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Quick Facts About Stone Town, Tanzania

Many countries across the globe had to shut down their borders during the ongoing global pandemic. Countries, such as Japan and Australia, for instance, are still not open to foreign tourists as of this writing.

Some nations, however, chose to reopen (and even stay open) for travelers. One of them is Tanzania. This nation is open to nearly all countries. You can book a flight to Tanzania without much hassle (just make sure to present a negative COVID-19 test certificate upon arrival).

This East African country has a lot to offer to tourists, including Mount Kilimanjaro, Lake Victoria and Zanzibar. If Zanzibar is part of your travel itinerary, you’ll want to add Stone Town to your “to-visit” list.

What is Stone Town Known For?

A glimpse of narrow and busy street of Stone Town. Photo by Rod Waddington via Flickr Creative Commons

Stone Town, Zanzibar, also known as Mij Mknongwe in Swahili, oozes history from every pore, as you’ll find a maze of twisting and narrow streets and alleyways. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is popular for its eclectic collection of languages, a wide range of architectural styles and sights, smells and tastes of many cultures — European, African, Arab and Asian.

Is Stone Town Worth Visiting?

The answer is a resounding yes.

You can simply soak up and stroll around Stone Town to enjoy the amazing culture and history in this place. You also have the option to check out or discover nearby spice plantations, colorful markets, mosques, cathedrals, forts and museums. Given Stone Town’s labyrinthine nature, though, you’re better off booking a city walking tour and admiring the sights in comfort.

If you plan to stay in Stone Town for more than a couple of days, you’ll be glad to know that this part of Zanzibar has plenty of upmarket and well-located accommodations. Some visitors splurge their travel funds to stay for a few nights at a boutique hotel or elegant villa. They do this after flying in from mainland Tanzania and before traveling to the island’s wonderful beaches.

The wonderful accommodations of Stone Town offer a cool refuge to return after a day of exploring and shopping. The staff at your hotel or villa, in fact, will be more than happy to arrange excursions in the area. You can, for instance, take a Sunset Dhow Cruise as a great way to end the day in Stone Town.

If you are going to visit the west coast of Zanzibar, you’ll need to remember that this part of the world has a tropical climate. Stone Town is often humid with temperatures ranging from warm to hot all year round. Rainfall is usually heavy in November, as well as from mid-March to late May.

When planning a trip to Stone Town, consider booking your travels in the more comfortable June to October spring months, which provide cool temperatures and dry weather.

What to Do in Stone Town

Tourists have plenty of things to do while they’re staying in Stone Town. Here are some activities that you can add to your trip itinerary:

Wander the Old Fort

The Old Fort, which now houses a curio market and an art gallery, is an impressive structure situated along the promenade of Stone Town. Checking out this tourist attraction is free. If you are looking to enjoy some peace and quiet, marvel at the ruins and just wander around, this activity is for you.

Visit the Palace Museum

Photo by David Stanley via Flickr Creative Commons

At just three dollars, the visit to the iconic Palace Museum is well worth it. You’ll enjoy a good hour’s worth of interesting history. You can get more information when you consult with your free guide.

Stone Town’s Palace Museum serves as a great introduction to the history of Zanzibar. This is highly recommended for travelers who want to understand the heritage of the island along with its wealth of different influences.           

Learn About the Former Slave Market

Visiting this tourist attraction is an absolute must.

Costing just five dollars (but worth every penny), you’ll have the option of engaging a highly informed tour guide and learning about the slave market. You’ll need a couple of hours to absorb everything in this UNESCO-funded museum.

The slave chambers are situated below the gift shop.

Fill Your Stomach at the Forodhani Gardens Food Market

Forget Western fast food chains — head over to the Forodhani Gardens Food Market and enjoy authentic Zanzibar food.

If you arrive in Stone Town in the late afternoon, the food market is likely one of the first snaps of the place you will get.

Situated right on the seafront, you can enjoy a nice breeze here as various late-night al fresco food stalls whip up a mouth-watering array of local Zanzibar cuisine. The great thing is that there are so many dishes to choose from, including garlic chapatti, chunky sweet potato, grilled cassava, coconut bread, meat kebabs and the famous Zanzibar pizza.

If you’re going to visit Tanzania for the first time, don’t simply check out Mount Kilimanjaro or stay at Dodoma, the country’s designated national capital. Make your way to Stone Town, a wonderful place that has brought together cultural elements of Europe, India, the Arab Region and Africa.

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