Stone Town – a world cultural heritage site – is a must-see while being in Zanzibar. At least that’s what all travel guides tell you. But is it true?
|How and when I got there
|Flights with Turkish Airlines from Cologne via Istanbul and Zanzibar to Kilimanjaro Airport; return flight from Zanzibar via Kilimanjaro and Istanbul to Cologne; January – February 2019
|Where I stayed
|Melia Zanzibar Hotel (Kiwengwa, Zanzibar, https://www.melia.com/en/hotels/tanzania/zanzibar/melia-zanzibar/index.html-
Dhow Palace Hotel (Stone Town, Zanzibar, http://www.dhowpalace-hotel.com/)
|we tried only the Restaurants of the above mentioned hotels / lodges (see our comments below)
|Things to do
|walk though the bazaar-like old town
visit the famous buildings (Tippu Tip’s house, the Mizingani Seafront…)
find some treasures in the little shops
enjoy the gorgeous sunset
|Recommendations in a nutshell
|see the post “Tanzania safari and beach things to consider…”
Further Reading: Lonely Planet Tanzania Travel Guide
Enough of Beach, sun and sand everyday
After nine days of just relaxing on the beach or at the pool at the hotel in Kiwengwa, being locked out of the local life due to the rather remote location, we decided to skip our last night at the Melia Zanzibar and stay in Stone Town for our last night. We were scheduled for a VERY early morning departure anyway, and this made things easier for getting to the airport. Resolutely, we booked a hotel, asked for a taxi, and off we went…Now, the first impression of Zanzibar Town was a bit sobering – old prefabriced buildings, as we in Europe know them from socialistic times:
Dhow Palace Hotel
We chose the “Dhow Palace” hotelfor the overnight stay, due to it’s good reviews on Tripadvisor and central location in the heart of Stone Town, and were not disappointed. It’s a beautiful, traditional building, featuring a nice courtyard with a pool…
…and genuine antique furniture.
From there, it’s just a stone’s throw to the main attractions of stone town, and so we managed to see most of them within one afternoon. We started out by looking for the famous doors (why pay a lot of money for pictures that you can easily produce yourself?),
…rummaged through several small shops and alleys…
…passed the Old Fort…
and ended up in front of the famous, but unfortunately closed “House of Wonders”.
There seems to be some kind of renovation going on – hopefully!
Anyway, the building cannot be visited at the moment. So, we moved on, along the Mizingani Road, and finally decided to have some cool drinks on the first floor of the “floating bar”, on the wooden platform next to the Forodhani Gardens.
The Quay Jumpers
As it was late afternoon, the young men started their daily ceremony of jumping across the quay walls into the (only hip-deep!) water. Spectacular, but also a bit creepy, as accidents might happen from time to time, and then you don’t want to be a witness…
Just watch these videos:
With the sunset time approaching and the food stalls at Forodhani Garden getting ready for the evening business…
…we went back to the western end of Stone Town, with the occasional visit of a small shop. There’s a very nice kind of photo gallery in Gizenga Street – beautiful black and white pictures of Stone Town and other Zanzibar motives, around 40$ each.
But we decided that our own pictures would do as well. And just vis-à-vis the Dhow Palace Hotel there’s a nice little T-Shirt Shop that features good quality T-Shirt with some unorthodox motives.
Sunset at Stone Town
We decided to take the sundowner on the famous “Africa House” terrace. When we arrived there – approximately 15 minutes before sunset – we were amazed about the crowds that trooped into the hotel, obviously all for the sundowner. We got two of the last seats…
…ordered drinks and enjoyed the sunset. Which was really spectacular:
“Slow Food Dinner”
For dinner, we decided to return to our hotel, the Dhow Palace just across the street, as they advertised a rooftop terrace. We even got the small terrace on the very top of the house for ourselves, including a nice view of the illuminated courtyard pool.
Unfortunately, the service was a bit slow, friendly expressed. We ordered our food at 7:30 and got it around 9…we definitely should have stayed at the “Africa House” – they usually offer BBQ on the sundowner terrace:
Or we should have gone to the “Beach House Zanzibar” next door. Well, next time…
Conclusion about Stone Town
Overall, Stone Town is a vibrant place – but also full of tourists. It’s got a “shabby-chic” atmosphere (in fact, more shabby than chic), which is quite special – if you like it.
We found it interesting and nice to see. So overall – yes, Stone Town is worth a visit. But for us, a day or two is definitely enough.
As mentioned above, we had a very early morning flight back – departure time 4:45, and an intermediate stop at the Kilimanjaro Airport at 6 a.m., which is just around sunrise. When we departed from Kilimanjaro, we were rewarded for the early for the early rise with a fabulous sunrise view of Kilimanjaro and Mount Meru from above:
See more of our Tanzania Safari and Zanzibar Beach Trip here:
And find more information about Travelling in Tanzania here:
*According to a German Court decision, all texts containing links to commercial pages (e.g. links to Tripadvisor, Airline, hotel or restaurant websites) have to be identified as “commercial” (in German “Anzeige”). As my texts do contain links like that, I therefore identify each post and page containing a link as “Anzeige”. However (and referring to the “About Me” page) I would like to point out that I do NOT post any sponsored content in my texts; I pay for all my trips myself.