Best Tourist Attractions in Tanzania
Tanzania is home to some of Africa’s most recognized national parks and natural wonders, including the breathtaking Mount Kilimanjaro. Consequently, the most popular things to do in Tanzania, and the reason many visitors visit the nation, are the safaris and wildlife-related excursions.
Most travelers will find themselves traveling through Dar es Salaam and travelling off to the wilderness areas and other places. For those who wish to spend some time soaking up the sun, the beautiful beaches of Zanzibar beckon.
The coral gardens, colorful fish, and crystal blue seas are another sort of natural marvel, loved by the scuba divers and snorkelers who travel here from across the world to witness the coral gardens, colorful fish, and crystal clear waters.
Explore your options and find the finest locations to visit with our list of the top attractions in Tanzania.
1. Mount Kilimanjaro
Mount Kilimanjaro is Africa’s tallest summit (5,895 m) and Tanzania’s most famous picture. Mount Kilimanjaro National Park, unlike other parks in northern Tanzania, is not visited for the animals but for the chance to stand in awe of this spectacular snow-capped mountain and, for many, to trek to the summit. Mount Kilimanjaro may be climbed at any time, but the optimal period is from late June to October, during the dry season.
Kilimanjaro, a World Heritage Site, was constructed about 1 million years ago by volcanic action along the Rift Valley. Three volcanic cones—Shira, Kibo, and Mawenzi—came to be roughly 750,000 years ago. The highest point is Uhuru Peak on Kibo, which is one of the Seven Summits of the globe.
The mountain rises from farming on the lower level to rainforest and alpine meadow and finally bleak lunar scenery at the peaks. The slopes of rainforest are home to buffaloes, leopards, monkeys, elephants and eland. The alpine zone is where bird watchers will discover an abundance of birds of prey.
Although no imminent project is in the works, in late 2020 the government authorized a plan to build a cable car on Mt. Kilimanjaro. If built, it would carry tourists to 3,700 meters above sea level.
Accommodation: Where to Stay near Mount Kilimanjaro
2. Serengeti National Park
Serengeti National Park is a large treeless plain with millions of animals living here or traveling through in quest of new grass. It’s best known for the annual wildebeest migration, but you may also see the Big Five here, and approximately 500 species of birds have been reported in the Serengeti.
As the second biggest national park in Tanzania, the Serengeti attracts tens of thousands of tourists each year. The prime months for animal viewing in Serengeti National Park are between June and September. The rainy season runs from March to May, with the coldest period from June to October.
The yearly migration of about 1.5 million wildebeest and hundreds of thousands of zebra and gazelle takes place in May or early June. This migration is one of the most amazing natural occurrences and the key lure for many travelers.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Serengeti National Park
3. Beaches in Zanzibar
The island of Zanzibar, often called Unguja, is a popular tourist destination in Tanzania and is famed for its magnificent beaches. Part of the Zanzibar archipelago, which comprises the islands of Zanzibar and Pemba, this island features some of the nicest beaches in the world. The surf changes depending on what side of the island you are on, but tourists will discover smooth white beaches and clean shallow water, along with traditional boats bordering the coast.
The ancient settlement of Stone Town, noted for old Arabian mansions, narrow alleyways, and a busy harbor, is located in the center of Zanzibar.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Zanzibar
4. Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area
Located between the Serengeti and Lake Manyara, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area is home to the iconic volcanic Ngorongoro Crater and is one of Tanzania’s most popular wildlife-watching places. This vast volcanic crater offers a continual source of water, which draws hundreds of animals who stay in this location rather than move.
Visitors come here mostly to observe huge animals and bird watching.
Thousands of creatures can be seen on the crater floor, including lions, elephants, rhinos, Thomson’s gazelles, and buffaloes, but wildebeests and zebras account for over half of the animals that call the Ngorongoro Crater home.
Bird watching is fantastic, especially around Lake Migadi, which brings thousands of flamingoes to the shallows. Hippos are content to immerse themselves throughout the day and then graze on the neighboring grass in the evening.
The Ngorongoro Crater is the biggest and oldest complete ancient caldera in the world, over three million years old. The Ngorongoro volcano was one of the world’s highest mountains before it burst and fell.
Also of significance in the protected area is the Olduvai Gorge. This important archeological site has unearthed ancient skulls and bone pieces that have offered essential information about early humans.
The Olduvai Gorge is an archeological site situated on a network of fault lines, where centuries of erosion have exposed fossils and relics of early humans. As early as 1911, a German scholar uncovered several fossil bones while hunting for butterflies in Olduvai Gorge. In a later expedition, the Leakeys collected skull pieces, a skull, and bones judged to be roughly 2 million years old. Tools and hunting weapons from 1 to 1.5 million years ago were also uncovered at Olduvai Gorge.
Another intriguing find were the famous footprints of a man, his mother, and their kid at Laetoli, near Olduvai. These and other discoveries lend support to the theory that at least three hominid species lived in this region over two million years ago.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Ngorongoro
5. National Park of Lake Manyara
Lake Manyara National Park consists of forest, woodland, meadows, and marshes. Two-thirds of the park is covered by water, and Lake Manyara is host to thousands of flamingoes at certain times of year, as well as other varied bird species. The feature of Lake Manyara Park is the vast number of elephants, tree-climbing lions, and hippos, which may be seen at a considerably closer range than in other parks. This park is also home to the world’s largest population of baboons.
