We highly recommend visiting Stone Town Zanzibar, especially if you are interested in the history of the area. Taking a guide around Stone Town will reveal things that you would without doubt miss on your own. At night the Forodhani Gardens come alive with barbecues and a party atmosphere.
Zanzibar's Stone Town is a fascinating living monument to the history of East Africa, and an extraordinary place to explore. Once the historic centre of the ivory, gold and slave trade, the ancient maze of narrow streets that make up Zanzibar's 'Old Town' are now a web of markets, shops and craft centres.
Stone Town thrives today on passing tourist trade, and tourists get a lot of attention from the locals hawking curios, dolphin safaris and sunset cruises. You have to know what to expect from Stone Town, and you have to be robust and ready for it!
It is an ancient town, impoverished and dishevelled with much to recommend it and much that could be improved! The ancient palaces and forts, balconies and ancient carved, wooden doors tell some of the story of its great past. Any visit to Zanzibar island would not be the same without a little explore here. If possible, staying a night or two at the heart of Stone Town is recommended as a culturally integral part of your Tanzania honeymoon
. Please note that Stone Town's beaches
are poor in comparison to the rest of the island.
Stone Town Zanzibar: where to stay
The best hotel in Stone Town is the The Serena Inn
- or the new Park Hyatt next door. The Serena is often considered one of the more commercial, western hotels here, but actually it is beautifully housed within one of the town's oldest buildings. It also has the best location of all the hotels, right on the coast and with great ocean views.
Tucked away down the myriad of little streets there are a number of smaller, boutique, Moroccan-style riads and former slave houses, the most famous of which is Zanzibar Palace
, a quirky little hotel with a rich history and nice rooms filled with traditional crafts. Other options include Beyt Al Chai and 236 Hurumzi
(formerly Emerson and Green). Various new hotels do pop up fairly regularly, of variable quality and reliabilty. We recommend our tried and trusted hotels, as there are so many variables here, not least the proximity to the nearest mosque...
Stone Town Zanzibar: what to do
We are in no doubt that the best way to get about Stone Town is with a private guide. Some say the best approach is to meander the streets, window shopping and absorbing the atmosphere...but that can also mean a day getting lost! Hiring a guide will help you to make the most out of your time in Stone Town, and protects you from being hassled. There are many fine buildings to visit including the House of Wonders, the Arab Fort, various ruined Sultan's Palaces, museums, the Forodhani Gardens and many more historical attractions.
We do try to make our website as comprehensive as possible, but if you would like some more background information on Stone Town, or Tanzania in general, we recommend the Cadogan Guide to Tanzania and Zanzibar
, written by our director Annabel. The most recent edition was published in 2005 so some of it is slightly dated, but generally it’s as comprehensive as they come.