zanzibari house as it signifies the house owner’s occupation, social status etc. The two distinct types of doors one might find are the arched tops of the Indian owners and rectangular doorway of the Arab house. The distinctly rich wooden carvings on the doors are the crowning glory of the Stone Town’s historic art and architecture.
Explore the Palace Museum
Famously known as the ‘Sultan’s Palace’, the Palace Museum is a treasure of historic artifacts and collectibles from the Royal household of the Sultanate of Oman. One of the interesting aspects of the Museum is the memorabilia of Princess Salme, who fell in love with a German Merchant and fled the Island to marry him.
The Old Dispensary and the House of Wonders
The Old Dispensary is one of the finest buildings in Stone Town which was originally built by an Indian businessman as a hospital for underprivileged. It has very striking and vibrant balconies and stained glass windows.
The House of Wonders is a historic landmark of Stone Town, located right opposite the waterfront. The building which was once the residence of the Sultan was one of the first to have electricity and an elevator in the Island. The House of Wonders is currently a museum solely dedicated to Swahili culture.
Half day trip to Prison Island
Take a 30-minute boat ride to the famous Prison Island, which was served as the punishment place for slaves and a quarantine zone for yellow fever patients. The island currently is home to the Giant Tortoises which was brought originally from Seychelles Island.
Explore the Old Fort
Built in the 17th Century by the Omanis to protect themselves from European invasion, the Old Fort is a stone fortress near the waterfront. Currently, the fort houses cultural activities like dance and music shows in the courtyard.
Bird’s eye view of the town at the Emerson Spice
The Slave Market
The Island of Zanzibar was once the center for the slave trade in East Africa. As a memorial for the slaves, Anglican Cathedral was built in the location that was formerly the largest slave market of the Island. Take a tour of the slavery museum which is located next to Cathedral to get a better understanding of the hardships and history of slaves.
Escape to the exotic beaches
To relax and unwind after the tour of the historic town, hit the beach and swim in the azure blue sea. You can also book a scuba diving or snorkeling adventure to explore the spectacular sea life. Mnemba Atoll is one of the most favored locations in the Island and one that boasts of rich marine life.
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Hope you guys enjoyed my guide for things to do in Stone Town. If you have any more must-do activities in Stone Town then do share in the comment box below. Also, share and subscribe for future updates