Zanzibar Travel Guide | Perfect 2-Week Itinerary

Zanzibar, an exotic paradise nestled in the Indian Ocean, is a destination that feels like a dream come true each time I visit. This tropical archipelago, with its pristine beaches, rich cultural heritage, and tantalizing cuisine, is a haven for all kinds of travelers seeking an unforgettable experience. This  Zanzibar travel guide will explore every nook and cranny of this enchanting destination, helping you plan your perfect getaway. Ready?

Zanzibar Travel Guide
Views from Park Hyatt, Zanzibar.

Let’s Start with the Basics

  • The best time to visit Zanzibar

If you are contemplating visiting my favorite place on Earth (ok, I am exaggerating a little bit, I’ve yet to see everywhere), the perfect time to do this is between June to October. However, I visited during March/April because the Island is usually crowded during these “perfect times.” Plus, I wanted peace and quiet and also good hotel rates. From June to October, the weather is dry and cool (though still hot!), From November to February,  the temperatures can rocket and it can get very hot and humid. March to May is the wettest season where thunderstorms and heavy rain are common.

  • How to get to Zanzibar

Depending on your starting point, you might find direct flights, or options with one layover in Ethiopia, Dubai, Istanbul, or Qatar. I suggest you book flights at least 2 months before your travel date to get good deals. In my opinion, the best flight options are offered by Qatar Airways, even though Ethiopian Airways has low-cost options. Other options include FlyDubai and Kenya Airways. However, if you land at Tanzania’s mainland airport in Dar Es Salaam (Julius Nyerere International Airport), you can take a short flight to Zanzibar or there is also an option to take a ferry from the port in Dar Es Salaam but note that it can get really busy and they only accept cash.

From the airport, You should check with your hotel to provide a private transfer or use other platforms to book a ride.

👉 Pro tip: Learn how to find cheap International Flights

  • Visa Requirements

Depending on where you are traveling from, you will most likely need a visa. Check your Visa requirements here.

The good news is you can easily apply online for your tourist e-visa, and get it in no time. The visa price and duration vary depending on the type of visa you apply for. Prices start at 50 USD per person. The whole process is done online on Tanzania’s Official Website, and you would also get all the information you might need (related to any testing, quarantine, or insurance needed). You should also factor in the time needed for processing your application during planning.

Zanzibar Travel Guide
Tanzanian Shillings
  • Other Documents you would need include:

International Passport: If you would be traveling to Zanzibar, you’d need your international passport as a means of Identification.

Yellow Card: This is proof that you have been vaccinated against Yellow fever. Contact your Country’s health board for guidance on how to get yours.

COVID Vaccination Card: This is proof that you are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Endeavor to get and have these documents handy for easy Customs and Immigration clearance upon arrival at Zanzibar’s Abeid Amani Kurume International Airport.

  • Where to stay in Zanzibar

Choosing where to stay in Zanzibar was quite tricky, because of all the great options available out there, but I had one rule; It should be within walking distance of the beach. So, here’s a rough overview of some of the best Zanzibar beaches:

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Northern Coast – Nungwi Beach, Kendwa Beach, or Pemba Island

Zanzibar Travel Guide
Zanzibar Travel Guide – Aluna Nungwi

Eastern Coast Pingwe, Pongwe, or Michamvi

Zanzibar Travel Guide
Zanzibar Travel Guide – Le Mersenne, Zanzibar

North East Coast – Look for accommodation in and around Kiwengwa and you will fall in love with the postcard beaches

Stone Town and its Environs

  • Luxury hotel: Park Hyatt Hotel
  • Medium budget hotels: Golden Tulip, Dhow Palace, Mizingani Seafront, Mariam’s Seaview Condo (we stayed here, and loved it.)

👉Pro tip: When booking accommodations, explore the nooks and crannies of hotel booking platforms and Airbnb; and trust me, better accommodations with better pricing deals pop up daily.

The Perfect 2-Week Itinerary for Your Holiday in Zanzibar

DAYS ITINERARY SUMMARY COST
1 Arrival, Check-in, Rest. $30
2 Stone Town Tour, Nightlife. $100
3 Safari Blue. $175
4 Head Up to the North Coast (Nungwi, Kendwa or Pemba Island) but stop along the way for the Spice Tour. $120
5 Mnemba Island – Snorkeling, Swimming with Dolphins. $220
6 Go swimming with the Turtles, Visit Kendwa beach in the evening. $165
7 Rest/ Go Skydiving. $900
8 Head over to the East Coast (Pingwe, Pongwe or Michamvi), Make a stop on the way for the Jozani Forest Tour. $200
9 Visit Mtende Beach. $100
10 Kuza Cave, The Rock Restaurant. $150
11 Rest/ Go Kite Surfing. $165
12 Head back to Stone Town, Prison Island Tour, Souvenir shopping. $150
13 Day Trip to Dar es salaam. $250
14 Departure. $30

👉 The prices above are for two persons in 2023 and are inclusive of transportation to the places and back to the hotel. It should only be used as a guide during planning.

