Book Flights to Zanzibar

Stone Town, Zanzibar.

World renowned Stone Town is for good reason a World Heritage UNESCO proclaimed destination. It’s turbulent history has shaped what it is today, influenced by a number of conquering nations and trading partners. The Europeans, Indians, Persians, Africans, notably the Ottomans and Arabs have all played a part, and left their indelible marks: culture, trading practises, hospitality, cuisine and architecture.

A stay in Stone Town, or at least a day visit, is an absolute must for any traveller to the islands.

Stone Town lies within Zanzibar Town, the capital of the island formally known as Unguja, fondly and colloquially known the world over as Zanzibar. (Unguja is the largest of the islands making up the Zanzibar archipelago, of which Pemba and Mafia re the other best known).

“Zanzibar has an identity all of its own, shaped by a turbulent history which abounds with a colourful cast of characters, from slave traders and Sultans, to pirates and princesses.”, says the Tanzania Travel and Tourism Directory.

Arabic roots that one feels the most, that have had the most profound on Stone Town’s unique Swahili architecture, the warren of passages and alleyways, the call of the mosques, its wonderfully hospitable people, its culture and food.

There is something rewarding about wandering about, feeling the ancient buildings, marvelling at the intricately carved and ornately decorated doors – the doors and their surrounds themsleves signals of class and wealth.

The coffee is fabulous, and to try the island ginger infused tea for the fist time is a treat.

Many of the hotels, hostels, cafes and restaurants are in buldings and spaces lovingly restored, some to their former glory, and others to being functional.

The range of cuisines, food types and tastes is to behold and sample. Zanzibari, Ethiopian, Indian, Thai, Italian, French, Portuguese, Lebanese.

The calls to prayer ring out from around 0500 to just before susnset; there is little better than to sit in one of the numerous rooftop terraces and gardens, sipping a refreshing drink in the balmy early evening air, and hear the call waft over the roof tops and the town.

And oh yes, look out towards the setting sun and see if you’re one of the lucky ones who can make a wish at the green flash as the orange ball drops below the horizon.

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Why visit Stone Town?

  • Explore the narrow, winding alleys.
  • Shop for relics, treasures and antiques.
  • Find out where the spices you use come from on an informative Spice Tour, and other numerous 1/2 day trips.
  • Spoil your taste buds with the excellent food experiences.
  • Spice, fresh produce and spice market.
  • Sundowners on the rooftops as the faithful are called to prayer to the mosques around the city.
  • Museums, palaces and grand homes.
  • Time zone: UTC / GMT +3
  • Currency: Tanzanian Shilling (TSh, often written as =/)
  • Driving: left-hand side of the road
  • Power Outlets: 220V-240V 50Hz. Plug types are ‘Type D & G (British)’
  • Closest (air)ports: Zanzibar International Airport (ZNZ), 6 km from Stone Town, full name Abeid Amani Karume International Airport and the ferry terminal for the ferries from Dar es Salaam and to Pemba.
  • WIFI and internet widely available but do not expect uninterrupted service.
  • Many banks, ATMs and Foreign Exchange offices.
Best time to visit

Zanzibar has a tropical climate and can be visited year-round. But for a sunny experience, it is best to avoid the rainy seasons from mid-March to the end of May and  then the ‘short rains’ November.

If you visit Zanzibar specifically for diving, it is good to know the diving on the north coast is excellent from June to October, and the south coast is best between November and March.

Sights and sounds

The archipelago has changed hands many times over the centuries and the history of the islands and the town is imprinted upon the people and the place.

The old Stone Town is made up of a warren of twisting narrow streets, lined with curio and antique shops, locally made clothing and souvenirs, and friendly Zanzibaris offering tasty treats and refreshing fruit juices or ice-creams.

The House of Wonders and the Old Fort offer a glimpse into Stone Town’s past. The well maintained Forodhani Gardens along the seafront offer a lovely spot to relax and watch the people, the waves, and the boats. At night the gardens host hundreds of locals and tourists eating, socialising and enjoying the balmy outdoors

There is so much to see and do, more than you could wish for.

Wander the picturesque lanes of Stone Town and feel its history; shop for souvenirs, beautiful local clothing, antiques, and treasures. Visit the spice and fresh produce market, as well as the seafood market. Marvel at the architecture. Enrich your knowledge of the local history with a visit to the Slave Market. Ask yourself ‘what lies behind the most beautiful doors, ornately carved with brass knockers and décor?’ Each door a sign of social standing.

Learn how to dive, or take in the underwater world snorkelling in the magnificent marine parks. Or fancy a romantic sunset cruise on a traditional dhow?

Take in sunset drinks on a rooftop whilst listening to the calls to prayer as evening settles in.

Search for the endangered Zanzibar Red Colobus Monkey on your way to the spice plantations.

Feast on local foods, and taste the influences of Zanzibar’s history.

And don’t forget to soak up the African sun.

Dining and Dietary Considerations

Zanzibar’s cultural influences are reflected in the myriad choices open to you. Middle Eastern traders, migrants from India, Portuguese invaders and of course the Eastern African. A right melting pot of flavours, tastes, and aromas presented by craftspeople using the fabulous and fresh local ingredients from the sea, land and aromatically seasoned from locally grown spices.

Expect seafood as you’ve never experienced, fruits and vegetables new to the palate.

From fine dining restaurants to local cafes, you can find something for all pockets. Don’t miss the food stalls in Forodhani Gardens along the seafront where you can sample the best street food Zanzibar has to offer. They pop up every evening so you can try the freshly caught seafood and other delicacies prepared on demand, grab a pancake dessert, and wash it all down with a freshly squeezed sugar cane juice for an excellent Zanzibari experience.

Religious and Cultural considerations

Over 95% of Zanzibaris practice the Islamic faith with Hindu and Christian in the minority.

Whilst not extreme at all, there are cultural do’s and don’ts:

  • Shoes should always be removed when entering a home and place of worship
  • Dress modestly in public. Bikini is fine when at your beach resort, but dress modestly when visiting for example Stone Town
  • Topless sunbathing is illegal

In some public places, the consumption of alcohol is not allowed.

When photographing people, always ask permission first and agree on payment if required. As a general rule, ask.

Cost of Living

Zanzibar is an in-demand destination with facilities for all wallets. This is true for accommodation, transport, food and excursions.

This is what you can expect to pay in Tanzania for:

  • Domestic beer (0.5-litre bottle) in a supermarket – 2,552TSh
  • Imported beer in a supermarket (0.33-litre bottle) – 3,833TSh
  • Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro) – 3,313Tsh
  • A bottle of coca cola / pepsi (0.33-litre bottle) – 1305TSh
  • A small bottle of water (0.33-litre bottle) – 857TSh

Bargaining is expected. Local traders and service providers often have 2 prices: one for locals and the other for visitors.


  • Freddy Mercury of Queen rock group fame was born here.
  • The last Omani Sultans left in 1963 and Zanzibar only then joined with mainland Tanganyika to form Tanzania.
  • Many of the streets of Stone Town are too narrow for cars – so expect bicycle bells and scooters.
  • Of all the ghosts and demons, fable has it that Popo Bawa is the most fearful. Look out!

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