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Stone Town

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The Palace Museum

Stone Town is the main city on Zanzibar. It is a city of prominent historical and artistic importance in East Africa. Its architecture, mostly dating back to the 19th century, reflects the diverse influences underlying the Swahili culture, with a unique mixture of Moorish, Arab, Persian, Indian and European elements. For this reason, the town has been included in the UNESCO World Heritage List since 2000.

Understand[edit]

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

Zanzibar International Airport is the only airport on the island and accessible by many domestic and international destinations. For more information see the Zanzibar article.

By boat[edit]

Boats to Stone Town can be boarded from Dar es Salaam or Pemba. For more information see the Zanzibar article.

By Dalladalla[edit]

Most dalladalla leave from the Creek Road at the Darajani Market 1 .. All have destinations signboards and numbers, what makes it quite easy to handle.

Nungwi=116; Kiwenga=117; Matemwe=118; Chwaka=206; Uroa=214; Unguja Ukuu=308; Jambiani=309; Makunduchi=310; Bewejuu=324; Kizmkazi=326; Amani=501; Bububu=502; Airport(U/Ndege)=505

Get around[edit]

See[edit]

  • 1 Old Fort. Adjacent to the House of Wonders, is a heavy stone fortress that was built in the 17th century by the Omani. It has a roughly square shape; the internal courtyard is now a cultural centre with shops, workshops, and a small arena where live dance and music shows are held daily. Old Fort of Zanzibar on Wikipedia Old Fort of Zanzibar (Q3748659) on Wikidata
  • 2 Palace Museum (Former Sultan's Palace ("Beit el-Sahel" in Arabic​)). Another former sultan's palace, also located on the seafront, to the north of the House of Wonders. It was built in late 19th century, and now hosts a museum about the daily life of the Zanzibari royal family, including items that belonged to Sayyida Salme, a former Zanzibar princess that fled to relocate in Europe with her husband Sultan's Palace, Zanzibar on Wikipedia Palace Museum (Q1960500) on Wikidata
  • 3 House of Wonders ("Palace of Wonders", also known as "Beit-al-Ajaib"), Mizingani Road on the seafront. Probably the most well-known landmarks of Stone Town. It was built in 1883 and restored after the Anglo-Zanzibar War of 1896. A former Sultan's residence, it became the seat of the Afro-Shirazi Party after the revolution. It was the first building in Zanzibar to have electricity and the first building in East Africa to have a lift. Since 2000, its interior has been dedicated to a museum on Swahili and Zanzibar culture. House of Wonders on Wikipedia House of Wonders (Q2568900) on Wikidata
  • 4 Livingstone's House. A small palace that was built for Sultan Majid bin Said and later used by European missionaries. David Livingstone lived in the house while preparing his last expedition to the interior of Tanganyika.
  • 5 Old Dispensary. Built from 1887 to 1894 to serve as a charity hospital for the poor, it was later used as a dispensary. It is one of the most finely decorated buildings of Stone Town, with large carved wooden balconies, stained-glass windows, and neo-classical stucco adornments. After falling into decay in the 1970s and 1980s, the building was accurately restored by the AKTC Old Dispensary (Zanzibar) on Wikipedia Old Dispensary (Q4009183) on Wikidata
  • 6 Anglican Cathedral. Purchased by missionaries, the church sits atop the world's last slave market. The altar is said to be built over the market's whipping post. US$3. Christ Church, Zanzibar on Wikipedia Christ Church, Zanzibar (Q5108733) on Wikidata
  • 7 Hamamni Persian Baths. A complex of public baths built at the end of the 19th century by Shirazi architects for Sultan Barghash bin Said. These baths are not open anymore but are open to visitors. Visits are limited to some areas of the original complex because part of it (e.g., the restaurant) has since been adapted for private residences Hamamni Persian Baths on Wikipedia Hamamni Persian Baths (Q3632906) on Wikidata
  • 8 Forodhani Gardens. A small park located in the main seawalk of Stone Town, right in front of the Old Fort and the House of Wonders. They have been restored by the AKTC. Every evening after sunset the gardens host a popular, tourist-oriented market selling grilled seafood and other Zanzibari recipes. Forodhani Gardens on Wikipedia Forodhani Gardens (Q3077682) on Wikidata
  • Mercury. Near the port, is dedicated to Freddie Mercury who was born on the island. The only interesting thing in the place is the atmosphere and the nice view over the harbor and bay -- skip the food unless you're in for a stomach ache.
  • There are a number of historically important (and frankly, just plain beautiful) buildings in Stone Town, like The House of Wonders and The Arab Fort. It is easy to arrange a simple walking tour with a local guide who can teach you some history.
  • The market in Stone Town is one of the largest, most vibrant open-air markets anywhere. Here, you can find several varieties of bananas, "elephant garlic" unique to the island, the largest avocados you'll probably ever see, and more. Prices are extremely reasonable. Even if you have no intentions of purchasing food, the spectacle alone is worth a visit.
  • Visit Slave Market, The site of the old Slave Market is quite an experience. Go into the holding chambers to see how this wretched piece of history played itself out in small dark dungeon-type cells. Priced at US$3 or Tsh 3.5 its well worth it.

