I remember being in primary school and singing a song about Zanzibar, something about the ships going down there…whilst I don’t remember the song well (obviously). The impression Zanzibar left it my mind never faded, so being next door in Nairobi – I had to make my way to this place that had lived in my imagination for so long.
My 1st stop was Stone Town, it’s the old part of Zanzibar. The architecture mostly dates back to the 19th century, and reflects the diverse influences of the Swahili culture. There are a unique mixture of Arab, Persian, Indian and European elements and for this reason, the town was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000. We love a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Before slavery was abolished in Tanzania black people weren’t allowed to live within the city walls (go figure), but in the 21st century any and everyone is free to live here – in true Hakuna Matata fashion.
Exploring Stone town you find different doors which other than offering a cheeky photo op; they show a history of the demographic within the city. The gold on the doors is a symbol for protection from elephant attacks (there aren’t elephants native to this part of Tanzania) so it is indeed a nod to the Indian influence that is part of Stone Town blood.
Walking around and exploring the deep depths of Stone Town, doesn’t require much pre-planning as you can find a guide in the square who has a wealth of knowledge to offer for a small price.
It was awesome to spend time exploring Stone Town.
Here’s our list of top things to do, places to see and eat in Stone Town:
Forodhani Gardens – much like Drake, Forodhani comes alive in the nightime! It’s set right on the seafront and whether you are veggie, pesci or a serious meat-eater – there is indeed an option for you. Food is a huge part of any culture, and visiting Forodhani is a must do.
Visit the ‘House of Wonders’ – it was originally opened in 1883. It is the tallest and largest building in Stone Town.
Make an International Call at Jaws Corner – it works.
Buy souvenirs – you’ll find something to take back for someone (any excuse, I know)
The Swahili House – provided awesome rooftop views, delicious food. If you’d like to spend time in Stone Town you can also lodge here. this seafood platter that consisted of a whole lobster, calamari, shrimps, mashed potatoes and a cup of tea ☕️ was a mere £20 🥺🥺
Join the Fish Auction at the Darajani Markets. There are a variety of fresh seafood options and you have to get stuck in if you want a chance to win.
Take a Spice Tour – every spice you can think of is available. Freshhh! Take some home for your friends, your flatmate, your colleague.
Buy some coffee – everything is so fresh and pure 🥺 buy it all.
- Prison Island – another excursion you don’t have to neccesarily pre-book. See the Giant Tortoise and learn how prison island was built with the intention of housing prisoners; but was repurposed to help contain the bubonic plague epidemic that government officials feared would make its way on ships coming in from Egypt and Mumbai.
- Visit the Slave Museum – if you fancy it (I opted not to, it’s not everyday relive trauma).
- Visit Freddy Mercury‘s house! – arguably Tanzania’s most popular export.
Would you add a stop to Stone Town on your trip?
Keep up to date with us on @trippinwithsj, as always x