Dar es Salaam Travel Guide

Shutterstock / UrosrDar es Salaam, meaning 'haven of peace' in Arabic, is far from peaceful these days but, by African standards at least, is a relatively relaxed, unassuming yet atmospheric city. It's hardly a hive of activity for tourists - there are a handful of local museums, art
galleries and craft markets to visit, and some interesting architecture
of the 'faded colonial grandeur' category alongside mosques, an attractive Lutheran church and a Roman Catholic cathedral that dominate the harbour front. But, with a rapidly increasing population estimated at 4 million, it is a thriving port, business centre and administrative base for the country (even though its status of capital city was removed in 1973), and you could do far worse than spend a couple of days here simply watching urban Tanzanian life go by. People are relaxed and friendly, the main sights of the city centre are easily walkable and it's home to some excellent international-standard hotels and restaurants.

The city dates from 1857 and was successively under the control of Zanzibar, Germany and Britain before self-determination in 1961, with all these influences leaving their mark on its character. During German occupation in the early 20th century, it was the centre of colonial administration and the main contact point between the agricultural mainland and the world of trade and commerce in the Indian Ocean and the Swahili Coast. Today, the ocean provides a sparkling backdrop to the city, with everything from small fishing boats to cruise liners and tankers visiting the port. And should the urban bustle prove too much, nearby beaches to the north and south of town provide an easy escape. Further afield, Dar is the main springboard for ferries or flights to the islands of Zanzibar, Pemba and Mafia and to game parks across the country.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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