Things To Do In Stone Town

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Tanzania is known as a country of beautiful forests, exotic fauna, and lush greenery. Jungles in various parts of the country are home to a wide range of wild animals and aquatic creatures. Stone Town is situated in the western part of Unguja, a significant island of the Zanzibar Archipelago of Tanzania. A flourishing center of spice trade and the former capital of the Zanzibar Sultanate, the city has secured its historical and cultural importance since the period of the British Protectorate. Zanzibar is also known as the location of the shortest war in history, which took place in 1896. After only 38 minutes of bombardment, Zanzibar surrendered to Britain.

The cultural and historical heritage of this town makes it one of the most popular places to visit.  You’ll see an excellent blend of the Indian, Arab, Persian and European culture with a pinch of East African culture. That’s why Stone Town was added to the list of UNESCO world heritage site in 2000. Showcasing fantastic architecture from the 19th century, the city is an excellent example of Swahili culture. Glorious Arab Mansions and former palaces along the streets of Stone Town make the city an excellent place to explore. The 17th century’s old fort has been transformed into a café, art gallery and home to local performances. Plan a tour out of the city and check out the source of many legendary spices.

Things To Do in Stone Town

When To Go:

Zanzibar is situated near the equator and has a pleasant tropical climate. The temperature fluctuates only a small amount between summers and winters, varying only from 25 to 30 degrees Celsius throughout the year. The island is more humid than mainland Tanzania. Rainfall in the city takes place from November to May. It generally occurs as short rains, but longer rains can occur at different times, typically from November-December and mid-March to May, respectively.  Traveling to Stone Town should be avoided during the long rain time.

These are the top things to do in Stone Town, Tanzania:

 

Marahubi Palace

This ruined palace is worth a visit because of the glorious history hidden behind it. A quick stop on the way to other attractive spots is the best way to fit in some exploration of this exhibit of regional history. Various rooms in the palace allow a glimpse of the past. Some of the ruins are still in good shape so you will be able to snap pictures.

Marahubi Palace

Some of the rooms are well maintained while others need the assistance of a tour guide to understand the history associated with it. The area surrounding the palace is far more interesting to explore than the actual palace. A variety of fishing boats, a typical village and huge hotels with attentive services make up the entire area of the Marahubi Palace. A good guide can tell you more about the Palace if you are looking for some research data during your trip. 

 

Mosque in Malindi

Situated in Malindi, access to this mosque is not easy. Being the oldest mosque in the city, this place is worth visiting for those who are on a historical tour. The Malindi Mosque is actually not the biggest one in the city, but it possesses significance for being situated in the central part of the city. You can easily trace out hints of urbanism’s extension around the mosque. Elegant minarets make even the simple architecture marvelous.

Mosque in Malindi

This beautiful building can be crowded and busy. Due to its simple yet attractive architecture and lovely minarets, the mosque has secured a special position in the list of local attractions. 

 

Shakti Temple

By exploring this extensive Hindu Temple in the narrow, twisted streets of the town, you will be able to catch incredible views during your trip to Stone Town. As there are very few temples in Zanzibar, this temple is a must visit as it offers a peaceful place for the faithful. This temple represents a prominent example of  the well designed Hindu temples that can be found in the city.

Shakti Temple

As the temple is situated near Emerson Green Hotel, visitors can find a good place to lodge in nearby. Finding the temple can be complicated as it is located in a hidden alleyway. You can easily spend an hour looking at all the statues of the temple and exploring the other colorful kitsch there.

 

Prison Island

A quick getaway from the city, Prison Island has many good things to offer. Depending on what you are looking for and your mode of transportation, you will be able to explore fantastic deals and marvelous leisure time. As you travel towards the island by boat, enjoy some peaceful time on the water. The Ferodini Garden has a beautiful environment, quiet atmosphere and giant tortoises that together make it worth visiting.

Prison Island

Some of the turtles are more than 100 years old. You’ll also find a snorkeling facility. Even if you do not snorkel, the beautiful reefs around the site create spectacular scenes. Beaches, restaurants, hotels and the turtle zoo, all make for an enjoyable time in Stone Town. The warm, clear crystal blue water is perfect for swimming and snorkeling.

 

Forodhani Park

This unique city park is well known for the lovely rooftop restaurant offering delicious food located nearby. You will need to climb the stairs - there is no elevator- but it is entirely worth it. The restaurant offers excellent facilities, comfortable seats, and various kinds of fresh fishes, juices, and crepes. Don’t forget to enjoy some excellent Zanzibar pizzas in Forodhani Park.

Forodhani Park

Beware of the souvenir sellers, they can spoil your trip with repeated requests to buy from them. Instead, focus on the delicious seafood such as fish dishes, lobster, and octopus. Chicken lovers can also enjoy the best tasting chicken here; they are well-known for their grilled meats dinners. The environment of the park is friendly and welcoming. Local children can be seen running and playing in the sea. Located between the harbor and the city, this exclusive landmark offers the best hangout for people of all age groups.

 

Stone Town, Zanzibar

Those looking for a place to discover more about the influence of OMAN, the slave trade and the flourishing growth of fruits and spice in the modern world should add Stone Town to their schedule. You can clearly see the influence of OMAN and India in the significant doors of the huge buildings. Most of the doors have been renovated to their original splendor. Watching meat, fish and spice market traders in Muslim traditional dresses is also a great experience.

Stone Town, Zanzibar

Despite being slightly dirty, it is an interesting place to see due to its antique shops and workshops. From the ancient German church, you can catch beautiful sounds by listening to the choir singing. Within a fully developed maze of old streets and scattered, falling apart buildings, you can find some great architecture. Stalls can be seen selling everything from fresh fruits to sugar cane juice, crushed iced lollies and much more. It is a hub of old buildings, churches, mosques and an old fort.

