the streets of the stone city of zanzibar

Stone Town

stone town

Stone Town, or Stenstaden as it is known in English, is a maze of labyrinthine alleys with lots of small shops in stunning old Arabic houses. It's a vibrant and colourful city and little has changed here in the last hundred years. The alleyways are bustling with everyday life.

Children play football in one alley and in another some men sit playing Bao with stones while someone else pulls a cart of limes around. Here you can wander aimlessly for hours. The city is a melting pot of cultures and people and you will find a unique blend of African, European, Indian and above all Arabic heritage.

It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Many of the buildings here date back to the 19th century and can be recognised by their beautiful ornate wooden gates.

The predominant religion on Zanzibar is Islam and it is important to remember to respect the culture here and not to dress too lightly. The locals in Stone Town are usually friendly and happy to talk to you and you will quickly learn the most common phrases in Swahili.

Zanzibar was a hub for the world's spice trade, but is also known for its slave trade as a large proportion of the African slave trade was conducted from the Stone City. But there were also many opponents of slavery here, such as David Livingstone. There is a slave museum which is interesting to visit where you can learn about this dark period.

The food culture of Zanzibar is shaped by its international history and has been influenced by several cuisines. You will always find seafood dishes on the menu. Many restaurants offer Indian dishes such as chapati, samosas, pilau and mild curries.

The local cuisine often uses banana in its dishes and a classic dish eaten with many casseroles is Ugali which is a kind of corn pudding. In Stone Town, you should visit Forodhani Gardens which is a food market that opens in the evening. Here you can buy barbecue skewers, sugarcane juice, different types of bread and try Zanzibar Pizza which is quite different from a traditional Italian pizza.

During the daytime you can visit Stone Town's largest market Daraini where fruits, fish, meat, spices and much more are sold. In the late evening you can have a drink or a bite to eat on one of the many rooftop terraces and enjoy the beautiful sunset.You can read more about our trip to Zanzibar here.

did you know?

five quick facts about stone town

Was the birthplace of Freddy Mercury, the singer of Queen

Is known for its beautiful and ornate doors

Was the base for a significant slave trade until 1873

Is on the UNESCO World Heritage List

Was the starting point for David Livingstone's last trip to Africa in 1866

Tips in stone town

Good coffee - Zanzibar Coffee House

Fresh Squeezed Juice - Lukmaan Restaurant

A Dining Experience - Forodhani Gardens

Drink At Sunset - Emerson Spice

Lunch With a View - Jaffferji House

Perfect Snacks - Samosas

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