Zanzibar Island is that one place on Earth that embodies the idea of paradise. With its white sandy beaches, crystal-clear waters, and rich cultural heritage, this Indian Ocean gem is a dream destination.
In this two-week itinerary and guide, I’ll share with you my favorite beaches, hotels & things to do, including must-visit spots like Paje, Jambiani, Stone Town, and Kiwengwa. So, pack your bags and get ready for an unforgettable Zanzibar adventure!
Zanzibar Island Most Asked Questions:
Is Zanzibar Cheap or Expensive?
Zanzibar honestly can be both affordable and relatively expensive. You can find very affordable guesthouses for $18 a night but also high-end luxury hotels starting at $200+. One thing to consider is definitely the day trips and activities that won’t come cheap. On the lower end you can get by for $35 for a single person.
What is Zanzibar famous for?
Zanzibar is often referred to as the “Spice Island” due to its historical importance in the spice trade. Zanzibar’s lush spice farms produce a variety of aromatic spices, including cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, and black pepper.
Do You Need a Visa for Zanzibar?
Zanzibar is visa-free for about 40 countries. Most nationalities, including citizens of most Western countries, can obtain a visa upon arrival at the airport in Zanzibar or when entering Tanzania. This is typically a tourist visa that allows for a stay of up to 90 days and costs 50$ for a single entry.
There is the option of applying for an e-visa which I did. The process is straightforward and can save you time when arriving. Head to the official website here: Immigration Tanzania.
Best Time to Visit Zanzibar
The best time to visit Zanzibar is during the dry season from June to October. This period offers sunny weather, ideal for beach activities and water sports. The wet season from November to April brings occasional heavy rain but lush landscapes and fewer tourists, making it a more budget-friendly option.
What’s the Currency in Zanzibar?
The currency in Tanzania is the Tanzanian Shilling, abbreviated as TZS. It is the official currency used for transactions throughout the country. While some tourist areas and businesses may accept US dollars or Euros, it’s best to have Tanzanian Shillings for day-to-day expenses and transactions to ensure you get the most favorable exchange rates. I’d suggest signing up for a prepaid Wise card to withdraw money abroad and save of additional costs.
20 Best Things to See and Do in Zanzibar + 2 Week Itinerary
Day 1-3 Paje, Zanzibar Island
You will likely arrive at Abeid Amani Karume International Airport in Stone Town. When you get outside the terminal you find a few shops that sell SIM cards. I have opted for Tigo but Vodacom is also great! However, if you want to plan ahead and have greater freedom, I suggest looking into buying an eSIM Card!
From there find your driver or talk to one of the taxi drivers to take you to Paje. Make sure to haggle for the price but expect to pay around $40-$60 per car.
Your drive to Paje takes approximately 1.15 hours.
Paje is famous for its excellent kitesurfing conditions. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced kitesurfer, you can take lessons or rent equipment to ride the waves and enjoy the thrill of this popular water sport. Prices for kitesurfing lessons start at $40 per hour, including equipment rental.
2. Paje Beach
Spend your days relaxing on the beautiful Paje Beach. The powdery white sand and clear blue waters provide an idyllic setting for sunbathing and long walks.
3. Maasai Shops
During the day you can explore small shops in Paje that sell locally made crafts, jewelry, clothing, stunning paintings and Maasai souvenirs. Just browsing through is so much fun and an opportunity to pick up unique gifts to bring home.
4. “The Rock” Restaurant
Head up the coast to “The Rock” restaurant, perched on a coral rock in the Indian Ocean. It’s probably one of the most iconic dining spots and offers stunning sea views and a unique experience. Grab some fresh seafood and watch the tides change around you. Prices at The Rock start at $30 per person, so be sure to make a reservation for this extraordinary culinary adventure.
Paje Best Restaurants
Mr. Kahawa Cafe – This cozy cafe in Paje serves excellent coffee and a variety of dishes, including breakfast options, sandwiches, and smoothies. It’s a popular spot for a casual meal and a caffeine fix.
Paje by Night for its seafood delicacies. Try some of the local dishes, especially the freshly caught fish, while enjoying a beautiful view of the ocean. It’s also a popular spot for yoga and live music events.
Head to Lekker Lekker for a truly local dinner experience. This unassuming spot boasts some of the town’s best and most affordable food, with prices starting at $5 per person.
Nightlife in Paje
Paje offers a vibrant nightlife scene any day of the week. Don’t miss Jambo, the place to be for African music, dancing, and a lively atmosphere on Friday. If you’re seeking nighttime entertainment on other days, Africana offers a diverse crowd, live sports on TV, and affordable food.
Day 4-6: Jambiani, Zanzibar East Coast
Transitioning from Paje to the tranquil coastal haven of Jambiani is a breeze. A short taxi ride, costing approximately $20, will take you there. For a more local experience, consider a Boda-Boda ride, which may charge around 7000 Tzs or 2$.
