Outline :
    Add a header to begin generating the table of contents

    The Best Things to Do in Dar es Salaam in 2023/2024

    12 minutes read
    Aerial view of Bogomoyo Island in Dar es Salaam
    Aerial view of Bogomoyo Island in Dar es Salaam

    Dar es Salaam, Tanzania’s vibrant commercial capital, is a city that offers a plethora of exciting activities and attractions to explore. From immersing yourself in its rich history and cultural heritage to enjoying its stunning beaches and vibrant markets, there is no shortage of things to do in this dynamic city. If you’re planning a visit to Dar es Salaam in 2023/2024, here is a comprehensive list of the best things to do to make the most of your trip:

    Explore Historical Landmarks

    Begin your Dar es Salaam adventure by delving into the city’s rich history through its historical landmarks. Start with the iconic Askari Monument, a symbol of Tanzanian independence, commemorating the brave soldiers who fought in World War I. Take a moment to appreciate the monument’s significance and the stories it represents.

    Continue your historical exploration with a visit to the National Museum and House of Culture. This museum houses a fascinating collection of artifacts, archaeological findings, and artworks that offer insights into Tanzania’s diverse cultural heritage. Learn about the country’s history, from its ancient civilizations to its struggle for independence.

    For a deeper understanding of Dar es Salaam’s colonial past, visit the Old Boma, a former German administrative building now serving as a cultural center. Explore its exhibitions, which glimpse the city’s colonial-era architecture, artifacts, and historical context.

    Highlights:

    1. Askari Monument: Standing in the city’s heart, the Askari Monument commemorates the Askari soldiers who fought in World War I. The monument consists of a bronze statue of an Askari soldier in a World War I uniform, poised to cast a bronze casing from a German 88.

    The statue, skillfully crafted by British sculptor James Alexander Stevenson, is amongst the most beloved historical landmarks of the city. It offers critical insight into the city’s and East Africa’s role in World War I.

    2. National Museum and House of Culture: As one of the city’s top historical destinations, the National Museum and House of Culture grants a deep dive into Tanzanian history and culture. The museum preserves and exhibits significant archaeological discoveries, including fossils from early hominids and colonial artifacts.

    The museum successfully outlines Tanzania’s journey from prehistoric times to its struggle for independence through its varied exhibits. It’s an essential visit for history buffs and those seeking to appreciate the country’s rich heritage.

    3. St. Joseph’s Cathedral: The historic St. Joseph’s Cathedral stands as an alluring figure on the landscape of Dar es Salaam. Built by German missionaries in the late 19th century, the cathedral is a place of worship and offers a glimpse into colonial times’ architectural and cultural journalism.

    The cathedral symbolizes the city’s historical aesthetic appeal with its towering spires, stained-glass windows, and beautifully detailed interior. Visitors will be enthralled by Gothic architecture and its tranquility amidst the bustling city life.

    4. Old Boma Building: Located near Dar es Salaam’s waterfront, the Old Boma Building is recognized as the oldest standing building in the city. Built in the late 19th century during the German colonial period, it has served multiple functions, including a fort, a boma (meeting place), and presently as a cultural center.

    It is a physical reminder of the city’s colonial legacy and architecture. Whether learning about its history or attending a cultural event, the Old Boma Building offers a unique historical experience.

    5. Azania Front Lutheran Church: The Azania Front Lutheran Church is another prominent historical landmark of Dar es Salaam. Built by German missionaries in the late 19th century, the church embodies a splendid German architectural style with a distinctive red roof, white walls, and arched doorways and windows.

    The church grounds also provide a peaceful retreat with beautiful gardens overlooking the bustling city harbor. Azania Front Lutheran Church not only charges the city skyline with historical charm but also stands as an emblem of religious history in Tanzania.

    Relax at the Pristine Beaches of Dar es Salaam

    Escape the city’s hustle and bustle by unwinding at Dar es Salaam’s beautiful beaches. Coco Beach, located near the city center, offers a vibrant atmosphere with soft sands, palm trees, and stunning views of the Indian Ocean. Take a leisurely stroll along the shore, enjoy a picnic, or simply bask in the sun while savoring the coastal breeze.

    For a quieter beach experience, head to Kunduchi Beach, a serene oasis just a short drive from the city. This picturesque stretch of coastline boasts pristine sands, crystal-clear waters, and breathtaking sunsets. Indulge in a range of water activities, from swimming and snorkeling to jet skiing and paddleboarding.

