Zanzibar. Pristine beaches. Turquoise waters. White sands. It certainly feels like a little slice of paradise. Whether you’re looking to relax by the beach, discover the history, or explore the country, Zanzibar has so much to offer. We spent 10 days in this little paradise and thoroughly enjoyed each and every one of them.
Is this Zanzibar Itinerary Right for You?
Now I’m sure this itinerary is not for everyone. Our trips tend to be very memorable, and if you’re looking to spend all your time in the resort, then this is probably not for you. But, this itinerary is for you if you want….
- An epic and diverse trip
- A combination of some busy and some very relaxed days
- A well-rounded visit that includes a bit of history, sightseeing, and of course….LOTS of beaches
- Exploring different areas of the island
- Endless amazing memories
Things to Know Before You Travel to Zanzibar
Safety – Zanzibar is extremely safe for tourists. The country’s economy relies heavily on tourism and you will generally be treated very well.
Clothing – Although a majority Mulsim country, there is no particular need to dress modestly unless you are visiting a mosque or a very not touristic town. The locals are very accustomed to tourists and they do not take offense to non-modest dress.
Getting Around – The easiest and most convenient way to get around the country is by taxi. Public transportation is nearly impossible to figure out unless you’re a local.
Costs – Zanzibar is overall a relatively expensive destination. Hotel costs and food prices at non traditional restaurants are similarly priced to most western European countries.
Visa – Most countries require a visa to visit Zanzibar. It costs $50 and you can apply directly at the airport (bring cash) or online with the e-Visa application.
For more details about Zanzibar Travel Tips check out the full article here: ULTIMATE GUIDE TO ZANZIBAR | EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE YOUR TRIP
10 Day Zanzibar Itinerary
I didn’t really have any expectations for Zanzibar, but it was an amazing surprise of delight. Although a fairly small place, it still has a lot to offer. The beaches, the interesting history, the lovely people, and the unmatched vibes. I really wish I could have stayed forever!
Days 1-3 Stone Town (2 nights)
First stop is Stone Town, the capital city of Zanzibar. Whether you’re arriving by airplane or by ferry (from the mainland Tanzania), you’ll still be entering through Stone Town. The airport itself is just about a 20 minutes drive from the center of Stone Town making this the perfect place to spend the first couple of days.
Also colloquially known as Zanzibar City, Stone Town is beautiful, full of history, and bursting with fun things to do. Countless yummy cafes and restaurants with lovely sunset views. A day trip to the infamous Prison Island or the pristine Nakupenda Island. The port, the tragic history of the slave trade, the spice market, it’s the main hub of the island.
The major downside of Stone Town is the beaches. Although they are swimmable, they are not the pristine white sand and turquoise water beaches that you picture of Zanzibar, which is why we would only recommend staying two nights in the city. Leaving just enough time to explore everything the city has to offer, but also adventure to the rest of the island.
For a full post of things to do in Stone Town, check out this post: Check all all the amazing things to do in Stone Town: VISITING STONE TOWN? EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW -THINGS TO DO, PLACES TO EAT, WHERE TO STAY | ZANZIBAR TRAVEL
Where to Stay in Stone Town
Being the main city of Zanzibar, Stone Town certainly has no shortage of lovely, beachfront hotels with stunning views. We stayed at two hotels during our stay:
1.Serena Hotel – Perhaps one of the loveliest hotels we ever stayed in, Serena was a complete pleasure. We had a stunning beachfront view with an enormous balcony. The pool was delightful with a 30-second walk to a lovely beach. The food was a bit questionable, but centrally located to some lovely restaurants right nearby.
2. Tembo House Hotel. The main building was lovely and authentically decorated in Arabic style and the staff was very friendly and helpful. If staying at the Tembo Hotel, we would suggest requesting to stay in the main building and not the annex building. Besides horrible Wi-Fi (the main building wasn’t that much better, Stone Town Wi-Fi was challenging), the annex building had an incomplete vibe to the decor. Our room in the main building had a beautiful beachfront view and a rooftop pool.
