Located along the coast of the Indian Ocean, Dar es Salaam is the largest city in Tanzania and home to a wide range of people and cultures. Known for its beaches, islands, seafood, and music, the city is brimming with a variety of activities for every type of tourist. Here are a few of the best things to do while visiting the ‘city of peace’.
See St. Joseph’s Cathedral
Home to the archbishop of Dar es Salaam, St. Joseph’s Cathedral is a gothic-style Roman Catholic church with beautiful architecture and amazing singing. Try to stop by on a Sunday (English mass is available at 8:30am and 11am) to hear the choir and see the amazing architecture.
Visit Mbudya Island
For those looking to escape the bustling city for a day, Mbudya Island is the perfect place to go for a relaxing respite of beautiful beaches, clear waters, and amazing seafood. You can take a short boat ride here from many points along Dar es Salaam’s harbor – just ask a local boatman, or arrange a fare near the White Sands hotel, the Slipway, or Kunduchi. Snorkeling and cabanas are available at a price, or you can bring your own supplies for a day of rest and relaxation.
Kivukoni Fish Market
For those looking for an authentic Dar es Salaam experience, the Kivukoni Fish Market is the place to go. It’s a great opportunity to witness the blending of cultures and business in a traditional Tanzanian setting, and you can catch some excellent photos of fishers unloading their wares along the docks. Just come prepared with a strong stomach – the stench is not for the faint of heart.
Also known as Oyster Bay, this beach is located right on the Msasani Peninsula. Often crowded with locals and tourists, you’ll find an abundance of tasty street food snacks served here, as well as an occasional concert. Be sure to check the city events guide for its schedule of live music and beach parties. For those looking to check out the nightlife, New Maisha Club is a popular nightclub located right along the beach.
The Askari Monument
Unveiled in 1927 as one of three statues displayed throughout former British Africa, this cast bronze statue depicts an askari soldier in WWI uniform, his bayonet pointing toward the harbor. A historic reminder to honor those who fought in the British Carrier Corps, you’ll find this figure at the center of the roundabout between Samora Avenue and Maktaba Street, allegedly marking the exact center of downtown Dar.
Shop at Mwenge Woodcarvers Market
A great place to buy souvenirs, the Mwenge Woodcarvers Market features dozens of open-air stalls selling a variety of products, but it is best known for its sculptures and wood carvings. Be sure to take a look around before purchasing so you know your options, and don’t be afraid to bargain.
Check out the National Museum
A great place to visit to learn more about Tanzanian culture, the National Museum hosts a range of pieces, from fossils and bones to carvings and statues. It also has a collection on the history of the slave trade, colonialism, and a number of cars from the country’s first president. It’s a good way to spend a couple hours for those looking for an educational experience.
For the bold and adventurous traveler, Udzungwa Mountains National Park has breathtaking views and friendly local guides to lead the way. Located five hours north of Dar es Salaam, this park makes for a great weekend trip of hiking and exploring the beautiful Tanzanian wilderness.Watch out for: The Sanje Falls – it’s quite the trek, but worth the climb
Established in 1996, this museum showcases over a dozen different types of traditional Tanzanian huts. The museum is interactive because you can enter and explore the huts, and there are also dance and music performances available for an extra price (Adults – 2000 TSH, Children – 1000 TSH). Located about six miles north of the city center, it’s a good place to go to learn more about rural Tanzania’s customs and traditions.
Tinga Tinga Arts Co-operative Society
From the outside this establishment doesn’t look like anything impressive, but don’t let the facade fool you. Within, you’ll find a host of local artisans offering artwork based on the popular TingaTinga art movement. Relatively inexpensive, it’s a great place to pick up a unique souvenir and support the local economy and artistic community before heading home.