Top sights, highlights, and exclusive tips from our Travel Experts
On your Zanzibar vacation, you’ll find Tanzania’s island paradise. Arrive in Stonetown, the island’s urban center, and explore the history of the Indian Ocean spice and slave trade around every corner, from the Old Fort to the Sultan’s Palace, site of the 38-minute shortest war in history—the Anglo-Zanzibar war of 1896. Don’t miss Prison Island, whose 100 Aldabra Tortoises rival any mainland safari, before retiring to one of the island’s breathtaking beaches and watching the boats come in from the turquoise Indian Ocean.
Kick off your Zanzibar trip with a walk around Stonetown. The city has a fascinating blend of historic Portuguese, Omani, and Swahili influences, whose old houses have incredibly intricate doorways—in old Stone Town, the better your doorway, the higher your prestige. Make sure you see Freddie Mercury’s old doorway, and that of Tippu Tip, a 19th-century slave dealer whose palace is now crumbling.
Hop on one of the traditional Zanzibari boats that are hand-made from mango wood to Changuu, also known as Prison Island. A gift from the British governor of the Seychelles in 1919, the rulers of Zanzibar received four Aldabra giant tortoises, who number around 100 on Prison Island today. Find a mango lying around and feed one to these armored animals, making ponderous progress around the island.
In 1699, Omani spice and slave traders expelled the Portuguese colonists who had taken over Zanzibar. To protect the island, they build a huge fort in the middle of Stone Town, which endures to this day as an essential stop on any tour of Zanzibar. Pass through the entrance into a wide courtyard, walk along the ramparts, and explore the amphitheater that hosts food stalls long into the night.
Our Tourlane Travel Experts will help you identify the best beaches to enjoy during your Zanzibar vacation. Head to Pongwe Beach for a peaceful atmosphere as fishing boats pass by, tiny dots in the vast Indian Ocean, before heading north to Nungwi Beach. Strap on your scuba tank and dive among whale sharks. Back onshore, treat yourself to a pina colada as the sun goes down on this beautiful beach.
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