Fiona Herring
Fiona Herring Travel Specialist
"Smell the spice, hear the chatter of the ladies picking seaweed and swim in the azure ocean... Zanzibar is a delight for the senses."

Stone Town Holidays

Stone Town is the old quarter of Zanzibar Town, the island’s capital. The bazaars, mosques, palaces, forts, fruit markets, and winding streets, make this the historic heart of Zanzibar. The traditional Swahili atmosphere is almost tangible, and the unique mixture of cultures offers the chance to experience a living history. You should spend one or two nights sightseeing here at the beginning or end of your trip.

History

Stone Town was ruled by Omani Arabs from the 18th century, became a key port in the slave trade, and an important trading centre in the 19th century. Most of its buildings date from this time: grand old mansions built for Arab and Indian traders, with their iconic elaborately carved doors, which have since fallen into disrepair. Stone Town is small and the best way to see it is on foot, with or without a guide. We recommend a guided tour, with a reputable guide, because this is the easiest way to get an overview of the important historical sights.

Things to see

You should not miss the House of Wonders, a splendid white balconied building situated on the seafront, the former Sultan’s palace, restored and re-opened in 2002 as a museum. Built of steel, it was the first building on Zanzibar to have electric lights and a lift – hence its name. Below the House of Wonders, by the pier, is the popular Forodhani Gardens, where locals gather in the evening and market stalls sell food and drinks. By the gardens, there is a massive Arab fort, known as the Old Fort, built at the end of the 17th century by Omani Arabs after they had taken Zanzibar from the Portuguese.

There are many other buildings that merit a visit: Livingstone House, the Old Dispensary, the Old Custom House, the Palace Museum, as well as the main market on Creek Road; but most of one’s time will be taken up wandering the labyrinth of narrow streets and alleys crammed with tiny shops and workshops and all the sights, smells and sounds of life that make Stone Town so fascinating.

Eating

There is a huge choice in Stone Town, ranging from tourist restaurants in the hotels, such as the Tower Top in Emerson & Green, or the Baharia in the Serena, to simple restaurants aimed at the local market and the food stalls in Forodhani Gardens. Ones we have tried and can recommend include the atmospheric Monsoon, where you sit on cushions and eat Zanzibari and Mediterranean dishes, and the Archipelago, an inexpensive seafood restaurant on the open first floor of a building facing the beach.

Where to stay

All the Stone Town hotels are individual. If hot and dusty bothers you, seek one with a pool; we would say the Serena or Tembo House Hotel. The Serena is an oasis of calm; Tembo House is in the centre of the seafront action – take your pick. If romance takes priority over everything, then it has to be Zanzibar Palace. Another option is the Dhow Palace – it’s in the old town, but with a cool central courtyard, and guests can use the Tembo House pool. Recently, Beyt al Chai, an exclusive boutique hotel, has opened opposite the Serena, and we await reports.

