Dar es Salaam, often simply referred to as Dar, is the largest city and former capital of Tanzania. It is located on the eastern coast of Africa, along the Indian Ocean, and is a vibrant, bustling metropolis with a rich history and a mix of cultures.
As a major port city in East Africa, Dar es Salaam plays a crucial role in the region’s economy. It is a hub for trade and transportation, with a busy harbor and international airport that connect Tanzania to the rest of the world.
In addition to its economic importance, Dar es Salaam is also a city of leisure and recreation. With its beautiful beaches, delicious cuisine, and lively nightlife, it is a popular destination for both tourists and locals alike.
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Attractions & Things to do in Dar es Salaam
1. National Museum and House of Culture
The National Museum and House of Culture in Dar es Salaam is a must-visit for history enthusiasts. It showcases Tanzania’s rich history, from the prehistoric period to the present day, including the famous 3.6 million-year-old hominid footprints.
Travel Tip: Make sure to set aside a few hours to thoroughly explore the museum, as there is a lot to see and learn.
2. Coco Beach
Coco Beach is a popular spot for both locals and tourists in Dar es Salaam. Located on the Msasani Peninsula, it’s a great place to relax, enjoy the sun, and participate in water activities like jet-skiing and paddleboarding.
Travel Tip: Weekends can get very busy, so try to visit on a weekday if you prefer a quieter experience.
3. Village Museum
The Village Museum is an open-air museum that offers a glimpse into the traditional way of life of various Tanzanian tribes. It features replicas of tribal homesteads and hosts regular dance and music performances.
Travel Tip: Plan your visit in the afternoon to catch the live performances which usually start around 2 pm.
4. Bongoyo Island
Bongoyo Island is a small uninhabited island located off the coast of Dar es Salaam. It is a popular destination for snorkeling, sunbathing, and hiking. You can also enjoy freshly caught seafood at the beachside restaurant.
Travel Tip: Don’t forget to pack your sunscreen, hat, and plenty of water as it can get very hot.
5. Kariakoo Market
Kariakoo Market is the largest market in Dar es Salaam and offers a wide variety of goods, from fresh produce to clothing and souvenirs. It’s a great place to experience local life and practice your bargaining skills.
Travel Tip: Be cautious of your belongings as the market can get crowded and hectic.
6. Askari Monument
The Askari Monument is an important landmark in Dar es Salaam, commemorating the African troops who fought in World War I. It is located at the center of the city and is surrounded by beautiful gardens.
Travel Tip: It’s a quick visit, so combine it with a walk around the city center.
7. Tingatinga Arts Cooperative Society
The Tingatinga Arts Cooperative Society is a collective of artists producing vibrant and unique paintings in the Tingatinga style. It’s a great place to buy souvenirs and learn about this particular art style.
Travel Tip: Feel free to interact with the artists and learn about their work and the history of Tingatinga art.
8. Azania Front Lutheran Church
The Azania Front Lutheran Church is a beautiful old German church located in the city center. It is an oasis of calm in the bustling city and the interior is well worth a visit.
Travel Tip: Dress modestly when visiting and try to go during a weekday when it’s less busy.
9. Dar es Salaam Fish Market
The Dar es Salaam Fish Market is a lively and colorful market where you can buy fresh seafood, or enjoy a meal at one of the many restaurants overlooking the ocean.
Travel Tip: Arrive early in the morning to see the fishermen bringing in their catch of the day.
10. Mbudya Island
Mbudya Island is a small, uninhabited island off the coast of Dar es Salaam. It is a great spot for snorkeling, swimming, and relaxing on the beach.
Travel Tip: Bring your own food and drinks as there are no facilities on the island, and make sure to clean up after yourself.
Unique Activities in Dar es Salaam
1. Dar es Salaam City Historical Walking Tour
Embark on a historical walking tour of Dar es Salaam and explore its rich history. Discover the city’s landmarks, architecture, and stories that make it unique. This tour offers an immersive experience into the city’s past, allowing you to walk through its streets and learn about its evolution over the years.
2. Private Swahili Cooking Class
Discover the flavors of Swahili cuisine with a private cooking class in Dar es Salaam. Learn the secrets behind traditional Swahili dishes, from the spices used to the techniques employed. With expert guidance, you’ll prepare and enjoy a feast of authentic Swahili delicacies.
Day Trips from Dar es Salaam
Bagamoyo is a historic town located just an hour’s drive north of Dar es Salaam. It was once the capital of German East Africa and has a rich history related to the slave trade and colonization.
Travel Tip: Hire a local guide to learn more about the history and significance of the town.
2. Mikumi National Park
Mikumi National Park is located about 4 hours drive from Dar es Salaam. It is the fourth largest national park in Tanzania and offers a chance to see a wide variety of wildlife, including the Big Five.
