Stone Town | Private Safaris East Africa

Explore Stone Town

Stone Town, also known as Mji Mkongwe (Swahili for “old town”), is the old part of Zanzibar City, the main city of Zanzibar, in Tanzania. (The newer portion of the city is known as Ng’ambo, Swahili for ‘the other side’).


Stone Town is located on the western coast of Unguja, the main island of the Zanzibar Archipelago, its former capital of the Zanzibar Sultanate, and flourishing centre of the spice trade as well as the slave trade in the 19th century, it retained its importance as the main city of Zanzibar during the period of the British protectorate.


When Tanganyika and Zanzibar joined each other to form the United Republic of Tanzania, Zanzibar kept a semi-autonomous status, with Stone Town as its local government seat.

Stone Town is a city of prominent historical and artistic importance in East Africa. Its architecture, mostly dating back to the 19th century, reflects the diverse influences underlying the Swahili culture, giving a unique mixture of Arab, Persian, Indian and European elements. For this reason, the town was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000. Due to its heritage, Stone Town is also a major visitor attraction in Tanzania, and a large part of its economy depends on tourism-related activities.

Sunset Dhow Cruise

This iconic Dhow is an ancient Arabic sailing vessel, carved out of mangrove timber and flagged with a lateen mainsheet, these graceful boats plied the trade winds between East Africa, Persia and India for centuries. In fact, they are still built and operate today, although mainly for Indian Ocean fishing and transport. One of Zanzibar’s biggest treats is to set sail aboard a sunset cruise and watch the historic Stone Town shoreline glide-by, while the lights from mainland Dar es Salaam twinkle in the distance.

Palace Museum

An imposing white-washed building, the once residence of the Zanzibari royalty is now a museum dedicated to archiving the history of Zanzibar’s Sultans. Climb the central staircase and peel off into rooms archiving the sultanate era (1828-1964) with an eclectic mix of leftover furniture, paintings and such like. Each floor represents a different period but make sure to spend time in Princess Salme’s room, who eloped with a German to Hamburg, excerpts from her autobiography Memoirs of an Arabian Princess from Zanzibar provide a fascinating glimpse into regal Stone Town life.

St Joseph’s Cathedral

Peaceful, cool, and adorned in colourful biblical murals – the Roman Catholic Cathedral of St Josephs is well worth the detour from bustling Kenyatta Rd. It was built by French missionaries and is inlaid with stained glass windows imported from the continent. Try to time your visit with when the  local choir are practising, and make sure to hop across the road and take a peak at the intricately carved wooden chests at the workshop opposite

Forodhani Food Market

As the sun sets in Stone Town, locals and tourists alike flock down to Forodhani Gardens on the waterfront, where a nightly food market serves up hot griddles laden with seafood. Quench your thirst with a freshly squeezed sugarcane juice, sample skewers of octopus dipped in tamarind, lobster and crab claw, platters of prawns and Zanzibari pizza (a chapati-type pita bread stuffed with mincemeat, egg, mayo, onion & chilli).