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Things to Do in Stone Town (when you only have two days)

It’s 5.30am in Zanzibar. I awake to the sound of the call to prayer from the nearby mosque.

Stone Town, I’ve missed you.

Stone Town Zanzibar

The Zanzibar Archipelago lies in the Indian Ocean, off the coast of Tanzania. It’s made up of 3 main islands (Unguja, Pemba and Mafia), plus a number of smaller islands. Unguja, the largest island is what most people talk about when they refer to Zanzibar. The capital of Unguja is Zanzibar City, and the most famous section of Zanzibar City is called Stone Town. The other part of Zanzibar City is called Ng’ambo which literally means ‘the other side’ and the two are divided by Creek Road. You still with me?

The word Zanzibar is said to have both Persian and Arabic origins – from the Persian “Zangh Bar” loosely translating as “land of the black people”, or from Arabic “Zayn Z’al Barr” which means ‘Fair is this land”. The Swahili name of Unguja means “bowl of fruits” – quite fitting, both literally and metaphorically.

Zanzibar is called ‘The Spice Island’ due to the number of different spices grown there and it’s also famous as the birthplace of Queen frontman, Freddie Mercury. In my mind, there’s nowhere on Earth quite like Zanzibar. Often described as a ‘cultural melting pot’, owing to the various different peoples who’ve settled here over the ages. All of which have all left their mark in one way on this island, whether it be in the architecture, the customs, the food, the beliefs, religion or on the people themselves.

Zanzibar was a major trading hub, as well as the starting point for many journeys into the then ‘unexplored’ African interior, including those of David Livingstone and Henry Morton Stanley. Zanzibar was at the forefront at the slave trade during its peak in the 19th century when men, women and children were forced into slavery on the mainland, brutalized, chained and auctioned at the slave market then shipped off to other parts of the world. If they survived the journeys. Many didn’t.

Nowadays, it’s a place where the modern world meets the old world as traditional dhows (sailing boats) line the harbour alongside yachts and catamarans. A place of beauty and decay. With dark winding alleys and beautiful open beaches. A place to pray and and place to party. Zanzibar might not be everyone’s cup of chai, but it is the place that fascinates me more than any other.

The mix of cultures and flavours, coupled with the proximity to the Indian Ocean means that the Swahili cuisine is possibly the best food in all of Africa. Expect fresh fish and food cooked with traditional spices and plenty of coconut.

Zanzibar is the perfect place to unwind after a Serengeti safari or a trek up Kilimanjaro – whether you want to eat, sleep, lay on a beach or party, I’m sure you’ll find something to float your boat (or should I saw ‘wow your dhow’).

“Wow your dhow”. I’m quite proud of that. Think it might catch on. You heard it here first…

Stone Town is UNESCO World Heritage Site and the kind of place you could spend days and days wandering around. But if you don’t have a lot of time, you need to make the most of it!

This was my fourth trip to the island, and my second time on this trip and I was looking forward to a little bit of luxury after camping for the last week. We only had 2 days to explore which Matt thought was enough and was ready to hit the beaches after walking around in the heat. But I could have stayed a couple of days longer!

Knowing what I know now, here’s my advice on things to do in Stone Town when you only have a couple of days to explore, including what I did and what I might have done differently.

Day One

The Zanzibar Ferry

We took the 9.30am Azam Marine ferry from Dar es Salaam to Zanzibar arriving in Stone Town at 11.30

Once we got through the madness that is the ferry terminal we grabbed a taxi to our hotel paying $5. Our hotel wasn’t far, so we could have walked it however we didn’t have a clue where we were going. The driver drove us as close as he could, then walked us the last few yards through the myriad of alleyways to the Emerson Spice Hotel, our base for the next couple of days.

Emerson Spice Hotel

Now, I’ve stayed in many hotels in my time, but I have to say, Emerson Spice is definitely one of my favourites. The hotel is a an old Merchant’s House and once home to the last Swahili ruler of Zanzibar, lovingly restored by Emerson himself. It’s the type of place that makes you feel as though you’d been transported back in time to the days when Sultans ruled or perhaps to a mythical land where genies lived in lamps. Arabian princess? I sure felt like one. And, yes, that’s a massive bathtub in my room!

Emerson Spice Hotel

Sadly, Emerson passed away last year, and from talking to the staff at the hotel, he is greatly missed by all who knew him. He sounds like someone with a big heart, who was a lot of fun and I wish I’d been fortunate enough to meet him and attend one of his legendary parties. I have so much to write about Emerson Spice, so I’ll do that in an upcoming post, but for now, let’s continue our tour of Stone Town.

