Dar es Salaam Tourist Guide
Situated on the Swahili coast, Dar es Salaam offers a mix of stunning attractions and bustling city life. There’s a lot to love about this East African city. Gorgeous beaches? They are just several minutes from the city center. Vibrant entertainment scene? It’s guaranteed with a buzz of East African flair. Sensational shopping centers, markets, art galleries, and museums complete the array of things to see and do in Dar. You can hit the beach in the morning, and then explore the city’s historical and cultural gems by day, before checking out a variety of lively bars and clubs at night. What more do you want? Feel a rhythm and pulse, unlike anything you’re used to.
Renowned for its myriad cultural highlights, Dar is undoubtedly one of the most diverse destinations in East Africa, and its variety of museums and galleries make it a truly lively place to visit. A visit to the best of the bunch of the museums in the city should be on your to-do list during your holiday. In fact, no trip to Dar would be complete without learning about the history and culture of Tanzania.
Treat yourself to a generous portion at the National Museum and House of Culture. The museum house was first opened in 1940 in memorial of King George V of the United Kingdom, and one of his automobiles is still on display today. If you love cars, you will also see a small collection of vintage autos including the Rolls Royce used by the British colonial government and Julius Nyerere. The museum also features a collection of archaeological treasures including a copy of the popular fossil findings of Zinjanthropus from Olduvai Gorge. You can explore the History room to learn more about the country’s past and its diverse cultures. The House of Culture is the new extension of the museum, which serves as an educational resource center and a venue for contemporary arts and culture display.
The museum is located next to Dar es Salaam Botanical Garden, a beautiful and quiet oasis filled with a variety of exotic and indigenous plants including blue jacaranda, scarlet flame trees, red hibiscus, and purple bougainvillea. The garden is also home to the Horticultural Society that tends to the plants.
There’s a Village Museum located about nine kilometers north of the city center. This is an open-air cultural attraction which features a variety of traditional dwellings depicting the cultural life in the country. The villagers here are mostly into pottery, weaving, and carving, and you’ll see the local artisans demonstrating their long-established skills. There is a traditional tribal dance presentation that takes place at the village every day.
Don’t forget to visit the Askari Monument located at the center of the roundabout between Maktaba Street and Samora Avenue. The monument is considered to be exactly at the center of the city’s downtown. It is a bronze statue depicting a soldier, also known as Askari in a World War I uniform with his rifle pointing towards the harbor close by. The monument honors and remembers the African troops who fought in the war.
Another major attraction in the city is the Azania Front Lutheran Church, which was built by the German missionaries in 1898. This whitewashed building is an iconic landmark in the city and it rises above the rooftops surrounding it. The church is now the cathedral for the Coastal and Eastern diocese and it has a garden where you can relax after exploring the city.
Dar es Salaam boasts a range of exciting shopping opportunities, where you can explore luxurious boutiques, high-street stores, and traditional markets. If you’re looking to absorb and explore the cosmopolitan attractions Dar has to offer, the vibrant Slipway Mall should be first on your list. The Slipway is a perfect spot, an attraction in the city for shopping, dining and relaxing. You’ll find a range of waterfront restaurants for lunch or dinner and entertainment opportunities for children.
Enjoy an altogether Tanzanian shopping experience at the Kanga Shopping, Kariakoo Market, and Mwenge Wood Carvers’ Village, offering antiques, arts and crafts shops as well as quirky local restaurants.
Don’t forget to visit the Dar es Salaam Fish Market for a lifetime experience. The best time to visit this market is early in the morning, where you will see sellers auctioning fresh fishes caught off traditional dhows; you can also get some seafood freshly prepared here.
Things to Do
Pressed for time and you don’t know the fun things you can do in Dar es Salaam? Don’t worry; even a weekend break in the city is enough to taste some of the amazing things it offers. The city is blessed with miles of sand-covered seashores and you can start your day on the beach. Oyster Bay, also known as Coco Beach is one of the most popular beaches in the city. It’s located north of the city on the Msasani Peninsular. The beach features a wide range of water activities, local street food, and live music. You can relax and unwind here while you watch the Indian Ocean. You can also visit South Beach or Kipepeo Beach, which are just a few kilometers from the city center.
However, if you would like to visit some of the unspoiled beaches to enjoy solitude and seclusion, you can take a boat ride to Mbudya Island Beach from White Sands Beach Resort or Msasani Slipway. The island is dotted with bands, where you can relax and enjoy a bottle of beer or soda with delicious grilled seafood that was freshly caught from the ocean. You can also indulge in some water activities including snorkeling on the island beach.
Visit Kunduchi Wet ‘N’ Wild Water Park for a fun time with your friends and family. The water park features some adrenalin pumping activities including rides, slides, falls and boat rides.
The famous St. Joseph's Cathedral is an amazing architecture that you need to visit before you leave Dar es Salaam. It has the Gothic style Roman design that will remind you a lot of buildings in Latvia and Amsterdam.
Bars, Restaurants & Nightlife
Dining is heartily celebrated in Dar es Salaam with a wide range of restaurants serving delicious meals to hungry diners. A great place to start is the 305 Karafuu restaurant located on a quiet side street in Kinondoni. It has a family feel to it and the owner personally checks up on customers to ensure the meal is satisfying and know if they are having quality time. The Mediterraneo is another restaurant that you can visit. The ambiance is quite lovely as you're surrounded by beautiful palm trees and fairy lights. It is home to some of the finest cocktails and Italian foods in East Africa. Mamboz Corner BBQ is the best place for grilled meat. It's the perfect place to experience mouth-watering Tanzanian dishes on the fast lane.
Bars and nightclubs are in abundance in the city. High Spirit Lounge Bar is one of the famous nightlife spots with a dazzling disco-lighted dance floor. The bar also features some stunning ocean views and offer delicious Mediterranean cuisine and a variety of wines and beers. Savannah Lounge and Bar, Club Bilicanas, Q Bar, New Maisha Club, The Slow Leopard, Level 8 and Kilimanjaro Casino are some popular nightlife spots if you’re looking to explore the many-sided revelry scene in the city.
Food & Drinks
There are all kinds of meals served in Tanzania from European dishes to Asian dishes but the real treats are in the local dishes. Ndizi Nyama (which is basically plantains mixed with rich beef broth) with some Matembele and Ugali is a must try. Visit Chef’s Pride in Kariakoo market for a taste of Tanzania's finest which is ripe plantains with rich beef broth mixed with sweet potato leaves and polenta.
Have a taste of Nyama Choma in a local restaurant in the city. The roasted meat is popular and amazingly delicious, it’s served with onions, tomato, and chilies in Dar and you can wash down Nyama with a bottle of beer.
Best Time to Visit
You can Visit Dar es Salaam all through the year. The city has an ideal climate for relaxing holiday and sightseeing. It has a wet and dry season, and the dry season takes place between June and October. However, rainfall is infrequent and there’s almost endless sunshine and the skies are usually cloudless.
Although Dar es Salaam is quite safe, you should adhere to some safety precautions as a visitor. First, when you head to the market, try to go with a local and learn the dos and don'ts of bargaining in the local market.
Never take a taxi with two people in the car – it may be the driver and his friend. You should know something is wrong when you notice this.
Never exchange money on the black market. It’s illegal and you may get ripped off. The best way to change your money to Tanzanian currency is to do it at a reputable Bureau de Change or bank.
Don’t go out alone at night; always ensure you are with a group of friends.