Stone Town is the old part of Zanzibar City, the largest city on the main island of Zanzibar. As the historic capital of the Sultanate of Zanzibar, it was a prominent center of trade and the diverse mix of cultures can still clearly be seen in the architecture. This UNESCO World Heritage Centre is a relaxed but busy ocean-side town with winding streets and allies lined with little shops, cafes, and restaurants where you could happily wander for hours, but these 14 things to do in Stone Town, Zanzibar will help you hit some of the highlights!
1) Have breakfast at Tembo House
We stayed at Tembo House and the breakfast spread was the perfect way to start the day. There were so many options including spiced coffee, fresh fruit, and an omelet and pancake station. Plus, you get to enjoy your breakfast while taking in the ocean view.
2) Take a guided tour of Stone Town
Stone seems so big and confusing at first, but after a guided tour, you’ll get the lay of the city and be able to get around on your own.
3) Make your way to Jaws Corner
Jaw’s corner is located in the center of Stone Town where several winding streets intersect. You’ll know you’re in the right spot because there is a giant Jaws mural. This is the place where locals relax, catch-up, and grab a cup of coffee.
4) Take your picture in front of the infamous blue door
This one is for capturing that perfect Insta-moment. Stone Town is filled with extravagant, intricately carved doors. But this teal one is the perfect spot for a photo.
5) Visit the House of Wonders and Palace Museum
When we were visiting the House of Wonders was under renovation, so make sure and see if it is open before planning to go. I wish it had been open, it looks like such a cool place with a rich history. In fact, built in 1883, the House of Wonders was the first building in East Africa to have electricity.
6) See Freddie Mercury’s House
Although there is some dispute as to whether or not this location is actually the childhood home of Freddie Mercury, it is worth a stop – you can even get in the spirit by watching Bohemian Rhapsody on the long flight over!
7) Visit Darajani Market
This local market is the perfect place to buy some spices.
8) Learn about the story of Sayyida Salme
This rebel princess broke the tradition of female education by teaching herself to read and write and she even wrote an autobiography, Memoirs of an Arabian Princess from Zanzibar. You can learn more about her here.
9) Visit the Former Slave Market, now a Museum
While Zanzibar and Stone Town seem like all fun and relaxation the area had a huge role in the slave trade, and it is worth taking the time to understand the history. The museum shares the history of the last open slave market in the world.
10) Try the Spiced Coffee
The spiced coffee in Stone Town is so good and this little café, Stone Town Café , is the perfect spot to rest and try some.
11) Watch the Sunset from a rooftop
Whether from your hotel or one of the many rooftop bars and restaurants, take a moment to relax and watch the sun go down.
12) Have dinner at the Emerson Spice Tea House
You will need to make a reservation in advance for this dinner. It is a set menu and dinner is served promptly at 7pm.
13) Visit the night market at Forodhani Gardens
Here you’ll find a busy market with all kinds of amazing looking food that smells delicious, whether you are eating or just taking in the sights, make sure to take a stroll through this market.
14) Get Gelato at Mama Mia – Gelateria Italiana
14 things to do in Stone Town, Zanzibar wouldn’t be complete without stopping for some gelato. This Italian Gelateria is located close to Forodhani Gardens, the gelato here looks and tastes incredible, we even ended up going back for more!
What to do after you finish these 14 things to do in Stone Town, Zanzibar
Explore the rest of Zanzibar
While you might be tempted to stay in Stone Town, you can easily do these 14 things to do in Stone Town, Zanzibar in a day or two and there are so many other amazing adventures you can go on close by. If you are staying in Zanzibar, check out What to do in Zanzibar, the spice islands. for how to spend your days on this incredible spice island.
Travel back to the mainland
We visited Zanzibar after an amazing adventure in Kenya. If you are planning on heading back to the mainland, read our blog post, What to do in Kenya: a traveler’s guide and ensure you have all the must-haves for an African safari with Packing for a safari in Kenya – a guide.