 

We were starving by this point, so we headed out for lunch to Lukmaan Restaurant as recommended by the hotel. On the way, we did what everyone does (or should do) in Stone Town – we got completely lost in the narrow alleyways. Stone Town is like a maze.

We found ourselves at Darajani Market and since we were there, took a little stroll around, because as I always say, the market is the heart and soul of any place. Bustling and awash with colour, selling everything you would expect from an East African market including food (bread, meat, fish, spices, fruit and vegetables), clothing (kofia hats, shoes, materials – kitenge/kanga) and a whole host of other things. This is the place to buy your spices! Not the touristy ones, the real spices!

Top Tips: Markets are always better in the morning and you may catch the fish auction! If you want to take photos of people (especially in the market), please ask before you do so. Some will say no, some will be fine with it, some will ask for payment – but it will avoid causing any unnecessary offence.

Zanzibar Bananas

After asking directions from a local man we eventually found the Lukmaan restaurant. But not before he trailed us down the street and insisted we buy ‘The Best of African Songs’ CD by the Safari Sound Band from him. We did buy the CD and I can assure you that it is NOT the best of African songs but it does have the Jambo Jambo song on so it wasn’t a complete waste of money.

Top Tip: Lots of people will approach you to sell you this CD and also packs of spices. If you don’t want to buy ‘Hapana asante’ means ‘No thank you’. They will insist, but just say you have it already and move on.

Lukmaan's Restaurant

Lukmaan was busy when we arrived, with a mix of locals and tourists but we still managed to find a seat inside (they also have tables outside, a good spot for people watching). You go up to the counter to order, and pick from the dishes in front of you. There’s a huge menu outside but we only saw this as we were leaving. I had boiled king fish in onion curry, Matt had chicken and beef and we shared plates of fragrant biryani and pilau rice. The flavours were amazing. The whole meal cost 12,500 TSH, which is less than £5. Absolutely delicious, authentic Zanzibari food and cheap as (masala) chips!

Top Tip: Lukmaan is open from 7am – 9pm daily. Another great restaurant to try is the Passing Show Hotel. Many restaurants and teahouses are called hotels in East Africa. I didn’t eat there on this trip, but I’ve eaten here before and the food is wonderful, very similar to Lukmaan.

Stone Town Zanzibar   Stone Town ZanzibarAfter that, we just took a bit of a stroll, getting lost again in the maze of narrow streets,  dodging bicycles and motorbikes, stopping at the various curio shops and to marvel at the architecture. Near to the Portuguese Arch, we managed to acquire two lost South African ladies, who were looking for the seafront. Matt and I had a map, so we took it upon ourselves to escort them there.

As we walked a number of men came up to us and offered us tours of the city for various prices. We all declined. We did want a tour of the city, but taking a tour from a random person off the street could be hit and miss, so we decided to wait and ask around for recommendations.

The Old Fort

The four of us ventured into the Old Fort. It was originally built by the Omani people to defend against the Portuguese. These days, it contains a number of curio shops, restaurant and a small ampitheatre which is used for performances and festivals. I love curio shops and the sellers see me coming a mile away. I wander in wearing harem pants, a scarf, dandlgy earrings and a bag made from kitenge and they must think ‘ka-ching, this one’s a winner’! They’re probably right to be fair.

Stone Town Door   Stone Town The ladies were nowhere to be seen when we were ready to leave, so Matt and I left the fort and having only bought a fridge magnet and another pair of earrings, I felt quite quite proud of myself. One of the young men who’d tried to be our tour guide was waiting outside. “Your mother went that way” he said. The two women had ditched us by this point, probably scared they’d also be hounded by the shopkeepers just by being in my presence.

Forodhani Gardens

Across from the fort is Forodhani Gardens, where we were planning on eating the following evening. We took a wander over. The vendors were setting up their stalls ready for the evening. By this point it was getting towards the late afternoon, so we decided to head back to the hotel as we were booked in for a 5 course meal at the Tea House Restaurant on the rooftop of Emerson Spice that evening. The restaurant is known for having some of the best views and food in all of Zanzibar. The menu changes daily, created by the chef using the daily catch of their very own fisherman, so I was very excited to experience this for myself.

Sunset over Stone Town

I wasn’t disappointed. We ate our exquisite meal, under a canopy of silk, enjoying the sunset with panoramic views over the terracotta rooftops of Stone Town. Simply wonderful.

There’s far too much for me to write about now, so I’ll save that for another time.

Top Tip: The restaurant is VERY popular, so make sure you book ahead to avoid disappointment. Head up to the rooftop for around 6pm so you can watch the sunset, with cocktails of course. Dinner is served promptly at 7pm and is a 5-course set menu costing $30 per person. Enjoy!