Do[edit]

  • Roam around Stone Town appreciating the Historical buildings
  • Be certain to have dinner on the wharf near Blue's Restaurant in Stone Town. Every evening, for just a few dollars, you can sample local fish, food, drinks, and hear local music.
  • Visit Forodhani Gardens If you are not scared of local food, then this place is definitely worth a visit. It is possibly the cheapest food you will find on the island, and value for money too. Ranging from crab claws, calamari steaks to plain old chips done in big woks. You are well advised to try the local sugar cane juice. The curio market can be found next to the food market. Do not buy the first thing you see. First take a walk through the market, and you will see prices get progressively less. You must always haggle and bargain with the vendors or try to set the prices off against each other. This is their way of doing business and it also ensures that you get the best price.
  • 1 Tangawizi Bistro Cooking Classes (close to Hanafi Sunni mosque), +255 778883306. Take Swahili cuisine home. The owner, Shara, organizes cooking classes in the morning and afternoon both at Tangawizi Bistro and at Dole spice farm close to Stone Town.

Buy[edit]

  • Mitus Spice Tour (Spice Tour), Malindi Rd, +255 652581439, e-mail: . half day tour. Offers lunch and tours. US$12-25 per person.
  • Halai's, Hurumzi stree (opposite Emerson Spice Hotel), +255 717147199. A small shop in stone town with colorful textiles at fixed prices.

Eat[edit]

  • Mercury's Restaurant (Opposite the "Big Tree" and near the ferry port). This restaurant's name and theme are dedicated to Freddie Mercury, the lead singer of the band Queen, who was born in Stone Town.
  • Beyt al Chai Restaurant.
  • The Silk Route.
  • Mtoni Marine Restaurant.
  • Hurumzi, 236 Hurumzi Street in. Earlier known as Emerson and Green and later as Emerson's Tower Top Restaurant, is well worth a visit. Amazing food and sublime atmosphere. While dinner is quite expensive and has to be booked in advance, the rooftop view of the sunset punctuated by the sound of prayer calls is not to be missed.
  • Kidude (near Hurumzi). Serves traditional Zanzibari cuisine at moderate prices
  • [dead link]Forodhani Gardens. Is a nightly affair by the water. You can purchase 'Zanzibari pizza' or get all sorts of grilled seafood and meat for less than UD$1 per serving. Also available are banana and chocolate pancakes which are to die for (Note: bring an extra bar of chocolate for them to add to your pancake) Some consider the market to be overrated -- the food quality can be mixed and there will be papasi or touts who may hassle you. The twilight atmosphere however makes for a nice setting to have a cheap meal.
  • Amore Mio. On Shangani Street, serves good Italian gelati ice cream, pizzas and pasta. ~ $10-15 per person.
  • Monsoon Restaurant. Just to the west of the Tunnel at the edge of the harbour and the southern corner of Forodhani Gardens.
  • Passing Show Restaurant (next to the Malindi Police Station just outside the harbor). A place where they have very decent local food, like pilau, and all sorts of stews. All the men go there in the evening to drink tea. Muslim place, so no alcohol.

Drink[edit]

Mercury's Restaurant. A really nice bar which also serves a good variety of cocktails

[dead link]Tatu.

  • Serena Hotel, Stone Town. Has a very nice restaurant with live music almost everyday. Beautiful view of the ocean and excellent, although expensive, food.
  • Botanic Country Resort (Tunguu central region, 14km from the Stone Town towards the East Coast behind the new Tanzanian Houses of Parliament.). Taarab Square and Kipepeo Grill and Pub/Beer Garden with discotheque on weekends, live music on public holidays including outdoor cinema and live sports events on giant screens. Beautiful Gardens, food is from traditional Swahili & Zanzibarian dishes to International Cuisine.
  • Lukmaan. A small restaurant on the same road as the slave market does very affordable and delicious food. Point at what you want and you get it right away. The prices and convenient speed makes it a favourite for many lunchers.
  • Africa House Ice cold beer and a huge balcony that overlooks the ocean - great at sunset.
  • Taarab Square At the Botanic Country Resort, Tunguu Central Region offers reasonably priced spirits and drinks compared to most of the bars on the island. Live sports bars and the only outdoor cinema showing Indian, African and English movies, discotheque over weekends and live music on public holidays.

