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- 23 Jun 2021, 3 nights
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Dar es Salaam went from rustic fishing village to Tanzania's biggest city in just 100 years. This swelling metropolis swirls with African, Arabic and European influences and everyday life moves to the leisurely rhythm of the Indian Ocean lapping on powder-soft sandy bays. It's these beaches that initially draw visitors to Dar es Salaam but it's the eclectic markets, museums and Taarab, a Swahili music that blends tribal and Arabic styles, that you'll remember.
You can stay in a Dar es Salaam hostel that has a burger bar shaded by palm leaves or hang out by an outdoor pool surrounded by colourful murals. Choose to sleep in a thatched hut or in a suite with your own kitchen. Both dorms and private rooms are available, and you'll have access to free Wi-Fi in most Dar es Salaam hostels. Many also have free breakfast and some organise day trips to sights outside the city.
The old colonial centre of Dar es Salaam is a popular neighbourhood that still has examples of German architecture, conveniently close to the water's edge at Kivukoni Front. A short walk west is the Kariakoo Market, a vast maze of stalls where everything and anything is for sale. For upmarket eateries and nightlife head to Oyster Bay and the Masaki Peninsula – Coco Beach is the place to go for lovers of sun, sand and seafood. On the southwestern edge of Dar es Salaam, you can hike through tropical jungle in the Pugu Hills Forest Reserve.
Sights in this culturally diverse city are varied. On Sundays stop by the Gothic St Joseph's Cathedral to hear the choir sing. To learn about rural Tanzania, the Village Museum has reconstructions of tribal villages and music performances. You can shop for crafts at Mwenge Woodcarver's Market (look out for artisan workshops) or brave the bustle of Kivukoni Fish Market just to see the sheer variety of seafood on offer. Mbudya Island is ideal for a day of white sands and cocktails, while Udzungwa Mountains National Park offers trekking and waterfalls.
Fly to Julius Nyerere International Airport to reach Dar es Salaam. It's then a 40-minute bus ride to the centre. If you're travelling on to a destination in East Africa coaches leave Ubungo Bus Station for Nairobi and Mombasa (Kenya), Kampala (Uganda), and Lusaka (Zambia). The bus station is connected to the city centre by the DART Transit System – which is also useful for getting around the city. Ferries for Mbudya Island leave from Dar es Salaam’s harbour.