Arusha is a vibrant city located in the northern part of Tanzania, East Africa. It is nestled at the base of Mount Meru, offering stunning views and serving as the gateway to Tanzania’s world-renowned national parks and wildlife reserves.
Known as the safari capital of Tanzania, Arusha is the starting point for many exciting adventures, including trips to the Serengeti National Park, Ngorongoro Conservation Area, and Mount Kilimanjaro. The city is also a hub for cultural tourism, with numerous Maasai markets, museums, and coffee plantations to explore.
Arusha is not only a tourist destination but also an important political and economic center in Tanzania. It hosts the headquarters of the East African Community (EAC) and is a key player in the region’s agricultural, manufacturing, and tourism industries.
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Attractions & Things to do in Arusha
1. Arusha National Park
Arusha National Park is a gem of Tanzania, covering 552 square kilometers. It is home to Mount Meru, the second highest peak in Tanzania, and features a diverse range of wildlife including giraffes, zebras, and monkeys.
Travel Tip: Make sure to hire a guide for your trek up Mount Meru, as it is mandatory and they can help you spot and identify the local wildlife.
2. Mount Meru
Mount Meru is the second highest mountain in Tanzania and the fifth highest in Africa. It is located within Arusha National Park and offers stunning views of its famous neighbor, Mount Kilimanjaro.
Travel Tip: The best time to climb Mount Meru is during the dry season, from June to October.
3. Ngurdoto Crater
The Ngurdoto Crater is often referred to as the ‘Little Ngorongoro’, and is located in Arusha National Park. The crater is surrounded by forest and is home to a variety of wildlife including buffaloes, monkeys, and a variety of bird species.
Travel Tip: The crater is not accessible by vehicle, so be prepared for a bit of a hike.
4. Arusha Cultural Heritage Centre
The Arusha Cultural Heritage Centre is a place where you can learn about the culture and history of Tanzania. It features a variety of art and crafts from local artists, as well as historical artifacts.
Travel Tip: Don’t forget to check out the Maasai Market for some unique souvenirs.
5. Meserani Snake Park
The Meserani Snake Park is a must-visit for reptile enthusiasts. It is home to a variety of snake species, as well as crocodiles and other reptiles.
Travel Tip: The park also offers camel rides and a Maasai cultural museum.
6. Lake Duluti
Lake Duluti is a beautiful crater lake located just outside of Arusha. It is a great spot for bird watching, canoeing, and hiking.
Travel Tip: Make sure to bring your binoculars for bird watching.
7. Tanzanite Experience
The Tanzanite Experience is a museum and shop dedicated to the rare and beautiful Tanzanite gemstone, which is only found in Tanzania.
Travel Tip: This is a great place to buy a unique souvenir from your trip.
8. Olduvai Gorge
Olduvai Gorge is one of the most important paleoanthropological sites in the world. It is where some of the oldest human remains and stone tools have been found.
Travel Tip: There is a museum on site that provides a lot of interesting information about the history of human evolution.
9. Shanga Shangaa
Shanga Shangaa is a social enterprise that employs people with disabilities to create beautiful crafts from recycled materials.
Travel Tip: Make sure to take a tour of the workshop to see the artisans at work.
10. Arusha Declaration Monument
The Arusha Declaration Monument is an important historical site in Tanzania. It is where the Arusha Declaration, a statement of African socialism, was made by the Tanzanian government in 1967.
Travel Tip: The monument is located in the center of Arusha, so it is easy to visit while exploring the city.
Unique Activities in Arusha
1. Mountain Bike Tour
Pedal your way through Arusha’s scenic landscapes on a mountain bike. This tour offers an exhilarating way to explore the region, combining physical activity with breathtaking views. Suitable for both beginners and experienced riders.
Day Trips from Arusha
1. Ngorongoro Crater
The Ngorongoro Crater is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most famous wildlife viewing areas in the world. It is home to a large population of wildlife, including the Big Five.
Travel Tip: Make sure to bring your camera and plenty of water.
2. Serengeti National Park
The Serengeti National Park is one of the most famous national parks in the world, known for its annual wildebeest migration. It is home to a large variety of wildlife, including lions, elephants, and zebras.
Travel Tip: The best time to visit is during the dry season, from June to October.
3. Tarangire National Park
Tarangire National Park is known for its large elephant population and the stunning Baobab trees. It is a great place to see a variety of wildlife, including lions, giraffes, and zebras.
Travel Tip: The best time to visit is during the dry season, from June to October.
Where to stay in Arusha
Arusha, located in Tanzania, is a city that offers a variety of hotel options for travelers. With its strategic location as a gateway to some of Africa’s most famous national parks and Mount Kilimanjaro, the city has accommodations ranging from luxurious 5-star hotels to budget-friendly lodges. Whether you’re on a romantic getaway, a family vacation, or a solo adventure, Arusha has something to cater to your needs.