Read more about Stone Town

Filter Holiday Ideas:
Holiday Type
Total Holidays: 14      
Stunning-Selous Safari and Zanzibar Honeymoon
  • Honeymoons
From £3100 per person
14 day holiday
Flights included
See the full trip
Tanzania     Zanzibar
A romantic honeymoon starting in the wild rugged nature of the untamed Selous Game Reserve in Tanzania, time in charming Stone Town and culminating on a delightfully exotic Zanzibar beach stay. A fantastic two weeks spent combining exhilarating safari, culture and idyllic beach relaxation; the perfect honeymoon celebration.
Selous & Zanzibar Hideaway Honeymoon
  • Honeymoons
From £3675 per person
14 day holiday
See the full trip
Tanzania     Zanzibar
Honeymoon spent on safari in one of Africa's last untamed wildernesses in stunning accommodation, before being whisked away to the Spice Island of Zanzibar. Spent some time in historic Stone Town learning all about its past before staying on the idyllic Zanzibari beaches away from all the crowds.
Zanzibar Island Highlights
  • Beach
From £2045 per person
9 day holiday
Flights included
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Zanzibar
This three-centre Zanzibar trip takes you to some very special properties on the south west coast in the centre of lively Stone Town. This trip is all about romance and rediscovering the real you, away from the hurly burly of everyday life!
Zanzibar - Three Island Delight
  • Beach
From £2695 per person
12 day holiday
Flights included
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Zanzibar
This three-centre Zanzibar holiday takes you to a superb selection of beach destinations; Unguja, the main island in the Zanzibar...
Tanzania's Selous & Zanzibar Safari & Beach
  • Beach
  • Safari
From £2905 per person
13 day holiday
Flights included
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Tanzania     Zanzibar
Experience the undiscovered wilds of the Selous in Southern Tanzania with some relaxation on the beach in Zanzibar on this 12 day bush and beach combination.
Kenya Safari & Zanzibar Beach Honeymoon
  • Culture & History
  • Honeymoons
From £3000 per person
14 day holiday
Flights included
See the full trip
Kenya     Zanzibar
A safari honeymoon in Kenya that brings together superb game-viewing in the Masai Mara and time on an idyllic beach in Zanzibar.
Masai Mara & Mafia Island, Zanzibar
  • Beach
  • Safari
From £3150 per person
11 day holiday
Flights included
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Kenya
This Big-Five safari at Little Governors Camp in Kenya's Masai Mara combines perfectly with the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Stone Town on Zanzibar and lesser visited Mafia Island.
Kenya Safari & Zanzibar Beach Holiday
  • Beach
  • Safari
From £3250 per person
13 day holiday
Flights included
See the full trip
Kenya     Zanzibar
This safari and beach holiday takes you to Kenya's game-rich Masai Mara, the World Heritage site of Stone Town and the white sand beaches of Zanzibar.
Masai Mara Safari & Zanzibar Beach Adventure
  • Beach
  • Wildlife
From £3380 per person
13 day holiday
Flights included
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Kenya     Zanzibar
Travel to the Masai Mara for incredible safari adventures in the exclusive Naboisho Conservancy, an exhilarating three days watching the wildebeest of the Great Migration, before relaxing along Zanzibar’s idyllic coast. Travel in September or October for fantastic savings of a free night in Ol Seki Hemingways Camp and a discounted stay in The Residence Zanzibar.
Southern Tanzania & Zanzibar
  • Safari
From £3499 per person
12 day holiday
Flights included
See the full trip
Tanzania     Zanzibar
An off-the-beaten-track safari honeymoon in Tanzania's Selous Game Reserve, with beach-hopping along the coast of Zanzibar Island, ending with a night in historic Stone Town.
Uganda Gorillas & Zanzibar Beach Honeymoon
From £3575 per person
14 day holiday
Flights included
See the full trip
Uganda     Zanzibar
Safari and gorilla trekking in Uganda with beach escape in Zanzibar
Kenya and Zanzibar Eco-safari
  • Beach
  • Responsible
  • Wildlife
From £3899 per person
13 day holiday
Flights included
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Kenya     Zanzibar
This East African holiday combines a safari in two contrasting ecosystems in Kenya, exploration of Stone Town and some down time on the...
Coffee, Conservation & Culture of Tanzania & Zanzibar
  • Culture & History
  • Safari
  • Wildlife
From £4375 per person
14 day holiday
Flights included
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Tanzania     Zanzibar
An organic coffee plantation, a tour of Zanzibar’s spice trade, two of Tanzania’s iconic wildlife parks all completed with Zanzibar’s pristine beaches. This 14 day itinerary is crammed full of African favourites and includes two free nights, saving £485 per person.
Rwanda, Kenya & Zanzibar
  • Safari
  • Wildlife
From £4995 per person
15 day holiday
Flights included
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Rwanda     Kenya     Zanzibar
This is a superb trip with gorilla trekking in Rwanda's Parc National des Volcans, a Big-Five safari in the Masai Mara, a visit to the Unesco World Heritage Site of Stone Town and time on the beach in Zanzibar.
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