Everyone visiting Tanzania would love a weekend retreat into the beautiful paradise island of Zanzibar. It’s an archipelago 90km off Tanzania’s coast and boasts of an abundance of ancient history and the admirable natural landscape as portrayed by its palm tree-lined pristine beaches. Tourists from across the globe frequent this small island and a lot of holiday activities feature their wonderful stay.
The island itself is a perfect paradise to watch the glorious sunsets, scuba diving, kiteboarding, sportfishing, music festivals, historical tours of landmark buildings featuring Middle-eastern, Indian, and African architectural designs, lively open-air markets where you can shop for souvenirs, and so much more. In case you’re visiting the mainland Tanzania, It would be great if you also visited these exceptional attractions in Zanzibar for two or three days….
1. Have a fantastic shopping day in Darajani market
One of the busiest spots to observe local Zanzibari life, Darajani market is the best place to experience first-hand the sights, scents, and sounds of Zanzibar. This is the main bazaar in Stone Town whose main structure was built in 1904 and is divided into the meat, fish, vegetables, fruits and general items sections. Being a small market, you’ll find it easier to move around but there’s almost no space due to the high number of shoppers and the vendors’ stuff that line up the alleys. The market is well-known for its fresh produce especially foodstuff and is ideal for those on a culinary adventure of the island’s delicacies.
The most common foods include spices, sweet treats like fresh dates which are grown on the island, fresh meat and seafood like fish, sharks, octopuses, and sailfish. There’s also plenty of sweet bread, fresh tropical fruits like soursops, bananas, and pineapples. Others include grains, live poultry birds (chicken, turkeys) and vegetables. The commotion in the market is something to thrill every visitor as loud voices from the vendors and customers haggling for prices and the mixed food scent all fill up the air. You’ll also find other shops selling electronics, clothing, toys, shoes. With all you’ll witness in Darajani market, your memories will always be fresh.
2. Marvel at the Palace Museum & House of Wonders
These are the two best places for you to learn about the history and culture of Zanzibar. They both overlook the seafront in the ancient Stone Town. The House of Wonders was the main palace of Zanzibar’s second Sultan Barghash bin Said but currently, it houses the Museum of History & Culture of Zanzibar & the Swahili Coast. It is regarded as the pioneer of the modern Zanzibari architecture and it was the first on the island to have modern amenities like the first elevator and electricity.
It’s unique high ceilings supported by several cast-iron columns and the clock tower on its roof are some of the most striking external features of this building. Attractions include the Mtepe – an indigenous Swahili sewn boat, Swahili fishing tools, the car of Abeid Karume who was the island’s first president, ritual kangas, pictures of Zanzibar’s former Sultans and some well-preserved old furniture. Another major landmark in not far from the House of Wonders is the 3-story Palace museum built in the 19th century to house Sultan Barghash bin Said’s royal family. It’s now a museum about the past Zanzibari royal family with several exhibits that belonged to a Zanzibari princess.
3. Relax at the most pristine white-sand beaches in Zanzibar
With an impressive coastline, the tropical island of Zanzibar has some of the world’s best beaches, especially on its eastern side. Most tourists come to Zanzibar to enjoy its luxurious waterfronts that are not only pristine but also nestled very far away from the commotions. Among the most popular beaches include Nungwi located about one hours’ drive from Stone Town on the island’s north-western tip. Since the ocean tide here doesn’t venture far into the sea makes it ideal for a great swim. Nearby, there’s a scenic boatyard and an aquarium that raises lost turtles.
Other exotic beaches include Kendwa well notable for its white sands and clear waters but also having some of the area’s best bars and restaurants that offer you extraordinary views of the waterfront. There’s also one of the quietest beaches on the island called Pongwe, another located on the island’s south-eastern side called Paje and is renowned for its water sporting activities like deep sea fishing, snorkeling, and scuba diving.
Additional places that are worthy to visit if you’ve got extra time include the Prison island (also called Changuu island) located 5km north of Stone Town, the former Slave market, Forodhani gardens where you can have a pleasant evening stroll. Wrap up your visit to Zanzibar by taking a guided walking tour of the island’s vast spice farms introduced here by the Portuguese in the 16th century. You’ll observe, feel and taste a variety of special spices and herbs (dried parts of aromatic plants) like vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon, pepper, and cloves. Spice tours will also let you meet Zanzibar’s rural farming communities.