1. Best Reviewed Hotel
Gran Melia Arusha (★ ★ ★ ★ ★)
- Description: Located 2.6 km from Old German Boma, Gran Melia Arusha offers 5-star accommodation and has a bar. This hotel provides top-notch room service.
- Price: € 329 per night
- Rating: 9.1 (Superb)
2. Most Luxurious Hotel
Mount Meru Hotel (★ ★ ★ ★)
- Description: Set at the foot of Mount Meru and located opposite Arusha Golf Course, this 4-star hotel features an outdoor pool, fitness centre, and a 24-hour front desk.
- Price: € 159 per night
- Rating: 8.5 (Very good)
3. Budget Hotel
Arusha Backpackers Hotel
- Description: Situated in Arusha, 1.2 km from Uhuru monument, Arusha Backpackers Hotel offers accommodation with a restaurant, free private parking, and a bar.
- Price: € 7 per night
- Rating: 7.5 (Good)
4. Hotel for Family
Green Mountain Hotel
- Description: Offering an outdoor pool and a restaurant, Green Mountain Hotel is located in Arusha. The hotel provides a TV, a seating area, and satellite channels in each room.
- Price: € 63 per night
- Rating: 8.1 (Very good)
5. Hotel for Couples
Tulia Boutique Hotel & Spa
- Description: Located in Arusha, 2.4 km from Uhuru monument, Tulia Boutique Hotel & Spa provides accommodation with an outdoor swimming pool, free private parking, a garden, and a shared lounge.
- Price: € 97 per night
- Rating: 7.9 (Good)
6. Hotel for Solo Travellers
The Charity Hotel International (★ ★ ★)
- Description: Featuring free WiFi and a restaurant, The Charity Hotel International offers accommodation in Arusha, 3 km away from the city centre.
- Price: € 46 per night
- Rating: 7.9 (Good)
Did you know? Facts about Arusha
- Arusha is a Tanzanian city with a population of 617,631 and is the regional capital of the Arusha Region.
- The city is located below Mount Meru on the eastern edge of the Great Rift Valley and has a temperate climate.
- Arusha is close to several national parks and conservation areas including the Serengeti National Park, Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Lake Manyara National Park, Olduvai Gorge, Tarangire National Park, Mount Kilimanjaro, and Mount Meru in the Arusha National Park.
- It is a major international diplomatic hub, hosting the African Court of the African Union and is the capital of the East African Community.
- Arusha is a multicultural city with a majority Tanzanian population of mixed backgrounds including indigenous African, Arab-Tanzanian, Indian-Tanzanian, a small European, and North American minority population.
- The city was first settled in the 1830s by the agro-pastoral Arusha Maasai from the Arusha Chini community, south of Mount Kilimanjaro.
- Arusha was officially declared a city on 1 July 2006 by the Tanzanian government.
- The city is served by two airports: the Kilimanjaro International Airport for international air travelers and the Arusha Airport for regional flights.
- Arusha is home to a number of notable intergovernmental organizations including the East African Community, a branch of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals, and the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
- The city hosts the National Natural History Museum, which contains exhibits on early man, plants and animals of the region, and the history of the city.
FAQ about Arusha
What is the best time to visit Arusha?
The best time to visit Arusha is during the dry season from June to October when the weather is pleasant, and wildlife viewing is at its best.
Do I need a visa to travel to Arusha, Tanzania?
Yes, most travelers need a visa to enter Tanzania. It is recommended to check with the Tanzanian embassy or consulate in your country for the most up-to-date visa requirements.
Is it safe to travel to Arusha?
Arusha is generally considered safe for travelers, but it is always recommended to take standard precautions such as not displaying valuables, being aware of your surroundings, and avoiding isolated areas after dark.
What are the must-see attractions in and around Arusha?
Some must-see attractions in and around Arusha include the Serengeti National Park, Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Mount Kilimanjaro, Arusha National Park, and the National Natural History Museum.
What is the currency used in Arusha?
The currency used in Arusha and the rest of Tanzania is the Tanzanian Shilling (TZS).
Is English spoken in Arusha?
English is widely spoken in Arusha, especially in hotels, restaurants, and tourist areas. However, Swahili is the official language of Tanzania and is commonly spoken by the local population.
What is the time zone of Arusha?
Arusha is in the East Africa Time (EAT) time zone, which is 3 hours ahead of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC+3).
Are there any health precautions I should take before traveling to Arusha?
It is recommended to consult your doctor or a travel clinic for the most up-to-date health precautions before traveling to Arusha. Vaccinations for yellow fever, typhoid, and hepatitis A and B are commonly recommended. Malaria prophylaxis is also advised as malaria is present in the region.