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What is Dar es Salaam? The Essential Guide

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What is Dar es Salaam? The Essential Guide

Dar es Salaam is the largest city and commercial capital of Tanzania, located in East Africa. It’s home to a population of over five-and-a-half million people, making it the tenth most populous city in Africa. A bustling port city, Dar es Salaam is home to culture and history – and tantalizing glimpses of the submarine world.

A Brief History of Dar es Salaam

Dar es Salaam first rose to prominence in the mid-15th century CE. A sultanate based at the island settlement of Kilwa Kisiwani, it was a powerful trading post in the region, specializing in the export of gold, ivory and slaves from deeper into the interior of the continent. Though its power waned in the 16th century CE, Kilwa Kisiwani remains as a UNESCO World Heritage Site to this day.In 1887, German commercial interests founded a trading post on the mainland opposite the island of Kilwa Kisiwani. They called it Daressalam (“peace of the coast”) and it was used as an administrative center during the German East Africa period in the early 20th century CE. After the defeat of Germany in World War I, Dar es Salaam fell under British control, and was declared a city in 1907. It became an administrative center for British East Africa, and was served by a port located near Kigamboni Island.In 1961, with Tanzanian independence, Dar es Salaam was chosen as the nation’s new capital. The city subsequently underwent rapid infrastructural expansion, with many public buildings and universities being constructed throughout this period. It also rapidly became a city of refugees as people fled bordering wars in Congo and Rwanda.

Culture of Dar es Salaam

Dar es Salaam is a cosmopolitan city with a diverse culture and history. Arabic, British and African influences all contribute to its cultural richness. The town is known for its lively street markets, its vibrant restaurants, and its diverse music scene. As an important port city on the Indian Ocean, it is also home to people from all around the region who bring their own languages and cultural heritage with them.The most popular sport in Dar es Salaam is football (soccer), and it is popular throughout both the city and the country. There are numerous football (soccer) clubs throughout Dar es Salaam and it is also popular to watch football matches on television at restaurants or cafes around town. The national sport of Tanzania is netball and although it is not as widely played in the city, there are still netball leagues that you can find around town, particularly during the school holidays.

Where to Stay in Dar es Salaam

The accommodation options available in Dar es Salaam vary from budget backpackers’ hostels to luxury resorts and hotels. Here are just a few of the top-rated options where you can stay while visiting this bustling East African city:


  • Mikadi Beach Resort – A peaceful getaway located on the beachfront of the Indian Ocean, this resort offers stunning views, plush amenities and first-class service.
  • Sea Cliff Hotel – An upscale hotel located in downtown Dar es Salaam, just steps away from the ferry terminal.
  • Oyster Bay Hotel – A luxurious hotel and spa located on a peninsula that offers stunning views of the ocean.
  • Bagamoyo Eco-lodge – Located just outside of Dar es Salaam, this Eco-lodge offers stunning accommodations surrounded by nature.

Backpacker Hostels:

  • Gumu Hostel – A budget-friendly hostel located just off of India Street that offers comfortable dorms and private rooms.
  • Dorsett Gardenz – A brand new backpackers hostel located close to several popular food markets.

What to Do in Dar es Salaam

There’s no shortage of things to do in Dar es Salaam! From exploring its bustling markets to relaxing on white sand beaches and exploring national parks, there is something for everyone in this vibrant city! Here are some of the best activities you can do while visiting:

Market Tour:

Experience the true hustle and bustle of Dar es Salaam when you visit its lively markets! From Nadi Fish Market in Mwananyamala to Kariakoo Market in Downtown Dar es Salaam, explore a different side of the city’s culture by strolling through these bustling streets lined with booths selling everything from fresh fruits and vegetables to local handicrafts.


Spend a day lounging on one of Dar es Salaam’s many pristine beaches! From Msasani Beach in Oyster Bay with its white sands and crystal clear waters, Jacaranda Beach on Kigamboni Island boasting some of East Africa’s best wildlife sightings and Kunduchi Beach near Mwenge with watersports and attractions galore – you certainly won’t be disappointed here!

National Parks:

Take a day trip from Dar es Salaam and explore some of Tanzania’s most scenic national parks! From bongo sightings at Sharambei Wildlife Sanctuary to breathtaking sunsets at Kirurumu Tented Lodge near Manyara National Park or stargazing at Ngorongoro Conservation area – there’s never a dull moment here!

Dar es Salaam by Night

As night falls, Dar es Salaam is transformed into something completely different. From dining al fresco at popular restaurants like Fifi Ta Restaurant or Pizzeria Excelsior on Toure Drive to attending live music shows at venues such as Meserani Juu Arts & Culture Centre near Mkuranga – you can find something for everyone here! End your night with drinks at any one of Dar es Salaam’s rooftop bars for a truly unforgettable experience.


Dar es Salaam is an East African city full of history, culture and modern amenities. From bustling street markets to pristine beaches, wildlife sanctuaries to rooftop bars overlooking the Indian Ocean – there’s something for everyone in this vibrant city! Whether you want to explore its ancient monuments or simply relax on a beach, you can find something unique here that you won’t find anywhere else. With its diverse demographic and exciting nightlife – Dar es Salaam is the perfect place for an unforgettable holiday!

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What is Dar es Salaam? The Essential Guide

Experience Adventure Like Never Before: Book Your Tour Today!