Zanzibar Island: One of the best Layovers in East Africa

Top 10 things to do in Zanzibar island

Top 10 things to do in Zanzibar

Welcome to Tanzania

                                                  “Karibu to Zanzibar”

Karibu in Swahili means welcome, you should get used to this word as it would echo in your ears throughout your stay in Zanzibar.The island has a very harsh history infact a brutal one if you go by the books.

Over the last 2,000 years, the island has been ruled by Persians, the Portuguese, the British and the Omani Arabs.
But it was the Sultans of Oman who left a very big impact on the island.It was during their rule that Zanzibar became the hub of the slave trade.The time when children, men, and women were beaten, chained and auctioned at the famous slave market.
Today the city is melting pot of different cultures and has one of the most friendly people I have met in Africa.

Top 10 things to do in Zanzibar island

1.)Forodhani Garden

Top 10 things to do in Zanzibar island

Forodhani

It’s a small park in the old town of Zanzibar.
The park is dominated by a beautiful white dome which is right in the center of it.During the day, dishes .you can see some cute couples sitting around the dome and some school kids playing football here.But the place really comes alive after sunset when locals set up their food stalls and prepare their dishes.The whole park transforms into a street food market.The food on the menu is spicy naan bread, Tanzanian samosas, lots of seafood dishes and the meat kebabs are a  total delight.
The famous Zanzibar Pizza is must eat here.

2.) OLD FORT

Top 10 things to do in Zanzibar island

Arab Fort

I love history and especially forts of all kinds have always fascinated me.
This fort was built by an Arab Sultan of Oman in the 17th century to defend against the Portuguese army.
So it is also known as Arab fort.The fort has witnessed few battles but it still stands erect to tell you the stories of the brave men who fought and died here.The graves of all the Arab rulers is in the vicinity of the fort and the amphitheater which was once a prison now plays the venue for international film festivals.

3.)Stone Town

Top 10 things to do in Zanzibar island

Stone town Zanzibar

This is so far my favorite part of Zanzibar city.
Stone town is the oldest part of Zanzibar.It’s full of narrow alleys filled with mosques, traditional houses, Arab markets,Persian shops and Indian fortune tellers.Walk in Stone town transports you back to 18th century when Zanzibar was the hub of slave trading and spice trade.The old post office and the roman catholic cathedral are 2 famous landmarks of the stone town.

Visitng Stone town is one of the top 10 things to do in Zanzibar island.

4.)Darajani market

Top 10 things to do in Zanzibar island

Darajani market

Bazaars are always a part of my itinerary as they give you glimpse into the local lifestyle.
Zanzibar itself is a very small island and Darajani is the only bazaar in town.Visiting the bazaar is a part of daily routine of all the local people.At least once a day most of them come to the bazaar either to buy fresh vegetables, fruits or fish.The Darajani bazaar is actually more or less like the meeting point for the people of Zanzibar.

In fact, My driver who took me to the market he said “Karanveer In Zanzibar everyone knows everyone and you really don’t need a phone to say HI!All you have to do is just drop by in Darajani bazaar”

5.)Drink Kilimanjaro Beer

Top 10 things to do in Zanzibar island

Kilimanjaro

Kilimanjaro beer is named after Africa’s most famous mountain “Mount Kilimanjaro”.It is the country’s best-selling beer and can be easily found in Zanzibar.
It’s a very light beer with sweet after taste and its best served when ice cold.
In other words, it is the bud wiser of Tanzania and everyone loves Kilimanjaro Beer:)

6.)Eat an Octopus curry

Top 10 things to do in Zanzibar island

Octopus curry

They say you cannot leave Zanzibar without trying the Mchuzi wa pweza. In simple words, the octopus curry is a unique dish and for some, it’s a daily meal.

The traditional Octopus curry is cooked in coconut milk with Indian spices and red chilies.It’s best eaten when served with Pilau{ spiced flavored Rice }.

I had the Octopus curry in Lukmaan Restaurant in the old town.although I’m not a big fan of octopus but I shall say the curry was delicious.Each ingredient played its own part, the spicy chilies balanced the sugary coconut milk and all these flavors made it so tasty.

Where: Lukmaan restaurant serves amazing local Zanzibar food.

Lukmaan Restaurant

7.)Palace Museum
(Beit al-Sahel)

Top 10 things to do in Zanzibar

Palace museum

Let’s get back to 18th century when the Omani Sultan’s ruled Zanzibar when slavery was ubiquitous and spice trade was flourishing.Back then this was Sultan Seyyid Said’s Palace home, the most beautiful building on the island.Today it just serves as a museum saying the stories of the people who stayed in its walls -some as rulers and some as prisoners.

The Palace Museum is one of the top 10 things to do in Zanzibar island.

8.)Prison Island.

Top 10 things to do in Zanzibar

Prison island

As the name says this island was prison once upon a time but it actually never housed any prisoners.The island’s prison got converted into hospital treating the slaves from yellow fever.The Island was really isolated for few years but with the help of the local communities, it soon became a famous tourist spot.The prison island is mainly famous for the Giant Tortoises.
The prison island can be a nice day trip from Zanzibar and is one of the top 10 things to do in Zanzibar island.

9.)Stay at Melia Resort

Top 10 things to do in Zanzibar

Melia resort Zanzibar

Melia is a huge luxury beach resort which is built on a 40-acre estate.The evenings in Melia are really entertaining with live music and the dance performances by local tribe Massai.The food too won’t disappoint you as the resort hosts around 4 bars /restaurants where you can expect some gastronomic food.
The walk to one of the restaurants is very pretty along the cliff overlooking the sea.
There is also a beautiful jetty which is always nice to take a walk on..and the steps leading into the sea as an option to swim in.The resort is really unique with some of the rooms having open air bathrooms.
The whole Melia resort  is surrounded by the natural coral reef which adds to its beauty.
It is one of the best places to stay in Zanzibar island.

10.)Chill at Jaws Corner

Top 10 things to do in Zanzibar

Jaws Corner

They say the best way to blend into the local culture is by spending time with the locals.Jaws cafe is exactly that kind of place which will help you blend into the Zanzibari culture.It’s where you see old men reading the newspaper, the young playing board games, and the rest discussing local politics.But they all have one thing in common the “Ginger coffee”.

“Jaws corner” As fancy as the name sounds, you might be shocked when you arrive there.Its small courtyard in the old Stone town where you sit by the footpath with your cup of coffee.It’s a place where you can easily make new friends over a cup of Zanzibar Coffee.

Drinking ginger coffee at jaws corner is one of the top 10 things to do in Zanzibar island.

Top 10 things to do in Zanzibar island

Island Life

“There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

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