Jambiani, on the east coast of Zanzibar, is a tranquil village known for its authentic and laid-back atmosphere.
5. Jambiani Beach
After settling in, embark on a leisurely stroll along the tranquil Jambiani Beach. Embrace the serene atmosphere and dive into the gentle Indian Ocean. This part was my favorite for a longer beach walk, as it’s wider and just more pretty.
During low tide, you will have the best chance to see the local women heading out to their seaweed farms. Often you can also find them looking for little mussles for a soup dish.
6. Jambiani Village
Immerse yourself in Jambiani’s authentic atmosphere as you wander through its sandy streets. Here, time slows down, allowing you to connect with friendly locals and experience the traditional way of life preserved in this charming village. There are also some nice Maasai shops in town.
7. Dhow Boat Sailing
Mornings and afternoons are get to, set sail on a journey aboard a traditional Dhow boat. These wooden vessels offer a unique opportunity to explore the crystal-clear waters of the Indian Ocean and see the island from a different perspective. Prices for 2 hours I believe start at around 20$, and 30$ with snorkeling.
8. Jozani Chwaka Bay National Park Zanzibar Island
Venture into the captivating Jozani Chwaka Bay National Park, where you can encounter the playful Red Colobus Monkeys, unique to Zanzibar. Explore enchanting mangrove forests, adding a touch of wildlife wonder to your journey. As you make your way back to Stone Town, consider this worthwhile stopover. Entry fees are $12 for adults and $6 for children or opt for a half-day guided tour.
In Jambiani, the bustling nightlife and vibrant parties may be absent, but what you’ll uncover is a serene slice of Zanzibari paradise, providing a truly authentic and peaceful vacation experience!
Jambiani Best Restaurants
Coco Jambo in Jambiani is known for its delicious seafood dishes and Swahili cuisine. It’s a great place to enjoy fresh catches of the day and traditional Zanzibari flavors while watching the waves.
LOST SOLES for a relaxed restaurant with local food and great prices! If you want to leave your old flip-flops behind, this place will make it part of their decoration, preventing it from ending up in the ocean!
Yellow Card Cafe for the best coffee in Jambiani plus they’ve got a great variety of local dishes at cheap prices.
Jambiani Best Hotel in Zanzibar Island
The Loop Beach Resort: Discover this enchanting beachfront resort nestled in Jambiani village’s heart. What sets The Loop apart is its harmonious blend of water sports activities, unique art pieces and tropical relaxation.
La Luna Suite Apartments within Mwezi Boutique Resort. These apartments redefine luxury with eco-conscious design. Designed by architect Sandro Gurioli, they embrace green building principles with Nordic fir wood. It’s an eco-friendly retreat offering privacy, independence, and resort services, including in-suite dining by their chefs.
Did you like the Tanzania itinerary so far? Head over to my Instagram @christintheilig for more East Africa inspo and tips!
Day 7-11: Exploring Stone Town, Zanzibar
Depart from Jambiani and journey to the historic heart of Zanzibar, Stone Town. For a comfortable and picturesque ride, a taxi is readily available for approximately $40. The drive offers scenic views of the island’s lush landscape.
Stone Town, often regarded as the heart of Zanzibar, welcomes you with its captivating and seemingly timeless allure. Its maze-like alleys, adorned with historic architecture and bustling markets, fill the air with the enchanting aroma of spices. This UNESCO World Heritage Site stands as a treasure trove of cultural heritage and rich history.
9. Strolling the Streets
Take a leisurely stroll to discover the essence of Stone Town. This part of town is renowned for its ornate carved wooden doors, each a work of art and a cultural relic. These doors, adorning historic buildings, are steeped in history, each telling a unique story. They showcase the owner’s status, heritage, and beliefs through intricate designs.
From Arabic inscriptions to Indian and Swahili patterns, these doors are a testament to Zanzibar’s diverse influences and rich architectural heritage.
As you explore the winding alleys and bustling markets of Stone Town, you’ll find that losing your way often leads to delightful new discoveries. Head here to book your private walking tour!
10. Jaws Corner
Once you made it to Jaws Corner you have arrived in the center of Stone Town. It’s the spot where locals gather to chat, sip on spiced tea, and play board games while watching football. It’s a great place to observe daily life in Stone Town!
11. Visit Daranjani Market
Discover the vibrant atmosphere of Darajani Market, a bustling hub of commerce. Wander through stalls brimming with fresh produce, exotic spices, seafood, textiles, and local crafts. Immerse yourself in the lively market scene and interact with friendly vendors.
During the slave era in Zanzibar Island, Daranjani Market served as a central hub for the transatlantic slave trade. The market was a bustling place where goods, including human beings, were bought and sold. The market’s grim history is a haunting reminder of the suffering endured by countless individuals during this dark chapter in Zanzibar’s past.
