The bustling town of Arusha is the starting point of unforgettable safari adventures in Tanzania. It’s the gateway to the northern circuit of well-known national parks in the country including the Serengeti, Manyara National Park and the Ngorongoro Conservation area.
The fascinating town is nestled at the foot of Mount Meru and serves as an accessible base for safari journeys in several natural environments in this East African country. Arusha is known for its laidback way of life, relaxing atmosphere, breathtaking scenery and wide range of attractions. This busy, small town has something amazing to offer everyone – cultural attractions, excellent dining, and exciting adventures beckon anyone looking for a great travel experience in Tanzania. We’ve put together a list of seven best places to visit in Arusha during your next holiday in East Africa.
Arusha National Park is located about 60 km from Arusha town and it is home to Mt. Meru, the second-highest mountain in Tanzania. The national park features diverse range of wildlife including buffalo, giraffe, elephants, baboons, leopards, bushbucks, and hippos. You’ll also discover a wide range of activities to enjoy such as game drives, canoeing, walking tours, hiking, and mountain trekking. The park is known for its remarkable botanical and geographical areas, featuring picturesque lakes, beautiful volcanic crater and magnificent landscapes. Arusha National Park is the most accessible national park in the country.
The Cultural Heritage Centre is a great place to discover and explore the cultures of the people of Arusha. The centre features a good collection of arts and artefacts that showcase the present and past stories of the tribes of Tanzania. You’ll find several attractions in the centre such as curio shops, jewellery boutique, Tanzanite and precious stone counter, art gallery, bargain centre and a restaurant. There are several shops selling arts and crafts, textiles, books, handmade jewellery, and African antiques; you can purchase some souvenirs for your friends and family. You can also have a taste of delicious local meals in Arusha at the restaurant on site.
Located in the Old Boma – a former German colonial military complex, the National Natural History Museum features a collection of exhibits, which depict human evolution and historical findings. You’ll also see a display of a variety of insects, a collection of animal and plants photos on the wall – taken by a renowned photographer, Dick Persson. The museum also features the history of the German colonial administration in Northern Tanzania, you’ll have an opportunity to read facts and see photos illustrating the regime period.
For a hearty breakfast or satisfying lunch, Africafe promises a meal to remember. The restaurant features European-café vibes and a lip-smacking menu to match, as well as Free Wi-Fi. If you’re craving for tasty sandwiches in a sprawling town of Arusha, this restaurant is a place to be. The menu also features burgers and chips, spinach & mushroom tramazini, grilled meats, pastries and cakes, coffee and a wide selection of drinks. It’s a great place to chill and relax with friends.
Kilombero is one of the major markets in Arusha, which features a wide variety of spices and fresh fruits, Maasai handcrafts, carvings, jewellery and local textiles. The market is colourful and it’s the best place to get a glimpse of the local life in the town. Exploring Kilombero is a memorable experience; if you’re buying anything, you should be ready to haggle for better prices. You should also beware of pickpockets – hold your bags and purses closer.
For enjoyable nightlife in Arusha, you should visit Via Via and be entertained into the wee hours. Parties at Via Via are legendary, it features live music on Thursday nights, DJ playing music and karaoke on other nights. For a nightcap, clubbing or a boogie, Via Via is a lively place loved by both locals and expats.
Enjoy a day trip to Lake Duluti from Arusha. The Crater Lake is about 20-minute drive from the town, and with Mt.Meru as its backdrop. The lake region features a wide range of activities such as walking tours, canoeing and bird watching. The surrounding forests are home to several reptiles and birds. Lake Duluti is a bird-watcher’s dream, home to water birds such as fish eagles, ospreys, kingfisher, egrets, cormorants and grey herons.