Stone Town is the main city on Zanzibar. It is a city of prominent historical and artistic importance in East Africa. Its architecture, mostly dating back to the 19th century, reflects the diverse influences underlying the Swahili culture, with a unique mixture of Moorish, Arab, Persian, Indian and European elements. For this reason, the town was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2000.
Get in edit
By plane edit
By boat edit
By Dalladalla edit
Most dalladalla leave from the Creek Road at the Darajani Market 1. . All have destinations signboards and numbers, what makes it quite easy to handle.
Nungwi=116; Kiwenga=117; Matemwe=118; Chwaka=206; Uroa=214; Unguja Ukuu=308; Jambiani=309; Makunduchi=310; Bewejuu=324; Kizmkazi=326; Amani=501; Bububu=502; Airport(U/Ndege)=505
Get around edit
- 1 Old Fort. Adjacent to the House of Wonders, is a heavy stone fortress that was built in the 17th century by the Omani. It has a roughly square shape; the internal courtyard is now a cultural centre with shops, workshops, and a small arena where live dance and music shows are held daily.
- 2 Palace Museum (Former Sultan's Palace ("Beit el-Sahel" in Arabic)). Another former sultan's palace, also on the seafront, to the north of the House of Wonders. It was built in late 19th century, and now hosts a museum about the daily life of the Zanzibari royal family, including items that belonged to Sayyida Salme, a former Zanzibar princess that fled to relocate in Europe with her husband
- 3 House of Wonders ("Palace of Wonders", also known as "Beit-al-Ajaib"), Mizingani Road on the seafront. (Closed since 2014 for renovation.) Probably the most well-known landmarks of Stone Town. It was built in 1883 and restored after the Anglo-Zanzibar War of 1896. A former Sultan's residence, it became the seat of the Afro-Shirazi Party after the revolution. It was the first building in Zanzibar to have electricity and the first building in East Africa to have a lift. Since 2000, its interior has been dedicated to a museum on Swahili and Zanzibar culture.
- 4 Livingstone's House. A small palace that was built for Sultan Majid bin Said and later used by European missionaries. David Livingstone lived in the house while preparing his last expedition to the interior of Tanganyika.
- 5 Old Dispensary. Built from 1887 to 1894 to serve as a charity hospital for the poor, it was later used as a dispensary. It is one of the most finely decorated buildings of Stone Town, with large carved wooden balconies, stained-glass windows, and neo-classical stucco adornments. After falling into decay in the 1970s and 1980s, the building was accurately restored by the AKTC.
- 6 Anglican Cathedral. Purchased by missionaries, the church sits atop the world's last slave market. The altar is said to be built over the market's whipping post. US$3.
- 7 Malindi Mosque. Mosque built in the 1830s. It features some unusual architectural features including a cone-shaped minaret, one of just three minarets of this shape in East Africa.
- 8 Hamamni Persian Baths. A complex of public baths built at the end of the 19th century by Shirazi architects for Sultan Barghash bin Said. These baths are not open anymore but are open to visitors. Visits are limited to some areas of the original complex because part of it (e.g., the restaurant) has since been adapted for private residences
- 9 Forodhani Gardens. A small park along the main seawalk of Stone Town, in front of the Old Fort and the House of Wonders. It has been restored by the AKTC. Every evening after sunset the gardens host a popular, tourist-oriented market selling grilled seafood and other Zanzibari recipes.
- 10 Freddie Mercury Museum, Kenyatta Rd, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Daily 10AM-6PM. Near the port, it is dedicated to Freddie Mercury who was born on the island. The only interesting thing in the place is the atmosphere and the nice view over the harbour and bay -- skip the food unless you're in for a stomach ache.
- There are a number of historically important (and frankly, just plain beautiful) buildings in Stone Town, like The House of Wonders and The Arab Fort. It is easy to arrange a simple walking tour with a local guide who can teach you some history.
- The market in Stone Town is one of the largest, most vibrant open-air markets anywhere. Here, you can find several varieties of bananas, "elephant garlic" unique to the island, the largest avocados you'll probably ever see, and more. Prices are extremely reasonable. Even if you have no intentions of purchasing food, the spectacle alone is worth a visit.
