Stone Town is a historical town on the Island of Zanzibar. It consists of many small alleys, shops, bars and mosques. The Arabic influenced architecture makes this town very charming and unlike anything you’ve seen before. The town is full of culture, history and beauty and is a must-visit when you plan a trip to Zanzibar!
Stone Town is the perfect example of a Swahili trading town. It has Arabic, Indian and European influences which can be seen in the architecture and culture. Stone town was one of the most important towns for slave trade, which left its footprints all over the city.
Stone Town is a protected Unesco World Heritage site because of its well-preserved architectural masterpieces of historical significance. The old buildings, of which most still intact, have been made from a coralline ragstone and mangrove timber and finished with a traditional Zanzibar door. Most historical buildings here date from the 18th and 19th centuries. Some of the main historical buildings in town are the Old Fort, the house of wonder, the old Dispensary, St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Cathedral, the slave market and many more.
The Zanzibar doors are famous all over the world for its beauty and excellent craftmanship. Detailed carvings and decorations make the doors a real pleasure for the eye. When walking around in Stone Town, you’ll stumble upon many of these masterpieces.
Another typical sight in Stone Town are the Baraza benches. These raised front porches from smooth cement can be found in many alleys and are used in various ways. You will find many older men using these benches to socialize or play games, vendors selling their fruits and vegetables or kids playing and jumping around on them. During heavy rains, these benches are used as a raised walkway.
Other typical elements of the Stone Town houses are courtyards and beautifully decorated balconies. Many of these hidden courtyards are now used as a place for a quiet and hidden bar to escape from the towns hustle and bustle. Many hotels also put a swimming pool there for some idyllic swimming.
WHAT TO DO
What not to do here? Stroll around and get lost in the small alleys, go on a little shopping spree in the many shops selling handcrafts, go and enjoy happy hour cocktails on one of the many rooftops, take a guided tour of the town to get to know more about its history and architecture. Stone Town might be small, but it’s definitely not boring!
We highly recommend a stay in town in one of the beautiful buildings to fully experience everything Stone Town has to offer. This way you can enjoy a cocktail on the rooftop while watching the sunset, eat some great food at the night market and enjoy a great party or some live music at night. When staying in town, you can discover all the small alleys and hidden cafés and restaurants.
If you prefer a day trip instead of a stay in Stone Town, you definitely can! You can reach Stone Town from anywhere on the island in less than 1,5hrs. Leave in the morning and enjoy a full day exploring the beautiful, charming town. Go back to your hotel at the beach at night so you can enjoy a great sunset before heading back to your hotel.
A visit to Stone Town is easily combined with a beach stay anywhere in Zanzibar.
Dar es Salaam to Stone Town: 1,5hrs by ferry or 20min by flight