Sleep[edit]

The cheapest budget hotels start from US$14 for a dorm bed. normal budget hotel prices range Tsh 45,000 to 90,000 and that's during the low season, where several hotels actually stay closed due to lack of customers. The quoted prices are after bargaining: low-season is a good time to do so and not having your bags with you when doing so, will also give you a boost.

Budget[edit]

  • Zanzibar Lodge( Njila guest house), Stone Town (250 m from darajani market), +255 777458584. Check-in: any time, check-out: 10AM. The lodge has 4 rooms and can accommodate up to 8 people. single US$25, double US$40 (including breakfast) (2014).
  • 1 Coco del mer. Nice and central hotel with mostly decent rooms. Ask for discount for about half price. There is also a restaurant downstairs. double US$60.
  • Flamingo Guest House. A great budget place 10 minutes from the city centre. It is simple, clean and rooms with private bathrooms are a bit more expensive. The breakfast is quite nice and substantial including fruit, a loaf of bread, eggs, and coffee/tea single US$15. double $28 dorm $15 per person..
  • Funguni Palace Hotel, Funguni Rd (near to Ferry), +255 777411842, e-mail: . 24 hrs. This hotel contains 11 rooms in Zanzibar traditional style inside. Some rooms have self-contained bathrooms and some use shared bathrooms. There are air conditioners in rooms. US$35.
  • [dead link]Pearl Guest House (in middle Stone Town, about 5 minutes walk east of the port/ Mercury's Restaurant. If your are coming from the market, it is about 2 minutes walk east of the junction of Creek Road and Malindi Street). A simple budget guest house for backpackers. Don't expect much (common bathrooms, cold water shower and without breakfast) but the owner is friendly and it offers a very good value for money. US$8-12 pp (2009).
  • Malindi Guest House Hotel, Funguni Rd (Near the ferry). Check-in: any time, check-out: 10AM. It's close to the Zanzibar Port (off Malindi Street) and near the fish market (but the smell isn't so bad). US$20 per person per night, $40 sharing with private bathroom..
  • Annex of Abdullah (south of Jaws Corner, (opposite white & green Mosque)). Very basic but very cheap single rooms with shared bathrooms. Basic breakfast incl. A really decent find for the budget traveller. US$15.
  • 2 Jambo Guest House. Check-out: 10AM. Simple, but nice and clean rooms with fans and shared bathrooms and a great breakfast with lots of fresh fruit make this a welcoming place that is famous with bagpackers and fills up quickly. The staff is a bit disorganized, but generally friendly. Has free wifi. low-season double from Tsh 45,000 (2014).
  • 3 River Man Hotel. A cheapy, but some of rooms are really big and bright. Rooms area clean and have fans and shared bathrooms. Breakfast can be organized on request. It's next to a mosque and a busy walking street, so check which room your getting if that’s an issue for you. low-season double from Tsh 30,000 (2014).
  • Manch Lodge, Vuga road Stone town, +255 24-2231918. Check-in: 24 hours, check-out: noon. a nice clean dorm. with free Wifi and free breakfast, also has double rooms. from US$14 per person.
  • [dead link]Zanzibar Dormitory Lodge, Hurumzi Street Stonetown. bed and breakfast. from US$20 per bed..

Mid-range[edit]

  • Dhow Palace Hotel. Check-out: 10AM. Slow internet connection (Wifi) available. Non-residents from US$75 for a single.
  • Chavda Hotel is in the middle of Stone Town, 15min by foot from the Harbour (or Tsh 1,000 by taxi). Rooms are nice but without luxury. Double beds, 2 single or 3 single beds are available, all with air conditioning and mosquito drapes. Breakfast is small (it's better to eat around the corner) but the cheap hotel is on the roof of the hotel and offers nice views of Stone Town. Rate for a room with double bed US$90 USD incl. breakfast and taxes (10% charge when you pay by credit card).
  • Kisiwa House, Baghani St. Check-in: 13:00, check-out: 10:00. New hotel in a nicely restored building. Big rooms, though only the more expensive ones has view of the ocean -- the cheaper rooms only have view to the street. High season: US$165-220, low: US$110-170.
  • Kholle House, Malindi 607/608 (2 minutes walk to the ferry & Mercury's), +255 779779898200. Kholle House is a unique and historical hotel in the heart of Stonetown. All of it's 10 rooms are different and special with Ensuite bathrooms, AC and fan. Build in 1860 by Princess Kholle, daughter of the first Sultan of Zanzibar is now one of the most authentic places in Stonetown. Enjoy the à la carte breakfast and the swimming pool by the garden, and do not miss the stunning 360° views from the terrace! US$90-190.
  • Island View Hotel (located in Kilimani (about 2 km south of Stone Town)). A great option for budget travelers. Rooms have a TV with many channels, clean washrooms, a telephone and the option of air-conditioning. Staff are very friendly and helpful! double US$35-40 including breakfast (2007).