- Visit Slave Market, the site of the old Slave Market is quite an experience. Go into the holding chambers to see how this wretched piece of history played itself out in small dark dungeon-type cells. Priced at US$5 (May 2018), it's well worth it.
- Roam around Stone Town appreciating the Historical buildings
- Be certain to have dinner on the wharf near Blue's Restaurant in Stone Town. Every evening, for just a few dollars, you can sample local fish, food, drinks, and hear local music.
- Visit Forodhani Gardens If you are not scared of local food, then this place is definitely worth a visit. It is possibly the cheapest food you will find on the island, and value for money too. Ranging from crab claws, calamari steaks to plain old chips done in big woks. You are well advised to try the local sugar cane juice. The curio market can be found next to the food market. Do not buy the first thing you see. First take a walk through the market, and you will see prices get progressively less. You must always haggle and bargain with the vendors or try to set the prices off against each other. This is their way of doing business and it also ensures that you get the best price.
- 1 Tangawizi Bistro Cooking Classes (close to Hanafi Sunni mosque), ☏ . Take Swahili cuisine home. The owner, Shara, organizes cooking classes in the morning and afternoon at Tangawizi Bistro and at Dole spice farm close to Stone Town.
- Mitus Spice Tour, Malindi Rd, ☏ , email@example.com. half-day tour. Offers lunch and tours. US$12-25 per person.
- Halai's, Hurumzi Street (Next to Emerson in Hurumzi Hotel), ☏ . A small shop in stone town with colourful textiles at fixed prices.
- Mercury's Restaurant (opposite the "Big Tree" and near the ferry port). This restaurant is named after Freddie Mercury, the lead singer of the band Queen, who was born in Stone Town. Queen's music is played often here.
- House of Spices, ☏ . US$8-15.
- Tatu. Downstairs is the restaurant featuring seafood, the second floor has a somewhat quiet bar, and there is a disco on the third floor.
- Beyt al Chai Restaurant.
- The Silk Route.
- Mtoni Marine Restaurant.
- Hurumzi, 236 Hurumzi Street in. Earlier known as Emerson and Green and later as Emerson's Tower Top Restaurant, is well worth a visit. Amazing food and sublime atmosphere. While dinner is quite expensive and has to be booked in advance, the rooftop view of the sunset punctuated by the sound of prayer calls is not to be missed.
- Kidude (near Hurumzi). Serves traditional Zanzibari cuisine at moderate prices
- Forodhani Gardens. Is a nightly affair by the water. You can purchase 'Zanzibari pizza' or get all sorts of grilled seafood and meat for less than US$1 per serving. Also available are banana and chocolate pancakes which are to die for (Note: bring an extra bar of chocolate for them to add to your pancake) Some consider the market to be overrated -- the food quality can be mixed and there will be papasi or touts who may hassle you. The twilight atmosphere however makes for a nice setting to have a cheap meal.
- Passing Show Restaurant (next to the Malindi Police Station just outside the harbor). A place where they have very decent local food, like pilau, and all sorts of stews. All the men go there in the evening to drink tea. Muslim place, so no alcohol.
Mercury's Restaurant. A really nice bar which also serves a good variety of cocktails.
- Tatu — see listing under Eat.
- Serena Hotel, Stone Town. Has a very nice restaurant with live music almost everyday. Beautiful view of the ocean and excellent, although expensive, food.
- Botanic Country Resort (Tunguu central region, 14 km from the Stone Town towards the East Coast behind the new Tanzanian Houses of Parliament.). Taarab Square and Kipepeo Grill and Pub/Beer Garden with discotheque on weekends, live music on public holidays including outdoor cinema and live sports events on giant screens. Beautiful Gardens, food is from traditional Swahili & Zanzibarian dishes to International Cuisine.
- Lukmaan. A small restaurant on the same road as the slave market does very affordable and delicious food. Point at what you want and you get it right away. The prices and convenient speed makes it a favourite for many lunchers.
- Africa House Ice cold beer and a huge balcony that overlooks the ocean - great at sunset.
