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.
There are also several stalls catering for tourists selling packs of spice and other souvenirs. In the surrounding streets are shops and stalls selling clothes, shoes, DVDs, electrics and household goods. Especially worth a visit is the area known as Kanga St, where shops sell colourful local prints and fabrics of all kinds.