If Dar es Salaam's (Dar's) busy central streets and colourful, exotic markets assault your senses, don't worry. Sip a Serengeti beer as you watch traditional wooden dhow sailing boats glide past sleek modern hydrofoils from a harbourside cafe. Better still, escape to a palm tree-fringed Indian Ocean beach. When you've acclimatised, delve into Kariakoo market, stroll around the Botanical Gardens or learn more about Dar's history at the Village Museum.
Formerly known as Mzizima (healthy place), Dar es Salaam (or Dar to the locals) means 'abode of peace'. Tanzania's largest city is a major Indian Ocean port, set on a large, natural harbour with a narrow entrance. Dar grew in importance in the late 1880s when the German East Africa Company established operations there. Now high-rise office blocks jostle with red-tiled colonial buildings many built by the Germans in the city centre. Long-term sea trading relations have brought many Arabic and Indian shops and restaurants. Outside the centre, newer neighbourhoods sprawl. Escape the traffic and wander along leafy avenues, particularly near the Botanical Gardens. There are good beaches to the north and south of the city.
See history, including two-million-year-old exhibits from Olduvai Gorge, at the National Museum. Wander through the lush tropical flora at the Botanical Gardens then shop for crafts at the Nyumba ya Sanaa arts centre. You'll gain insight into tribal Tanzania at its Village Museum. The swaying palm trees on the white sands of South Beach, are just a ferry ride away on the Kigamboni peninsula.
See the early morning action at Kivukoni fish market. Take a trip to Bagamoyo, once the capital of German East Africa, and see the 13th-century Kaole Islamic ruins. Watch wooden dhow sailing boats being built there and unwind on its beach. Pop over to exotic Zanzibar to snorkel, dive, or join a spice tour. You're expected to haggle over everything from textiles to tropical fruit at Dar es Salaam's huge Kariakoo Market.