40 Things to do in Zanzibar (Part 1)

By Mark Wiens 4 Comments

If you missed Part 2, check it out here!

The Zanzibar archipelago of islands is located in the Indian Ocean, about 25 km off the coast of Tanzania, East Africa. Unguja Island is the largest and most populous island, also referred to just as Zanzibar Island.

This list of things to do in Zanzibar only pertains to the island of Unguja.

1. Take a Ride on a Dhow – Traditional Sailboat

The traditional sailboats are called dhow’s. Hire a sailboat to enjoy a Zanzibar style cruise on the Indian ocean!

Tanzanian Dhow
Take a Ride on a Dhow

2. Jozani Forest Jozani Forest

Small adventures can be arranged through travel agents around Zanzibar to see birds and the famous Red Colobus monkeys that centrally dwell in the Jozani forest.

3. Jaws Corner Coffee Shop Jaws Corner Coffe Shop - Stone Town

Jaws Corner coffee shop in Stone Town is the ultimate place to drink a few cups of black coffee, chat with others and contemplate plans for the rest of the day.

4. Beit El-Ajaib (House of Wonders) Zanzibar House of Wonders

Built by Sultan Barghash as a ceremonial palace, the House of Wonders is now the Zanzibar National Museum. Not the most exciting museum, but it is a decent place to learn some of the history of the island archipelago.

Open 9 am – 6 pm Mon – Fri, 9 am – 3 pm Sat and Sun
Adults – 5000 TSH

5. Old Fort

The Old Fort was build by Omani’s in order to protect against the Portuguese. Now it is part of the Zanzibar Cultural Center and also offers a number of curio shops on the inside of the fort walls.

Old Fort Zanzibar
Zanzibar Old Fort

6. Spice Tour Zanzibar Spice Tour

A tourist oriented tour, yet it shows spices grown on the islands of Zanzibar like cloves, vanilla, nutmeg and all kinds of natural flavors everyone adores! Interesting tours that can be arranged at most hotels or tour agencies.

7. Zanzibar Pizza

Unlike any pizza you’ve ever had, this Zanzibari creation is more like a stuffed roti. Basic composition includes pastry dough filled with an egg and handful of pizza-like ingredients and then fried up in oil and margarine…TASTY!

8. Slave Market Old Slave Market - Zanzibar

From 1830 – 1873 it is estimated that around 600,000 slaves were traded from East Africa to Persia, Arab countries and Indian Ocean Islands. Today the old slave market is a solemn reminder.

9. Shop for Souvenirs and Antiques Shopping Zanzibar

Stone Town is full of curio stores and antique shops selling a huge supply of African handicrafts as well as unique gifts from Zanzibar. Zanzibar style wooden chests are among my favorites!

10. Zanzibar Butterfly Center

The Zanzibar Butterfly Center features a great display of butterflies in a beautiful tropical environment. For more information visit their official website.

11. Darajani Market Darajani Market - Stone Town, Zanzibar

Located on the edge of old Stone Town, Darajani market is a great local market to enjoy local sounds, smells, and flavors of local life.

12. Old Arab Ruins

Located all over the island of Zanzibar with a few sites close to Stone Town are historical ruins. Mbweni, Mtoni Palace, Maruhubi Palace and a series of old Persian baths make good historical day trips around Zanzibar.

13. Prison Island / Changuu Island

A 30 minute boat ride from Stone Town will get you to Prison Island Zanzibar. A quiet resort, a haven of giant tortoises and the old prison ruins make it a decent day trip.

A boat should cost $30 – $40 and can fit up to 12 people or so. There is an island park charge of $4 per person. One can easily arrange a ½ day trip including snorkeling from a hotel or tour agency.

Prison Island, Zanzibar
Things to do in Zanzibar – Prison Island

14. Lukmaan Restaurant Lukmaan Restaurant

Popular by locals and tourists searching for some of Stone Town’s best food, Lukmaan Restaurant serves a menu that isn’t far from perfection. Coconut vegetables, roasted bananas, stews, pilau and biryani, can all be washed down with some fresh passion or tamarind juice. Lukmaan is a must!

15. Beit El-Sahel (Palace Museum)

What was once the palace of the sultan, is now a museum displaying his role on Zanzibar.

16. Old Dispensary Zanzibar Old Dispersery

It was quite quiet the time I went in, but it is a very nicely preserved building, nice to see from the outside and have a quick wander around the interior.

17. Livingstone House

A house where David Livingstone stayed as well as many European missionaries spent time before setting off into continental Africa. Nowadays it is an interesting house to see and has become the office of Zanzibar Tourist Corporation.

18. Shakti Temple

An old Hindu temple catering mostly to the Indian community within the maze of alleys in Stone Town.

19. Mishkaki Skewers Mishkaki Kebab

Marinated skewers of succulent chicken and beef grilled over charcoal is a flavor to look forward to when visiting Zanzibar.

20. Kidichi Persian Baths Kidichi Persian Baths

Located just outside of Stone Town, the Kidichi baths were originally built by Sultan Said and used for freshening up and relaxing.

Click here to check out part 2