The oldest part of Zanzibar City and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Stone Town is best known for its blend of European, African, Arabic, and Asian architecture, as well as its lively food scene and coastal cool. From towering minarets and white stone houses to cobbled market streets, every turn offers something to snap, making this island old town a must-see for any new arrival.
Stone Town is Zanzibar City’s historic center and home to Zanzibar Port so most guided tours explore it, whether on foot, by bike, or by coach. Full-day or multiday packages often take advantage of the island’s size to combine the old town with other attractions, such as Changuu Island, Nungwi Beach, or Jozani-Chwaka Bay National Park, while foodies can get a taste of Zanzibar’s famous flavors on a spice tour, which often combine a market visit with one of the island’s rural spice farms.
Things to know before you go
- Some Stone Town-based tour providers specifically offer accessible tours for travelers with disabilities.
- Guided tours are recommended, as the winding streets can be hard to navigate alone.
- Home to Freddie Mercury’s birthplace, Stone Town is also a must see for Queen fans.
How to get there
Zanzibar Port is located in the north of Stone Town, so cruise passengers and ferry arrivals should have no problems. Zanzibar City is known for its intense traffic, so it’s worth walking or cycling where possible. If you’re coming from outside the city, be aware there is no official public transit system, though you can hail a shared dala dala minibus or book a tour with transportation included.
When to get there
Complete your city tour during the day time to get the best snaps of Stone Town’s mosques, churches, and forts, then come back in the early evening to see the street food stalls around the Forodhani Gardens in action. Grab a slice of pizza or seafood skewer (be prepared to haggle), then enjoy sunset views across the Zanzibar Channel.
Just a short boat ride from Zanzibar Port, Changuu Island is another must-see spot in the Zanzibar archipelago and is easy to tick off in a day along with Stone Town. Over the years, the island was used as a prison, quarantine station, and coral mine, though today it’s best known for its population of endangered giant tortoises, which can be visited in the grounds of the old prison building.