Dar es Salaam Travel Guide

The Best of Dar es Salaam – What To See, Do & Buy

Often overlooked or passed-through on the way to Indian Ocean islands and wildebeest migrations, Dar es Salaam is a fascinating destination in its own right for those that spend a little time getting to know it. The city’s medley of Arabic, African, Indian, British and German influences have all left a mark on culture, cuisine and architecture, creating a city that is diverse as it is compelling. 

What was a fishing village a little over a century ago, is now Tanzania’s largest city. As the country’s hub of commerce and transport, one of the major ports on the continent and one of the fastest growing cities in the world, it is little surprise that the Dar skyline has risen upwards and the city has expanded outwards to house more than 4 million people.  

Even as the city grows, the fishing village charm of Dar es Salaam can still be seen, with the dhows that fill the fish market, the women wearing kitenge and kanga, the bajaji and boda-boda zipping through narrow roadways and the spices and coffee.  Dar es Salaam might not have the picture-perfect appeal of Zanzibar’s Stone Town, the peaks of Kilimanjaro or the wildlife of the Serengeti, but scratch below the surface and you’ll discover a truly one-of-a-kind city. 

Our Dar es Salaam Travel Guide is designed to point you in the direction of some of the best attractions in and around the city, while our Tanzania Visitors Guide gives you the basics on money, visas, safety, getting around and more.

A Brief History

The modern city dates back to 1862 when the Sultan of Zanzibar, Sultan Majid bin Said began the transformation from the fishing village of Mzizima into a harbour town named it Dar es Salaam or ‘house of peace’. The fledgling town saw a brief decline until The German East Africa Company arrived in the 1880s and growth boomed. Indian traders meanwhile had become well established adding to the flair of the city. Post Great War the British took control and the city started to see a more formal distinction of cultural groups, with pockets of Colonial Europeans and Africans. Colonial rule was replaced with independence in 1961 and in1964 Zanzibar joined with the Tanganyika to form Tanzania. 

As the nation’s capital until the mid 1970’s, Dar es Salaam continues to remain integral to trade, commerce and even governance, while the full transfer to Dodoma (the new capital completed in 1996) grows into its new role.