  • DAY 1 – ARRIVAL

To get around the island during our Zanzibar itinerary, we hired a tour company run by Mr. Yusuf (+255773320827). He organized pick up and drop off at all locations we visited. We just had to tell them when to pick up, where we wanted to go, and when we’d be done. Mr. Yusuf is pretty fluent in English so we didn’t have to worry about speaking Swahili.

Zanzibar Travel Guide
Zanzibar Travel Guide – Mariam’s Seaview Condo
  • DAY 2 – GET LOST IN THE STREETS OF STONE TOWN

Start your Zanzibar itinerary with a Stone Town walking tour and admire the beautiful architecture that stands at the crossing of Swahili, Arab, and Indian cultures, the Zanzibar door being the most memorable feature of Stone Town. Here, we learned quite a lot about the local traditions and history of Zanzibar. Here you can spend hours getting lost in the narrow streets, drinking delicious smoothies and eating traditional food at the local bars, popping in and out of hotels, shopping for souvenirs, and just feeling the local vibe.

Zanzibar Travel Guide
Zanzibar Travel Guide – Zippu Zip’s House

In the evening, get some traditional henna tattoos from the local ladies, watch the locals jump into the ocean, and lastly, stop by the Forodhani Gardens after dark to get some truly local foods (mostly seafood). You’d be exhausted but glad you did.

  • DAY 3 – SAFARI BLUE

Spend the day on the Ocean visiting the various islands that make up Zanzibar using a traditional wooden boat, called a “dhow”. Lunch is usually provided on this trip. Here, you can snorkel and swim if you’re up for it. Remember to take lots of photos.

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Zanzibar Travel Guide
Zanzibar Travel Guide – Safari Blue
  • Day 4 – HEAD UP NORTH (NUNGWI, KENDWA, PEMBA)

We arranged a taxi to go up North – again, Mr Yusuf (+255773320827) helped out.  Nungwi is a lot more touristy; with a lot of activities to keep you busy. In fact, most of the fun stuff to do is Up North. We also stopped along the way to visit the spice farms. Here, you learn a lot about some of your favorite spices, and how they grow. You also get to try some new flavors too; it is quite insightful. You could also skip this if it’s not your scene but you’d be glad if you end up doing it.

  • DAY 5 – MNEMBA ISLAND

We tried this activity solely because we wanted to see real wild dolphins in their natural habitat. Though we were told it was a 50:50 thing, I still was hopeful. Sadly, we didn’t see them but I think the trick to this is to go early in the morning before the sun is hot. Oh well, who knows, you may be lucky. Anyways, there are other fun things to do like snorkeling, swimming, fish feeding, and others. Again, remember to take beautiful photos.

  • DAY 6 – BARAKA AQUARIUM & SUNSET CRUISE

Just beside our hotel, we found one of the numerous natural lagoons full of sea turtles. These guys buy the turtles from fishermen who mistakenly catch them while fishing. These are eventually released back into the ocean once they are strong enough. Use this unique opportunity to swim with the sea turtles, feed them seaweed, and take some nice photos.

Zanzibar Travel Guide
Zanzibar Travel Guide – BARAKA AQUARIUM

In the evening, head over to Kendwa Beach and join a “dhow” for the Sunset Cruise. Just spend 2 hours enjoying the beautiful sunset over the Indian Ocean. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can climb to the top of your dhow for a better view… It is gonna be worth it!

  • DAY 7 – REST/SKY-DIVING

Zanzibar Travel Guide
Zanzibar Travel Guide – Sunset Walks by the Beach

Spend the day lounging in your hotel or taking scenic walks on the beach, just taking in the sea breeze or if you’ve got a huge wallet and an adventurous spirit, head over to Kendwa beach for some skydiving experience. Skydive Zanzibar specializes in providing skydives to first-time jumpers. They’d give you a 30-minute training before taking you 10,000ft up in the air. Experienced personnel would make the jump with you so calm your nerves, lol. I advise you to book your experience ahead on their website www.skydive-zanzibar.com

  • DAY 8 – THE EAST COAST/ JOZANI FOREST

Arrange a taxi to visit the east coast – again, Mr Yusuf. We stayed in Pingwe. It was a lot quieter over here. We also stopped along the way to visit the Jozani Forest. This place is home to Zanzibar Red Colobus Monkeys and many other animals. You would also explore the Mangrove Tree Lagoon, which is said to protect Zanzibar from Tsunamis.