12. Anglican Cathedral
Explore the impressive Anglican Cathedral of Christ Church, which was constructed on the site of the former slave market. Inside, you’ll find a memorial to David Livingstone, the famous explorer.
13. The Old Slave Market Museum
This museum is located at the site of the former slave market, which was one of the largest and most notorious slave markets in East Africa during the 19th century. The museum serves as a poignant reminder of Zanzibar’s history in the transatlantic slave trade and aims to educate visitors about the horrors of this dark period.
14. Rooftop Visit Emerson Hotel
Head to Emerson Spice Tea House for a delightful rooftop lunch. This charming restaurant offers a fusion of Swahili, Persian, and Indian flavors. The rooftop setting provides panoramic views of Stone Town.
15. Old Fort
Built by the Portuguese in the 17th century and later used by the Omanis, the Old Fort is an iconic Stone Town landmark. It often hosts cultural events and has a lovely courtyard, which shows lots of pretty souvenirs, Maasai art and other designs.
16. Forodhani Gardens
In the evening, stroll over to the nearby Forodhani Gardens, a scenic waterfront park. These gardens are a great place to enjoy local street food, relax under the palm trees, and watch the Dhows sailing in the distance. Make sure to haggle about the price when you get food there!
17. Visit Prison Island
Embark on a captivating Prison Island Tour to explore the history and natural beauty of this unique Zanzibar destination. Originally intended as a detention center, the island now serves as a sanctuary for Aldabra giant tortoises. It’s the best opportunity to get up close to these magnificent creatures, some of which are over a century old, and learn about conservation efforts.
The island is also home to several historic buildings, including a former quarantine station and a prison that was never used as originally intended. You can explore these structures and learn about their history.
You can start a tour for as little as $10 by negotiating with boat captains at the harbor or book a combined tour with Stone Town and Half Day Prison Island Tour.
18. Spice Tours
While Stone Town itself isn’t known for spice farms, you can book a spice tour to explore the aromatic plantations located outside the town. These tours provide insight into Zanzibar’s spice industry.
Stone Town Best Restaurants
Travelers Cafe for sunset! This beloved establishment offers a delectable culinary journey paired with breathtaking views of the Indian Ocean.
Karafuu Coffee near the Old Fort has incredible coffee, and strong Wi-Fi and is the best place to work from when in Stone Town.
Zanzibar Coffee House is my top tip when it comes to coffee. The place is very authentic, and always buzzing.
Lukmaan is your best bet when it comes to affordable and tasty local food
Stone Town Best Hotel in Zanzibar Island
Kholle House is a stunning boutique hotel nestled in the heart of Stone Town, Zanzibar, with a rich history dating back to 1860. This meticulously restored property showcases Princess Kholle’s cherished artifacts and offers a haven for guests seeking sophistication and charm. It features eleven individually designed rooms, blending Swahili and French-Creole influences – and has a swimming pool for these hot summer days!
Day 12-14: Kiwengwa
Kiwengwa is known for its serene and unspoiled beaches, making it a peaceful retreat away from the bustling tourist areas of Zanzibar Island. The long coastline and clear waters are perfect for relaxation and water activities. It offers a blend of natural beauty and water adventures, making it an ideal destination for those seeking a tranquil beach getaway with a touch of adventure.
19. Kiwengwa Beach
Start your day by simply unwinding on the stunning Kiwengwa Beach. The soft, powdery white sand and the turquoise waters are perfect for a peaceful morning walk or sunbathing.
20. Windfoiling Course
Windfoiling, also known as foil windsurfing or windfoil, is an exciting and relatively new development in the world of windsurfing. It combines traditional windsurfing with hydrofoil technology to offer a unique and exhilarating riding experience. Whether you’re an experienced windsurfer looking for a new challenge or a newcomer to the sport, windfoiling is worth exploring
Kiwengwa also offers opportunities for snorkeling, paddleboarding, and traditional dhow boat rides.
Kiwengwa Best Restaurant
Upendo Zanzibar offers a delightful beachfront dining experience. The restaurant specializes in seafood and international cuisine, and you can enjoy your meal with your feet in the sand.
The Beach Lounge is the ideal place for dinner, a snack or just to watch the kitesurfers. The food is varied and tasty – some of the most stylish places on the East Coast!
Kiwengwa Best Hotel Zanzibar Island
Mvuvi Boutique Resort: Mvuvi is an exclusive boutique hotel located on the pristine white sand beach of Kiwengwa. With only eight rooms, it offers a private and secluded retreat for travelers seeking tranquility. This oasis is immersed in lush greenery and deeply rooted in Swahili culture, creating a warm and serene atmosphere surrounded by breathtaking natural beauty.
I hope this post gave you a better idea of where to go when in Zanzibar Island, what to do, and where to stay.
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