- Taarab Square At the Botanic Country Resort, Tunguu Central Region offers reasonably priced spirits and drinks compared to most of the bars on the island. Live sports bars and the only outdoor cinema showing Indian, African and English movies, discotheque over weekends and live music on public holidays.
The cheapest budget hotels start from US$14 for a dorm bed. normal budget hotel prices range TSh 45,000 to 90,000 and that's during the low season, where several hotels actually stay closed due to lack of customers. The quoted prices are after bargaining: low-season is a good time to do so and not having your bags with you when doing so, will also give you a boost.
During high-season, hotels in Stonetown will often offer their rooms on multiple online platforms (Airbnb, booking.com, etc.) and double book rooms. Be aware that your room may be given away to someone else with no apology or care by the hotel owner. One way to avoid this is to ensure you pay in advance, or to book directly with the hotel and contact them confirming your arrival.
- Zanzibar Lodge (Njila guest house), Stone Town (250 m from darajani market), ☏ . Check-in: any time, check-out: 10AM. The lodge has 4 rooms and can accommodate up to 8 people. single US$25, double US$40 (including breakfast) (2014).
- 1 Coco del mer. Nice and central hotel with mostly decent rooms. Ask for discount for about half price. There is also a restaurant downstairs. double US$60.
- Flamingo Guest House. A great budget place 10 minutes from the city centre. It is simple, clean and rooms with private bathrooms are a bit more expensive. The breakfast is quite nice and substantial including fruit, a loaf of bread, eggs, and coffee/tea. Single US$15, double $28, dorm $15 per person.
- Funguni Palace Hotel, Funguni Rd (near to Ferry), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. 24 hrs. This hotel contains 11 rooms in Zanzibar traditional style inside. Some rooms have self-contained bathrooms and some use shared bathrooms. There are air conditioners in rooms. US$35.
- Pearl Guest House (in middle Stone Town, about 5 minutes walk east of the port and Mercury's Restaurant. If your are coming from the market, it is about 2 minutes walk east of the junction of Creek Road and Malindi Street). A simple budget guest house for backpackers. Don't expect much (common bathrooms, cold water shower and without breakfast) but the owner is friendly and it offers a very good value for money.
- Malindi Guest House Hotel, Funguni Rd (Near the ferry). Check-in: any time, check-out: 10AM. It's close to the Zanzibar Port (off Malindi Street) and near the fish market (but the smell isn't so bad). Known to double book rooms during high season. US$20 per person per night, $40 sharing with private bathroom..
- Annex of Abdullah (south of Jaws Corner, (opposite white & green Mosque)). Very basic but very cheap single rooms with shared bathrooms. Basic breakfast included. A really decent find for the budget traveller. US$15.
- 2 Jambo Guest House. Check-out: 10AM. Simple, but nice and clean rooms with fans and shared bathrooms and a great breakfast with lots of fresh fruit make this a welcoming place that is famous with backpackers and fills up quickly. The staff is a bit disorganized, but generally friendly. Has free Wi-Fi. low-season double from TSh 45,000 (2014).
- 3 River Man Hotel. A cheapy, but some of rooms are really big and bright. Rooms area clean and have fans and shared bathrooms. Breakfast can be organized on request. It's next to a mosque and a busy walking street, so check which room your getting if that’s an issue for you. Low-season double from TSh 30,000 (2014).
- Dhow Palace Hotel. Check-out: 10AM. Slow internet connection (Wifi) available. Non-residents from US$75 for a single.
- Tausi Palace Hotel, Baghani St, is in the middle of Stone Town, 15 min by foot from the Harbour (or TSh 1,000 by taxi). Rooms are nice but without luxury. Double beds, 2 single or 3 single beds are available, all with air conditioning and mosquito drapes. Breakfast is small (it's better to eat around the corner) but the cheap hotel is on the roof of the hotel and offers nice views of Stone Town. Rate for a room with double bed US$90 incl. breakfast and taxes (10% charge when you pay by credit card). +255 779 958 684
- Kisiwa House, Baghani St. Check-in: 1PM, check-out: 10AM. In a nicely restored building. Big rooms, though only the more expensive ones has view of the ocean -- the cheaper rooms only have view to the street. High season: US$165-220, low: US$110-170.