Stone Town Zanzibar

Day Two

After a leisurely breakfast at the hotel, we headed out again. Now, we probably wasted our morning a little, we didn’t go on any of the popular trips that depart from Stone Town. Only having a couple of days there, we wanted to spend as much time as possible just exploring. The two things I do regret not doing is a Spice Tour and taking a trip to Chumbe Island. Most of the people I know who’ve done one enjoyed them. But, I guess I’ll just have to go back!

Stone Town Zanzibar

Other options from Stone Town include a trip to Prison Island to see the giant tortoises, which I visited on my second trip in 2009. If you get a good tour (which I did through Absolute Africa) it can be a really good day out but I also know lots of people who were really disappointed in their trips, so we decided not to chance it and Matt wasn’t that fussed on going either. Then there’s things like sunset dhow cruises and dolphin tours, but we were going to the northern beaches the following day, so decided to wait and see what we felt like doing when we got there instead.

Architecture

We walked down to the fabulous Old Dispensary at the dock for a look around. It was originally intended to be a hospital for the poor, but the owner died whilst it was still under construction and his widow didn’t have the money to continue. The building was later sold off and the new owner decided to use the ground floor as a dispensary, and the upper floors were turned into apartments. After the Zanzibar revolution of 1964, the building was abandoned before being claimed by the government. It was eventually restored in the early 1990’s.

The Old Dispensary

We were getting thirsty by this point and we Knew our friends from our Absolute Africa tour were arriving on the 11.30 ferry, so we decided to pop into Mercury’s Bar next to the terminal for a quick drink whilst we waited.

Top Tip: Mercury’s Bar is fine for a quick drink but it’s very much a tourist place.

Zanzibar

We said a quick hello to our friends and arranged to meet later that evening at the beach around 5pm. A few years back, I remember I sat with a friend in this very bar and watched as boys did capoeira on the beach at sunset and I wanted to see if they still did.

At 12.30, we were going on a walking tour that we’d arranged through Emerson Spice. Our guide was Farid Himid, a wonderfully eccentric and vocal Zanzabarian, with good English, excellent knowledge of the island and all the local gossip. Farid seems to know everyone in Stone Town and they all seem to know him (I think he’s a bit of a local celeb – he showed us a picture of him and Matt Dillon) and is involved in all kinds of projects – cleaning up the island, youth work and social enterprise, plus he’s a journalist too.

What Farid doesn’t know about Zanzibar, probably isn’t worth knowing and my head was almost about to explode from information overload by the end of the three hours.

Street Art Stone Town

He told us about Swahili culture and the Sultans, Queens and Princesses who ruled the island. Of war, kidnappings and politics. Of the history of the Portuguese, Arabs, Africans, Omanis, Persians, Chinese, Germans and British, who’ve all had a strong influence over the island at one time or another.

Zanzibar Door

As we wandered he explained the significance of the intricate doorway designs, how to tell the difference between an Arab and an Indian door, and what the symbols meant, pointing out things I never would have noticed. This included a trip to perhaps the most famous door in Stone Town, the one at Tippu Tip’s House, a Zanzibarian slave and ivory trader from the 18th century.

Stone Town Zanzibar  Zanzibar Sexy Shoes

He took us to St Joseph’s Cathedral and to the old Geisha House. Yes, apparently there were Geisha in Zanzibar once upon a time. He took us to the Abeid Curio Shop and showed us the beautiful Zanzibar Chests and shoes that would ‘make us sexy’ and told us how a woman in Zanzibar knows if her husband is cheating on her using a little golden incense burner.

Zanzibar Chests Stone Town Zanzibar

He took us to the House of Wonders which is currently closed, but can still be very much appreciated from the outside. Every so often he would pull something out of his bag of tricks to demonstrate a point, whether it was an old photograph or to explain the significance of different colours and patterns of kitenge (material) that the women wear. He knew all kinds of facts – did you know Zanzibar had electric lighting before London? Nope, neither did I? Or that the shortest war in history took place in Zanzibar (it was in 1896 and lasted only 2 days)?

House of Wonders Stone Town Zanzibar

He took us to Jaws Corner where the men gather to chat and drink coffee in tiny cups (wiggle your cup if you want a top up). He gave us baobab seeds (ubuyu) coated in sugar and colouring, bought us a bag of spicy cassava chips (I’m in love with these now) and made us try mango with chilli and salt. We stopped by the Hamamni Persian Baths which are derelict now and cool to have a quick look at, but that’s it, a quick look will do!

Jaws Coffee Corner Stone Town Zanzibar Jaws Coffee Corner Stone Town Zanzibar Zanzibar Foods - Baobab Seeds

I could tell you everything he told us, but then I don’t want to spoil it as this tour is something you REALLY need to experience for yourself.