    To explore the surrounding islands, take a boat trip to Bongoyo Island or Mbudya Island. These idyllic getaways offer secluded beaches, vibrant coral reefs, and snorkeling, diving, and beachcombing opportunities.

    Highlights:

    1. Coco Beach: Coco Beach, located in the Oyster Bay area, is one of the busiest and popular beaches in Dar es Salaam. Frequented by locals over the weekends, the beach provides a lively atmosphere with an array of food stalls, live music, and beach sports. While swimming can be challenging due to strong currents, the inviting coastal environment and vibrant social activities make it an alluring spot. Coco Beach offers spectacular sunsets and is a great place to experience local culture.

    2. Mbudya Island: Mbudya Island, a marine reserve located off the coast of Dar es Salaam, is known for its white sandy beaches, turquoise waters, and rich marine life. Easily reachable by boat, it’s an ideal spot for snorkeling, beach picnics, or sunbathing. The island provides simple huts for shade, and grills where visitors can cook their food. An excursion to Mbudya Island is a perfect getaway for travellers seeking unspoilt beaches and a tranquil environment.

    3. Kipepeo Beach: Situated in Kigamboni, Kipepeo Beach is a serene and beautiful spot attracting tourists and locals alike. Its crystal-clear waters make for a great swimming experience, while the sandy shoreline is perfect for beach games or enjoying a leisurely sunbathing session. Local seafood restaurants provide ample opportunities to savor delicious local cuisine. Kipepeo Beach, with its scenic beauty and relaxed atmosphere, provides a wonderful respite from the city’s hustle.

    4. Bongoyo Island: Bongoyo Island, a part of the Dar es Salaam Marine Reserve, is a haven for beach lovers. Famous for its pristine white sandy beaches, cool sea breezes, and warm, clear waters, the island is perfect for snorkeling or just lazing on the beach. As a conservation area, it’s also home to numerous bird species and small mammals, making it interesting for nature lovers too. Accessible by a short boat ride, Bongoyo Island offers a delightful day trip for relaxation and recreation.

    5. South Beach: Located in Kigamboni, South Beach is known for its breathtaking coastline and lively atmosphere. The beach is a popular spot for parties and music festivals, particularly over the weekends. Its clean, white sandy beaches and warm turquoise waters make swimming and sunbathing irresistible. Surrounded by numerous beachfront establishments offering food, refreshments, and entertainment, South Beach promises an enthusiastic and energetic beach experience.

    Visit Vibrant Markets

    Immerse yourself in the vibrant local culture by exploring Dar es Salaam’s bustling markets. Start with Kariakoo Market, the city’s largest market and a sensory delight. Here, you’ll find a kaleidoscope of colors, sounds, and aromas as you wander through the labyrinthine alleys lined with stalls selling fresh produce, spices, textiles, and crafts. Engage with the friendly vendors, haggle for unique souvenirs, and sample delicious local snacks.

    For a more traditional shopping experience, venture to the Mwenge Craft Market. This market showcases the incredible craftsmanship of Tanzanian artisans, with an array of hand-carved wooden sculptures, vibrant fabrics, intricate jewelry, and other unique handicrafts. Support local artists and take home one-of-a-kind pieces that capture the essence of Tanzania’s artistic heritage.

    Highlights:

    1. Kariakoo Market: Kariakoo Market is the largest and busiest market in Dar es Salaam and is a vibrant center of local life and commerce. It’s a great place to buy almost anything, from food to clothing and household goods.

    The market is particularly known for its colorful array of fresh fruits and vegetables. A visit to Kariakoo Market provides a real insight into the city’s hustle and bustle of daily life.

    2. Mwenge Woodcarvers Market: If you’re interested in Tanzanian art and crafts, the Mwenge Woodcarvers Market is a must-visit. Here, you will find a wide range of wooden crafts, including intricate carvings and sculptures created by local artisans.

    Visitors can also watch the craftsmen at work, carving beautiful woodblock objects. Shopping at the Mwenge Woodcarvers Market is an opportunity to support local craft and buy unique, handmade souvenirs.

    3. Ilala Market: Ilala Market is one of the oldest traditional markets in Dar es Salaam. This market offers a wide array of goods, such as fruits, vegetables, spices, and household items. It’s a bustling hub, full of local flavors and colors, and is particularly known for its vast range of spices. Ilala Market allows you to witness the rich culinary culture of Tanzania and gather ingredients for a genuine Tanzanian meal.

