If I’m being totally honest, Stone Town was probably my least favorite place that my friend April and I stayed during our few weeks in Zanzibar

After spending so much time relaxing on the beaches, the hustle of this little town felt a bit much.

That said, there’s lots to see around Stone Town, and plenty of tours that you can book, and a ton of restaurant options, including a delicious local gelato shop!

You’ll also see tons of cute street cats, a bunch of local goods being sold, and a bunch of amazing old architecture. 

Overall, Stone Town is a brilliant spot to base yourself out of if you’re more interested in doing the tours and historical parts of Zanzibar.

I’d recommend anyone visiting the island spend at least one day or more exploring all these things to do in Stone Town.


1. Take a Walking Tour

One of my favorite ways to see a new town is to spend a few hours wandering around.

Stone Town’s streets can almost feel a bit like a maze, so unless you’re really great with directions, join a walking tour to make sure you don’t miss out on anything.

You’re guaranteed to see beautiful architecture, fun local shops, and at least a few adorable street cats.


Check out this popular Stone Town walking tour!


2. Visit the Old Fort

Also known as Fuerte Viejo de Zanzíbar, this old fortification is absolutely worth checking out. 

The best part is that it’s free entry, and doesn’t take up a ton of time to see.

You’ll love getting to admire the old architecture, especially the amphitheater, which is very impressive. 

There’s also a nice market nearby if you want to try your hand at bartering for some local souvenirs. 

Fun Fact: This fort is the oldest building in Stone Town. The Omni Arabs built it between 1698 and 170.



3. Hit Up the Freddie Mercury Museum

If you’re a Queen fan, hitting up the Freddie Mercury Museum is a must.

In case you didn’t already know, Freddie was born in Stone Town, making him a big local celebrity. 

The museum, which is inside his childhood home, features lots of photos of him throughout his career, as well quotes about him from people who knew him. 

My friend and I skipped paying to see the museum, as neither of us are big fans, and it’s quite a small museum for the price of admission.


Sign up for this tour that includes a trip to Freddie Mercury’s House!


4. Shop at Darajani Market

Darajani Market is one of the most famous local food markets in Zanzibar. 

You’ll see tons of local spices for sale, plus fresh produce and meat, including fish auctions. 

Fair warning though, never pay the original price here. Locals always hike up prices for tourists, and expect a bit of bartering.

The market itself can definitely feel crazy, since everyone will try to get you into their stalls, so go in ready to be assertive. 

Local’s Tip: If you go in the afternoon, the food won’t be as fresh, but the market will be less crowded.



5. Check Out the Old Dispensary

This was one of my favorite places we found while wandering around the waterfront on our first day in Stone Town.

The Old Dispensary is a beautiful building that houses a free local art show on the first two floors and has a small area upstairs where there’s normally some sort of musical performance happening. 

If you visit, you’ve got to stop by Trash to Treasure Creations, which you’ll find at the back of the first floor. 

Judith began her company a few years ago and upcycles waste into amazing handcrafted papers, cards, and bookmarks with clever little sayings on them.

I bought a few to bring back to the U.S. with me and everyone I’ve given a card to has been obsessed with how original they are. 

You’ll also want to visit the top floor for an amazing view of the waterfront, though fair warning, they do sometimes charge admission to this area if there’s an event going on.



6. Take a Spice Tour

Did you know that Zanzibar is nicknamed “The Spice Island”?

That’s because ages ago, the Arabs began spice farming on the island, which quickly gained a reputation for becoming the biggest exporter of clove.

Since then, the trade has grown, and now produces not only clove but also cinnamon, turmeric, cardamom, chili, and black pepper.

There are lots of spice farms on the island, meaning there are a ton of tours you could end up on.

We spoke to a few other tourists, who all raved about how wonderfully informative their spice tour was, and encouraged us to sign up for the tour when we got to Stone Town.

The initial part of the tour going around and learning about the spices was interesting, but the people hosting our tour were incredibly pushy about wanting extra money and wanting us to buy everything we sampled, which left us uncomfortable, and wishing we would have booked with a different company. 

In the future, I think I’d skip bartering for a tour with the street vendors, and instead book with a reliable website, like GetYourGuide, since even our hotel concierge was changing prices on us.


Look in this well-rated Stone Town spice tour today!


7. Hit Up Forodhani Gardens Night Market

Head to Forodhani Gardens Night Market to mingle with other tourists and lots of locals, as you sample all the local flavors of Zanzibar. 

Prices are higher here, as most stalls like to take advantage of all the tourists coming to check out the market, meaning you’ll absolutely want to bargain a bit with them before buying anything.

This place also is probably going to feel very chaotic, as everyone will approach you to get you into their stalls, even while you’re sitting down to eat.

I think it’s cool to walk through, but overall, it’s not the first place in town I’d pick to go get dinner.

Local’s Tip: If you’re going to eat here, go just before the sun is going to set. Since it’s on the waterfront, you will get a beautiful view at sunset.



8. Go Out For Dinner

One of my favorite things about our time in Stone Town was having a wider variety of restaurants to pick from for dinner, compared to the previous weeks we spent living in Paje and Nungwi.

Our first night in town, we found an amazing vegan Indian spot, Krishna Food House, that we loved so much that we returned for dinner two days later.

We also found a fantastic local gelato shop called Mama Mia, which we quickly became regulars at.

Truthfully, my mouth is watering just thinking about their peanut butter gelato!

In case you want more than just amazing gelato and Indian food, here are some other spots that were recommended to us by locals:



9. Sign Up for a Day Trip

One of the best things about Stone Town is that it’s a central pickup location for day trip tours.

My friend April and I did a really fantastic sailing and snorkeling tour while in Zanzibar. That was a big highlight of our time on the island.

There are a bunch of different options to choose from, though after our experience with the spice tour, I’d suggest booking your day trip through GetYourGuide for peace of mind.


Check out one of these popular Zanzibar day trips!


10. Watch the Sunset

Zanzibar gets some pretty epic sunsets, so you should spend at least one evening enjoying them.

Head to Stone Town’s Forodhani Park for one of the best views of the sunset around.

You can also head to the top floor of The Old Distillery for a view with a bit of live music.

Or go all out and book a sunset cruise for an extra dose of romance.

Either way, just don’t miss out on the natural beauty of Stone Town’s sunsets.


Reserve your spot on a sunset cruise today!

Wrapping It Up

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I hope this list of the best things to do in Stone Town has given you plenty of inspiration for planning your trip to Zanzibar.

Let me know in the comments below which spot you’re most looking forward to checking out!

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