Looking for the best attractions in Dar es Salaam? The name, haven of peace, in Arabic, was more fitting for Dar when it was a quiet fishing village than for the busy city it is now. Still, travelers love Dar es Salaam for its location by the sea and its mix of African, Arabic, and Indian cultures, which gives it a unique feel. The city’s architecture is influenced by Swahili, German, Asian, and British styles. Below are the top attractions in Dar es Salaam to include on your bucket list.
Top 10 things to do in Dar es Salaam
1. National Museum and House of Culture Dar es Salaam
The National Museum & House of Culture was started in 1940 as a memorial to King George V. It takes visitors on a trip through Tanzania’s rich history. The Leakey digs at Olduvai Gorge turned up important fossils of several of the earliest human ancestors. The National Museum of Tanzania is one of the best attractions in Dar es Salaam that you should visit.
Visitors can learn about Tanzania’s tribal history and how the slave trade and colonial times affected the country. Additionally, the museum features ethnographic exhibitions of traditional arts and crafts, customs, ornaments, and musical equipment.
Visit the National Museum of Tanzania website.
2. Village Museum Dar es Salaam
The Village Museum Dar es Salaam is about nine kilometers north of the city center. It displays traditional homes from some of Tanzania’s 120 ethnic groups. Visitors can walk through 15 acres of replicas of tribal homesteads and watch local artists paint, weave, carve, and do other traditional things. The museum also has Ngoma, dances from different tribes, and other cultural events.
For the Village Museum Dar es Salaam entrance fee call: +255 22 270 0437
3. Askari Monument
The Askari Monument is made of bronze and shows an Askari (soldier) in a World War I uniform with his rifle’s bayonet pointing toward the nearby harbor. The monument is a way to remember the African troops who fought in World War I as a portion of the Carrier Corps. Look for writing in English and Swahili by the famous British author and poet Rudyard Kipling.
4. The Old Boma
Old Boma is the oldest building in Dar es Salaam. It was built between 1866 and 1867 by the Sultan of Zanzibar, Majid Bin Said. It was built so that the Sultan’s guests could stay there. The Sultan’s palace was right next door. Inside, a carved wooden door from Zanzibar and coral walls make it stand out.
5. St. Joseph Cathedral Dar es Salaam
This Roman Catholic Church in the Gothic style was built by German missionaries from 1897 to 1902. It is the largest building on the Dar es Salaam harbor front. It has a shingled spire, a vaulted interior, and stained-glass windows that make it stand out. Many German writings and works of art are in the cathedral, such as a carved relief just above the main altar. It is where the archdiocese of Dar es Salaam is based.
For more information about this Roman Catholic Church in Tanzania visit their Facebook page.
6. The Botanical Gardens
The Botanical Gardens were started in 1893 by Professor Stuhlmann, the first Director of Agriculture. They are home to the Dar es Salaam Horticultural Society. They were used for testing various types of plantation crops and tree species.
Today, people who like to garden can see a beautiful mix of native and foreign plants, such as purple bougainvillea, blue jacaranda, scarlet flame trees, and red hibiscus. Even though the gardens are only a small part of what they used to be, they are one of the few places outside Seychelles where you can see the beautiful coco-de-mer palm tree.
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7. Azania Front Lutheran Church
It was created in 1898 by German missionaries. The red-tiled bell tower rises above the surrounding roofs, and the whitewashed construction remains one of Dar es Salaam’s most famous landmarks. The tiled canopies over the windows give shade, and the gardens are a nice place for tired tourists to relax. Azania was once the center of the first German mission in the 1800s. It is now the cathedral again for the diocese.
For more about the history of Azania Lutheran Church visit their website.
8. State House
When it was first built in the late 1800s, the German Governor lived in the State House. After World War I, the British almost destroyed the State House and had to rebuild it in 1922. They added scalloped upper-story arches and a crenelated parapet. The President of Tanzania now lives in the State House. Even though the building is closed to the public, it stands out along the harbor.
9. Mbudya Island
The beautiful Mbudya Island in the Dar es Salaam Marine reserve seems a world away from the busy roads of downtown Dar es Salaam. A Mbudya Island Day trip may include doing the Mbudya Island snorkeling activity and many other water activities. It is only 10 minutes by motorboat from Kunduchi. People who want some sun come to this island to lay out on its white-sand beaches, snorkel, and swim in its turquoise waters. On the beach, you can rent bandas thatched huts, and people sell fresh seafood cooked on the grill and cold drinks. You could struggle between making a decision about where to go between Mbudya Island vs Bongoyo Island below.
10. Bongoyo Island
Bongoyo Island is a popular place to get away from the city. It is about four miles north of the city, near Msasani Peninsula. Day-trippers can relax on the white-sand beach under thatched umbrellas or swim in the clear water on the island’s northwest tip. Among the coral, snorkelers might see angelfish, starfish, clownfish, and sea urchins, among other sea creatures.
Behind the beach, trails lead through the baobab trees to the other side of the island. The snack bar is outside and serves cold drinks and fresh seafood on the grill. Of the four islands in the Dar es Salaam Marine Reserve, considering the number of people that booking the Bongoyo Island ferry, Bongoyo may be the one people visit the most.