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Stone Town

Stone Town (Tanzania)

Practical information on Stone Town

  • Encounters with locals
  • Viewpoint
  • Park and garden
  • Port
  • Water Sports
  • Place or Religious Monument
  • Festivals
  • Music
  • Museums
  • Castle and fortress
  • Handicraft
  • Place or Historical Monument
  • Unesco World Heritage
  • Essential
4 / 5 - 3 reviews
How to get there
20 mins by plane or 2 hrs by ferry from Dar es Salaam
When to go
From January to February and from June to October
Minimum stay
1 to 2 days

Expériences inoubliables à vivre Stone Town

Reviews of Stone Town

David Debrincat Seasoned Traveller
459 written opinions

The biggest town in Zanzibar, Stone Town is the arrival port for ferries coming from the mainland. It's a real joy to lose yourself in the maze of backstreets in the old town.

My suggestion:
A big event in the town is the Swahili Music and Cultural Festival, held in February each year.
My review

Most tourists who go to Tanzania take the time to travel to Zanzibar. So if you do decide to visit this spice-filled island, you will arrive at Stone Town.

Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this is the main and the prettiest town on an island considered to be a 'pearl' in the Indian Ocean. The town still needs a bit more time to become 'tamed'. But you'll have a lot of fun exploring its labyrinth of little streets. Slowly and almost by accident, I began to find my way around and recognize parts that I had already seen. It's a great way to see people going about their daily life and to enjoy the laid back atmosphere in the streets of Stone Town. And at night, when the shops are candlelit, the ambience is even more magical. And once you've finished with the old town, I suggest you visit the old Arab fort, the Palace of Wonders and the gardens at Forodhani...And when evening comes, join the locals and go down to the jetties to watch the sun set over the Indian Ocean. It's at the end of the day when the town springs to life. Children dare each other to dive-bomb into the sea and you can eat well from food stalls serving local dishes.

I loved Stone Town - its atmosphere, its backstreets, its nightlife, its markets, its island ambience, its laid back feel...I'll stop there, hoping that I've managed to convince you to pay it a visit.

A street in Stone Town
Seasoned Traveller
11 written opinions

Stone Town, the capital of Zanzibar, is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its cultural diversity: it presents a subtle blend of cultures from Africa, India, Europe and the Arab World.

My suggestion:
Two tips to help you lower the prices, as if by magic: learn a few expressions so that you can haggle in Swahili and, if female, wear a headscarf.
My review

I loved wandering around the art dealers near the Old Dispensary and visiting the market, where you have to try the rambutans, amongst so many other delicious fruits. Two attractions not to miss: the Spice Tour and the tour of the Beit al Ajaib Museum, to see its collections and for the views out over the city from its balconies.

I also enjoyed the architecture and the tranquility of the Shangani quarter, where there is a small beach on which youths play football when the sea is out. Stone Town, with its relaxed atmosphere, was my favorite amongst the places I went to in Zanzibar.

In the evening, I passed some time watching youths diving into the sea at the port as I sipped a sugarcane juice. This is also a good time to meet some of the locals, who are generous people and have some good tips to offer. I dined without fail at the Forodhani Gardens, enticed by the seafood kebabs. I recommend sampling the famous fish soup and the Zanzibar Pizza, unique of its kind.

Seasoned Traveller
17 written opinions

Even if you avoid the tourist sites, you can't afford to miss Stone Town. With unique architecture and culture, the town is a must-see stop-off point in your Tanzanian itinerary.

My suggestion:
The wealth of the town is such that I advise you to randomly discover the streets. Don't be afraid of getting lost, it's nor worth finding your bearings in this labyrinth.
My review

Stone Town built its wealth with the slave and spice trades, particularly with clove, with India and the Persian Gulf. In turn an Oman Sultanate, a Portuguese trading post, a German and then British colony, with strong Indian influences, an independent area and then associated with independent Tanzania, Stone Town is a unique place in Sub-Saharan Africa.

I really enjoyed discovering this history during walks and visiting monuments: you don't want to miss the Portuguese fort and the Oman Palace, the cathedral and the mosques. You can easily spend a week in Stone Town without having the time to visit all of these wonders and sculpted doors on streets full of mystery.

Despite this, Stone Town is very touristic, with the Forozani night market. Go ahead and go there because you'll eat well, but be careful with seafood because it isn't always very fresh... Personally, I enjoyed escaping from the tourism by drinking the excellent coffee served in the street, always near to the mosques.

Islam is quite preservative in Zanzibar, so be careful with your clothing, both men and women. Respecting this will enable you to be well received by the inhabitants, who are sometimes annoyed by the behaviour of certain tourists.

Streets of Stone Town