 

Nakupenda Beach

This excellent beach is nothing less than a jewel in Stone Town as it offers a good place for snorkeling, enjoying seafood and boating. All these things together make your day incredible and awesome for a photoshoot. When you plan your tour of the city, you should definitely add  Prison Island and Nakupenda Beach to your schedule. Watching colorful starfish in the  turquoise sea and sea urchins at the seashore can be a fantastic experience. 

Nakupenda Beach

An utterly beautiful place full of natural beauty, the Nakupenda Beach highlights the elegant seashores of the city. You can take your own breakfast and drinks, and hire a private boat. This small yet attractive place in Stone Town offers the best opportunity for a family hangout watching the white sand touch the crystal clear water. It is best to visit in the morning as the island vanishes during high tides. Don’t forget to carry your own beach umbrella if you are looking for a shady region here because you won’t find any canopy to sit under.

 

The Old Fort (Ngome Kongwe)

Dating back a few centuries but still strong and stable, this fort is a great place for history lovers. Wandering around can be an interesting experience for those who want to know more about the past of the city but the stalls of knick knacks and clothes inside can disappoint you as it seems to undercut the history of the place.

The Old Fort

Situated next to the House of Wonders, the old fort is a remarkable structure with amazing Portuguese architecture. Showcasing the grand history of Zanzibar, this fort was a milestone in the field of architecture. Built during the 16th century, The Old Fort utilized local coral stones for the entire structure but now, it has become a landmark to show the diversity of Stone Town.

 

House of Wonders (Beit-el-Ajaib)

Situated on the way to the Palace Museum, this cultural site is worth a visit. A grand building in the city, located on the waterfront, it leaves a long lasting impression on you. This is one of the places that receives a huge crowd of travelers who come to the city. However, layers of dust, the feeling of neglected buildings and general loneliness may disappoint you here. The large room at the beginning of House of Wonders (Beit-el-Ajaib) has display boards which seem to be old and tired but suggest that they were exciting in the past.

House of Wonders

Text on those boards is so lengthy that it is difficult to take the required time to read them. Lots of displays and pictures can also be seen during the walk upstairs and downstairs. All the displays are about the past, culture and lifestyle of the city. Locals choose this place as a hangout spot during bad weather. According to a story behind the name of this place, it is known as the house of wonders  because it was the first house in East Africa with electrical power and an elevator. You can even see an old British car in the garage. It has a great history, but layers of dust and dead flies covering the railings reflect the urgent need to restore the building.

 

Kilele Square

The actual name of the place is ‘Kelele Square’, meaning noise in Swahili. According to the statement of an old professor, he used to play with his friends in this square and due to all the noise the place is now called Kilele Square. Situated opposite of the Serena Hotel, this small and charming square offers shady, hang-out spots for several taxi drivers who wait for their business. A picturesque scene to travelers, it is actually more for functionality, as the Kilele Square provides shade from the sun.

Kilele Square

Although this place is nothing more than a square with some greenery, due to its natural feature of a place of peace and calmness, it has been listed as an attraction of Stone Town. This is the best spot to find a taxi or a place to sit and relax. Even listening to the chirp of birds here offers excellent relaxation. You will also be able to find good dinners and the occasional jazz performance.

 

Hamamni Persian Baths

The Hamamni Persian Baths are a perfect example of interesting bathrooms, lovely space, ingenious lighting mechanics and beautiful buildings, The baths are now derelict as they are no longer in use. The place is so attractive that people often wish it was open. The building is lovely  and does an excellent job of representing the baths of yesteryears, a vast conservation face lift is required. Hamam, which is located at the center of the town, is really impressive when imagined with ancient civilized Swahili folk bathing and chatting in the water stream.

Hamamni Persian Baths

An adventurous walk through narrow paths where even getting lost becomes fun makes your visit in this charming building memorable. Hiring a guide for a visit here is a good idea if you want to know the whole story of this building and the purpose of building each room in this white stone bath building. You can ensure a great view of a part of the city by going on the roof. The locals can also tell you more about the history and set up of this building if you understand their language.

 

Peace Memorial Museum

This gorgeous building is worth seeing even if you don’t want to enter. The entrance fee for entering the museum is 1500 shillings. Inside the Peace Memorial Museum, walls are covered with old pictures of historical importance. You may not find it worthwhile to pay that much money to discover whatever is available there.

Peace Memorial Museum

So, it is also a good idea to pass by the building, check out the lovely architecture and forget checking out the interior. You will not want to pay 1500 shillings just to see pictures of the past presidents of Zanzibar and some other historical photos. 

 

Palace Museum (Beit al-Sahel)

Palace Museum is another attractive place to see in Stone Town where you can walk around and explore its cultural beauty. Many cultural items can be examined here from the Sultanate period of Oman. This place is a great place to see grand furniture and lovely paintings. You can choose to walk through the building on a hot day if you are in search of some cool shelter. Enjoying the assistance of a curator is a good idea if you want to learn more about the history and important artifacts.

Palace Museum

The room of the Princess Salme on the first floor is marvelous to see while the private quarters on the top floor are also excellent to explore. The balconies are unusual and have a calming appearance and eye-catching views of the sea. On the other hand, the rooms downstairs are not as good. The Sultan’s car is also one of the attractions to see -you will be amazed to find out there is only a single ceiling fan for the whole building.

Stone Town is a lovely place to explore history. So the next time you have some free time on your schedule, pack your bags and plan a visit to Stone Town. It has a lot to offer… 

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