In February 2020, I spent roughly 24 hours in Stone Town on Zanzibar in Tanzania after spending a week in a resort in Nungwi, a small town in the north end of the island. I went there with little to no expectations – and the city blew me away! It was lively, fun, cosy and full of culture and atmosphere! I was so pleasantly surprised, and we found so many hidden gems, which I thought I would share! I can really recommend to take one or two nights here if you’re travelling to Zanzibar. Here’s my finds and best tips for what to see and do in Stone Town, Zanzibar.
Nothing in this blog post is sponsored, it’s only based on my own experience and recommendations.
Where to stay in Stone Town, Zanzibar
I stayed in the Old Town in Stone Town, in a hotel called Dhow Palace Hotel. The interior and design of the hotel reminded me of the middle east, and it was just so cosy and beautiful. I was travelling with my family and we booked the whole penthouse, which was so worth it! It came with an outdoor shower, as well as a rooftop terrace.
The hotel is located just perfectly within walking distance of all the main sights in Zanzibar and it felt perfectly safe to walk around the area at night. The hotel is also located in one of the bigger streets, where it’s possible to drive with a car, so you don’t have to carry your suitcase too far.
The hotel staff can also help you with booking tours, taxis and reservations at restaurants.
Where to eat in Stone Town, Zanzibar
Since we were only there for 24 hours, we only got to eat lunch and dinner once. For lunch we found a little garden restaurant hidden in an old building while walking around, called Emerson Spice Secret Garden. We walked by it while it was closed (it opens at noon), and thought it looked so nice, that we decided to come back when it opened. The food was really good and the atmosphere just perfect with all the plants. I had the char-grilled vegetables, which I can only recommend - they might sound boring but oh-my-god!
For dinner, we went to Emerson on Hurumzi and it was mind blowing! We had researched a bit before our trip and also even made our reservation a few weeks before – which I can only recommend, as this place was completely full! I don’t wonder why though. Emerson on Hurumzi was as if we had travelled to Morocco and were starring in 1001 Nights!
You walk all the way to the rooftop, where you can either sit by real tables or on cushions on the floor. There’s only one seating, meaning that everyone arrives and eats at the same time, while watching the beautiful sunset over the city and the ocean. You get different courses and the waiters dance around and performs in between, accompanied by a small local band. It was nothing short of magical! The food was amazing, and if you have any dietary requirements, they make sure to adjust the menu for you – I got my own dish of veggie curry, while the others had the normal meat one for example! It was an amazing experience!
What to see in Stone Town, Zanzibar
We had no real plans while we were in Stone Town and started out by simply walking around. We got a map from our hotel with some landmarks marked and decided to walk around to see them. We came across a local market on Market Street where they sell meat, veggies, clothes and everything else.
While walking around we suddenly found a ruin of an old fortress, where you could walk into the old courtyard. Today they have small stalls in there, selling wooden figures and other crafts. It's just called Old Fort if you want to find it.
We walked around the small streets in the Old Town and it was just such a mood! It was small, cosy and full of life. There is so many small cute shops and a lot of stuff to look at. We found a cool spice shop called 1001 Organic Spicery, just around the corner from Emerson Spice Secret Garden.
Things to consider when visiting Zanzibar and Tanzania
A small thing I’d like to really point out is that Tanzania in general is a Muslim country. Please be considerate of their religious beliefs by dressing appropriately! We saw so many tourists walking around Stone Town dressed in small strap dresses or only wearing shorts and bikinis – which is attracting a lot of negative attention from the locals. You can even see signs hanging in hotels and on the street, asking to please dress appropriately to respect their culture and religion. So please dress appropriately!
That was all my tips to what to do if you have 24 hours in Stone Town, Zanzibar! Let me know if you liked it or visited any of the places! :-)