Add dates
Zanzibar

Culture & History

Our most recommended Zanzibar Culture & History

Prison Island: Private Half-Day Tour

1. Prison Island: Private Half-Day Tour

This private guided half day tour can begin any time from 9:00 AM to 3:30 PM. Meet your well-trained guide and boatman as your board your steam-engine wooden boat. Head to the prestigious island and enjoy the 30-minute journey.  Listen to the history of the island and discover the past centuries through the historical buildings, which have served many purposes over the years including a prison, chapel, and hiding place for slaves after the abolition.  Enjoy a swim or snorkel around the colorful coral rocks and turquoise waters. Play with giant tortoises and you may take photographs with these old precious creatures. If you do not have much experience or confidence in the water, you will be provided with a life jacket. 

Stonetown: Food Markets and Street Food Walking Tour

2. Stonetown: Food Markets and Street Food Walking Tour

Take part in a unique 3-hour evening food tour in Stone Town. After hotel pickup, your tour will start at 6:00 PM at Darajani Market, where locals go to buy their fruits and vegetables. Experience the fun hustle and bustle of this busy market and admire the multitude of foods on offer.   Your next stop will be at Swahili House restaurant, the best place to watch the sun go down. As you watch the sky change colors, enjoy some soft drinks or local beers made in Tanzania. Afterwards, explore the streets of the city, which has itself been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Hear stories about the city and see where the locals gather to celebrate events, watch football, or just have tea and play some games. Continue walking to Forodhani Garden, which hosts a popular street food market in the evenings. Try out local foods and drinks like Zanzibar Pizza, urojo soup, shawarma, sugarcane juice, spice tea, coffee, and more.   Your tour will end at 8:00 PM, at which point you’ll be taken back to your hotel.

Zanzibar: Stone Town 3-Hour Walking Tour

3. Zanzibar: Stone Town 3-Hour Walking Tour

After a greeting and short briefing, you will be heading to the old fort which is also known as the Arab fort, the house of wonders, and then to Forodhani Gardens, a darajani fruits and spice market, and the Zanzibar ferry terminal. The tour also includes visits to the Freddie Mercury house, Zanzibar Curio Shop, Jaws Corner coffee shop, and more. Visit the Anglican cathedral, also known as the former slave market which was used for centuries as a hub for the East African slave market, whereby slaves were hunted and abducted from Malawi, Congo, Zambia and other parts of east Africa. With your guide you will have enough time for some leisure time to explore the narrow streets alongside the curio shops. The tour will end after 3 hours.

Zanzibar: Prison Island Tour with Lunch on the Sandbank

4. Zanzibar: Prison Island Tour with Lunch on the Sandbank

Your Zanzibar adventure begins with a visit to Prison Island, purchased in 1893 by Lloyd Mathews, the British First Minister of Zanzibar at the time. Mathews constructed a prison complex on the island which is still visible today, however no prisoners were ever housed on the island and instead it became a quarantine station for yellow fever sufferers. On the island, spend some time exploring the area and discover the collection of over 50 tortoises that live here, some of which are more than 100 years old. Learn about why the tortoises call the island their home, as well as taking photos and feeding them too. The island is also home to peacocks and small antelope too. Once you’ve explored the island, enjoy the opportunity to cool off from the hot weather with a refreshing dip in the surrounding crystal clear waters. Spend some time snorkeling in the water just off the island and search for colorful tropical fish and vibrant coral reef. After you’ve worked up an appetite from swimming, relax on the sandbank with a delicious lunch including a seafood BBQ, Swahili cuisine, cheese, tropical fruit, and more.

Zanzibar: Spice Farm Tour with Traditional Cooking Lesson

5. Zanzibar: Spice Farm Tour with Traditional Cooking Lesson

Visit an organic spice farm on this 3-hour guided tour to learn about one of Zanzibar’s most popular industries: spices. Discover how the islands produce cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, black pepper, and more. See why the Zanzibar Archipelago, together with Tanzania's Mafia Island, is sometimes called the "Spice Islands".   When you arrive, the spice farm guide will describe how the spices are grown and used as medication and flavor in dishes. See spices like vanilla, cardamom, nutmeg, and many more. You’ll be able to touch, smell, and taste the spices and herbs directly from plants—you’ve never smelled spices as fresh as these before. Along with these fragrant plants, there will also be some fresh tropical fruits to see and taste.     Later, take the opportunity to join a cassava leaf harvest, make coconut milk, and practice some cooking. Then, a coconut tree climber will pick some fresh young coconut fruits for you to try. End the trip with lunch at the spice farm and the opportunity to purchase spices from the shop.

Zanzibar: Changuu Island and Stone Town Tour with Lunch

6. Zanzibar: Changuu Island and Stone Town Tour with Lunch

The tour begins with a private boat trip to Changuu Island, also known as Prison Island or Turtle Island. The island earned its name after it was purchased in 1893 by the British First Minister of Zanzibar who constructed a prison complex here. Although no prisoners were ever housed on the island, it was eventually used as a quarantine station for yellow fever sufferers, and later became home to more than 50 tortoises who still live there today. On the island, enjoy some free time to explore the beauty of this wild paradise, and get up close to the tortoises that roam freely. Some of the tortoises here are more than 100 years old, and you can even get close enough to feed them and take photos. You can also find peacocks and antelope on the island, then cool off in the crystal clear waters during a snorkel session in search of marine life, colorful fish, and coral reef. After your visit to Changuu Island, head towards one of the most historically prominent and artistic destinations in East Africa, Stone Town. Upon arrival, admire the fascinating architecture of the town, which dates back to the 19th century, and reflects the diverse influences of Swahili, Arab, Persian, Indian and European cultures. Learn about how the town earned its UNESCO World Heritage status, and then visit the Old Slave Market and the City Market. Here you can shop for almost anything whilst soaking up the authentic East African atmosphere and meeting the locals. Once you’ve wandered through the market it’s time to visit the Palace Museum, the local House of Wonder, and of course Freddie Mercury’s former home. There’s also time for a trip to the Peace Memorial and the Natural History Museum before ending the tour with a delicious local lunch at a traditional restaurant.