Travel Tip: Consider staying overnight at one of the lodges in the park to maximize your wildlife viewing opportunities.
Zanzibar is an archipelago located off the coast of Tanzania, and can be reached by ferry from Dar es Salaam in about two hours. It is known for its beautiful beaches, historic Stone Town, and spice plantations.
Travel Tip: Don’t miss the chance to take a spice tour and learn about the history of the spice trade in Zanzibar.
Where to stay in Dar es Salaam
Dar es Salaam, the bustling metropolis of Tanzania, offers a diverse range of hotels catering to various preferences and budgets. Whether you’re seeking luxury, a family-friendly environment, or a budget stay, the city has something to offer. Here’s a curated list of six hotels in Dar es Salaam based on different categories:
1. Best Reviewed Hotel
Golden Tulip Dar Es Salaam City Center Hotel (★ ★ ★ ★)
- Description: Located at the heart of Dar es Salaam, this hotel boasts free WiFi access, luggage storage, and concierge service.
- Price: € 100 per night
- Rating: 7.7 (Good)
2. Most Luxurious Hotel
Dar es Salaam Serena Hotel (★ ★ ★ ★ ★)
- Description: Situated adjacent to a golf course and gymkhana club, this hotel offers views over the Indian Ocean.
- Price: € 204 per night
- Rating: 7.7 (Good)
3. Budget Hotel
- Description: Conveniently set in the Mchafukoge district, Sophia Hotel is close to various attractions like the Tanzania National Stadium and Village Museum.
- Price: € 16 per night
- Rating: 8.1 (Very good)
4. Hotel for Family
Landmark Mbezi Beach Resort (★ ★ ★ ★)
- Description: Featuring a large swimming pool surrounded by sun decks, this resort is located on Mbezi Beach.
- Price: € 51 per night
- Rating: 7.0 (Good)
5. Hotel for Couples
Mediterraneo Boutique Hotel (★ ★ ★)
- Description: Situated in Dar es Salaam, this boutique hotel features an outdoor swimming pool, fitness centre, and a garden.
- Price: € 71 per night
- Rating: 8.2 (Very good)
6. Hotel for Solo Travellers
Chelsea Hotel (★ ★ ★)
- Description: Located in Kariakoo, Chelsea Hotel is close to the City Mall and downtown Dar es Salaam.
- Price: € 59 per night
- Rating: 7.5 (Good)
Did you know? Facts about Dar es Salaam
- Dar es Salaam is the largest city and financial hub of Tanzania, located on the Swahili coast.
- The city was founded by Majid bin Said, the first Sultan of Zanzibar, in 1865 or 1866.
- It is an important economic centre and one of the fastest-growing cities in the world.
- Dar es Salaam is Tanzania’s most prominent city for arts, fashion, media, film, television, and finance.
- The city was the main administrative and commercial center of German East Africa, Tanganyika, and Tanzania until the capital was moved to Dodoma in 1996.
- The city has a tropical savanna climate, with two rainy seasons: the “long rains” in April and May, and the “short rains” in November and December.
- Dar es Salaam is the most populous city in Tanzania and the fifth most populous in Africa.
- The city is undergoing major construction and development, with the Dar es Salaam Central Business District being the largest in Tanzania.
- The Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange (DSE) is the country’s first stock market.
- Dar es Salaam hosts several shopping malls, including the Mlimani City shopping mall, the City Mall in the Kisutu area, and the Quality Center Mall.
FAQ about Dar es Salaam
What is the best time to visit Dar es Salaam?
The best time to visit Dar es Salaam is during the dry season, from June to October, when the weather is pleasant and there is less chance of rain.
Is it safe to travel to Dar es Salaam?
Dar es Salaam is generally considered safe for travelers, but it is always advisable to take precautions and be aware of your surroundings.
What is the currency used in Dar es Salaam?
The currency used in Dar es Salaam is the Tanzanian Shilling (TZS).
What is the official language of Dar es Salaam?
The official language of Dar es Salaam is Swahili, but English is widely spoken and understood.
What are the must-visit places in Dar es Salaam?
Some must-visit places in Dar es Salaam include the National Museum, the Village Museum, Coco Beach, and the Kivukoni Fish Market.
What is the local cuisine like in Dar es Salaam?
The local cuisine in Dar es Salaam includes a variety of dishes such as ugali (a type of maize porridge), nyama choma (grilled meat), and samaki (fish).
What is the main mode of transportation in Dar es Salaam?
The main mode of transportation in Dar es Salaam is by daladala (shared minibus) or bajaji (auto-rickshaw). Taxis are also available.
Are there any cultural norms or customs that travelers should be aware of?
It is advisable to dress modestly in Dar es Salaam, as it is a predominantly Muslim city. Women should avoid wearing revealing clothes, and men should avoid wearing shorts. It is also customary to greet people with a handshake.