Zanzibar boasts beaches to rival any of its Indian Ocean counterparts, that coupled with its unique culture and warm and welcoming people make it a superb holiday destination in its own right or a perfect addition to a Tanzania safari.
An archipelago of 51 islands, the name Zanzibar is commonly used, by locals and visitors alike, to refer to Unguja, the largest isle in the group and location of the main airport and the majority of hotels and beachfront resorts.
The second largest island, Pemba, also has some special places to stay, popular in particular with honeymooners and others seeking an off the beaten track romantic escape.
Whether it’s seven nights all-inclusive or a longer Africa safari and beach holiday you have in mind, at FREEDOM we can help. We are tailor made experts with staff who have travelled to their specialist destinations that would be delighted to help you plan your dream holiday to Zanzibar.
Things to do in Zanzibar
Its heavenly tropical climate aside, there is plenty to see and do in Zanzibar. Here’s a shortlist for the first time visitor, or those who didn’t manage to pull themselves away from the beach last time around! Why not:
- Enjoy a tour of Stone Town, the historic part of Zanzibar City, UNESCO World Heritage listed since 2000 as a fine example of a Swahili coastal trading town
- Go snorkeling at Mnemba Atoll or Chumbe Island Coral Park in the reefs around the main island, where parrotfish, turtles, stingrays and lobsters can be spotted
- Visit a spice plantation, to get an insight into rural life in Zanzibar and learn how the trade in cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg helped shape its history
- Go in search of Zanzibar red colobus monkeys in Masingini Forest or Jozani Forest, the species endemic to the main island of Unguja
- Dine on fresh seafood, if not on the menu at your hotel, at one of many restaurants in Stone Town. Octopus skewers are local delicacy!
- Marvel at the size of the Pemba flying fox, a fruit bat with a 1.5 metre wingspan that lives in colonies over 800 strong on the island from which it gets its name
- Board a traditional dhow to sail round the islands of Menai Bay, a marine conservation area frequented by humpback and bottlenose dolphins
- Visit the Mangapwani Slave Chamber to learn about the soul destroying trade in human cargo from East Africa to the Middle East and later to the Americas
- Take a boat ride to Changuu (or Prison) Island to see the resident Aldabra giant tortoises, brought over from the Seychelles in the 19th Century
- Get an adrenaline rush jet skiing, parasailing, water skiing or kite surfing, all of which can usually be arranged at your hotel
- Contribute to local conservation projects with your entrance fee to the Zanzibar Butterfly Centre, the largest in East Africa, located close to Jozani Forest
To save time, you can pre-book some Zanzibar experiences and day tours before you travel. Just speak with your Africa Expert.
Where to Stay in Zanzibar
The main island offers a superb range of hotels and beach resorts, and neighbouring Pemba secluded romantic retreats. Four of our favourites include:
- The Seyyida Hotel & Spa – an Arabian inspired hotel on the Stone Town seafront with courtyard gardens and a rooftop restaurant looking over the Indian Ocean
- Royal Zanzibar Beach Resort – a luxurious option on Zanzibar’s North Coast, with a private beach, four free-form swimming and complimentary yoga
- Baraza Resort & Spa – A five star retreat by the stunning Bwejuu-Paje beach in South East Zanzibar, popular with both couples and families
- Fundu Lagoon – An all-inclusive boutique resort on Pemba Island, with just 18 thatched bungalows, a beachside bar and complimentary canoe hire to explore the local mangrove forests
Browse all of our Zanzibar beach resorts and hotels.
How Long to Spend in Zanzibar
Most people visit Zanzibar for between one or two weeks for an Indian Ocean beach holiday, or five or more days if combining their trip with a safari on the African mainland.
Most towns and resorts on the main island of Zanzibar are within a 1 hour 30 minute drive from the airport, so you can be in your swimmers within 2 hours of landing! If heading to Pemba you’ll need to build in some extra time for your transfer flight and travel to your chosen hotel.
Tanzania & Zanzibar Holidays
Just a short flight from Arusha or Dar es Salam, Zanzibar provides the ideal accompaniment to the thrill of the savannah for a Tanzania safari and beach holiday. Three popular itineraries include:
- Tanzania Safari & Zanzibar – an eight day safari to the wildlife rich Serengeti, and Ngorongoro Crater, followed a week of pure relaxation
- Serengeti & Zanzibar – a special, two day fly-in safari to spot the big cats of Africa’s most famous park, then five days at your chosen beach resort
- Selous & Zanzibar – an exploration of Tanzania’s largest and remote game reserve, before some serious beach time!
With direct flights from Nairobi, Zanzibar is also a popular place to relax after a Kenyan safari. Whichever parks you would like to visit, our Africa Experts can plan a tailor made itinerary for you.
Flights to Zanzibar
From the UK there are flights to Zanzibar via Kenya, Qatar and the UAE.
British Airways and Kenya Airways fly from London Heathrow to Nairobi, and then onto Zanzibar, the journey taking 13 or 14 hours depending on your connection.
With Qatar Airways you can fly from Heathrow, Gatwick, Manchester or Edinburgh to Doha, before joining a flight to Abeid Amani Karume International Airport, Zanzibar.
Emirates flights to Zanzibar also go via the Middle East, providing a great opportunity to include a Dubai stopover in your holiday. As well as London and Manchester, the UAE’s flag carrier flies from several UK regional airports, including Newcastle, Birmingham and Glasgow. Flying to Zanzibar via the Middle East typically takes 14 or 15 hours.
ZanAir operates mainland Tanzania to Zanzibar flights, with Arusha Airport the closest domestic hub to the Serengeti or northern circuit and Dar es Salam Airport tothe Selous Game Reserve or Ruaha National Park.
If you can almost feel the sun on your face or sand between your toes, get in touch today with our friendly team to plan your holiday to Zanzibar.
With FREEDOM you can book everything in one place; flights, hotels, experiences, mainland safaris and more, with full ATOL protection for your piece of mind.
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