Attractions, Sightseeing and places of interest a Zanzibar
Zanzibar is a growing popular young tourist destination. Do you want or are you going on a trip to this beautiful island? Then check out this overview of the main attractions on Zanzibar and the things you definitely don’t want to miss while you’re there.
Wander the alleys of Stone Town
Stone Town, the old and historic part of Zanzibar City, is made of Zanzibar’s coral stone. This historic old town with its narrow alleys and twisted streets is a true journey into the past. The delicious smells of the City of Stone come from the fragrant spices that are the main export product of Zanzibar’s islands. You can also very well buy souvenirs, art and jewellery here. Many shops also sell mass-produced items – which are also nice, by the way – so look around carefully if you are looking for something more exclusive.
Tip: On Zanzibar, it is normal to bargain. So make sure you bet well so you don’t start off with too high a price already. Read more about paying on Zanzibar.
Join an herbal tour
When in Zanzibar, consider doing a spice tour. During such a tour, you will also visit some spice plantations. Visit the Sultan’s Palace and Beit-el-Ajaib, with its many wooden carvings, on the waterfront. And also visit the old slave market, where the Church of Christ Anglican Cathedral now stands.
Watch giant tortoises on Prison Island
Prison Island is a small island about 7 kilometres, that’s about a 25-minute boat ride, off the coast of Stone Town. And although you would think it might have once been an island for prisoners, it is not. There has never been a prison. The main attraction on this island are… the giant giant tortoises that are based here. It is an extraordinary phenomenon to see these big friendly animals up close. Some are over 150 years (!) old. If you are friendly and careful, you might even get the chance to touch one. On the way, with a bit of luck, you may also spot dolphins on the boat. Check out a half day Prison Island tour here >>
Tip: On this page you can read all about the main attractions on Zanzibar. But also read the article: What to do on Zanzibar.
Enjoy the northern beaches
There are many extraordinary white beaches, warm waters and picturesque villages around Zanzibar. And especially along the north and east coasts.
Miles of beaches are dotted with guesthouses, particularly around Kendwa and the fishing village of Nungwi. Famous for its tradition of shipbuilding, this village is also one of the most popular places, especially with younger visitors.
There are excellent opportunities for diving and for deep-sea fishing slightly off the coast. One of the most beautiful and isolated beaches is at Matemwe. The small island off the coast Mnemba, has a fine coral reef and one of Zanzibar’s best dive sites.
For the more adventurous, there are even opportunities to see whale sharks, swim with dolphins or dive among giant manta rays.
Go to Jozani National Park
You might not expect it, but there is also a forest on Zanzibar. During the rainy seasons, the water there is often very high and you can compare the lake to a swamp. In the forest you will find unusual trees – there are more than 100 different species, crops and ferns. But you will also find red colobus monkeys. These monkeys are found only on Zanzibar and are therefore very rare. You will also find other species of monkeys, more than 50 species of butterflies and 40 different species of birds in Jozani Forest.
Swim with dolphins
Dolphins are often encountered around Zanzibar, but near the south-west of the island you are most likely to encounter dolphins and be able to swim with them. Local policy is against feeding dolphins, which is why dolphins do not always feel like playing with swimmers.
The best times for “encounters” with a dolphin are during the ebb and flood periods. Especially in the morning, you have a good chance of encountering them. Swimming together with dolphins is best done in snorkelling equipment, which you can get in many places.
Of course, you can also book a tour. Then everything will be well organised and there is a good chance that you will have a unique experience with these fantastic animals.
Go snorkelling or diving at the Mnemba atoll
The Mnemba Atoll on the northeast side of the island is one of Zanzibar’s main attractions. It is considered the best place to snorkel or dive. There is very rich marine life here and beautiful coral reefs can be seen. Please treat these with respect and do not touch them. They are very fragile and take years to recover. At this place, you also have a chance of encountering dolphins.
Visit Tanzania mainland too
Many tourists travelling to Tanzania come for safaris in addition to diving. The most famous park is the Serengeti, near the border with Kenya. There you will find lions, elephants, giraffes and wildebeests. Tanzania is truly a holiday country for nature lovers.
Tip: Book a fully arranged 9-day trip to Zanzibar now from 900 GBP. Don’t miss out!
Dining in a special restaurant
Want to eat in a really special restaurant during your holiday on Zanzibar? Then you need to be at ‘The rock’. A restaurant on a rock in the water. You’ve probably already seen a picture of it when you googled the island. Here, you will enjoy great food with a beautiful view of the island and the azure sea. Just make sure you get there in time! There are only 12 tables so you should definitely book well in advance (you can book here).
Watch the sunset from a dhow boat
A dhow is a small traditional wooden boat with a sail. The boats are an ancient invention, but are still used for fishing on Zanzibar today. Around sunsets, many of these boats take to the water so you can enjoy a beautiful sunset. A unique experience!
Also fun to see
Check out the below options for excursions and tours on Zanzibar: