Just off the coast of Tanzania lies an island paradise – Zanzibar. Although part of Tanzania, the island is semi autonomous and has a rich and vibrant history that has shaped what it is today.

It is often said that Zanzibar is better understood in terms of emotions, perceptions and raw sensations. Stunning white sand beaches contrast against the cool turquoise blue of the Indian Ocean. Many of the beaches are tucked away in privacy, fringed only by towering coconut trees.

Zanzibar makes the ideal location for a beach holiday. Not only is the island archipelago breathtaking it is steeped in cultural and historical significance.

The history of the island dates all the way back to the slave trade era and through the colonial periods. The result of this diverse history is a rich and multi faceted culture. Not only does the Zanzibari culture have strong Arabic influence, but it is also infused with German and British culture. These influences can best be seen in the traditional Zanzibari cuisine and the architecture.

Stone Town:
Stone town – declared a world heritage site is one of the most unique places on the island. Narrow streets create a maze that one would gladly get lost in. Lined by shops selling souvenirs, gem stones, and galleries the streets are only accessible by motorbike or on foot.

At night,  Forodhani Garden, located on the edge of the ocean, comes alive with bustling activity as the Zanzibari’s set up food stalls. The garden turns into a busy food market where you can feast on a variety of different sea food and traditional cuisine. You may be brave enough to taste the Zanzibari mix ( a classic) or a Zanzibari pizza – more akin to a pancake than an actual pizza.

What to do:
There is plenty to do on the island; when you are not busy tanning and simply enjoying the beaches and refreshing Indian Ocean you may choose to go on a spice tour. Zanzibar is also known as Spice Island and for good reason. Visit the spice plantation and learn all about a variety of different spices, how they are grown and how they are used in traditional Swahili food. The spices are often also used to make cosmetics.

Zanzibar’s most famous event is the Zanzibar International Film Festival, also known as the Festival of the Dhow Countries. Every July, this event showcases the best of the Swahili Coast arts scene, including Zanzibar’s favorite music, Taarab.

Freddie Mercury (born Farrokh Bulsara) of the rock band Queen was born in Stone Town, Zanzibar.

Important architectural features in Stone Town include:

  • The Livingstone house
  • The Old dispensary of Zanzibar
  • The Guliani Bridge,
  • Ngome kongwe (The Old fort of Zanzibar)
  • House of Wonders.
  • Hamamni Persian Baths

How to get there:
You can get to Zanzibar either by ferry from Dar es Salaam or by flight.

Note that there are not many hotels that accept credit cards. ATMS are also quite scarce so it would be advisable to take cash with you.