4. Explore Stone Town
Stone Town is the island’s historic and cultural center. With narrow streets and white buildings, the architecture fuses Arabic, Indian, European, and African influences. Shops are alive with the buzz of haggling and offer colorful art, crafts, clothing, and spices. Restaurants reflect the variety of cultures that are part of Zanzibar’s history.
The Old Fort (or Arab Fort) is a popular stop on any Stone Town tour. It is the oldest building in Zanzibar—the Omani sultanate built the fort in the seventeenth century to defend the island from the Portuguese. Today, the Old Fort serves as a cultural center. Here, you can buy tingatinga paintings or enjoy an evening of music and dancing.
Zanzibar played a large role in the international slave trade before outlawing the sale of humans in 1876. To mark this event, the Anglican Church built the Christ Church cathedral on the site of Stone Town’s former slave market. This moving monument is open to visitors, as are a memorial and small museum next to the church.
Are you a fan of music? Drop in at the Freddie Mercury Museum to learn about the Queen frontman’s childhood in Zanzibar. The museum is in the house where the music legend lived until he was eight years old.
Finally, you’ll want to view some of the impressive palaces and mansions from Zanzibar’s years as a sultanate. These include Tippu Tip House, the Sultan’s Palace, and the House of Wonders.