Immaculate rainforests, sandy beaches and colourful underwater gardens are just some of the reasons why Zanzibar is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Tanzania. With a history firmly rooted in trading, Zanzibar is a fantastic melting pot of cultures, an intoxicating confluence of India, Arabia and Africa.
While the rainy seasons are not as intense as they were in previous decades, it is wise to avoid traveling to Zanzibar during the two rainy seasons. One rainy season runs from October to Decembers and is known as the short rains or mvuli and the other is known as the long rains or masika and runs from February through to May.
The best time to visit Zanzibar is December or January as this is when the island has it summer and temperatures are at their warmest.
Zanzibar is served by Abeid Amani Karume International Airport (ZNZ) which was formerly known as Zanzibar International Airport. The flight time from London to Zanzibar is just over 12 hours. For most of the year, it will cost you £500 or less for a return flight to Zanzibar. However, during July and August prices are significantly higher.
What to Do in Zanzibar
The main attraction in Zanzibar is Stone Town which is the heart of the island. With its labyrinthine cobbled alleyways and charismatic architecture, exploring the Stone Town is a real delight. In the Stone Town you will find a number of bazaars, shops and street-side venders selling a range of local goods.
Situated in the Stone Town, the House of Wonders, sometimes called the Palace of Wonders, is a popular attraction. This imposing edifice is the largest building in the Stone Town and one of the largest buildings in Zanzibar. Today, this former sultan palace is the home of the Zanzibar National Museum of History & Culture. The museum has a number of fascinating and well-labelled exhibits which explore dhow culture and Swahili civilisation.
Another popular sight in Zanzibar is Beit el-Sahel. Up until 1964, when the sultan was overthrown, this palace was the sultan’s residence. Now the palace has been transformed into a museum that offers an insight into the sultanate past of Zanzibar.
There are a number of luxury hotels in Zanzibar, most of which tend to be situated in Zanzibar Town. In Zanzibar there are two 5-star hotels: the Zanzibar Serena and the Mashkari Palace hotel. Both of these hotels offer incredible sea views and have an impressive range of facilities to make your stay as pleasurable as possible.
There are also a handful of boutique hotels in Zanzibar Town, many of which are housed in grand historic buildings. As this type of accommodation is on a smaller scale, you will find that boutique hotels offer fewer facilities than the larger, luxury hotels.
There is a plethora of beach resorts in Zanzibar. However, most of these are reserved for those travelling to Zanzibar on a package deal and many of them will not accept guests who enquire about vacancies on the day.
The most economical accommodation option in Zanzibar is guesthouses. You will find these throughout the island in a range of prime locations such as along the coast or in the heart of Zanzibar Town.