Top Tip: A 3-hour tour with Farid cost us $30 between us. Worth every penny and I’m so glad we didn’t go with any of the people who approached us on the street as I’m pretty certain that we had the best guide in Zanzibar! if you would like to arrange a tour with Farid, you can contact him via WhatApp on +255777484734.

The only places we didn’t go, were the Old Slave Market/Anglican Cathedral which is a really interesting place to visit from my memory from a previous trip. So if that’s somewhere you want to go, let Farid know.

The sun was getting low in the sky when we arrived at the Livingstone Bar later that day. The beach was packed both on land and in the sea. The energy levels would soar as boats came in, causing waves which the young boys could splash around in. As I’d hoped, the lads were there, although doing acrobatics, rather than capoeira this time. I watched in awe as they somersaulted their way down the beach, almost taking out a few spectators as they went. These guys are serious athletes.

Acrobatics on the Beach

Eventually I plucked up the courage to go up to them and ask if I could take some photos. They were happy for me to do so, so I took up my position and snapped away. I loved how they all cheered each other on. I got chatting to one of the guys whose name was Ninja (that’s him just below, and I’m guessing not his real name, but one that suited him nonetheless). He was really keen to see the photos and called over his friends when as he spotted them in the pictures. We even swapped email addresses so I could send them the pictures!

Stone Town Ninja Zanzibar CapoeiraAcrobatics on the BeachAcrobatics on the BeachAcrobatics on the BeachAcrobatics on the BeachAcrobatics on the BeachAcrobatics on the Beach

We watched the sun go down with a few beers. Or as we call them, sundowners.

Top Tip: Another great place to watch the sunset with a cocktail is the Africa House Hotel. I went there to watch it on my second visit to Zanzibar (just before I joined the boys jumping into the sea). It is expensive but the view is good.

Sunset Stone Town Zanzibar Tanzania

As it got dark, we headed to Forodhani Gardens, where each evening street vendors set up their stalls, selling seafood and meat kebabs, samosas, fruit, grilled maize, Zanzibar pizzas and sugar cane juice as well as many other East African dishes to tourists and locals alike.

Forodhani Gardens Forodhani Gardens

Top Tip: There are a lot of stalls to choose from, so my recommendation is to take your time, have a look around the whole market before you commit. Eating where the locals are, or where’s there’s a bit of a queue is where you’re likely to find the freshest food (and the least likely to give you food poisoning – I’ve heard some of the meat/seafood isn’t always that fresh).

I was desperate to try a Zanzibar pizza and so chose a stall called Mr Sweet. All stalls have a big choice and I ordered a savoury cheese and tomato one. First of all, Mr Sweet flattened out a very thin piece of wet looking, almost see-through dough and then added a smaller extra piece on top. Then he added diced onions, tomatoes and a cheese triangle and wrapped over the edges. He fried it on one side, flipped in over and fried it on the other side before serving it on a paper plate with a cocktail stick and some sweet chilli on the side. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I really, really loved it. It’s doesn’t taste much like a pizza though.

Forodhani Gardens Stone Town ZanzibarForodhani Gardens (2)

I washed it down with a sugar cane juice – also delicious.

Forodhani Gardens Stone Town ZanzibarForodhani Gardens (5)

Our next stop was Mr Big Banana. With a name like that, you kind of have to go there, right? I was still full from my pizza, but I tried some of my friends sweet Zanzibar pizza with chocolate spread and bananas – also very, very delicious. My friend Korrin had her Polaroid camera with her and gave Mr Big Banana a picture of himself. He looked SO happy!

 

Next I decided to try grilled maize. I’d seen this being cooked by the roadside everywhere in East Africa and I was expecting it to be like corn on the cob. It wasn’t. Instead it was hard, chewy – kind of like it had been grilled about 3 days ago, then left out in the sun. So I made all my friends have a bite and they all pulled the exact same face I did. Don’t let me put you off though, you need to try it for yourself!

Forodhani Gardens (4)

Top Tip: Sugar cane juice costs 1000 TSH for a takeaway cup (500 TSH if you drink it in a glass at the stall). A Zanzibar pizza costs around 2500 – 3000 TSH (bargain). The market starts around 5pm and finishes at about 9pm daily.

After dinner we sat down and watched the local boys running and launching themselves off the harbour wall and into the sea much to the delight of their audience – some still wearing their shoes and fully dressed. They do this every day, just for fun. What they do can’t be safe, but it’s awesome and very entertaining. A few years ago, I joined them and jumped off the wall too. One of my favourite travel memories ever and I still can’t believe I did it! We even bumped into Farid, so Forodhani Gardens must be a cool spot to hang out!

We finished off the night with a quick drink at The Silk Route Indian Restaurant.

