Zanzibar Town is the capital of Zanzibar Island but only one part of it is worth visiting: Stone Town.
A maze of narrow, twisting streets and alleyways, Stone Town oozes history from every pore. A trading centre for 2,000 years, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is famous for its wide range of architectural styles, eclectic collection of languages and the tastes, smells and sights of many cultures - Asian, Arab, African and European.
You can simply stroll around and soak up the atmosphere but given its labyrinthine nature and the number of 'guides' offering their services, we'd recommend booking a guided city walking tour and seeing the sights in comfort. There are museums, forts, cathedrals and mosques to discover and you'll take in colourful markets and nearby spice plantations too.
Often experienced as a day tour, Stone Town does in fact have plenty of very upmarket and well-located accommodation. Many visitors stay for a night or two after flying in from the mainland and before hitting the island's dazzling beaches. Elegant villas and boutique hotels provide a cool refuge to return to after a day exploring and staff will be happy to arrange excursions in the area - a sunset dhow cruise is usually considered the best way to end the day in Stone Town!
Located on Zanzibar's west coast, Stone Town has a tropical climate typical of the East African coast: it's often very humid with temperatures warm to hot all year round. Rainfall is heavy from mid-March to late May and in November. The best time to visit Stone Town is during the hot and mostly dry December to February period or in the more comfortable June to October spring months, which offer the driest weather and cooler temperatures.
At a Glance
Whether you visit Stone Town on a day tour or stay for a night or two, the magic of this cultural melting pot makes a great contrast to Zanzibar's beaches.