It is the largest and most important city in Tanzania: Dar es Salaam. From a sleeping fishing village, it has been able to transform itself into a tropical metropolis, with four million inhabitants and interesting attractions.
The architecture of Dar es Salaam is an extraordinary mix of African, Arab, Indian and German influences. And its location on the Indian Ocean gives it an exotic air, between dreamy beaches and skyscrapers, paradisiacal islands and trendy clubs.
However, to experience the authentic heart of Dar es Salaam, you need to go to Kivukoni Fish Market, its fish market. This is the best place to witness the fusion of cultures, and to “do business” in a traditional Tanzanian environment: here you can take pictures of fishermen who unload fish along the docks, but you need to have a strong stomach given the smells and hundreds of gutted fish. If you want to buy sculptures or handicrafts instead, it is better to opt for the equally traditional Mwenge Woodcarvers Market (open every day from 9.00 to 17.00).
What to see in Dar es Salaam, the largest city in Tanzania
City aside – with its monuments and museums (don’t miss the National Museum and House of Culture, the ideal place to learn more about Tanzanian culture) – in Dar es Salaam you come to see the islands and the beaches. Mbduya Island is perfect for a relaxing escape, and to spend a few days in the white sand, turquoise water and fabulous sea cuisine. It can be reached from the port of the city and – once there – you can dedicate yourself to snorkelling or relax in the shade of the cabanas.
Or you can head to the Bongoyo Island marine reserve, known for its beautiful beaches and snorkelling possibilities at the coral reef, just twenty meters from the shore. To reach it, go to the Slipway Center and pay a fee for a full day trip, aboard a boat that – in half an hour – leads up to its shores. The landscape in front of it is spectacular, even if it does not have the glamour of Zanzibar.
Because after all Dar es Salaam is this: a city to devote a couple of days as a starting point to explore the beautiful and peaceful islands of the surroundings, where tourism has not arrived yet.
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