    4. Kivukoni Fish Market: For a unique local experience, head to the Kivukoni Fish Market along the harbor. This lively market teems with action from the early morning when fishermen bring in their catch.

    You can watch the lively auctions, where large fish and seafood are sold, and observe the fast-paced negotiation process. The visit to Kivukoni Fish Market is a vibrant, sensory experience not to be missed.

    5. Tingatinga Arts Cooperative Society: To immerse yourself in Tanzania’s rich artistic culture, visit the Tingatinga Arts Cooperative Society. Named after the painter Edward Said Tingatinga, this market showcases the distinctive Tingatinga painting style, characterized by bright colors and bold designs.

    It’s a great place to buy original art pieces, and often, you can watch the artists at work. The Tingatinga market is a colorful feast for the eyes and a unique chance to engage directly with the local art scene.

    Indulge in Local Cuisine

    No visit to Dar es Salaam is complete without experiencing the tantalizing flavors of Tanzanian cuisine. Take the opportunity to indulge in a culinary adventure and sample the city’s diverse culinary offerings.

    Begin by tasting Nyama Choma, succulent grilled meat often served with Ugali (a maize-based staple) and flavorful sauces. Don’t miss the chance to savor Pilau, a fragrant rice dish cooked with aromatic spices, and accompany your meal with a refreshing glass of freshly squeezed sugarcane juice or a traditional spice-infused tea.

    For seafood enthusiasts, Dar es Salaam is a paradise. Head to the beachfront seafood restaurants and indulge in a variety of fresh catches, from succulent prawns and lobster to grilled fish and octopus. The flavors and freshness of the seafood are sure to tantalize your taste buds.

    Highlights:

    1. Mama Theopiste’s Restaurant: Mama Theopiste’s is popular with locals and tourists for a genuine Tanzanian food experience. The restaurant serves traditional Tanzanian fare, including ugali, nyama choma (grilled meat), and mboga (cooked greens).

    Don’t miss out on their special fish dishes, which are particularly well-loved. Dining at Mama Theopiste’s offers a snapshot of domestic Tanzanian cooking in a warm and hospitable environment.

    2. Forodhani Restaurant: Forodhani Restaurant is best known for its Swahili-inspired menu featuring richly flavored, spice-infused dishes. Seafood holds a special place on the menu, alongside biryanis, curries, and traditional Tanzanian foods.

    Eat al fresco in their charming outdoor set-up, under the gentle boughs of mango trees. With its tasteful ambiance and locally sourced, delicious food, Forodhani Restaurant provides a delightful culinary and cultural experience.

    3. BBQ Village: At BBQ Village, experience the traditional barbeque cuisine of East Africa. The restaurant serves up delicious nyama choma (grilled meat) alongside kachumbari (fresh tomato and onion salad) and ugali (maize porridge).
    Their succulent barbequed chicken, beef, and goat are particularly well-regarded. An evening at BBQ Village guarantees a lively atmosphere with scrumptious food, making it a local favorite.

    4. The Alcove Restaurant: The Alcove Restaurant is renowned for its Indian and Zanzibari courses with a focus on seafood. The menu is a fusion of flavors from the Indian subcontinent, Persia, Portugal, and the Middle East.

    Traditional dishes such as biryanis, curries, samosas, and seafood platters are mouth-watering options to explore. With its idyllic setting and flavorful fare, the Alcove Restaurant ensures an unforgettable dining experience.

    5. Akemi Revolving Restaurant: For a fancy dining experience with a panoramic view of Dar es Salaam’s skyline, visit the Akemi Revolving Restaurant. This unique establishment is Tanzania’s only revolving restaurant and serves a mixture of continental and local Tanzanian cuisine.

    The menu changes regularly to incorporate fresh, local produce in their delicacies. From Akemi, indulge in delicious food while enjoying the stunning city and sea vistas, making it an unparalleled culinary destination.

    Discover Cultural Heritage

    Immerse yourself in the vibrant cultural heritage of Dar es Salaam by visiting its mosques, churches, and cultural centers. Explore the Khoja Shia Ithna-Asheri Mosque, an architectural gem adorned with intricate designs and vibrant tiles. Marvel at its grandeur and take a moment for reflection.

    A visit to the Azania Front Lutheran Church is a must to appreciate the city’s religious diversity. This historic church, with its distinctive clock tower, represents the fusion of African and European architectural styles. Step inside and admire the beautiful stained glass windows and peaceful ambiance.

