Must see attractions in Zanzibar Archipelago

  • Sights in Zanzibar Town

    House of Wonders

    An icon of Stone Town, the House of Wonders rises in impressive tiers of slender steel pillars and balconies overlooking the waterfront. Its enormous carved doors are said to be the largest in East Africa, fronted by two bronze cannon with Portuguese inscriptions dating them to the 16th century. Inside, the National Museum of History & Culture has exhibits on Swahili civilisation and the peoples of the Indian Ocean.

  • Sights in Nungwi

    Mnarani Marine Turtle Conservation Pond

    In 1993 the villagers of Nungwi opened this turtle sanctuary in a large natural tidal pool near the lighthouse and since then these sea creatures have enjoyed a degree of protection from being hunted and eaten. You can see turtles of various species and sizes, and proceeds from entrance fees fund an education project for local children, hopefully demonstrating the benefits of turtle conservation.

  • Sights in Zanzibar Island

    ZALA Park

    ZALA (Zanzibar Land Animals) Park was founded as a project to help local people appreciate the value of wildlife, with funds raised by tourist visits. The park itself appears forlorn today, as more energy and emphasis goes into tours exploring local woodland, mangrove shoreline and nearby villages, by foot, bike or kayak.

  • Sights in Zanzibar Town

    Forodhani Gardens

    One of the best ways to ease into Zanzibar life is to stop by this waterfront public space. It's a social hub for tourists and locals alike; there's a large restaurant jutting into the sea, two small cafes with outside seating, benches under shady trees, a children's play park, and food stalls in the evening.

  • Sights in Zanzibar Town

    Old Dispensary

    With its peppermint-green latticework balconies and sculpted clock tower, this 19th-century charitable dispensary is one of the most attractive landmarks on the waterfront. It was built by Tharia Topan, a prominent Ismaili Indian merchant who also acted as financial adviser to the sultan and as banker to Tippu Tip, Zanzibar’s most notorious slave trader. You’re free to wander through the interior, which now accommodates offices. In the airy courtyard on the ground floor is the Abyssinian's Steakhouse restaurant.

  • Sights in Zanzibar Town

    Princess Salme Museum

    Carefully curated by the renowned historian Said al Gheithy, this delightful little museum tells the story of Princess Salme, a sultan's daughter who eloped with a German merchant in the late 19th century and later wrote Memoirs of an Arabian Princess from Zanzibar. If Said is on duty, his guided tour of the museum adds depth to the story.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Chake Chake

    Misali Island

    Surrounded by crystal waters and stunning coral reefs, Misali offers some of the best diving in East Africa, while snorkelling is spectacular and easily reached from the beach. Around the island, nesting turtles favour beaches on the western side, while on the northeast coast is Baobab Beach, with fine sand and a small ranger centre (although information here is limited).

  • Sights in Zanzibar Town

    Anglican Cathedral

    The tall spire and grey-yellow walls of the Anglican cathedral dominate the surrounding streets in this part of Stone Town, while the dark-wood pews and stained-glass windows will remind British visitors of churches back home. This was the first Anglican cathedral in East Africa, constructed in the 1870s by the Universities Mission to Central Africa (UMCA) on the site of the former slave market after slavery was officially abolished.

  • Sights in Zanzibar Town

    Palace Museum

    Occupying several large buildings along the waterfront, this was the palace of Sultan Seyyid Said from 1828 until it was largely destroyed by the British bombardment of 1896. It was then rebuilt and used until the 1964 revolution when the last sultan was overthrown. Remarkably, much of the royal paraphernalia – banqueting tables, portraits, thrones and water closets – survives to now provide the human-interest story in this museum dedicated to the sultanate in the 19th century.

  • Sights in Zanzibar Town

    Old Fort

    With its pale-orange ramparts overlooking Forodhani Gardens and the ocean beyond, the fort was built by Omani Arabs when they seized the island from the Portuguese in 1698, and over the centuries it's had various uses, from prison to tennis club. Today the scale of the fortifications is still impressive, although there has been some modernisation inside, notably a line of souvenir shops and a pleasant cafe that turns into a bar in the evening.