I’d had an amazing two days in Stone Town, and wasn’t ready to leave as there were still a few things I wanted to do and see, but we were booked into The Rock the following day, so the East Coast was calling. Oh well, another excuse to go back. And I will be back, Stone Town. Oh yes, I will be back.

READ MORE: 40 Amazing Things To Do in Zanzibar

Essential Info:

  • Getting There: Azam Marine ferries is the company I recommend. The journey takes approximately 2 hours and ferries run at 7am, 9.30am, 12.30pm and 3.45 pm in both directions (from Stone Town and Dar es Salaam). The ferry costs $35 (one way) for an adult economy class ticket. Make sure you buy your ticket from the official ticket office, not from touts on the street. You can also fly to Zanzibar.
  • Entry Requirements: I paid $50 for my Tanzanian visa on arrival in Dar es Salaam, so I didn’t have to pay again in Zanzibar. If you’re flying into Zanzibar you’ll have to get your Tanzania visa there, but it will cover you if you go to the mainland too. Have your dollars ready, and dated after 2002 and make sure the note isn’t damaged (same goes for all your dollars). We filled out a Zanzibar entry form and had to show our Yellow Fever certificates. We were also temperature screened on entry (I assume for ebola).
  • Money: The official currency is Tanzanian Shillings (TSH), but many hotels and tourist activities accept dollars and cards but have shillings for everything else. I prefer to pay in local currency as much as I can. There are ATMs in Stone Town, but I didn’t see any others around the island – don’t get caught short. There are Bureau de Change facilities in Stone Town too, and lots of hotels around the island will exchange money – although we had trouble with this as it was the off season and lots of hotels didn’t have much physical cash. If coming from Dar es Salaam, I suggest you change money there as you’ll most likely get a better rate.
  • Where To Stay: We stayed at the exquisite Emerson Spice Hotel, and I cannot recommend it enough.
  • Where To Eat & Drink: The Tea House Restaurant at the Emerson Spice Hotel, Emerson on Hurumzi, Lukmaan Restaurant, Zanzibar Coffee House, Jaws Corner, Forodhani Gardens and the Dhow Palace Hotel.
  • Getting Around: With the narrow walkways, the best way to get around Stone Town is by foot. If you’re travelling out of the city, taxis, share taxis and local mini busses are all options. Prices vary massively, a taxi to Kendwa can be anything from $20 to $50 (negotiate, I got one for $20 – which is cheap for that distance), a share taxi is $10 per person and a mini bus (dala dala) is less than £1. Mini busses depart from Darajani Market. Don’t let anyone tell you they aren’t running, they will be (I got caught out with this which is why I got a taxi).
  • Best Time To Visit: January/February and June to October are generally the best times to visit. March – May sees the long rains. November and December has the short rains. Stone Town was really hot and humid when we were there in November. Just a few minutes walking and we were sweating. Take sunscreen and drink lots of water.
  • What To Wear: Stone Town is predominantly Muslim, so for ladies, knees should be covered at all times whilst walking around town and preferably your shoulders and chest too. Dress code is much more relaxed at the hotels, restaurants, bars and at the beach resorts on the North and East coasts. Men get away with whatever they want.
  • Ramadan: If you visit during Ramadan, many of the restaurants will be closed during the day, but there are still a few that are open. Some of the beach bars/discos elsewhere may close too. Be extra sensitive to the dress code at this time and do not eat on the street in the day – it’s offensive to a lot of people to do this. Try and attend an iftari – the evening meal once the sun sets. And stay for Eid, it’s meant to be amazing!!! Eid starts on 28th July in 2015.
  • Hassle: People will come up to you constantly in Stone Town, offering tours, trying to sell things etc. I’d be very wary of buying anything off anyone on the street. Be polite but firm if you don’t want to buy anything. People will look disappointed, but if you bought from everyone who tried to sell you something, you would end up with no money left and a load of stuff you don’t want.
  • Safety: Muggings do happen in Stone Town, mostly in the alleyways at night. Avoid walking anywhere alone at night, but if you have to, take a taxi or perhaps get someone from the hotel or restaurant to walk you and don’t linger.
  • Etiquette: Zanzibar is quite used to tourists, but some people are still quite sensitive to photography. Do not take photographs of people unless you ask them first (hence why there aren’t many people in my pictures). Younger people tend not to mind so much (many have mobiles and Facebook), like the boys who were happy to be in my pictures, but a lot of older people take offence. It’s fine for a general scene from a bit of a distance, but close up or in busy places like the market just be careful.
  • Further Reading: Take a look at my Tips for Travelling in Africa – it all applies.

Have you been to Stone Town? Do you want to go?


