Stone Town also known as Mij Mkongwe, which is Swahili for “Old Town”, is the oldest part of Zanzibar City, Tanzania. The city was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000 and it’s known for its cultural heritage of Arab, Persian, Indian, and European elements. Here are five things to do while visiting the historic town.
The small park, found on the coast of the Indian Ocean, sits across the street from some of the town’s most famous buildings like the Arab Fort, the House of Wonders, and the Palace Museum. Each night, a food market takes place in the garden where you can sample Swahili and Zanzibari cuisine.
The main bazaar of the city sells groceries, meats, fish, produce, spices, and crafts. Here you’ll find souvenirs and you’ll have a really authentic East African market experience.
The Old Dispensary
Built during colonial times, this four story building has served as a charitable institution and apartments before it fell into a state of despair during the revolution. Since then, it’s been restored and it a respected cultural spot that has restaurants, shops, and offices.
Also known as “Prison Island”, the island can be reached on a short-20 minute boat ride from Stone Town. You’ll see dozens of giant tortoises, many of which are over 200 years old, and the sandy white beaches and clear water are great for swimming and snorkeling.
The Arab Fort (Ngome Kongwe)
Known for its architecture and history, the building was constructed in the late 17th century. It was built on top of an even older Portuguese church as a way of defense against the occupying Portuguese forces before it was turned into a prison in the 19th century and a ladies’ tennis club before the 1964 Revolution. The amphitheater is still used today and you can catch a live performance on the 400-year-old stage.