  • Sights in Pemba

    Ngezi Forest Reserve

    In far northeastern Pemba, dense and wonderfully lush Ngezi is one of the last remaining areas of indigenous forest that once covered much of the island, and as close to rainforest that you'll get anywhere on Zanzibar. Protected by a 1476-hectare reserve, the forest is a true double canopy, complete with vines providing swings for raucous vervet monkeys. The entrance gate and visitor centre is 5km west of Konde, on the main dirt road to the Kigomasha Peninsula.

  • Sights in Zanzibar Town

    Darajani Market

    Zanzibar's main market is a hive of activity, with everything – from spices, fresh fish, slabs of meat and huge baskets full of live chickens to sandals, plastic buckets and mobile phones – all set out in a series of covered halls and overflowing into the surrounding streets. If you're buying food, come in the morning when stuff is fresh, although it's much busier then. For a slightly less crowded and chaotic experience come in the afternoon.

  • Sights in Pemba

    Kidike Flying Fox Sanctuary

    Kidike Sanctuary is home to a spectacular colony of Pemba flying foxes, a large bat indigenous to Pemba (called popo in Swahili). About 4000 individuals hang in a patch of trees, often taking to the air, clearly visible during the day, undisturbed by local people thanks to the proximity of a local burial site. There's a small (and tumbledown) viewing platform so you can see more clearly.

  • Sights in Zanzibar Town

    Catholic Cathedral

    One of the first sights travellers see when arriving by ferry are the twin spires of the Roman Catholic cathedral. Serving the local Catholic community, including Goans, Europeans and Tanzanians from Zanzibar and the mainland, it was designed by French architect Berange, whose other work includes the cathedral in Marseilles, and built by French missionaries between 1893 and 1897. Entrance is free but a donation is requested. Mass times are posted on the porch.

  • Sights in Chake Chake

    Mkame Ndume Ruins

    The ruined palace of Mohammed bin Abdul Rahman, who ruled Pemba prior to the arrival of the Portuguese (late 15th to early 16th centuries), is an evocative spot. Rahman had a reputation for cruelty and was known as Mkame Ndume (Milker of Men). Today the ruins' primary feature is a large stone staircase that led from the kilometre-long channel (now dry) connecting this site to the ocean.

  • Sights in Zanzibar Island

    Jozani Sea Turtle Sanctuary

    The aim of this community initiative is to help local people benefit from tourism and conservation. In three large pools you can observe sea turtles and fish-farming side by side. It's also a great place to see giant tortoises, translocated here from Chunguu Island as a gift from the president of Zanzibar. A helpful guide will show you around.

  • Sights in Zanzibar Town

    Kidichi Persian Baths

    Sultan Seyyid Said built this bathhouse at Kidichi (11km northeast of Zanzibar Town) in 1850 for his Persian wife, Scheherezade. The royal couple would come here after hunting to refresh themselves in the stylised stucco interiors. Although poorly maintained, you can still make out much of the carving and see the bathing pool and massage tables. Situated among some of Zanzibar's famous spice plantations, Kidichi Persian Baths is usually visited as part of a spice tour.

  • Sights in Chake Chake

    ZSTC Clove Oil Distillery

    Pemba is well known for its clove industry, and this distillery is where the clove stems are turned into essential oil. It's operated by the Zanzibar State Trading Corporation (ZSTC) and also here on occasion are cinnamon leaves, eucalyptus leaves, lemongrass and sweet basil. The tour may be a little lackadaisical, but the process is fascinating. Go first to the office and small shop selling the finished product (yes, enter through the gift shop) and arrange a guide.

  • Sights in Chake Chake

    Ras Mkumbuu Ruins

    Ras Mkumbuu is the headland at the end of the thin strip of land jutting into the sea northwest of Chake Chake. It's also the name given to the ruins of an ancient settlement, once called Qanbalu, dating from the 8th century, which by the early 10th century had become one of the major cities along the East African coast. The main ruins, consisting of a large mosque, some tombs and houses, date from around the 14th century, and several walls are still standing.

  • Sights in Zanzibar Town

    Mtoni Palace

    Overlooking the coast, away from the heat and hustle of Zanzibar Town, Mtoni Palace was built for Sultan Seyyid Said in 1828. It was home to the sultan’s only legitimate wife, many secondary wives and hundreds of children. According to contemporary descriptions, it was a beautiful building with a balconied exterior and a large garden courtyard complete with peacocks and gazelles. Now only a ruin remains with roofless halls and arabesque arches framing glimpses of tropical foliage and an azure sea.