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Zanzibar Holidays - Your Complete Guide


Jet off for an unforgettable holiday adventure in Zanzibar, an enchanting island getaway off the coast of East Africa steeped in mesmerising magic and wonder.

This is the perfect place to be at one with nature, surrounded by phenomenal wildlife, deserted beaches, jungles, breathtaking scenery and turquoise waters. Enchanting coral reefs, rich history and culture, fabulous food and world-famous dive sites are among other delights which await. Visit the UNESCO-protected old quarter of Stone Town in the capital Zanzibar City, marvel at the endangered red colobus monkeys in Jozani Forest or enjoy a romantic cruise on a traditional dhow boat. Zanzibar, which is part of Tanzania, consists of a multitude of small islands and two main ones, Unguja and Pemba Island. This sun-kissed destination, fondly known as ‘The Spice Island’, is a treasure chest of outdoor thrills, where every visitor will create magical memories which will last a lifetime. Here’s our guide to holidays in Zanzibar.

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Zanzibar beach

What Makes Zanzibar Unique?

This awe-inspiring escape off the coast of Tanzania boasts a unique combination of history, culture, wildlife and natural beauty. It is an archipelago of many islands, despite the misconception it consists of just one and is home to endangered wildlife, including the Kirk’s Red Colobus monkey, the Zanzibar leopard and the Zanzibar servaline genet. Zanzibar’s spices have earned it the nickname ‘The Spice Island’, with vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves and black pepper among its main exports. It was the location of an emotion-stirring old slave market in Stone Town, where more than 50,000 slaves were sold each year in the 18th and 19th centuries. One of Zanzibar’s most famous natives is Freddie Mercury, the legendary frontman of the renowned rock band Queen. An unusual must-see attraction is The Rock Restaurant, which sits atop a small rock rising above the sand at low tide and becomes an island at high tide.

Zanzibar turtle

Things To Do in Zanzibar

No Holiday in Zanzibar would be complete without a visit to the capital Zanzibar City and its UNESCO-protected old quarter Stone Town, dating back to the 1st century. Key attractions include an imposing Catholic cathedral, an old slave market and the Freddie Mercury Museum in the house where the famous singer was born. Jozani Forest Reserve is a family favourite with its variety of animals, including red colobus monkeys, while Prison Island is home to giant turtles. Enjoy a trekking adventure in the beguiling jungle, swim with rare humpback dolphins off Mnemba Island or go diving on the alluring atolls which are rich in colourful marine life. Other attractions include the Kuza Caves, the Seaweed Centre, Kidichi Persian Baths and the Sultan’s Palace. Zanzibar is also home to vibrant nightlife, bustling street markets, superb restaurants and epic dive sites. Exciting outdoor activities include off-road buggy tours, kitesurfing, ziplining and parasailing.

Zanzibar ocean

Is Zanzibar Expensive?

Zanzibar is a very affordable choice for an amazing holiday in the Indian Ocean, comparing favourably with other sun-kissed long-haul destinations. The local currency is the Tanzanian Shilling, although Sterling and other currencies and card payments are widely accepted on the island. Traditional dala dala buses are an economical way to get around Zanzibar, with taxis being a more expensive option. You can eat cheaply in Zanzibar’s excellent local restaurants and cafes, where culinary favourites include Urojo Soup, Zanzibar Pizza and Coconut Bean Maharage. The island’s small bakeries and fruit markets are great for budget-friendly breakfast and lunch items. Opting for an all-inclusive holiday in one of Zanzibar’s wonderful hotels is a great way to enjoy a carefree holiday, with most of your holiday expenses paid for in advance.

Zanzibar family

How Long Should I Stay?

A one-week stay in Zanzibar is long enough to get a flavour of what Zanzibar has to offer, but a two-week stay is the way to go if you want to really immerse yourself in the delights of this spellbinding destination. Opting for a fortnight will allow you to check out many of the island's major attractions. You’ll have plenty of time to explore the magnificent capital Zanzibar City and discover some of the best beaches, including Paje Beach, Bwejuu Beach, Jambiani Beach and Matemwe Beach. There really is a lot to see and do in Zanzibar, from spice plantations tours and island-hopping adventures, to visits to wildlife attractions and diving escapades. Organised trips and excursions in a coach, minivan or 4x4 vehicle are a great way to pack a lot into each day, with professional guides providing plenty of invaluable information along the way.