    To delve deeper into the local culture, take a stroll through the vibrant streets of Kigamboni. This lively district is known for its bustling markets, street food stalls, and live music performances. Engage with the friendly locals, savor the flavors of traditional snacks, and tap your feet into the rhythm of traditional music.

    Highlights:

    1. National Museum and House of Culture: The National Museum and House of Culture offer a journey into Tanzania’s rich historical and cultural heritage. Housing archaeological finds, ethnographical exhibits, and colonial-era photographs, the museum provides insight into the country’s past.

    Notable artifacts include the cast of the 3.6 million-year-old hominid footprints, known as Laetoli footprints. A visit allows you to learn about human evolution, the pre-colonial history of Tanzania, and the heritage of its indigenous tribes.

    2. Village Museum: The Village Museum is a wonderful place to explore Tanzanian ethnology and tribal heritage. The museum showcases traditional dwellings from different Tanzanian tribes, providing an understanding of their social and cultural practices.

    Regular dance and drumming performances offer a glimpse of the rich traditional performance arts of different ethnic groups. The Village Museum creates a vibrant, immersive experience of cultural diversity and tradition in Tanzania.

    3. St. Joseph’s Cathedral: St. Joseph’s Cathedral is a stunning example of Gothic-Romanesque architecture in Dar es Salaam. The German-colonial era cathedral is a testimony to the city’s historical period under German East Africa.

    The beautifully painted stained-glass windows depicting biblical scenes are a memorable sight. Attending a mass there offers a serene and spiritual experience amidst the city’s hustle.

    4. Askari Monument: The Askari Monument pays homage to the Askari soldiers who fought in the British Carrier Corps in World War I. Standing in the city’s heart, the bronze statue represents a vital part of Tanzanian history under British colonial rule.

    The Swahili inscription at the statue’s base provides an interesting perspective of the colonial era. The Askari Monument is a poignant reminder of Dar es Salaam’s historical and colonial past.

    5. Zaramo Pillars: Just outside Dar es Salaam, the ancient Zaramo Pillars are a significant archaeological site. Made by the Zaramo people, these late Iron Age stone pillars hold cultural and religious importance.

    Some believe the sculptures are memorial monuments, while others see them as markers of a spirit world. A visit to these cairns is a step back into the ancient practices and beliefs of the indigenous people.

    Explore the Marine Life

    With its proximity to the Indian Ocean, Dar es Salaam offers excellent opportunities for marine exploration. Embark on a snorkeling or diving adventure and discover the vibrant underwater world. Explore the colorful coral reefs, swim alongside tropical fish, and marvel at the diverse marine ecosystem.

    For a more immersive experience, take a boat trip to nearby Sinda Island, known for its pristine coral gardens and crystal-clear waters. Dive into the turquoise lagoons, spot sea turtles, and snorkel among an array of marine life. The island’s untouched beauty will leave you in awe.

    Discover Nearby Natural Wonders

    While Dar es Salaam itself is a vibrant city, it also serves as a gateway to Tanzania’s remarkable natural wonders. Take advantage of its strategic location and embark on day trips to nearby reserves and national parks.

    Mikumi National Park is a wildlife enthusiast’s paradise, located a few hours’ drive from the city. Embark on a safari adventure and encounter an array of wildlife, including elephants, lions, giraffes, zebras, and buffalo. The park’s diverse landscapes, from open plains to acacia woodlands, offer a unique and immersive safari experience.

    If you’re looking for a more off-the-beaten-path excursion, visit the Pugu Hills Nature Reserve. This protected area is a haven for nature lovers, offering opportunities for hiking, birdwatching, and wildlife spotting. Explore the scenic trails, soak in the tranquility of nature, and enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes.

    Final Thoughts

    In conclusion, Dar es Salaam presents a myriad of exciting activities and attractions for visitors to enjoy in 2023/2024. From exploring historical landmarks and relaxing on pristine beaches to immersing oneself in the vibrant local culture and embarking on marine adventures, there’s something for everyone in this dynamic city. Plan your trip to Dar es Salaam and create unforgettable memories of your Tanzanian journey.

    Musaddiq Gulamhussein - Owner - Easy Travel Tanzania

    About the author: Musaddiq

    Meet Musaddiq Gulamhussein, owner of Easy Travel Tanzania, a tour company creating life-changing safari experiences for over 35 years. Musaddiq has explored Tanzania, developing a deep understanding of the local cultures and traditions. Follow his journey and gain insights into the African Safari experience through Easy Travel's social media and blog.

    Get In Touch

    Read more blogs like this:

    Got questions? We're here to help!