Shopping in Stone Town

Stone Town, Zanzibar

Stone Town, Zanzibar Town's old quarter, has an abundance of local shops selling a wide variety of antiques, textiles, and jewellery. Spend a whole day wondering through the narrow streets and pick up some truly unique finds.

Shopping in Stone Town is brilliant, with a continuous supply of small local boutiques throughout Stone Town’s winding streets. For textiles and fabrics, the best places are nearer the main streets, and they should sell a wide variety of Kangas, Kitenges and Kikoys. Kangas, worn by almost every female in Zanzibar and Tanzania, are large linen or cotton cloths with a colourful print and boarder. It is best to buy more than one at a time, as better deals can be made.

Whilst the most obvious souvenir shops are along the main front on Kenyatta Rd selling wood carvings and paintings, make sure that you venture off the main streets to discover smaller, and more interesting places such as the tiny, low-ceiling bakeries and shoe cobbler shops embedded in the walls.

Once further into the maze of narrow streets, you will come across whole alleyways of jewellery shops. Whilst it is easy to get carried away in these Aladdin’s caves, make sure that you take your time as you will always find better quality jewellery the longer that you spend looking. The antique shops are by far the best, with an eclectic mix of brassware, maps, vintage posters and other trinkets. These oddly assorted shops are the most fun to browse, and as you search through genuine antiques, you never know what you may come across. It is important to note that bartering is essential when shopping in stone town to avoid high tourist prices, however as it is not a market atmosphere, some shops will adamantly stick to their fixed price.

Found off Kenyata street, The Zanzibar Gallery sells a range of good quality souvenirs, however it is its bookshop that is worth the visit. Run by professional photographer, Javed Jafferji, this shop provides the opportunity to see some good quality local photography- images that portray local life in Zanzibar in a personal and real way. This is the best stocked bookshop on the island and sells a good range of coffee table books on Zanzibar, stone town and Tanzania.

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