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Things to do in

Zanzibar City

Our most recommended things to do in Zanzibar City

Prison Island: Private Half-Day Tour

1. Prison Island: Private Half-Day Tour

This private guided half day tour can begin any time from 9:00 AM to 3:30 PM. Meet your well-trained guide and boatman as your board your steam-engine wooden boat. Head to the prestigious island and enjoy the 30-minute journey.  Listen to the history of the island and discover the past centuries through the historical buildings, which have served many purposes over the years including a prison, chapel, and hiding place for slaves after the abolition.  Enjoy a swim or snorkel around the colorful coral rocks and turquoise waters. Play with giant tortoises and you may take photographs with these old precious creatures. If you do not have much experience or confidence in the water, you will be provided with a life jacket. 

Stonetown: Food Markets and Street Food Walking Tour

2. Stonetown: Food Markets and Street Food Walking Tour

Take part in a unique 3-hour evening food tour in Stone Town. After hotel pickup, your tour will start at 6:00 PM at Darajani Market, where locals go to buy their fruits and vegetables. Experience the fun hustle and bustle of this busy market and admire the multitude of foods on offer.   Your next stop will be at Swahili House restaurant, the best place to watch the sun go down. As you watch the sky change colors, enjoy some soft drinks or local beers made in Tanzania. Afterwards, explore the streets of the city, which has itself been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Hear stories about the city and see where the locals gather to celebrate events, watch football, or just have tea and play some games. Continue walking to Forodhani Garden, which hosts a popular street food market in the evenings. Try out local foods and drinks like Zanzibar Pizza, urojo soup, shawarma, sugarcane juice, spice tea, coffee, and more.   Your tour will end at 8:00 PM, at which point you’ll be taken back to your hotel.

Zanzibar: Stone Town 3-Hour Walking Tour

3. Zanzibar: Stone Town 3-Hour Walking Tour

After a greeting and short briefing, you will be heading to the old fort which is also known as the Arab fort, the house of wonders, and then to Forodhani Gardens, a darajani fruits and spice market, and the Zanzibar ferry terminal. The tour also includes visits to the Freddie Mercury house, Zanzibar Curio Shop, Jaws Corner coffee shop, and more. Visit the Anglican cathedral, also known as the former slave market which was used for centuries as a hub for the East African slave market, whereby slaves were hunted and abducted from Malawi, Congo, Zambia and other parts of east Africa. With your guide you will have enough time for some leisure time to explore the narrow streets alongside the curio shops. The tour will end after 3 hours.

Zanzibar: Prison Island Tour with Lunch on the Sandbank

4. Zanzibar: Prison Island Tour with Lunch on the Sandbank

Your Zanzibar adventure begins with a visit to Prison Island, purchased in 1893 by Lloyd Mathews, the British First Minister of Zanzibar at the time. Mathews constructed a prison complex on the island which is still visible today, however no prisoners were ever housed on the island and instead it became a quarantine station for yellow fever sufferers. On the island, spend some time exploring the area and discover the collection of over 50 tortoises that live here, some of which are more than 100 years old. Learn about why the tortoises call the island their home, as well as taking photos and feeding them too. The island is also home to peacocks and small antelope too. Once you’ve explored the island, enjoy the opportunity to cool off from the hot weather with a refreshing dip in the surrounding crystal clear waters. Spend some time snorkeling in the water just off the island and search for colorful tropical fish and vibrant coral reef. After you’ve worked up an appetite from swimming, relax on the sandbank with a delicious lunch including a seafood BBQ, Swahili cuisine, cheese, tropical fruit, and more.

Zanzibar: Spice Farm Tour with Traditional Cooking Lesson

5. Zanzibar: Spice Farm Tour with Traditional Cooking Lesson

Visit an organic spice farm on this 3-hour guided tour to learn about one of Zanzibar’s most popular industries: spices. Discover how the islands produce cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, black pepper, and more. See why the Zanzibar Archipelago, together with Tanzania's Mafia Island, is sometimes called the "Spice Islands".   When you arrive, the spice farm guide will describe how the spices are grown and used as medication and flavor in dishes. See spices like vanilla, cardamom, nutmeg, and many more. You’ll be able to touch, smell, and taste the spices and herbs directly from plants—you’ve never smelled spices as fresh as these before. Along with these fragrant plants, there will also be some fresh tropical fruits to see and taste.     Later, take the opportunity to join a cassava leaf harvest, make coconut milk, and practice some cooking. Then, a coconut tree climber will pick some fresh young coconut fruits for you to try. End the trip with lunch at the spice farm and the opportunity to purchase spices from the shop.

