Top 10 Things to Do in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania

By on Published: December 11, 2017 | Last Updated: December 31, 2021 in Africa, TANZANIA with 2 Comments

Top 10 Things to do in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania

The great commercial hub of Tanzania, Dar Es Salaam is a buzzing, working city that has a raw energy to it unmatched by any other large metropolis in East Africa I’ve visited.

Having wondered round for a full day in the city, compete with my camera (albeit my small Canon point and shoot one) I can totally attest to how safe I felt here and how warm and welcoming the locals were.

Even the huge central market was pretty hassle free and using tuk-tuks to navigate the city couldn’t have been easier!

I highly recommend spending at least one day checking out this great city and so, to get you inspired, here are my top 10 things to do in Dar Es Salaam.

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#1 Check Out the Karikoo Markets

Coming in first is the Karikoo market, Dar’s largest and most fun market.

Open 7 days a week – I know because we visited on a Sunday! – this place is stocked full of anything and everything you might need.

From fruit, veg, fish and meat to grains, spices, clothes and hardware, this indoor market is all arranged in sections and aisles.

But outside, as it spills into the surrounding streets, Karikoo Market becomes decidedly more disorganised and chaotic!

Crazy, but friendly fun, spending some time wandering here is definitely one of the best things to do in Dar Es Salaam.



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#2 Catch the Ferry Across Bay

Tanzania, Dar Es Salaam, Ferry Ride

Steaming along on a boat is one of my favourite ways to travel and here, in Dar Es Salaam, it’s also one of the best ways to see the city.

For just 200 Tshil (10 US cents), this ferry ride is going to give you a great view of the city from water, and as you pile on with all the locals, quite the cultural experience too!

My tip is to go up the stairs as you board and sit on the top deck. From here you can really enjoy the view of colourful outfits and the jostling chitter chatter below, all to the moving backdrop of Dar Es Salaam’s cityscape.


#3 Snap the Bicycles

If you’ve seen any of my posts about Amsterdam, you’ll know I’m a huge fan of cities with lots of bikes, especially if they’re cool vintage bikes!

Well, guess what?

Dar Es Salaam is a city packed with cool vintage bikes!

*Cue me taking too many pictures as the locals starred on highly bemused!*

If you’re a fan of a beautiful bicycle too, then snapping this delightfully quirky facet of the city is definitely one of the best things to do in Dar Es Salaam.



#1 Headlamp – required for those all too often power cuts. Black Diamond are my go-to brand.

#2 Natural Sunscreen – things get hot here so do be prepared!

#3 Good Camera – an absolute must if you’re looking to capture the incredible landscape of Tanzania. I love my mirrorless Sony A6000, which is light, compact and robust – ideal for Africa travel.

#4 Sarong – whether it’s covering your shoulders from the sun, using as a pillow on long bus journeys or making into a beach dress, this is a great multi-purpose travel item for Tanzania.

#5 Insect Repellent – malaria is a huge risk here, so cover up at night and use at least 30% DEET spray.


#4 Visit the Fish Market

Tanzania, Dar Es Salaam, Fish Market

Situated right by the ferry terminal, visiting the fish market is definitely one of the best things to do in Dar Es Salaam, providing a very rich and genuine cultural experience.

This best time to go here is definitely early in the morning when the full market bounds into action.

From the fish buying/selling section, as it comes in straight off the boat, to the fish eating section where large women bend over large pots and cook up a fishy storm, this place offers a full sensory experience.

Read: Smelly!!!

But it’s also very visually striking and a super place to photograph the wooden boats coming right in with their haul.

We actually visited the market late afternoon on a Sunday and were treated to an impromptu Capoeira session on the beach below, complete with a big cheering crowd, which was also very interesting to see.



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#5 Camp at Mikardi Beach

Tanzania, Dar Es Salaam, Mikardi Beach

Located on the south side of the river, Mikardi Beach is where the Dar Es Salaam locals go to party at the weekend!

We actually camped here and were treated to quite the good time!

While you have to pay a cover to get into the bars here, joining the locals on the beach is free and you’re going to be treated to an awesome sunrise too!

Honestly this place feels like some Indian Ocean beach resort, so it’s hard to believe there’s a big bustling port just around the corner!


#6 Stroll Coco Beach

Tanzania, Dar Es Salaam, Coco Beach

At the opposite end of the city to Mikardi Beach, Coco Beach which is north of Dar in the Oyster Bay area, is the posher end of town.

Marked by its embassy buildings and large expat homes, this is an interesting area to stroll around.

Down at the beach however, things feel far more local.

Sitting at a beach bar / diner for a beer or lunch here and people watching is definitely one of the best things to do in Dar Es Salaam.


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#7 Kanga Shop on Uhuru Street

Dar Es Salaam is a great place to get some Africa fabrics if you’re wanting any for souvenirs or yourself.

And the best place to head is Uhuru Street in the city centre.

Actually more like an extension of the Karikoo Market, it can be hard to distinguish where one market ends and another begins, but as long as you find the spot, who cares right?!

Make sure you check the label on any fabrics and avoid those made in China if you want real local products.

The stiff waxed lengths of cloth are the best – these are what local women use for carrying items on their head / for carrying babies or for wearing!


#8 Munch Local Food

Tanzania, Dar Es Salaam, Local Food

Located on the Swahili Coast, Dar Es Salaam is a city that infuses a fascinating array of cultures… and it’s no surprise its food reflects this.

Sampling some of the local treats therefore is a must while you’re in the city.

From sugar cane juice, to tamarind treats, ugali – a maize porridge, pilau rice, local greens, meat, fish or a delicious chapatti, it will just cost a few dollars to try it all!!!

To find the best local spots to grab some food, ask in the Karikoo Market and enjoy the results!



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#9 Take a Tuk-Tuk Ride

Tanzania, Dar Es Salaam, Tuk-Tuk

No trip to Dar complete without at least one ride on a tuk-tuk!

If you thought Asia was full of them, you should wait until you get to East Africa!

Cheap, plentiful and lots of fun, taking a tour with these guys across the city is an awesome thing to do in Dar and seeing how many people you can squeeze into the back and haggling over price is just all part of the experience.

And that’s not to mention when you get a puncture on the side of the road too!

Tanzania, Dar Es Salaam, Tuk Tuk Fun!


#10 Discover the Azania Lutheran Church

The white, waterfront building of the Azania Church is a Dar Es Salaam icon you should definitely check out during your time in this city.

Built by German missionaries in 1898, it definitely stands out architecturally with its red-tiled roof and window canopies.

Still in active use for services, heading in to view the Gothic interior or to listen during the beautiful choir rehearsals is a great thing to do in Dar Es Salaam.




So that’s my list of the top 10 things to do in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania’s most exciting city.

Have you visited this bustling place?

What was your favourite thing to do there?


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About the Author

About the Author: Creator of Big World Small Pockets, Stephanie Parker is a budget travel addict! Originally from Jersey in the Channel Islands, Stephanie backpacks the world collecting tips, advice and stories, to share with a smile .

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There Are 2 Brilliant Comments

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  1. This is a great article about Dar es salaam, am missing #3 though!

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