House of Wonders

Top 6 Places to Visit in Zanzibar

Surrounded by the unspoiled turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean, Zanzibar Archipelago features a collection of islands that are renowned for their tropical beauty and impressive attractions. Unguja, the largest of the islands is also known as Zanzibar, which serves as a great hub to visit the smaller islands.

Zanzibar has a rich cultural heritage, (picture Arabian Nights, Forts, Cannons, Conflict, Warlords, Slave Trade, Spice Trade, Ivory, Ottomans, Turks, Portuguese, Arab, Persian, Indian, English and Swahili influences) which is evident in its fascinating architecture, and the culture saturates the atmosphere with delight. The island is home to some of the most spectacular beaches in the world. Once you’re done relaxing on the beach, you can explore a wide variety of unique attractions on the island. With exceptional accommodation and fun activities to enjoy, you can treat yourself to a perfect holiday on the island.

Let’s take a look at some of the top places you can visit and explore during your holiday:

The House of Wonders

The House of Wonders ( Beit-al-Ajaib in Arabic) is the most significant and tallest building in the Old Town of Zanzibar. Built in 1883, the House of Wonders is home to the Museum of History and Culture, which features a collection of Swahili and Zanzibari artefacts. The building was the first place in Zanzibar to have electricity and a working elevator.  The House of Wonders is a window into the history, past, and culture of the people. There is a traditional Swahili boat, fishing tools from the past, traditional garments, old furniture from the palaces of the sultans and historical portraits showing royalty.  

Darajani Market

Darajani Market is the perfect place to witness an authentic Zanzibari experience on the island.  The market is usually boisterous from morning until late in the night, and the stalls are crowded with buyers looking to purchase a variety of items on display. With scents of spices filling the air, the market is a hive of activity and features an array of items for purchase including fabrics, fresh fruits, meats, spices, live chicken, DVDs and mobile phones. The best time to visit Darajani Market is in the morning when the perishable goods are fresh. However, you can visit Darajani Market in the afternoon when it’s less chaotic. If you have never been to an African market, this is the place to try out your haggling skills. The market is called the Estella Market and Marikiti Kuu.

Stone Town

The Stone Town is one place you cannot but visit during your holiday in Zanzibar. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Centre with a wide range of historic attractions. The town still retains its townscape and urban fabric nature with modern buildings competing with the stone buildings of the past.  The European, ancient Persian and Indian stylish stone edifices and pastel coloured mosques occupy the narrow cobbled streets. The Old Town was once a hub of slave trade and spice but has now become the centre of tourism in the country.  A significant place to visit in the Old Town is the Arab Fort, which is also known as the Old Fort. Built in the 17th Century by the Omani Arabs, the ancient fort was used to protect the island from attacks from the adversaries. Over the years, it has been used as a prison and tennis club. Today, the fort is the oldest building in Stone Town and has been renovated as a cultural centre and features a wide range of souvenir shops, pleasant café and an open-air amphitheatre used for major events such as Zanzibar International Film Festival and Sauti za Busara Festival.

Jozani Forest

Situated south of Chwaka Bay, Jozani Forest is well-known for the endangered species found only on the island – red colobus monkey. The indigenous forest area is protected as Jozani-Chwaka National Park, which is the only national park in Zanzibar. The park also features other monkey species, duikers, bushbabies and a wide variety of bird species. There are several activities to enjoy in the park, which includes wildlife viewing and taking a 45-minute walk along the forest nature trail.

Southeastern Coastline

The southeastern coastline of Zanzibar is one of the most significant places to visit on the island. The coastline features some of Zanzibar’s best-kept secrets, from picturesque beaches to a world-class restaurant and luxury hotels. Apart from the beautiful beaches, you’ll find three spectacular gems that will take your breath away – the world-famous Rock Restaurant, Dongwe Ocean View Hotel and its sibling Kichanga Lodge.  Explore the exotic and vibrant culinary scene of the island at the Rock Restaurant, stay at the oceanfront accommodation, and indulge in a wide range of exciting water activities.

Spice Farms

Also known as Spice Island, Zanzibar is a treasure trove of spices, herbs, and exotic fruits. The everyday life of a Zanzibari is connected to spices and herbs since the 16th century. The history of the island is not complete without the spices. You’ll find several spice farms on the island, featuring flourishing spice plantations organically grown. Explore the spice farms, learn more about the history of the island as regards to spices, discover the uses of the spices and have a taste of local delicacies prepared with local herbs and spices.