Things to do in Dar Es Salaam

With a vast and turbulent history, Dar es Salaam is not a renowned sightseeing destination, but it does offer many attractions for holidaymakers, and the city's down-to-earth atmosphere makes it pleasant to explore.

The main attractions in and around Dar es Salaam are actually natural, including the Dar es Salaam Marine Reserve, the Pugu Hills Forest Reserve, and Bongoyo Island, which can be reached by a short boat ride. Visitors may also enjoy a trip to the Zoological Gardens, or a quiet afternoon at the Dar es Salaam Botanical Gardens, a lush sanctuary in the urban jungle.

For beach lovers, Kigamboni (South Beach) is situated just beyond central Dar es Salaam. An affluent area almost entirely filled with beach resorts, some of the best beaches in Dar es Salaam are to be found in Kigamboni. Many hotels charge an entry fee, though a portion of this is returned in the form of food vouchers.

For those wanting a taste of the local culture and history there are a number of good museums in Dar es Salaam, the most popular being the National Museum and the Makumbusho Village Museum.

National Museum and House of Culture photo

National Museum and House of Culture

Located near to the Botanical Gardens, the National Museum and House of Culture was opened in 1940 in the King George V Memorial Museum. A new wing was built in 1963 and King Georg…

National Museum and House of Culture

Located near to the Botanical Gardens, the National Museum and House of Culture was opened in 1940 in the King George V Memorial Museum. A new wing was built in 1963 and King George V's car can be viewed here. Visitors can see archaeological finds such as rock paintings and a 3.6-million-year-old hominid footprint. The museum presents an overview of Tanzania's history, including displays on the Kilwa period (9th-15th century), the English and German colonial occupation, the slave trade, local rebellions, and the struggle for independence. Although by no means a state of the art museum, this simple institution has some fascinating artefacts and is a good one-stop attraction for those wanting to come to grips with the history of the country.

Makumbusho Village Museum photo

Makumbusho Village Museum

A popular tourist attraction, the Makumbusho Village Museum displays traditional Tanzanian homes and lifestyles, representing about 18 ethnic tribes from different parts of the cou…

Makumbusho Village Museum

A popular tourist attraction, the Makumbusho Village Museum displays traditional Tanzanian homes and lifestyles, representing about 18 ethnic tribes from different parts of the country. Marketed as a way to experience the whole of Tanzania in a day, the village is an interesting living museum. Visitors are taken on a tour through the homes, which include furnished huts, meeting places, and cattle pens, and can view artists and craftsmen weaving, carving and painting. Some of the craftsmen at Makumbusho are talented artists and it is a privilege to watch them work. Traditional dance performances are held on weekends. The village is five miles (8km) from the city centre, next to the New Bagamoyo Road (Makumbusho bus stop).

Website www.nmt.go.tz/pages/village-museum

Bongoyo Island photo

Bongoyo Island

Located one and a half miles (2.5km) north of Dar es Salaam, Bongoyo Island is an uninhabited island that makes up part of the Dar es Salaam Marine Reserve. Popular with tourists a…

Bongoyo Island

Located one and a half miles (2.5km) north of Dar es Salaam, Bongoyo Island is an uninhabited island that makes up part of the Dar es Salaam Marine Reserve. Popular with tourists and other travellers seeking leisure activities, this island offers some fantastic snorkelling opportunities, as well as beautiful sandy beaches and great hikes. For those who tire of enjoying the beach, there are two well-maintained hiking trails through the interior. A small hut serves beer and grills fresh fish for lunch, but visitors can also bring their own picnic. The island can only be reached by means of a private boat, but it is easy to find somebody eager to make the journey. The trip takes only about 30 minutes, making Bongoyo the easiest island to visit from Dar es Salaam, and a great favourite with travellers.

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