Splurge[edit]

  • Africa House Hotel. A historical building dating back to the first generation of old Arab houses at Shangani waterfont in Stone Town. Around 1900, it became the English Club for members of the British navy officers. In 1964 the club was taken over by the Tanzanian government. The building was privatised in the 1990s and offers hotel accommodation, the Sunset Bar (a popular meeting place for sundowners), a restaurant, a library and an Arabic shisha smoking lounge.

Uncategorized[edit]

Outside Stonetown[edit]

  • Furaha Resort, +255 772279353, e-mail: . Check-out: 10AM. 7 km from Stone Town the way to north of Island, with a nice rooms,sunset view restaurant. Rates quoted above are on per room per night and on bed and breakfast basis. children below 6 years old will be allowed free if no extra bed is needed. Extra bed US$20 per night. Facilities: swimming pool, en suite bathroom, AC, hot water, ceiling fan, pool garden view rooms offer cable tv and mini bar. Single/double occupancy rates: basic room US$50/65, standard/twin US$85/80, pool view deluxe US$75/95, Triple Deluxe (1 king size bed and 1 single bed) US$115. All taxes are included..
  • Pongwe Beach Hotel. A small hotel on the eastern side of the island. It is ideal for those looking for a relaxed and secluded "paradise island" experience. The food here is also excellent with half-board and bed & breakfast options available. Most rooms have sea views, some have their own splash-pools.
  • Botanic Country House located in Tunguu, central region (behind the new Tanzanian House of Parliament) is a great option for budget travellers who have had enough of the beach. A night for two people goes for US$40/night which includes a tasty breakfast. Nights are cool and it is a mosquito-free environment in the countryside of Zanzibar.
  • Dhow Inn, Paje Beach (Turn left at the Paje junction, go for about 200 meters, then turn right), +255 777525828. Check-in: 13:00, check-out: 12:00. This quiet, comfortable and atmospheric hotel is small and intimate with only 6 rooms. Well equipped rooms, stylish swimming pool, free wifi, attentive staff and the hotel is active with various local NGOs. No small children. 65$.
  • Tamarind Beach Hotel, Uroa Village, East Coast, +255 777411191. Bungalow hotel by the Indian Ocean on the east coast of Zanzibar. US$380.
  • [dead link]Fontaine Garden Village, Stone Town (south east coast of Zanzibar in the village of Bwejuu), +255 713419451, +255 714902618, e-mail: . Offers 11 bungalows, some en-suite, some shared facilities. There is also a house that sleeps 5. 20-seat restaurant. 100 m from the beach. 45 minutes from Stonetown.
  • Ras Michamvi Beach Resort, Michamvi, +255 24 22 31 081. A peaceful hotel on the northern end of the southern East Coast of Zanzibar. All 15 rooms are overlooking the Indian Ocean, with powder-white sand.
  • The Zanzibari, Nungwi, +255 774-323318. A beach front boutique hotel with 8 rooms. An adjoining bar and restaurant is crafted out of a traditional wooden boat.
  • Teddy´s Place, Paje (at Paje junction turn right and after the wall of Cristal turn left), +255 773 096 306. Backpacker style accommodation. Zanzibari food, and bar. 12$-25$.
  • Mustapha´s Place, Bwejuu (at Paje junction turn left and drive for a few minutes until you see a sign for Mustapha's Place on the right - follow this), +255 774 366 841. Mustapha's is popular with backpackers, volunteers and families and offers rustic accommodation and reliable food about 2 minutes form Bwejuu beach US$15-60.
  • Milele Villas (Private Holiday Villa Rental), Fukuchani, +255 773-828026, e-mail: . Environmental friendly and self-sufficient set of villas located on the North-Eastern tip of Zanzibar. Sleeps from 2-12 people, and includes facilities such as an infinity swimming pool, sea-view and volleyball court.
  • White Beach Hotel Zanzibar, Bwejuu (East Coast Bwejuu), +255 772279353, e-mail: . Check-in: any time, check-out: 10AM. This hotel contains 6 bungalows along the beach. US$40 as a single and $25 sharing room double. Price includes breakfast and taxes..

Go next[edit]


This city travel guide to Stone Town is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.