This Tanzanian island known for its prominent place in the ancient spice trade, is a dream destination for travelers who want to bear witness to the melding of cultures and the influence of history—all while taking in some serious tropical sun. While far-flung beaches may be worth a longer stay, three days in Zanzibar allows visitors just enough time to sample what makes this island one of East Africa’s most popular destinations.
Day 1: Explore Stone Town on Foot
Often referred to as Mji Mkongwe—the Swahili word for old tone—Stone Town is the oldest part of Zanzibar and home to some of the island’s most historic sites. Wander the narrow streets lined with pastel-colored mosques and old-school structures that showcase Persian, Indian and European influences. Sample tangy tamarind juice from one of the local vendors serving cold glasses from street carts before getting lost in the maze of cobble streets too tiny for cars to pass through.
Day 2: Delve Into History
After wandering Stone Town, spend a day exploring some of Zanzibar’s most historic sites. Hire a guide and venture into the birthplace of princess Salme. Follow in the footsteps of her royal Arabian family while visiting what remains of the Persian baths, courtyard and botanical gardens in this ruined wonder. Afterwards, head to House of Wonders, where artifacts from the island’s long and colorful history are on display. Get a better sense of how the long ago past, as well as the present culture, have shaped Zanzibar as a unique destination. Then head to the Old Fort for a live performance of traditional dance and music.
Day 3: Tour the Spice Island
Zanzibar is known for its spices, so no trip to this East African island is complete without embarking on one of the famous spice tours. Take a guided journey to some of the famous plantations that produce cloves, henna, rose apples, guava, cinnamon and vanilla. Learn about the medicinal purposes of potent herbs and how the history of the spice trade influenced the development of modern Zanzibar. Take in rural scenery while talking to local farmers and sample a traditional home-cooked meal as part what will likely be a memorable part of any visit to Zanzibar.