Dar es Salaam
Dar es Salaam, Arabic for “abode of peace,” houses many spectacular tourist attractions, but the best place to start is at the Village Museum. Located 10 km from the city, this museum showcases 16 huts, each representing one of Tanzania’s major tribes. Explore these traditional dwellings and artefacts, observe tribal dances, and partake in other cultural activities and customs of the Tanzanian people.
St. Joseph Cathedral, built in 1902, is the seat of the archdiocese of Dar es Salaam and is a beautiful example of Gothic architecture well worth the visit. Another unique tourist attraction is the evangelical Azania Front Cathedral, which was built between 1899 and 1902 by German missionaries and is known for its red-tiled roof and tower. The State House, where the current President of Tanzania has his seat, is another historical building worth checking out. Don’t miss the Askari Monument either – a bronze statue representing an askari soldier in uniform pointing the bayonet of his rifle to the harbour. This monument, with Swahili and English inscriptions, commemorates the African troops who fought against the German army in East Africa during World War I.
Mbudya Island, part of the Dar es Salaam Marine Reserve, is another place of historical importance. Treat yourself to freshly grilled seafood on its white sandy beach and take the opportunity to swim in the beautiful water. Nearby, you’ll find Bongoyo Island – home to various species of sea urchins, starfish, anemone, clown fish, and angelfish.
Head back to town and enjoy the warm weather and more delicious food before heading to your next stop. If you have time, check out other tourist attractions in Dar es Salaam like Oyster Bay, the Botanical Garden, the Kivukoni Fish Market, and the Kunduchi Water Park.
Stay here in a single room for €19 per night.
Take a bus for about €15 from Dar es Salaam to Tanga, where both the Saadani National Park and Mkomazi National Park await you. Mkomazi National Park, located between the West Usambara Mountains, Pare Mountains, and the Kenyan Tsavo National Park, is home to various plant and animal species such as hippos, crocodiles, and zebras, as well as rare animals once considered extinct, such as the black rhino.
The Saadani National Park is quite impressive and is the only park in East Africa that can boast sharing a coast with the Indian Ocean. Explore the nearby Amboni Caves with legends of witchcraft, extinct animals, ancient paintings, and many mysterious stories from the past. You can see where these mystical stories got their origins, as the Amboni are the most extensive naturally formed limestone caves in East Africa, boasting beautiful and seemingly supernatural stalactites and stalagmites. This historic location is best explored with a local guide who can tell you more about the caves’ history.
The Tongoni ruins, located 17km south of Tanga, are also worth exploring. Before the Portuguese disrupted the trade routes, it had the largest collection of Shiraz tombs in East Africa. All that is left of this once prosperous town is a mosque and some 40 tombs from the 14th and 15th centuries.
Afterwards, relax at Tanga’s beaches and unwind in the turquoise water in the midst of palm trees and other historical monuments.
If you enjoy climbing, scale the Usambara Mountains, a biodiversity hotspot where you can enjoy the beauty of nature with its soundtrack of birdsong, waterfalls, and trees dancing in the wind. Around the village, you can also go cycling and hiking and take long, tranquil walks in this peaceful part of the country.
Sleep in Tanga in a double room for €18 per night.
Catch a bus for €8 from Tanga to the picturesque city of Arusha. Visit the Declaration Museum, which commemorates the 1967 declaration by then-president Julius Nyerere, and explore the Meserani Snake Park with its great variety of serpents and other reptiles.
You can also visit the Maasai Cultural Museum and learn about the locals’ traditional way of life. The Maasai village is located on Dodoma Road, 25km west of Arusha. The best way to get there is by taking a camel ride from the snake park. Afterwards, visit the Natural History Museum and check out the wing dedicated to human evolution – undoubtedly one of the most interesting parts of the museum.
Take a food tour, learn how to cook the region’s most characteristic dishes, and visit popular restaurants like Khan's BBQ, Hot Plate, and The Blue Heron. Pearl necklaces, clothing and other accessories are for sale at Shanga Gift and Workshop, and the best local handicrafts (the perfect souvenirs!) can be bought in Schwari.
The main highlight of this area is definitely Mount Kilimanjaro – climb it with the help of a guide or just enjoy the impressive view from a safe distance.
The city offers good accommodation for €17 per night in a six-bed dorm.
You can get to this port city by bus for about €15. Keep in mind that you’ll need a few days to see everything, so plan enough time. Take a boat trip on Lake Victoria and marvel at the sheer expanse of the water while feeling the wind in your face. Hang out with the locals and dine at swanky restaurants near the shoreline. Chances are this famous lake outing will be the highlight of your trip.
Mwanza was given the nickname Rock City, as it’s surrounded by hills and unusual rock formations. Check out one of the most famous of these formations – Bismarck Rock – and have a picnic at one of the nearby parks. Explore Saa Nane National Park and come face to face with impalas, giraffes, and monkeys. If you want to get some shopping in, then head to the Maasai market, which sells local handicrafts, handmade jewellery, medicinal remedies, and artwork showcasing Mwanza’s culture.
In Bujora village, you can learn more about the locals’ way of life at the Sukuma Museum – an open-air museum founded by a missionary priest with a round church and royal pavilion that highlights the majority of Sukuma traditions.
Stay a bit longer in Mwanza and check out Rubondo Island National Park and take a safari tour to Serengeti and Ngorongoro – they’re definitely worth your time.
In Mwanza, you can get a single room for €9 per night.
Continue by bus (for about €18) to get to Kigoma. Spend a few days in town to relax and meet the locals. Snorkel in Lake Tanganyika, Kigoma’s main attraction, and admire the colourful variety of fish and aquatic creatures. Don't forget to put on sunscreen, though, as the sun is quite strong here. Explore Gombe National Park and meet some of mankind’s closest relatives: chimpanzees. Gombe National Park may be one of Tanzania’s smallest parks, but it is world famous.
The best time to visit is in the summer, when the ground is dry. Watch the sunset on Bangwe Beach after visiting one of the continent’s oldest markets in the village of Ujiji, famous for its ivory trade. This village is also the site of the meeting between Stanley and Livingstone, where the immortal words “Dr Livingstone, I presume?” were first uttered in 1871. Learn more about this history at the Livingstone Museum and Memorial. At the end of your trip, you’ll have worked up an appetite so be sure to try pilau and other yummy local dishes.
For accommodation, splurge on a single room for €31 per night.
Afterwards, return to Dar es Salaam to relax for another day and do some last-minute souvenir shopping.