Here’s a list of the 15 best things to do in Dar es Salaam (Tanzania), along with famous landmarks, museums, and other points of interest.
St Joseph’s Cathedral
St Joseph’s Cathedral is located right on the scenic waterfront of Dar es Salaam’s city center. This elegant church is definitely one of the religious and architectural highlights of the city and shouldn’t be missed.
The church was built in a Gothic style of architecture by Germans at the beginning of the 20th century. The catholic church is known for its fantastic stained glass windows and for being the seat of the archdiocese of Dar es Salaam.
Kariakoo Market is a huge trading center that spans several city blocks. The market’s central building is quite impressive due to its interesting shape and was opened in 1974.
The market is the most important center for the city’s food provision but is also important as a trading hub for other goods like household items, clothes, and electronics. Coming here is a very intense experience as the Kariakoo Market is extremely busy, crowded, and chaotic.
The Askari Monument is located in a roundabout and serves as a reminder of the African soldiers that died while fighting alongside the British Carrier Corps during the First World War.
This statue is made out of bronze and is surrounded by a small garden. Due to the Askari Monument’s central location, visitors can easily visit it while going on a walk along the waterfront or in the city center.
Mwenge Woodcarvers Market
Mwenge Woodcarvers Market is the best place in Dar es Salaam to pick up souvenirs or gifts. There is a huge array of local handicrafts found here and many of the items on offers are very artistic like the typical wooden masks that are so popular here.
The Mwenge Woodcarvers Market is a treasure trove not just for wood carvings but also for traditional jewelry, fabrics, and much more. The atmosphere at this market is much more relaxed compared to other African markets and no one is going to hassle you too much to buy at their shop.
That being said, you still need to bring some bargaining skills to get good prices. And don’t be shy, it’s part of the local culture.
National Museum of Dar Es Salaam
The National Museum of Dar Es Salaam can be found right next to the city’s botanical gardens. It was established in 1934 and is dedicated to the history of the country and features a large selection of archaeological discoveries.
Particularly interesting is the collection dedicated to the state of Kilwa Kisiwani (a medieval state ruling the islands off the Tanzanian mainland).
National Museum of Dar Es Salaam also showcases more recent history including German and British rule, which makes it a great place to understand the roots of modern-day Tanzania.
Kivukoni Fish Market
Due to Dar es Salaam’s location right at the shores of the Indian Ocean, there are many fish markets found across the city. The most popular one being the Kivukoni Fish Market (also called Mzizima Fish Market), located right on the Indian Ocean.
The array of seafood found here is incredible and you will have likely never seen many of the curious species on offer here before. Of course, the market is quite chaotic and the hygienic conditions are questionable but that doesn’t take away anything from the remarkable experience of visiting the Kivukoni Fish Market.
The Village Museum is located north of the city center and offers many traditionally constructed village huts. The dwellings represent different parts and cultures within Tanzania.
All the houses also feature typical household items and basic furniture typically used in rural Tanzania. Several times a week tribal dance performances are held here and there are also live demonstrations of weaving, pottery, and wood carving on display.
Of course, the people demonstrating these traditional skills are not the actual villagers living here but the experience is interesting nonetheless.
Dar es Salaam’s Temple Road is a great place for some relaxed walks. The Temple Road and its surroundings are inhabited by members of a large community of people from India.
And there are Hindu temples, Indian restaurants, meditation centers, and even yoga venues here. Walking through the neighborhood almost feels like strolling through New Delhi or Mumbai.
Coco Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in Dar es Salaam. It is located a few kilometers north of the city center and offers beautiful turquoise waters, golden sand, and plenty of relaxation.
The beach offers many restaurants right on the sand which offer delicious seafood. Other than during sunset and later afternoon the beach is relatively empty and never gets too crowded. Horse riding along the beach is available here as well.
Bongoyo Island is a tropical paradise just a few kilometers off the coast of Dar es Salaam. The island is part of a marine reserve and strictly protected ensuring the natural beauty of the island is conserved.
Many travel agencies in Dar es Salaam organize boat trips to the island. Keep in mind that overnighting is not possible as there are no hotels or other accommodation options here. The only infrastructure the island offers is a small restaurant.
Wellworth Kunduchi Wet ‘N’ Wild Water Park
Wellworth Kunduchi Wet ‘N’ Wild Water Park is the largest of its kind in all of east and central Africa and offers hours of fun and adventure right at the shores of the Indian Ocean.
It is quite a drive to get from the city center to the park as it is located around 25 km north but once you made it here you will realize it was well worth it as there is a great choice of water slides and pools found here.
You can also combine a visit to the Wellworth Kunduchi Wet ‘N’ Wild Water Park with some beach fun as it only takes a few minutes on foot to reach a long stretch of sand.
Azania Front Lutheran Church
Azania Front Lutheran Church is a beautiful Gothic church built at the end of the 19th century. It was constructed by German missionaries and is known for its lovely red-roofed belfry. And these days, it’s a landmark of Christianity in Dar es Salaam.
The church is located right on the waterfront of the city’s center and features a fantastic handmade organ. Church services are held in English at 9 am each Sunday.
Mikumi National Park
The Mikumi National Park has a size of 3,230 km2 and is one of the most impressive national parks in Tanzania. Large populations of zebras, giraffes, elephants, and buffaloes live here amongst other African animals.
Even though the park is around 150 km west of Dar es Salaam it is a great destination for (multi) day trips. There are many great tour packages on offer that combine safaris with accommodation.
If you always wanted to take part in a typical African safari the Mikumi National Park is just the place for you.
Tinga Tinga Cooperative Arts Center
Dar es Salaam is a hotspot for African art and offers many exciting art galleries. One of the most interesting and popular is the Tinga Tinga Cooperative Arts Center which showcases the Tinga Tinga painting style which was established in the 1960s.
But there are also other contemporary and modern African artworks presented here which makes the art center a very diverse place to discover.
Not only that, many of the contributing artists can be met here, and buying something directly from the artists is a lot more personal and rewarding than buying from market vendors.
Want more recommendations on things to do in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania? Leave a comment below!