Zanzibar: Rock Restaurant and Cave Tour Visit

7. Zanzibar: Rock Restaurant and Cave Tour Visit

Your first stop will be at what is considered the most popular Zanzibar restaurant: Rock. There you will have some drinks with plenty of time for nice photos to make your friends at home jealous. Following that you will leave for Kuza Cave. The tour there will start with you looking at artifacts from the cave, as well as a timeline of Swahili history. You will travel back in time to the beginning of mankind's story, learning how humans originated in East Africa. Following that, you will discover an ancient limestone cave and crystal clear healing mineral water pool. It will take a moment to get into the water, but you'll find it is extremely relaxing once you've acclimatized. After swimming in the cave you will enjoy a few songs, which will consist of Swahili singing and drumming.

From Stone Town: Private Tour to Prison Island

8. From Stone Town: Private Tour to Prison Island

Visit Prison Island on a private 3-hour tour, and discover the rich history and beautiful natural surroundings of this location. Meet your guide in Zanzibar, or select the option including hotel pickup, then enjoy the ride to the island on a traditional dhow. Learn how this small island gained its name and explore the place that is now home to more than 50 tortoises, some over 100 years old.   Feed the tortoises and take up-close pictures with them, as you keep a look out for the peacocks and antelope that also live there. After discovering the island and its history, take the opportunity to snorkel in the clear waters off the coast amongst tropical fish and colorful coral. At the end of your tour, return to Zanzibar, where you’ll be dropped off in the city center, or at your hotel.

Stone Town: Stone Town and Prison Island Private Day Trip

9. Stone Town: Stone Town and Prison Island Private Day Trip

See the National Museum of Zanzibar (rebuilt in 1883) and the Arab fort while passing along bazaar streets towards the famous Freddie Mercury house. See the old slave market, fruit market, and spice market — don’t miss the classic Zanzibar curved doors decorating the stone town.  After you have explored Stone Town, you’ll have an opportunity to take a short break before heading to Prison Island. Prison Island is also known as Changuu Island, the nickname came from the island being used by some sultans of Zanzibar to detain enslaved people. While you are on this island, you can swim and take pictures with giant tortoises. 

Zanzibar: Jozani Forest National Park and Dolphin Encounter

10. Zanzibar: Jozani Forest National Park and Dolphin Encounter

Begin your experience early, as the morning is the best time to spot dolphins. Start in the Kizimkazi fishing village, which is one of the oldest capitals on Zanzibar Island. While looking out for dolphins, dive in to snorkel among the wonderful coral reef and the variety of colorful fish and marine creatures. If the dolphins are in a good mood, you can witness them goofing around.  As you will be in their natural habitat, there is no guarantee you'll have the chance to swim with the dolphins; your guide will do their best to ensure they are comfortable so you can enjoy their beautiful energy, whether up close or from a distance.  The trip to Zanzibar Jozani Forest national park involves a visit to the high, dense groundwater forest. Home to the red colobus monkey, a rare species only found in Zanzibar, take the opportunity to get up close to the wild animals. Other animals within the park include blue monkeys, elephant shrews, and bushbabies. Proceed then to the mangrove, through which the conservation authority has built a bridge to allow visitors to observe the wildlife without trampling on it.  Next, stop at a local restaurant for a Swahili table buffet lunch. Before heading back to your hotel, make a short stop at the community project, Zanzibar Butterfly Center. Even though the site is not so big, it is a lovely place to relax and enjoy the moment before ending your experience.

Frequently asked questions about Zanzibar Culture & History

What are other things to do than Culture & History that are worth visiting in Zanzibar?

The other unmissable things to do in Zanzibar are:

Other Sightseeing Options in Zanzibar

Want to discover all there is to do in Zanzibar? Click here for a full list.

What people are saying about Zanzibar

Overall rating

4.3 / 5

based on 47 reviews

Fantastic day out, bit hectic at the start finding our guide among the hundreds of locals around but once we located our guide who I should stress had a lanyard and GetYourGuide I'd we were sized for flippers and handed over to Captain Simba. Fantastic tour and knowledge from Simba. Told us about his life which was very nice to hear. A genuinly nice guy. 45min-1h on prison Island was enough to see the turtles and look round, some reviews say there's not much to see and they are right, but it's interesting! Onto snorkeling which was again lovely, Simba kicked back and relaxed while we explored the reef for god knows how long. Seafood and chips for lunch and lots of it, the octopus was amazing! Journeyed back to shore for 2pm with enough time to catch out ferry.

The excursion is a dream, as you also have the opportunity to rent a boat and snorkel on site, we have never seen such large and colorful starfish. Staying at the Rock Restaurant was an experience, highly recommended!

Driver was late, but then everything was great. The German guide got on the way and then took us through the city. Our wishes were completely taken care of. It was a great trip!

Private tour with a well-speaking guide. Took his time and explained everything in detail

It was a very cool tour and our wishes were individually addressed.