Zanzibar Travel Guide – Jozani Forest
  • DAY 9 – MTENDE BEACH

Spend the whole day at Mtende Beach. The main section of the beach is situated between two rock formations, in a big cove. It is absolutely breathtaking. It’s important to note that there’s no cell service here so make sure you agree on a pick-up time with your driver. There are two restaurants here, Eden Rock and Usumba Rock. Usumba Rock was a lot less pricey and had more food options to choose from. Remember to take lots of pictures and enjoy the tides.

  • DAY 10 – KUZA CAVE/ THE ROCK RESTAURANT

Kuza Cave is a 50-metre round sinkhole in the middle of a small jungle in Jambiani on the East Coast of Zanzibar. The cave water is generally about 3 meters deep and has sub-caves connected that are much deeper. The water is so clear you can see the bottom! This activity should be done in the morning when there is minimal traffic.

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The Rock Restaurant, Zanzibar

In the evening, you should visit one of the popular restaurants in Zanzibar. The Rock Restaurant is built on top of a rock surrounded by the ocean during high tide. The best time to visit is between 2 pm – 4 pm and reservations should be made in advance.

They offer a variety of fresh seafood like Octopus, Oysters, Calamari, Lobsters, Prawns, and so on.

  • DAY 11 – REST/ KITE SURFING

Try and Rest my darling, at this point, I have to insist you do. But if you say no, let’s go Kite Surfing in Paje. The only thing is, you need to be a good swimmer to do this one but I guarantee it’s a whole lot of fun.

  • DAY 12 – BACK TO STONETOWN/ PRISON ISLAND TOUR

Book a ride back to Stone Town or its environs in the morning. After lunch, it’s time to head out for the Prison Island Tour. Prison Island, also known as Changuu Island is located in the western part of Zanzibar Island, just off Stone Town. It takes around 25 minutes from Stone Town’s beach using the local boat (dhow). The Island’s main attraction is the popular Giant Tortoises, which can live up to 200 years. On this tour, you will get a chance to explore and learn the history of these beautiful creatures and also about Prison Island itself.

Streets of Stone Town

When you return to Stone Town, you can go shopping for souvenirs for yourself and your loved ones.

👉 Please note that this tour can be combined with the Stone Town tour on Day 2 if you are up for it. I separated it because I felt it would be overwhelming.

  • DAY 13 – DAY TRIP TO DAR ES SALAAM

Take a day trip to Dar es Salaam to visit all the hot spots in town. Discover the rich history and culture of this exciting city. Learn about history at the War Cemetery, and immerse yourself in Tanzanian culture at the National Museum. Visit the International Fish Market, and the Kariakoo Market to see the crafts at the Mwenge Woodcarvers Museum. Explore the city’s churches, monuments, and other incredible sites.

Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania.

The Ferry leaves Zanzibar four times daily to Dar es Salaam (7:00 am, 9:30 am, 12:30 pm, 4:00 pm) and returns to Zanzibar four times daily (7:00 am, 9:30 am, 12:30 pm, 4:00 pm) so factor in the timing. You can leave Zanzibar at 7 am and return with the 4 pm Ferry. Tickets cost $35 per person one way – Economy. I would advise you to make your bookings online a day prior.

  • DAY 14 – DEPARTURE

It is finally time to go home. I honestly didn’t want to leave but I had to. I trust you got some nice souvenirs and took some nice photos. Until the Next trip, Stay flying. Lots of Love, Olaedo.

Zanzibar Travel Tips

  • In Zanzibar, they believe they’ve eradicated malaria-causing mosquitoes from the island; hence, they do not sell malaria drugs. Carry yours along just in case you need it. I needed it and I didn’t have it. It wasn’t a funny experience.
  • Although Shilling is the main currency, many places accept US Dollars in Cash and give you change in shillings. The only ATMs on the island of Zanzibar are in Stone Town so be sure to stock up on cash while you are there.
  • Feel free to bargain prices. As a foreigner, you should expect inflated prices from sellers so make sure you bargain properly before buying. I recommend you ask for the price in shillings, then bargain. Always be aware of the exchange rate at any given point so you can make conversions and decide on what’s a fair price and what isn’t.
  • Zanzibar is predominantly a Muslim state so when walking in the streets, try to dress appropriately. Feel free to wear your bikinis in your hotel and by the beaches but when in town, conservative clothes are necessary. Even more so, If you plan to travel during Ramadan, do note that most of the shops (especially restaurants and cafes) will stay closed during the day. 

As we conclude this Zanzibar travel guide, it’s clear that this idyllic destination offers an array of experiences that cater to every traveler’s desires. Whether you seek relaxation on the beaches, cultural enrichment, or thrilling adventures, Zanzibar has it all. Now, pack your bags and get ready to explore this exotic paradise.

1 thought on “Zanzibar Travel Guide | Perfect 2-Week Itinerary”

  1. This was so detailed and Insightful. Zanzibar wasn’t really on my radar but after reading this… I’d definitely plan to visit 😊

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