Best things to do in ZANZIBAR
Curious about the best things to do in Zanzibar? Zanzibar, an archipelago in the Indian Ocean, is a paradise destination for sun-seekers and beach lovers. It is one of the best places to visit in Tanzania.
With fine powder white sand and turquoise waters, Zanzibar’s beaches are to die for.
But there’s more to Zanzibar than its beaches. There are plenty of other things to do in the archipelago as Zanzibar has something for everyone — culture, history and delicious food.
There’s so much you can experience in Zanzibar! And it’s highly likely that you’ll fall in love with it! But where to start? What to do in Zanzibar?
Start with our list of some of the best places to visit and some of the best things to do in Zanzibar. Here it is.
7 best things to do in Zanzibar
Visit the best beaches
With so many amazing beaches in Zanzibar, you’ll definitely have a great beach holiday on this beautiful tropical island.
Here are some of the best beaches in Zanzibar:
- Kendwa — an extensive and idyllic beach in the northern end of Zanzibar, but quite crowded.
- Nungwi — a pristine beach in the northern end of Zanzibar, popular not only among tourists but also among locals.
- Matemwe — a beautiful beach on the north-eastern coast of Zanzibar, less developed than other beaches.
- Jambiani Beach — a gorgeous beach on the southeast coast, but less developed than Kendwa and Nungwi.
- Pongwe — for a luxury stay.
Are you looking for some fun activities?
Kitesurfing is one of the amazing fun things to do on a beach in Zanzibar. Head to Paje Beach where you can rent kitesurfing gear or take lessons.
Go snorkelling or diving, or both
Mnemba Atoll is a famous conservation area located off the northeast coast of the main island of Zanzibar. This atoll is a paradise for divers and snorkelers.
Diving is absolutely amazing in Mnemba Atoll. Kilometres of beautiful and colourful coral reefs are teeming with fish and other creatures. The underwater world in Mnemba Atoll is a dream for divers and snorkelers.
Many local tour operators run daily snorkelling and diving trips to this area.
Snorkelling and diving are some of the best things to do in Zanzibar.
Visit Stone Town
Stone Town is the oldest part of Zanzibar City, the capital of the Zanzibar archipelago. Exploring the old part of the city is one of the best things to do in Zanzibar.
Stone Town is an old trade centre, with mosques and narrow, winding lanes. As it is considered to be a fine example of the Swahili coastal trading towns, it has been inscribed on UNESCO World Heritage List since 2000.
What to do in Stone Town?
Shopping in Stone Town is a must. Especially, plan a visit to Stone Town near the end of your trip, so you can buy some souvenirs.
Visit the Old Fort (also known as the Arab Fort), the oldest building in Stone Town.
Do not miss Freddie Mercury’s House — a museum which is set in the house where Freddie Mercury lived in his early years with his family.
Visit Darajani Market
The vibrant Darajani Market is the main bazaar in Stone Town.
It’s a traditional market where you can buy all sorts of goods — street food, meat, seafood, veggies, fruits, grains, spices, clothes, plastic goods and consumer electronics. However, the best things to buy at Darajani Market are spices and fabrics.
We believe that markets are a crucial part of the city and they are totally worth exploring.
Take a spice tour
Zanzibar is often referred to by locals as “the Spice Island”.
It was famous worldwide for its cloves and other spices, and plantations were developed to grow them. Now, still one of Zanzibar’s main industries are spices.
In particular, the islands produce cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, and black pepper.
Take a spice tour to learn about the island’s spice trade history.
Visit Prison Island
Prison Island is a small island northwest of Stone Town.
The island was a prison for rebellious slaves in the 1860s and a coral mine. Now, however, this is just a gorgeous island with beautiful beaches, crystal clear water and a resort.
The island is home to dozens of giant Aldabra tortoises, some of which are over 100 years old. These giant tortoises are roughly 122 centimetres in length with an average weight of 250 kg.
If you are interested in history, visit some of the prison cells of the former prison.
Exploring the gorgeous Prison Island (also known as Changuu) is one of the best things to do in Zanzibar.
Visit Jozani Chwaka Bay National Park
The Jozani Chwaka Bay National Park is the only national park on the island and one of the best places to visit in Zanzibar.
This 50 km2 national park is home to the Zanzibar red colobus — a species of red colobus monkey endemic to Zanzibar. This means that this type of monkey only lives in Zanzibar.
You can also spot other animals such as the Sykes monkey, more than 50 species of butterfly and 40 species of birds.
Zanzibar travel tips
- There are two ways to get there: by air and by ferry from Dar-es-salaam. There’s an international airport in Zanzibar.
- Travellers may apply for a visa online in advance or obtain a tourist visa upon arrival at the airport in Zanzibar (or any other international airport in Tanzania). Visa costs USD 50 or USD 100, depending on the nationality of the traveller.
- As there may be long queues at international airports, we recommend obtaining an electronic visa before travelling.
- Take into account that Islam is the most prominent religion in Zanzibar. This means you must dress modestly outside the beach areas. You must cover your shoulders and knees and do not wear tight-fitting clothes.
- The best time to visit an island is from June to October.
- There are two ways to travel around — one is by taxi, and the other option is by public transport (dalla dalla). A dalla dalla is a minibus, often crowded but very cheap, much cheaper than a taxi.
- Zanzibar island is generally safe, but still, be a sensible traveller. Don’t flash your belongings and keep your wits about you. Don’t travel alone at night. Leaves valuables at home.
- Do not touch fishes, coral and other sea creatures when snorkelling! The oils and bacteria that are on your hands are harmful to sea creatures, and this may even kill them.
- Do not limit yourself to Zanzibar only. Visit at least a couple of places in mainland Tanzania.
- Tanzania is a vast country. We recommend you to fly to save time. Domestic flights are not expensive. If you book in advance, tickets will set you back around 20-40 EUR.