Zanzibar: Changuu Island and Stone Town Tour with Lunch

6. Zanzibar: Changuu Island and Stone Town Tour with Lunch

The tour begins with a private boat trip to Changuu Island, also known as Prison Island or Turtle Island. The island earned its name after it was purchased in 1893 by the British First Minister of Zanzibar who constructed a prison complex here. Although no prisoners were ever housed on the island, it was eventually used as a quarantine station for yellow fever sufferers, and later became home to more than 50 tortoises who still live there today. On the island, enjoy some free time to explore the beauty of this wild paradise, and get up close to the tortoises that roam freely. Some of the tortoises here are more than 100 years old, and you can even get close enough to feed them and take photos. You can also find peacocks and antelope on the island, then cool off in the crystal clear waters during a snorkel session in search of marine life, colorful fish, and coral reef. After your visit to Changuu Island, head towards one of the most historically prominent and artistic destinations in East Africa, Stone Town. Upon arrival, admire the fascinating architecture of the town, which dates back to the 19th century, and reflects the diverse influences of Swahili, Arab, Persian, Indian and European cultures. Learn about how the town earned its UNESCO World Heritage status, and then visit the Old Slave Market and the City Market. Here you can shop for almost anything whilst soaking up the authentic East African atmosphere and meeting the locals. Once you’ve wandered through the market it’s time to visit the Palace Museum, the local House of Wonder, and of course Freddie Mercury’s former home. There’s also time for a trip to the Peace Memorial and the Natural History Museum before ending the tour with a delicious local lunch at a traditional restaurant.

From Stone Town: Private Tour to Prison Island

7. From Stone Town: Private Tour to Prison Island

Visit Prison Island on a private 3-hour tour, and discover the rich history and beautiful natural surroundings of this location. Meet your guide in Zanzibar, or select the option including hotel pickup, then enjoy the ride to the island on a traditional dhow. Learn how this small island gained its name and explore the place that is now home to more than 50 tortoises, some over 100 years old.   Feed the tortoises and take up-close pictures with them, as you keep a look out for the peacocks and antelope that also live there. After discovering the island and its history, take the opportunity to snorkel in the clear waters off the coast amongst tropical fish and colorful coral. At the end of your tour, return to Zanzibar, where you’ll be dropped off in the city center, or at your hotel.

Stone Town: Stone Town and Prison Island Private Day Trip

8. Stone Town: Stone Town and Prison Island Private Day Trip

See the National Museum of Zanzibar (rebuilt in 1883) and the Arab fort while passing along bazaar streets towards the famous Freddie Mercury house. See the old slave market, fruit market, and spice market — don’t miss the classic Zanzibar curved doors decorating the stone town.  After you have explored Stone Town, you’ll have an opportunity to take a short break before heading to Prison Island. Prison Island is also known as Changuu Island, the nickname came from the island being used by some sultans of Zanzibar to detain enslaved people. While you are on this island, you can swim and take pictures with giant tortoises. 

Zanzibar: Swimming with Dolphins and Snorkeling Private Tour

9. Zanzibar: Swimming with Dolphins and Snorkeling Private Tour

Get picked up from your hotel in an air-conditioned vehicle and head to the Kizimkazi village, where you will be met by the captain. Here, start your journey to meet and have a chance to swim with dolphins. The captain will take the boat to locations well-known for dolphin spotting, while maintaining a respectful distance. The well-equipped boat will travel to several spots to ensure time for dolphin watching and scenic snorkeling. Enjoy the beauty of the coral and the brightly colored fish. Along the way, savor some delicious snacks and fruits. After the tour, you will be brought safely to shore before being dropped off at your hotel.

Zanzibar: Mnemba Atoll Marine Reserve Snorkeling Tour

10. Zanzibar: Mnemba Atoll Marine Reserve Snorkeling Tour

After pickup at your hotel on Unguja, Zanzibar, hop in your private boat toward Mnemba Island. Depending on conditions, reach the coral reef of the Mnemba Atoll Marine Reserve in up to 20 minutes. Once there, explore a reef that is big enough for everyone so you won't feel crowded, even on busy days. Keep your eyes peeled for yellow snapper, barracuda, turtles, and much more. After snorkeling, enjoy a snack stop on a sandbank. Relax under the sun as you savor seasonal fresh fruit and other small bites. Later, head back to shore on Unguja. See local fishermen coming back from the sea and selling their day's catches before being transferred back to your accommodation.

Other Sightseeing Options in Zanzibar City

Want to discover all there is to do in Zanzibar City? Click here for a full list.

What people are saying about Zanzibar City

Overall rating

4.5 / 5

based on 336 reviews

Fantastic day out, bit hectic at the start finding our guide among the hundreds of locals around but once we located our guide who I should stress had a lanyard and GetYourGuide I'd we were sized for flippers and handed over to Captain Simba. Fantastic tour and knowledge from Simba. Told us about his life which was very nice to hear. A genuinly nice guy. 45min-1h on prison Island was enough to see the turtles and look round, some reviews say there's not much to see and they are right, but it's interesting! Onto snorkeling which was again lovely, Simba kicked back and relaxed while we explored the reef for god knows how long. Seafood and chips for lunch and lots of it, the octopus was amazing! Journeyed back to shore for 2pm with enough time to catch out ferry.

Punctual! Picked up from the hotel and then a 20 minute drive to the boat... a small nutshell but great. Great fruits on the boat and lots of fish on the atoll and reef. It was totally worth it!

Driver was late, but then everything was great. The German guide got on the way and then took us through the city. Our wishes were completely taken care of. It was a great trip!

Private tour with a well-speaking guide. Took his time and explained everything in detail

It was a very cool tour and our wishes were individually addressed.