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60 Comments

  • Reply
    Brenna
    January 9, 2015 at 2:30 am

    Ahhh I’m desperate to get to Zanzibar! I’ll definitely use this guide in the future. x
    Brenna recently posted…On Being Happy With Being ContentMy Profile

    • Reply
      Helen
      January 9, 2015 at 5:58 pm

      Ah, that’s great Brenna! I want to go back this year, so if you’re looking for company… 🙂

  • Reply
    Ed Rex
    January 9, 2015 at 8:20 am

    Wow, what a really informative guide!

    I really enjoyed reading all about it, getting caught up in your enthusiasm. Fo’sure I’ll be coming to Zanzibar next time I began in Africa!
    Ed Rex recently posted…Why Visiting Edinburgh in Winter is a Wee Good IdeaMy Profile

    • Reply
      Helen
      January 9, 2015 at 5:59 pm

      Thanks Ed! What a lovely comment! You should definitely go!!!! Think you’d love it!

  • Reply
    Ella
    January 9, 2015 at 3:27 pm

    Wow, it sounds like you had an amazing time! Everyone I know who’s been to Zanzibar absolutely loved it. Hopefully I’ll get to visit myself on a future trip. 🙂

    • Reply
      Helen
      January 9, 2015 at 6:00 pm

      I did thank you Ella!!!! I’m sure you will. I think your Africa journey has only just begun… 🙂

  • Reply
    Michelle - Very Hungry Explorer
    January 9, 2015 at 10:21 pm

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading this post. Zanzibar sounds amazing and your pictures are beautiful. I will definitely be visiting Stone Town this year.
    Michelle – Very Hungry Explorer recently posted…VISITING LINDISFARNE, NORTHUMBERLANDMy Profile

    • Reply
      Helen
      January 9, 2015 at 11:03 pm

      Thanks Michelle! I love Zanzibar!! Go this year! I may go back again this year too! And glad you like the photos! I totally didn’t get all the shots I wanted so need to return! 🙂

  • Reply
    Matthew
    January 9, 2015 at 11:10 pm

    My wife and I are going to Zanzibar in a few weeks. This guide is perfect and we’ll definitely be following your recommendations. Emerson Spice looks amazing and definitely want to do the tour and try a Zanzibar Pizza! Thanks.

    • Reply
      Helen
      January 10, 2015 at 12:31 am

      Hope you have an amazing time! Yes, the tour is fab, and even if you don’t stay at Emerson Spice, go for dinner! Zanzibar pizza is amazing also! 🙂

  • Reply
    Roxanne Reid
    January 10, 2015 at 6:51 am

    Stone TOwn is still definitely on my to-do list, so thatnks for all the tips. I love, love that photo of the ancient door with colourful veg and baskets.
    Roxanne Reid recently posted…The scent of the Himba in NamibiaMy Profile

    • Reply
      Helen
      January 10, 2015 at 12:33 pm

      Glad you like it Roxanne! That door is right outside Emerson Spice Hotel! 🙂

  • Reply
    Rebecca
    January 17, 2015 at 2:14 am

    Ever since I could read I’ve been picking up travel magazines and books, and articles about Zanzibar always evoked images of a magical place. Thanks for this guide – I. Must. Go. There.

    • Reply
      Helen
      January 17, 2015 at 1:32 pm

      Thanks Rebecca! Yes, you must go there! 🙂 Hope you have an amazing time!

  • Reply
    Germanus
    January 17, 2015 at 12:42 pm

    Waoh you make me feel to return back home…. It was amazingly
    journey….. Ubuyu!!! Did you try ”
    KASHATA” ? And the mostly popular UROJO. Forodhani markets…. You did very good job Heleni.

    • Reply
      Helen
      January 17, 2015 at 1:39 pm

      Thank you Germanus, that is a big compliment coming from a Tanzanian, and one who’s also lived in Zanzibar.

      I did try kashata, I had a piece with my coffee at Jaws Corner, should add that in. I didn’t have urojo but it is on my list for next time! The ubuyu was nice!

      • Reply
        Germanus
        January 17, 2015 at 4:44 pm

        Nice to hear you tried kashata as well with coffee….. Did you realise that coffee you won’t drink without kashata the way it’s bitter

        • Reply
          Helen
          January 17, 2015 at 5:30 pm

          The coffee is bitter without the kashata? Or the kashata is bitter without the coffee? 🙂

  • Reply
    Sarah
    January 19, 2015 at 4:36 pm

    I know what you mean by “oh Stone Town I’ve missed you”, it’s what I was thinking looking at the pictures! Well, more I am missing you… 🙂 I want to go back so desperately! I also kind of regret not doing the spice tour, it just looked so cheesy while I was there… Next time, definitely!
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    • Reply
      Helen
      January 20, 2015 at 7:00 pm

      Aw, thanks Sarah! Glad my pictures evoked some memories for you!