- Kholle House, Malindi 607/608 (2 minutes walk to the ferry & Mercury's), ☏ . Kholle House is a unique and historical hotel in the heart of Stonetown. All of its 10 rooms are different and special with en suite bathrooms, AC and fan. Built in 1860 by Princess Kholle, daughter of the first Sultan of Zanzibar is now one of the most authentic places in Stonetown. Enjoy the à la carte breakfast and the swimming pool by the garden, and do not miss the stunning 360° views from the terrace! US$90-190.
- Island View Hotel (located in Kilimani (about 2 km south of Stone Town)). A great option for budget travellers. Rooms have a TV with many channels, clean washrooms, a telephone and the option of air-conditioning. Staff are very friendly and helpful! Double US$35-50 including breakfast.
- Africa House Hotel. A historical building dating back to the first generation of old Arab houses at Shangani waterfont in Stone Town. Around 1900, it became the English Club for members of the British navy officers. In 1964 the club was taken over by the Tanzanian government. The building was privatised in the 1990s and offers hotel accommodation, the Sunset Bar (a popular meeting place for sundowners), a restaurant, a library and an Arabic shisha smoking lounge.
- Tembo House Hotel. Check-out: 10AM.
- Clove Hotel Zanzibar, ☏ . A Dutch-owned hotel.
- Serena Inn.
- Manch Lodge Zanzibar, Vuga Rd. Cheap place to stay with big dorm. Breakfast included. Watch out your stuff when you put it in the luggage room (lock it) - there are trousers disappearing on a regular base.
- Bottoms Up!, an eclectic, unusual hostel in the heart of Stone Town.
Outside Stonetown edit
- Pongwe Beach Hotel. A small hotel on the eastern side of the island. It is ideal for those looking for a relaxed and secluded "paradise island" experience. The food here is also excellent with half-board and bed & breakfast options available. Most rooms have sea views, some have their own splash-pools.
- The House Of Changes in Tunguu, central region (behind the new Tanzanian House of Parliament) is a great option for budget travellers who have had enough of the beach. A night for two people goes for US$40/night which includes a tasty breakfast. Nights are cool and it is a mosquito-free environment in the countryside of Zanzibar. +255 777 844 417.
- Dhow Inn, Paje Beach (turn left at the Paje junction, go for about 200 metres, then turn right), ☏ . Check-in: 1PM, check-out: noon. This quiet, comfortable and atmospheric hotel is small and intimate with only 6 rooms. Well equipped rooms, stylish swimming pool, free wifi, attentive staff and the hotel is active with various local NGOs. No small children. US$65.
- Fontaine Garden Village, Stone Town (south east coast of Zanzibar in the village of Bwejuu), ☏ , , email@example.com. Offers 11 bungalows, some en suite, some shared facilities. There is also a house that sleeps 5. 20-seat restaurant. 100 m from the beach. 45 minutes from Stonetown.
- Pearl Beach By Sansi, Michamvi Rd, Michamvi, ☏ . A peaceful hotel on the northern end of the southern East Coast of Zanzibar. All 15 rooms are overlooking the Indian Ocean, with powder-white sand.
- The Zanzibari, Nungwi, ☏ . A beachfront boutique hotel with 8 rooms. An adjoining bar and restaurant is crafted out of a traditional wooden boat.
- Teddy´s Place, Paje (at Paje junction turn right and after the wall of Cristal turn left), ☏ . Backpacker style accommodation. Zanzibari food, and bar. US$12-25.
- Mustapha´s Place, Bwejuu (at Paje junction turn left and drive for a few minutes until you see a sign for Mustapha's Place on the right - follow this), ☏ . Mustapha's is popular with backpackers, volunteers and families and offers rustic accommodation and reliable food about 2 minutes form Bwejuu beach US$15-60.
- Milele Villas (Private Holiday Villa Rental), Fukuchani, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Environmental friendly and self-sufficient set of villas located on the North-Eastern tip of Zanzibar. Sleeps from 2-12 people, and includes facilities such as an infinity swimming pool, sea-view and volleyball court.