What Do I Need to Take?

There are several key items which you should pack in your case before taking flight for a holiday in Zanzibar. Breathable lightweight clothing is essential to ensure comfort during the warm months, including the dry season from June to October. Comfortable walking shoes, sandals or trainers are needed for getting around most parts of the island, with flip flops a good idea for visits to the beach. You’ll also need swimwear for your hotel pool and ventures into the ocean for water sports fun. Other items to take include sunglasses, a water bottle, lip balm, and plenty of sunscreen. A brimmed sun hat is also a good idea and a light rain jacket is recommended if you are holidaying in Zanzibar during either of the two rainy seasons. Other items to consider packing include a compact first aid kit, a tote bag, insect repellent, hand sanitiser and suitable travel adaptors.


Best Time To Visit

A great time to visit Zanzibar is during its long dry season from June to October when rainfall is scarce and there’s plenty of invigorating sunshine. This is an ideal time to get out and about to explore a plethora of natural attractions, verdant jungles and wonderful nature reserves. Temperatures vary according to geographic location and altitude, but Zanzibar is generally a sunny and hot destination, except during the monsoon seasons of March to May and November and December, when there is an abundance of wind and rain. The rain usually peaks around April, with heavy tropical downpours, so this is a month which should definitely be avoided. The hottest time in Zanzibar is the summer months of January, February and March when temperatures average between 25°C and 33°C. The coldest month is October when there is an average low temperature of 23°C.

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“Zanzibar is a superb choice for the holiday of a lifetime and it’s certainly worth taking on board the tips provided here before, so you can get on with having a fantastic time as soon as you arrive.

“Packing the right clothing and key items for your getaway is essential, and knowing some of the key attractions in this magical destination will help you plan your days out in advance.

“Solo travellers, couples, families and groups of friends will enjoy a holiday to remember in this charming destination, with plenty of invigorating sunshine to add to the thrills and spills which await.

“Exceptional natural attractions, wildlife wonders, glorious beaches, beautiful coral reefs, rich history and culture, amazing food and impeccable hospitality are just a few of the delights you’ll discover in sensational Zanzibar.”

Travel expert recommendation

Gold Zanzibar Beach House & Spa

Gold Zanzibar Beach House & Spa

Whether you are travelling with family or your partner, succumb to heavenly moments at Gold Zanzibar Beach House & Spa. Along the tranquil shores of Kendwa Beach, this 5-star resort offers swimming pools for adults and children, group fitness sessions, an array of leisure activities, and so much more. When it comes to dining, prepare to be amazed by a variety of live cooking, buffet dining and à la carte dishes, with the option to upgrade to the stress-free all-inclusive programme.

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Kwanza Resort

Kwanza Resort

Overlooking the crystal-clear Indian Ocean, the private beach of Kwanza Resort is the perfect place for lazy days of relaxation. From glistening swimming pools and an indulgent spa to a kids club and a wide array of family-friendly activities, there is an abundance of leisure features to please for every type of traveller. Enjoy an indulgent and stress-free experience with the impressive all-inclusive programme, granting guests access to expansive buffets and international theme nights.

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The Mora Zanzibar

The Mora Zanzibar

Embrace tropical island life at The Mora Zanzibar, a 5-star haven located in Matemwe. Sitting beside the beautiful Muyuni Beach, you can bask in glorious sunshine on soft sands or hit the waves for an exhilarating afternoon of watersports galore. This all-inclusive resort offers amazing dining options, from fresh sushi and grilled meats to international buffets. Boasting tasteful accommodation, a lively kids club, and a tranquil spa, you can find everything you could wish for at this luxury hotel.

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LUX* Marijani

LUX* Marijani

Discover sophistication and opulence at LUX* Marijani, a beachfront sanctuary of beautifully appointed rooms and suites for ultimate relaxation. Active travellers can make the most out of the well-equipped fitness centre, yoga sessions and beach jogging. To immerse yourself in traditional Zanzibar flavours, indulge in a kaleidoscope of fresh dishes and delicacies at the resort’s weekly market or visit the miniature spice garden.

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