      Yeah, I’ve heard mixed reviews about the Spice Tours, some people love them, some people say they’re too touristy. I’ll definitely try one next time though!

  • Reply
    Jessica
    May 10, 2015 at 6:42 am

    Hi Helen,

    Great blog, very informative! Myself and my partner are vising Zanzibar next month, we can’t wait.

    Quick question – how do we reach Farid Himid for the tour?

    • Reply
      Helen
      May 15, 2015 at 4:45 pm

      Hi Jessica, I’m in Morocco but will it’s the details when I get home on Sunday! X

    • Reply
      Helen
      May 17, 2015 at 11:55 am

      Hi Jessica, You can reach Farid on +255777484734

      If you can’t get in touch direct, pop to Emerson Spice and I’m sure they can sort it out for you! 🙂 Have a great time! x

  • Reply
    Christine
    September 23, 2015 at 7:46 pm

    This has really helped me for my trip next week! Thanks 🙂

    • Reply
      Helen
      September 23, 2015 at 8:21 pm

      That’s great, thanks Chrstine!!! 🙂 Let me know if yu do any of the things I recommend. Would love to hear your thoughts!

      • Reply
        Christine
        September 24, 2015 at 4:20 pm

        I sure will 🙂 I may link my travel blog so you can read it 🙂

  • Reply
    Jessey Jay
    October 5, 2015 at 7:08 am

    Hey!
    Awsome Post Thanks For Sharing !

    • Reply
      Helen
      October 29, 2015 at 5:13 pm

      Thank you for reading! 🙂

  • Reply
    AMYN
    October 24, 2015 at 10:06 pm

    Fabulous article! Just happened on this accidentally!

    I will be uploading my images from my Travels to East Africa.

    AMYN recently posted…Apartment Buildings At Night Cdlxxix by Nasser StudiosMy Profile

    • Reply
      Helen
      October 29, 2015 at 5:14 pm

      Thanks Amyn, glad you liked it!

      Great, I’l check them out! Enjoy your travels!

  • Reply
    Hannah
    October 28, 2015 at 6:11 pm

    Thank you so much for this detailed review of your trip! I am going to be in Stone Town at the end of November, and your post made me feel like I have a better ‘feel’ of what I’ll find there. 🙂

    • Reply
      Helen
      October 29, 2015 at 5:07 pm

      Thanks so much Hannah! Stone Town is amazing, such an interesting place. Are you just going to Stone Town, or other places too?

      x

      • Reply
        Hannah Bryant
        October 29, 2015 at 5:44 pm

        We have booked a hotel in Stone Town, but are interesting in exploring outside of the town as well! What are your best tips/suggestions/ideas? 🙂

        • Reply
          Helen
          November 2, 2015 at 7:47 pm

          Hi Hannah! My suggestions would be:

          Beaches of Kendwa, Nungwe, Paje – lots to do there!
          Jozani Forest
          Prison Island
          If you have time there’s other islands like Mafia
          Go on a boat trip with Safari Blue

          Have an amazing time Hannah!

  • Reply
    Barbara Nekesa
    January 22, 2016 at 1:34 pm

    wow my friends and I are planning to travel to Zanzibar for the Easter weekend in March and this information is going to be helpful. Thank you for sharing

    • Reply
      Helen
      January 23, 2016 at 10:56 pm

      Hey Barbara! Glad this is helpful!!! Have an amazing time when you go!! 🙂

  • Reply
    Melanie Hillebrand
    February 29, 2016 at 7:33 am

    Wow what a great blog! We are planning to go to Zanzibar in June this year. It will be during Ramadan. I am not sure if we should go this time or rather try to organize before it? Please give me your honest opinion. I know the do’s and don’t of Ramadan etc.

    • Reply
      Helen
      March 4, 2016 at 10:12 pm

      Hi Melanie,

      Thank you!!

      It will be fine to go, however it will be a bit different than other times, but it will still be great. If you like to party, it might not be the best time to go and a lot of the beach clubs close I believe. Personally I would really love to visit Zanzibar during Ramadan but I’m also glad I’ve already experienced it outside of Ramadan too.

      You could go for the end of Ramadan, stay for Eid and a bit after? 🙂

      This is a really good article: http://www.mambomagazine.com/nutshell-guides/tradition/top-10-tips-ramadan-in-zanzibar

      Enjoy it! 🙂

  • Reply
    Sophie
    June 5, 2016 at 7:14 pm

    Hi, I’m going to Zanzibar in December for 10 days after a CT to Vic Falls trip. Love reading your blogs.

    We’re going to stay in Stone Town for a couple of days and then want to head for the beach and Jozani Forest. Where have you stayed in the beach resorts, where would you recommend?

