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Dar Es Salaam

Dar Es Salaam is the largest city and former capital of Tanzania and very vibrant! It is an important economic centre, major port and one of the fastest growing cities in the world.

History of Dar Es Salaam

The sultan of Zanzibar founded Dar Es Salaam in 1862 on the site of the village of Mzizima. The name means “Place of Peace” in Arabic. First the city remained only a small port until the German East Africa Company established a station there in 1887. Then with the starting point for the Central Line railroad, it served as the capital of German East Africa from 1891–1916.

Buildings in Dar Es Salaam often reflect the city’s colonial past and show a rich mix of architectural styles. They  include Swahili, British, German, and Asian traditions. But after the 2nd world war the city saw modernization and expansion with modern multi-storey buildings. It’s natural, nearly landlocked harbour is the outlet for most of mainland Tanzania’s agricultural and mineral exports. In addition it serves the nearby land-locked countries. Furthermore it is Tanzania’s most prominent city in arts, fashion, media, music, film and television and is a leading financial centre.

Dar as tourist destination

With its beautiful harbour, stunning beaches, and thriving nightlife, the city has become a popular tourist destination. And the city has one of the largest market in East Africa, modern shopping malls and delicious local restaurants. In addition it also offers the opportunity to enjoy the beautiful sandy beaches that can be found on the quiet coastline to the north and south of the city. Here you can enjoy a refreshing drink and the azure blue ocean. There is something for everyone!

Dar es Salaam International Airport serves both domestic and international flights. This makes the city the leading arrival and departure point for most tourists who visit Tanzania, including the national parks for safaris and the islands.

Places to visit in Dar Es Salaam

  • The National Museum of Tanzania shows exhibits about the history and natural environment of Tanzania.
  • The Askari Monument in Dar es Salaam located at the center of a roundabout on Samora Avenue. It is a memorial to the askari soldiers who fought in the British Carrier Corps in World War I.
  • The Azania Front Lutheran Church is a Lutheran church is among the most well-known landmarks and tourist attractions of the city and was built by the German missionaries in 1898.
  • The Saint Joseph’s Metropolitan Cathedral is a Roman Catholic cathedral is a Gothic church that was built by the Germans between 1897 and 1902 and consecrated as a Catholic church in 1905.
  • The Old Boma is one of the city’s oldest buildings and was built in 1866-67 by Majid bin Said, sultan of Zanzibar, close to his palace.
  • The Uhuru Monument is a landmark monument and tourist attraction. It is a white obelisk with a replica of the Uhuru Torch mounted at its top.
  • Kunduchi Ruins include the remnants of a late 15th-century mosque as well as Arabic graves from the 18th or 19th centuries, with some well-preserved pillar tombs plus some more recent graves.
Dar es Salaam Saint Joseph's Metropolitan Cathedral

Dar Es Salaam highlights

  • an important economic centre
  • major port
  • buildings show a rich mix of architectural styles
  • prominent city in arts, fashion and media
  • beautiful beaches
  • thriving nightlife
  • modern shopping malls and delicious local restaurants
  • international airport

Facts about Dar Es Salaam

  • founded in 1862
  • largest city in East Africa
  • 7th largest city in Africa
  • population of 12,798,650
  • name means “Place of Peace”

Excursions around Dar

  • Bongoyo Island and Mbudya Island are uninhabited islands, only a 30-minute boat ride from the mainland.
  • Bagamoyo with its cobwebbed portals and crumbling German-era colonial buildings.
  • Mikumi National Park and Saadani National Park can easily be reached.

Travel time to Dar Es Salaam

Arusha – Dar Es Salaam: 1 hr 20 mins flight

Dar Es Salaam – Zanzibar: 35 mins flight

Dar Es Salaam – Mikumi: 4.5 hrs drive

Dar Es Salaam – Bagamoyo: 2 hrs drive

Travel Tips from our experts about Dar Es Salaam

My name is Michael and I am a guide Dar Es Salaam for 18 years. The city offers everything – from historic sightseeing to shopping, beautiful beaches and even safari parks are close by!

My advice:

How long to stay? At least 1 day, but if you really want to explore Dar, even a week is not enough!

Which hotel?

  • The Amariah Boutique hotel city centre (Silver hotel and 5 minutes walk from the Ferry to Zanzibar)
  • Best Western CBD hotel (Golden hotel and in the city centre)
  • Hyatt Regency Dar es Salaam (Platinum hotel)

Best time to visit Dar Es Salaam

Dar Es Salaam can be visisted all year round.

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