The oldest part of Zanzibar is Stone Town. With beautiful architecture, majestic alleyways and amazing cuisine, this small town has big personality. Here are 15 things to do in Stone Town, Zanzibar.
1. Have A Sunset Cocktail At Emerson Spice House
Not only is the setting and sunset incredible, but the cocktails are delicious, too. Make a reservation and enjoy an amazing Zanzibar sunset from the rooftop of the Emerson Spice House at the Tea House. You can find all the contact and reservation details here.
2. Check Out Some Art At The Beautiful Eyes
This amazing art gallery will change your view of Zanzibar. The story of how the gallery came about is just as amazing: In 2008 photographer Hans Agterdenbos came to this island and met Zakia Abdulla who he married less than a year later. They opened up the gallery where Hans and other photographers display their work.
3. Go On A Spice Tour
Want to know where all the incredible flavours of Zanzibar’s scrumptious cuisine comes from? Well, take a spice tour with Eco & Culture Tours Zanzibar to discover the spices of this island’s flavoursome food. The tour includes learning about the how they are grown at plantations, visiting a famous herbalist and interacting with local spice farm workers.
4. Visit Forodhani Garden’s Night Food Market
From lobster claws, octopus tentacles and freshly caught fish, the Forodhani Garden’s Night Market offers tables of delicious food every night and is perfect for dinner! You’ll also find many vendors selling various unrecognizable kebabs of delicious smelling food. If you don’t know what it is, the vendors will gladly explain it for you. There is also grilled sweet potatoes, savory bananas, and puffy coconut bread to add as a side to your seafood dinner.
5. Go On A Sunset Dhow
Hop aboard an ancient Arabic sailing vessel called a dhow and sail away. You’ll get to see some of Stone Town’s amazing attractions including Africa House, Serena Inn Hotel, Beit El Jaib , The Old Fort, House of Wonders, Forodhani Gardens, and The Palace Museum from a different angle.
6. Have A Sandbank Picnic At Nakupenda Beach
Get on board a traditional Swahili dhow with Nakupenda Isles Safari and take the 10-minute cruise to Pange Island (an amazing sandbank). Not only can you enjoy a picnic sandbank lunch, but you can also snorkel or even get a 10-minute scuba massage.
7. Feed Giant Tortoises At Prison Island
As its name suggests, the island is a former prison for slaves, but today it’s home to giant tortoises that have been imported from the Seychelles in the 19th century. Once on the island, you’ll have the opportunity to feed and pet these amazing creatures as they stroll through the forest.
8. Pay Your Respects At Slave Market Memorial
Learn about the slave market which was once the place of a lucrative slave trade across East Africa. The slaves that came here were used to develop clove plantations in Zanzibar, and later were used for the growing sugarcane plantations in Mauritius and Reunion.
9. Visit The Old Fort
Built in 1700 by Seyyid Said’s grandfather, the Old Fort is the one of the oldest buildings in Stone Town and the most popular tourist attraction. The fort was used to protect the capital city in many battles, but today is a cultural centre that hosts classes in drumming, henna painting, cooking, music and drama.
10. Be Amazed At The Sultan’s Palace
One of the most historical buildings in Stone Town, The Sultan’s Palace is decorated with merlon white walls and located on the beachfront, between the House of Wonders and the Old Dispensary. The three-story palace was the residence for the Sultan’s family in the 19th century before the Zanzibar Revolution in 1964.
11. Take In A Bit Of History At House Of Wonders
Not only is the The House of Wonders or Palace of Wonders largest building in Stone Town, but also the tallest. The palace is one of six palaces built by Barghash bin Said who was the second Sultan of Zanzibar. Unfortunately the house has gone into a bit of disrepair as of late, and it’s not sure when it will open again. Stay tuned!
12. Visit The Ithnasheri Dispensary
Facing the clove harbour is the Ithnasheri Dispensary which is one of the most important buildings in Stone Town. The dispensary was built by a wealthy Ismaili Indian merchant, Tharia Topan who was one of Zanzibar’s richest men, as a charitable hospital for the poor. It is probably the most decorative of the all the old buildings with ornate carved balconies, stucco work and stained glass windows.
13. Get Lost
Take a walk and get lost. Stone Town is a beautiful town with amazing decorative doors that open up to old houses. The little roads are lined with locals that you can interact with and are great for photo opportunities.
14. Explore The Markets
Head to the centre of Creek Road where you’ll find the fruit, fish and meat markets that is definitely worth the visit. You’ll find exotic fruits and vegetables, freshly caught fish and slaughter meat all at these markets.
15. Snorkel Around Prison Island
Surrounded by a beautiful coral reef, Prison Island is an ideal area to snorkel from. Head out straight from the white beach into the crystal clear waters of this amazing snorkeling area.
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This article was originally published on January 26, 2015.