    Thanks!

    Sophie

    • Reply
      Helen
      June 12, 2016 at 8:06 pm

      Hi Sophie,

      I really love Kendwa Rocks in Kendwa! There’s also Paje on the other side of the island. I stayed at New Teddy’s. There’s also Nungwi, next to Kendwa which is also great!

      Have a great time!!!

      • Reply
        Sophie
        July 23, 2016 at 4:42 pm

        Thanks Helen, that place looks great! How would you recommend travelling from Stone Town to Kendwa and then to Paje? Thanks, I’m getting really excited!

  • Reply
    Maaike
    October 3, 2016 at 6:43 pm

    Hello Helen! i really like your tips. Got a lot for my trip from your blogs (end of oct. to 11 november, by myself (27 years old women;))).
    In the beginning 2 days in Stone Town, i want to do the guid trip with Farid Himid. But how dit you “arrange” him?
    Because i want to arrange him for my first day in Stone Town.
    If you have thinks where i don’t want to go in on my one please let me know!

  • Reply
    Murtaza
    October 7, 2016 at 7:13 pm

    Hey, can you send me farids contact details of you still have them. Will be visiting Zanzibar next week.

  • Reply
    Pheladi
    October 17, 2016 at 12:32 pm

    Hi Helen

    My friends and I (group of 6) will be going to Zanzibar in Feb 2017 (09- 15), to attend Sauti za Busara festival. We are going to stay at Zanzibar Hotel… any recommendations for us?

    • Reply
      Helen
      October 19, 2016 at 8:39 pm

      Hi Pheladi,

      Are you staying at a place called Zanzibar Hotel and looking for recommendations of things to do? Or are you looking for hotel recommendations? Sorry, wasn’t clear from your message! 🙂

      • Reply
        Pheladi
        October 19, 2016 at 8:44 pm

        Hi Helen

        We will be staying at Zanzibar hotel, do you you have any idea what else we can do besides the festival?

        • Reply
          Helen
          October 19, 2016 at 11:40 pm

          I’m guessing you’ve read the post above, so other than that… you could head north to the beaches of Kendwa and Nungwi, go on a Safari Blue trip, visit Prison Island, hire bikes, dolphin trip, visit the Mnemba atoll for snorkelling, spice tour, eat at The Rock, kite surfing in Paje… there’s loads of cool stuff!

          Any more questions, let me know.

  • Reply
    Jill
    November 22, 2016 at 8:44 am

    Just arrived in Stone Town last night. Staying at the Dhow Palace, it’s gorgeous! Thanks for sharing your tips, now I have a better idea of what to do here before I head to the Northern beaches for some SCUBA diving and hopefully snorkeling too.

    • Reply
      Helen
      November 22, 2016 at 7:20 pm

      I’ve heard of Dhow Palace but not stayed there!

      Have an amazing time – glad my post helped! 🙂

  • Reply
    Sherry Mills
    February 7, 2017 at 6:48 am

    Hi Helen!
    Got to your Blog purely by chance and found it wonderful! We are 4 women and have only 3 (Feb 19-22) nights ( 2.5 days) to spend in Stone Town after a safari…one day we DO want to go to a beach if you have any suggestions on how to get there and if we should try to get a day pass at a beach hotel. I will share our experience with you when we return!

    • Reply
      Helen
      February 7, 2017 at 9:51 pm

      Hi Sherry! You can get a share taxi from Stone Town to any of the beaches. Your hotel can arrange it for you. They’re about $10 pp each way. Or you can get a taxi, if there’s 4 of you it will probably work out similar. Or you can get the public bus, which is a lot cheaper but less convenient.

      I would go to Kendwa in the north. No need for a day pass, the beach is free. You can walk through Kendwa Rocks. If you have a drink at their bar you can use their sun loungers no problem.

      You could also go on a Safari Blue – a great day trip from Stone Town!

      Let me know how it goes! 🙂

      Here’s some other ideas: https://www.heleninwonderlust.co.uk/2017/02/amazing-things-to-do-in-zanzibar/

  • Reply
    Ayana
    April 4, 2017 at 9:13 pm

    I went there this year for my birthday and it was absolutly gorgeous! I really miss this place

    • Reply
      Helen
      April 4, 2017 at 10:44 pm

      I miss it too! 🙂 Can’t wait to go back!!!

  • Reply
    Ahmed
    January 2, 2018 at 9:07 am

    Hi Helen,

    A wonderful guide that I will use. I’m going to Zanzibar next week with my wife for only 4 days, how many days should I spend between Stonetown and Nungwi? You said you were going to the beaches up north, so I assumed that’s where you were going. Do you think one day and night is sufficient for Stonetown?

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