Visit Stone Town, Zanzibar Archipelago
Flanked on two sides by the sea, Stone Town is exotic, exciting and steeped in history.
Heavily laden dhows sail in and out of port, tall crumbling buildings cast shadows over labyrinthine streets and the smell of spices fills the air.
Colonial history of Stone Town
Much of Stone Town was built in the 19th Century and remains unchanged to this day. A maze of haphazard alleyways lead between tall houses and palaces with intricately carved wooden doors with brass studs and heavy locks. There are ornate railings on the balconies, wide balustrades and pastel pink and green roofs. There is no room for cars in these streets, so they’re perfect for exploring on foot.
There is much to see and do in Stone Town, with museums to explore, tiny bazaars to browse and superb Zanzibari restaurants to sample. A visit to the early morning market is a must. Here, hessian sacks overflowing with black pepper, turmeric, cinnamon and vanilla jostle for space with piles of fresh ginger, chillies and nutmeg. Shopkeepers weigh lemongrass on brass scales, people haggle at the tops of their voices and stray chickens make a dash across the dusty ground. In the evenings we recommend a stroll to the Forodhani Gardens. As the sun sets street vendors light fires and braziers on which they grill squid, octopus and lobster. With some excellent character guesthouses and lots to do we recommend you stay for a night or two.
This sample itinerary will give you an idea of what is possible when you travel in Stone Town, and showcases routes we know work particularly well. Treat this as inspiration, because your trip will be created uniquely by one of our specialists.
Map of Stone Town
Places & hotels on the map
Photos of Stone Town
Accommodation choices for Stone Town
We’ve selected a range of accommodation options for when you visit Stone Town. Our choices usually come recommended for their character, facilities and service or location. Our specialists always aim to suggest properties that match your preferences.
Tucked away in the Kiponda area of Stone Town, Zanzibar Palace Hotel is a boutique hotel in a beautifully restored Zanzibari house.
The Serena has an unbeatable location overlooking the Indian Ocean but remaining in the heart of town. It is a superb hotel from which to explore and is a peaceful place to relax if the hustle and bustle of Stone Town gets a bit too much.
Ideas for experiencing Stone Town
Our specialists seek out authentic ways to get to know the places that could feature in your trip. These activities reflect some of the experiences they've most enjoyed while visiting Stone Town, and which use the best local guides.
You walk through the nature trail of the forest which is a habitat for many species of animals, and birds. It is famous for its Red Colobus Monkey; the rare species.
The bay has a number of uninhabited islands and sandbanks and is frequented by humpback and bottlenose dolphins.