Tanzania Safari Expert

Stone Town

Step into History and Culture: Exploring Stone Town in Zanzibar


Welcome to Stone Town, the captivating historic center of Zanzibar City and a UNESCO World Heritage site. This enchanting destination is renowned for its labyrinthine alleys, ancient buildings, and bustling markets. Immerse yourself in the rich history and vibrant culture of Stone Town for an unforgettable experience in Zanzibar.

Location and Geography:

Stone Town is located on the western coast of Zanzibar Island, off the eastern coast of Tanzania. Nestled along the Indian Ocean, this historic quarter is characterized by its distinct architecture, narrow streets, and coral stone buildings. Its strategic location has made it a center of trade and cultural exchange throughout history.

How to Get There:

To reach Stone Town, you can fly into Abeid Amani Karume International Airport (ZNZ), which is located just a short drive away. Several airlines offer domestic and international connections to Zanzibar. From the airport, taxis or private transfers can take you to Stone Town. If you’re already in Zanzibar, you can reach Stone Town by road or local transportation.

Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit Stone Town is during the dry season, which runs from June to October. The weather is generally pleasant, with cooler temperatures and less rainfall. However, Zanzibar has a tropical climate, and even during the wetter months, the occasional rain shower can add charm to your exploration of Stone Town.

stone town zanzibar
stone town zanzibar tour

Attractions and Activities:

  1. Palace Museum (Beit al-Sahel): Explore the former residence of the Zanzibari sultans, which now houses a museum displaying artifacts and exhibits showcasing the island’s history and royal heritage.
  2. House of Wonders (Beit-al-Ajaib): Marvel at this grand building, once the first in East Africa to have electricity, and now a museum that offers insight into Zanzibar’s culture, traditions, and Swahili architecture.
  3. Old Fort (Ngome Kongwe): Visit the oldest structure in Stone Town, built in the 17th century by the Omani Arabs. Today, it hosts cultural events, live performances, and a vibrant outdoor market.
  4. Forodhani Gardens: Indulge in the lively atmosphere of this waterfront park during the evening, where you can sample local street food, including Zanzibar’s famous seafood delicacies.
  5. Spice Tours: Discover the aromatic world of Zanzibar’s spice trade by taking a guided tour to nearby spice farms, where you’ll learn about the cultivation and uses of various spices, such as cloves, cinnamon, and vanilla.
  6. Visit the Markets: Wander through the bustling markets of Stone Town, like Darajani Market and Forodhani Market, where you can find an array of local products, including spices, fruits, handicrafts, and vibrant textiles.

Accommodation Options:

Stone Town offers a range of accommodations that blend historic charm with modern comforts. From boutique hotels and guesthouses in restored heritage buildings to luxury resorts overlooking the Indian Ocean, there are options to suit different preferences and budgets. Notable establishments include Park Hyatt Zanzibar, Zanzibar Serena Hotel, and Emerson Spice Hotel.

Local Culture and Etiquette:

When visiting Stone Town, it’s important to respect the local culture and traditions. Zanzibar has a predominantly Muslim population, so dress modestly when exploring the town, especially in religious or residential areas. Ask for permission before photographing individuals, and be mindful of local customs and sensitivities.


Safety and Health:

Stone Town is generally safe, but it’s always advisable to take standard precautions. Keep your belongings secure and be cautious of your surroundings, especially in crowded areas. Stay hydrated, protect yourself from the sun, and use mosquito repellent to guard against insect bites. It’s recommended to consult your healthcare provider for up-to-date information on vaccinations and health precautions before traveling to Zanzibar.

Additional Tips and Recommendations:

  • Take a guided walking tour of Stone Town to fully appreciate its history and hidden gems.
  • Explore the local art scene by visiting galleries and workshops showcasing traditional crafts, such as woodcarving and painting.
  • Consider extending your stay in Zanzibar to explore the stunning beaches and marine life on the island’s coastline.
  • Engage with the friendly locals, learn a few Swahili phrases, and embrace the laid-back island lifestyle.

Local Cuisine and Dining Options:

Stone Town is a culinary delight, offering a blend of Swahili, Arab, Indian, and international flavors. Sample local dishes like biryani, pilau rice, and Zanzibar’s famous seafood creations.

Don’t miss the opportunity to taste freshly squeezed sugarcane juice or indulge in a cup of spiced Zanzibar coffee at a local café.

Zanzibar slave market
zanzibar foods


  • Stone Town offers a variety of shopping opportunities. Explore the narrow streets to discover shops selling local crafts, including intricately carved wooden items, colorful textiles, and handwoven baskets.
  • For unique souvenirs, visit the Zanzibar Curio Shop or the Memories of Zanzibar store, which specialize in traditional crafts and locally made products.

Historical Sites:

  • Visit the Anglican Cathedral, also known as the Slave Cathedral, which stands on the site of the former slave market. The cathedral serves as a powerful reminder of Zanzibar’s history of the slave trade.
  • Discover the charming Hamamni Persian Baths, dating back to the 19th century. These beautifully restored baths provide insight into the region’s historical bathing practices.


While Stone Town itself is not known for its beaches, you can easily reach pristine coastal areas just a short drive away. Popular nearby beaches include Nungwi, Kendwa, and Paje, where you can relax on white sandy shores and enjoy turquoise waters.


Sunset Dhow Cruises:

Experience a romantic sunset dhow cruise along Stone Town’s coastline. These traditional sailing vessels offer a tranquil setting to enjoy the breathtaking sunset while savoring delicious local cuisine.

Jozani Forest:

Take a trip to the Jozani Forest, located a short distance from Stone Town. This protected area is home to the endangered Zanzibar red colobus monkeys and offers nature trails where you can spot various bird species and unique flora.

Music and Cultural Performances:

Don’t miss the opportunity to witness a Taarab music performance, a traditional Zanzibari music genre that combines elements of African, Arab, and Indian influences. Check local event listings for live performances and cultural shows.


Water Activities:

Explore the mesmerizing underwater world surrounding Zanzibar through activities like snorkeling and diving. Numerous dive centers in Stone Town offer trips to vibrant coral reefs teeming with marine life.

Ferry to Dar es Salaam:

If you’re interested in exploring mainland Tanzania, you can catch a ferry from Stone Town to Dar es Salaam, the country’s largest city. The ferry ride provides scenic views of the Indian Ocean and offers a convenient transportation option.


Step into the captivating world of Stone Town, where history, culture, and vibrant traditions intertwine. From its winding alleys to its bustling markets, this UNESCO World Heritage site invites you to immerse yourself in the enchantment of Zanzibar’s past and present.