Days 3-6 Nungwi (3 nights)
After a few days exploring Stone Town, head on over to the north coast’s Nungwi Beach. Famous for its idyllic crystal clear waters, white sands, and honeymoon accommodations, this is certainly what you picture when you think of Zanzibar. Always quite busy with tourists, there is no lack of things to do. Water sports, day trips to go snorkeling, endless long walks on the beach, even horseback riding! Nungwi has it all! The nearby Kendwa beach is also lovely and offers a very similar experience.
I would suggest spending at least three nights on the northern coast as it really offers a very different vibe than the other areas of Zanzibar. Although it can seem a bit touristy, there are really so many amazing things to do and the beaches are by far the best in the country. The tides are relatively consistent unlike some of the other beaches on the island.
It is also the perfect place to stay if you want to take a day trip to Mnemba Island for snorkeling! The stunning beaches offer the best snorkeling in the country.
Where to Stay in Nungwi
We spent three lovely nights in Nungwi at the Z Hotel. The resort itself was simply lovely with an infinity-like pool, a private beach, and a rooftop bar. The staff were absolutely AMAZING and they made our time there feel so special. If you’re looking to go horseback riding on the beach, they also have their own stables – Zanzibar Horse Club.
If you’re looking for a less expensive option or traveling solo, Nungwi also has many bungalows to rent and lovely hostels!
Days 6-9 Paje/Bwenjuu (3 nights)
Just a few hour’s drive from Nungwi, we couldn’t leave Zanzibar without also visiting the East Coast- to the small town of Bwenjuu. Famous for its peaceful, relaxing atmosphere, we certainly we not disappointed. Although very, very different from the North Coast, Bwenjuu offered that authentic, relaxed island vibe. There were far fewer people, much less to do (in a good way), and it was a lovely place to spend a few days.
The Eastern Coast is covered with lovely beaches and towns. Paje, one of the largest has many lovely clubs and lots of wonderful food. The biggest downside of the east are the beaches. The tides vary immensely throughout the day, and it’s nearly impossible to go swimming in the ocean in the morning as the tides go so far out.
However, what it lacks in beaches, the East Coast certainly makes up for with food. The best food in Zanzibar is certainly along the east coast, probably due to the prevalence of Italians on that side!
Although quiet compared to the other areas of the island, Bwenjuu and Paje offer so many amazing things to do. Whether its visiting the Jozani forest to see rare monkeys or eating at the world famous Rock Restaurant (its built on a rock in the middle of the ocean), it offers all the fun without the busy pressure of the other areas.
Where to Stay in Bwenjuu
The most important tip for where to stay on the East Coast…..Find a place with a pool. Realistically, you probably won’t be able to go swimming in the ocean until around 2pm, so a pool comes in very handy.
In general, the east coast is much less expensive than the northern coast (by about 1/3) and even stone town (about 1/2), but the same quality. We stayed at Sahari Hotel and absolutely loved it. The food was delicious, the pool was lovely, and the Wi-Fi was the best we had in all of Zanzibar (I was actually able to have full work meetings).
Days 9-10 Stone Town (1 night)
Although the island itself is very small and it only takes a few hours to drive anywhere, we thought it would be easiest to be in Stone Town the night before our flight. Shopping for last minute trinkets, finding ATMs to pay our taxi driver for the trip, and picking up Co-vid test results. Plus, the airport is just 20 minutes drive away from most hotels!
Our trip to Zanzibar was simply incredible. It was among the most amazing trips I had ever had and I honestly wish that I could have stayed there forever. Although I normally don’t like to repeat locations, I feel like Zanzibar may be an exception!
If you are looking for the best travel/tour operator within Zanzibar I would highly recommend Amnaf Shellah. He helped us so much to organize boat trips, provide us with reliable taxis, and so much more! It’s a small family business and they are really the best. Contact Amnaf at +255 777 45 4254.
To many more island adventures!
Check out some of our other tips and tricks for visiting Zanzibar here: 18 AMAZING THINGS YOU CAN’T MISS ON YOUR TRIP TO ZANZIBAR | THINGS TO DO
Lots of Love and Safe Travels,
Danielle and Brooke, Colorful Sisters