There is no need to fork out a small fortune to enjoy the pleasures of Zanzibar. Walking, swimming, sunbathing, exploring markets and learning about history can all come for free if you know where to look. Here is how to make the most of your time in Zanzibar without denting your bank balance. Did you know – Culture Trip now does bookable, small-group trips? Pick from authentic, immersive Epic Trips, compact and action-packed Mini Trips and sparkling, expansive Sailing Trips.
Grab a spot on the sand
The eastern and northern shores of Zanzibar are home to amazing beaches with white sand and calm azure waters. Although there are no private beaches on the island, it can be difficult to find the most beautiful spots unless you’re staying at a beach resort. These resorts offer even day-trippers direct access to their stunning shorelines. Some great beaches that are easily accessible include Paje, Bwejuu, Matemwe and Kizimkazi.
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Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
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Get the party started
Situated in the north of Zanzibar, Kendwa Beach is not only gorgeous but also boasts bars and restaurants serving everything from cocktails to curries. Things get even more lively here around the time of full moon, when party-goers can be seen dancing the night away. Kendwa’s renowned full moon parties are free and open to everyone, taking place on whichever Saturday happens to be closest to a full moon. An electric atmosphere, pumping music and a party that lasts until dawn are just some of the ingredients that make up this unforgettable experience.
Get your window shopping fix
If there is one thing that Zanzibar is definitely not short of, it is colourful outdoor markets. The wide range of spices, fruits, vegetables, fabric and craft work displayed proudly are a sight to see. Even if you don’t want to spend any money, just roaming around these bustling markets and taking in the lively atmosphere can cheer anyone up! If you’re hungry afterwards, make your way to Forodhani Gardens, the ever-popular evening food market.
Visit the Mangapwani caves
The Mangapwani Coral Cave, along with the slave chamber, is a deep natural cavern in the coral-lined rock. The square-shaped rock cell was originally built for holding slaves. Although most visitors explore these caves through an organised tour, it is also possible to make a solo visit. Although the cave has a narrow entrance that can be accessed by a staircase, the slave chamber is more difficult to reach, so those who want to check this out are advised to find a guide. Also keep in mind that exiting the cave is tricky and requires a bit of athletic effort.
Soak in the fishing vibe
While Chwaka Bay is most often visited by tourists en route to Jozani Forest, which requires an entrance fee, you can enjoy this beautiful fishing village for free. So instead of heading off into the forest to observe colobus monkeys, grab a front row seat along the stunning shoreline. Watch weather-beaten fishermen ply their trade as the sea breeze carries forward the salty smell of freshly caught fish. Tip: there are plenty of monkeys in Chwaka, too, so visitors have a good chance of spotting some without coughing up the entrance fee.
Walk around the city by yourself
Zanzibar is a relatively small island with only about five main roads that all lead back to the main town. This makes self exploration, without a guide, very much possible. The inner city of Stone Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the cultural and historical heart of the city. Spend a few hours to explore the labyrinthine alleys that wind between ancient buildings and feature a blend of Arabic, African, Indian and European architectural influences.
Fill up on the feel-good drug
Even science backs up the healing power of sunlight! Heliotherapy, as it is known, relies on Vitamin D as a crucial element in the process of healing and maintaining of skin health – and Zanzibar has heaps of this happy drug! Year-round tropical weather means plenty of sun and this translates to every excuse to get out and bask in the rays. Of course, taking the usual precautions is strongly advised, such as using ample amounts of sunscreen, drinking lots of water, and staying away from the rays between the peak hours of 10 am and 3 pm. Remember: working towards a slow glow is better than a painful skin peel!
Interact with the locals
The sunny and affable outlook of most Tanzanian people means that it is very easy to get to know the them. Better yet, these informal interactions have no time (or money) requirement and are usually spontaneous and genuine. The youth of the country is passionate about football, so taking a ball down to the beach can be a great icebreaker if you want to make some new friends!
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meet our Local Insider
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WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
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I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
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Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.