Over the last century, Dar es Salaam has transformed from a sleepy Zaramo fishing village into a thriving metropolis of over four million people (and growing). There are also excellent craft markets and restaurants, and nearby sandy beaches and islands. The city’s architecture is a mix of African, Arab, Indian and German, although much of this is now dwarfed by towering high-rises that reflect Dar’s rising prosperity in the golden-hued sunsets shimmering off their glass exteriors. Many travellers bypass ‘Dar’ completely; those that stick around will be rewarded by the city’s eclectic cultural mix and down-to-earth vibe.
What to do in Dar es Salaam for 24h to 48h?
Places of Interest
National Museum & House of Culture
The National Museum houses a copy of the famous fossil discoveries of zinjanthropus (nutcracker man) from Olduvai Gorge, plus other archaeological finds. Wander through the History Room and ethnographic collection for insights into Tanzania’s past and its mosaic of cultures, including the Shirazi civilisation of Kilwa, the Zanzibar slave trade, and the German and British colonial periods.
This open-air museum features a collection of authentically constructed dwellings illustrating traditional life in various parts of Tanzania.
Azania Front Lutheran Church
A striking edifice, with a red-roofed belfry overlooking the water, and a rather stern Gothic interior, this is one of the city’s major landmarks.
This bronze statue, dedicated to Africans killed in WWI, is now a favourite haunt of street touts and dubious moneychangers.
Where to Eat?
Chapan’s Gujurati dhoklas (savoury steamed chickpea cakes), south Indian dosas (fermented crepes) and thalis are a vegetarian nirvana in a sea of nyama choma (roasted meat). The all-vegetarian menu is extensive, and the restaurant has a prime position on temple-lined Kisutu St.
Mamboz Corner BBQ
Makers of Dar’s best grilled chicken, including spicy gujarr chicken, lemon chicken, chicken sekela (with tamarind sauce), dry fried fish and bowls of Zanzibar mix.
Where to Shop?
At this excellent workshop, disabled artists create world-class jewellery, sculptures, candles, stationery and other crafts from old glass, metal, car parts and other recycled materials.
This excellent centre is at the spot where Edward Saidi Tingatinga originally marketed his designs, and it’s still one of the best places to buy Tingatinga paintings and to watch the artists at work.
Sea Cliff Village
An upmarket shopping mall set around a garden courtyard. There are several restaurants, a supermarket, a secure children’s play area and a selection of shops, including a number of jewellers selling Tanzanites.
Nightlife in Dar es Salaam!
Level 8 Bar
The Hyatt’s chic rooftop bar has wonderful views over the harbour, lounge seating and live music some evenings.
This is a popular place for sundowners with prime sunset views. Meals are also available.