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Know Before You Go
- If you're visiting Zanzibar during Ramadan, aim to visit at the end. There is a huge feast called Eid al-Fitr, and it's an excellent way to experience the island's culture and traditions.
- Not a fan of travelling in small planes? Instead of flying from Tanzania to Zanzibar, take a ferry. Tickets cost between TZS 60,000 to TZS 65,000, and it takes about 75 minutes to reach the island.
- Zanzibar doesn't keep time in the same way. The Islanders start counting time at sunrise rather than midnight. This means that when it's 7:00 a.m. Western time, it's only 1:00 a.m. Swahili time.
- Stone Town is a UNESCO cultural heritage site, but it's also a maze. Don't worry if you get lost, enjoy getting off the beaten track and when you need to get back ask the locals to point you in the right direction.
- Zanzibar's best snorkelling spot is on Chumbe Island. While it is one of the more expensive day trips, the money goes back into maintaining the fragile and beautiful ecosystems.
Getting Around Zanzibar
- The cheapest way to get around Zanzibar is with the dala-dala. It costs TZS 3,300 per person to travel from the north to east or south coast.
- There are also shared taxis that you can take around the island. The ones around Stone Town cost TZS 22,300, and a minibus taxi to any coastal area will set you back TZS 111,900.
- If you want to rent your own car, make sure you choose a company that has excellent reviews. It's important that the cars are regularly serviced as it will be up to you to fix the car if anything happens.
- If you're on a budget, it's cheaper to pick your car up at the airport. Transfers to your hotel are expensive as you'll have to cover the cost of petrol and the driver.
When is The Best Time to Visit Zanzibar?
One of the best times to visit Zanzibar is from June to October. The temperatures are cool, and there is little chance of a tropical shower ruining your outdoor activities.
If you are visiting Zanzibar for a diving holiday, October is the best time to visit. The ocean is at its calmest and crowds are at a minimum. The diving high season is from July to September and December to January, so book in advance if you're travelling over these months.
The cheapest time to visit the island is from March to May. It's the rainy season, and hotel rates fall by 20%. You'll also be able to find low prices on airfare, making it a good option for budget travellers who don't mind the occasional downpours at night. The island is also quieter during this time of year, so you'll have the top attractions all to yourself.
Zanzibar's high season is during its long dry season. From June to October, temperatures are warm with perfect sunny island weather. But you'll need to book accommodation a few weeks in advance and budget for the increase in prices.
Airports in Zanzibar
Abeid Amani Karume International Airport
Abeid Amani Karume is the main airport that serves the Zanzibar Archipelago. It's 5 km from the city centre and operates flights to East Africa, Europe and the Middle East. 18 different airlines fly to and from the airport, and it's a hub for the regional carrier ZanAir.
Getting To and From Abeid Amani Karume International Airport
There are no public buses or trains that connect the airport to the city. Your only options are to take a taxi to your hotel or rent a car.
The taxi rank is outside the arrivals terminal, and there is a set list of prices for destinations around the island. A cab to the north, east or south coast costs around TZS 134,300 but the ride will be cheaper if you book ahead. If you're feeling up to haggling, you can try to negotiate with the driver for a lower price as well.
The car rental companies are not located at the airport. You'll need to take a taxi to transfer from the arrivals terminal to the rental stands.