After a night in one of the wonderful small hotels in Stone Town, the bustle of the street below wakes you; the sunrise stirs the scents and smells of the early hours; the cry of the muezzin echoes over the city roofs, there is hot aromatic coffee in silver cups. It is an old walled city of secrets and narrow alleyways; labyrinthine, imposing exotically carved doors and huge padlocks. It is a very gentle laid-back city on the waterfront, given over to the music of its flutes, to the nonchalant beat of its rowers, to perfume and dust.
But at the same time it is a sad and very bitter city, with posts, dungeons and iron rings recalling its slave trade past.
Outside its shady narrow streets, beyond the coral stone walls and crumbling buildings of the “Stone Town,” the spice groves, authentic fishing villages, white sandy beaches and the endless glistening Indian Ocean await you.
How to get there
Air Europe at present is the only airline serving Zanzibar directly from Europe, flying from Milan.
Other entry points in East Africa with connecting flights are:
- Dar es Salaam: then Dar es Salaam to Zanzibar: 15 minutes by plane or 1 hour 30 mins by high speed ferry.
- Mombasa: Mombasa to Zanzibar twice daily flights - 30 mins or boat (4 hours)
- Nairobi: Kenya Airways has 7 flights per week between Nairobi and Zanzibar - (2 hours 30 mins via Mombasa)
- Kilimanjaro: Several airlines have daily flights between Kilimanjaro and Zanzibar (1 hour 15 mins);
Depending on your personal tastes, you spend more or less time in different areas of interest on Zanzibar :
- Stone Town, at least an afternoon and overnight; ideally stay in one of the many excellent small hotels and upmarket guest houses including Tembo Hotel, Dhow Palace, 236 Hurumzi, Al Johari or Serena Inn & Swahili House to really feel the soul of the city;
- On the beach: for those who love beautiful beaches, diving or fishing. The most beautiful beaches are on the Eastern and Northern Coast. There are many hotels at all prices;
- The interior of the Island: it can be explored in an afternoon, the Spice Tour, local villages, the large coconut plantations and the ruins of ancient palaces.
Zanzibar has its own independent political and administrative structures but is constitutionally part of the United Republic of Tanzania. Entering from the mainland or other East African countries, there are Immigration and Customs checks.
Zanzibar is largely Muslim. This is why some properties do not serve alcohol. During Ramadan, service can be very slow in all hotels. Please be patient. An abundance of restaurants and food-stalls provide a wide variety of food styles.