Wildlife drives, paddling (when water levels are high enough), mountain bike trips, and bird watching are the most popular activities at Lake Manyara National Park.
Accommodation: Where to Stay near Lake Manyara
6. Mafia Island
Mafia Island draws divers and snorkelers from across the world to the underwater realm protected by the Mafia Island Marine Park. The finest months for diving are October to March, but the best weather on Mafia Island is May to October. March and April are months of significant rain.
Mafia Island Marine Park has coral gardens, a rich diversity of fish, and a peaceful diving setting. Countless birds and over 400 types of fish may be spotted in the vicinity. Mafia Island is also a historic breeding habitat for the green turtle, which is regrettably endangered.
Mafia is also a desirable spot for deep-sea fishing, notably tuna, marlin, sailfish, and other big-game fish.
This island paradise originally saw people in the 8th or 9th century, but Mafia became a more prominent town from the 12th to 14th century when it maintained a crucial location on the East African commercial routes.
7. Tarangire National Park
Tarangire National Park, founded in 1970, is an excellent region for animal viewing. It is best visited in the dry season from July to September, when the animals cluster near the river.
During the dry season, Tarangire National Park has one of the biggest concentrations of migratory animals. Wildebeest, zebra, buffalo, impala, gazelle, hartebeest, and eland flood the lagoons. The park is also notable for its large population of elephants and the baobab trees that dot the grassland terrain.
The park is excellent for birding, with more than 300 species documented in Tarangire. These species include buzzards, vultures, herons, storks, kites, falcons, and eagles.
8. Island of Pemba
Pemba Island is the northernmost island in the Zanzibar archipelago. Around Pemba are several desert islands and some of the greatest scuba diving in the Indian Ocean, with visibility that is unrivaled. Coral gardens, colorful sponges, and sea fans are all present in the underwater refuge. The city of Chake Chake, the largest population center on Pemba, is a popular base for scuba divers.
Pemba is less frequented than Zanzibar and, as a result, has a more casual feel. The island is hilly with deep valleys, and it has become popular with mountain bikers who are lured to the 1,000-meter peaks. Just offshore, one site not to miss is Misali Island Beach. This stunning white-sand beach is on an undeveloped tropical island.
Pemba is a significant global clove grower and is also widely recognized for the juju traditions of medicine and sorcery. People travel from all over East Africa to study voodoo and traditional healers or to find a cure.
Accommodation: Where to Stay on Pemba Island
9. Stone Town,
Stone Town is the cultural centre of Zanzibar and nothing has changed in the past 200 years. The stately old Arabian mansions dotting the narrow streets and winding alleys give the city its own particular appeal. The bulk of residences in Stone Town were built in the 19th century when Zanzibar was one of the most prominent Swahili trade cities in the Indian Ocean. Visitors will note the bras-studded, intricately carved wooden doors on several of the residences.
As the oldest world-operating Swahili city, many of the sites in Stone Town have been restored to their former beauty. Some of the old structures are now museums or tourist attractions. The town also contains a handful of fascinating antique churches of historical value.
A trip down Creek Road leads tourists to the old Stone Town neighborhood and the locations of the Darajani Market, Beit el-Amani, City Hall, and the Anglican Cathedral. Some of the other significant sights are the Forodhani Gardens, the Old Dispensary with its carved wooden balconies, the former house of the Sultans known as Beit el-Sahel or the Palace, the People’s Hamamni Persian Baths, built in 1888, and the oldest structure in Stone Town, the Old Fort.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Stone Town
10. Selous Game Reserve
Selous is the largest game reserve in Africa. Established in 1922, it encompasses 5% of Tanzania’s total land. The southern portion is a restricted zone that is underdeveloped, highly wooded, and has a series of precipitous cliffs. Travelers are confined to the region north of the Rufiji River. This section of the Selous Game Reserve contains extensive open grassland, woods, rivers, hills and plains. The best time to visit is from July through October.
The Rufiji River bisects the Selous Game Reserve and has the biggest catchment area of any river in East Africa. The river is an essential element of the reserve, allowing the opportunity to see the different water-based fauna. Elephants, hippos, and rhinos are among the animals that can be seen, as are buffalo, antelope, giraffe, warthog, wildebeest, lion, leopard, and cheetah.The richness of bird life in Selous comprises over 350 documented species.
11. Arusha National Park
Arusha National Park, although smaller than others in Tanzania, includes a range of ecosystems that comprise the forest of Mount Meru, Ngurdoto Crater in the southeast half of the park, and Momella Lakes, a chain of seven crater lakes. Black and white Colobus monkeys are commonly observed in the wooded region, while the marshy bottom of the crater is populated with herds of buffalo, zebra, and warthog. Momella Lakes is home to a broad assortment of resident and migrating waterbirds. People come here to observe animals and also to climb Mount Meru.
Mount Meru is one of the most magnificent volcanoes in Africa and the second tallest peak in Tanzania. The peak is accessible via a thin ridge, which affords amazing views of the volcanic cone lying several thousand feet below in the crater. The ascent is hard, but the trail passes through parks, forest, a big heather zone and moorland.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Arusha
12. Ruaha National Park
In 2008, Ruaha National Park became the biggest Tanzanian park. It is home to enormous herds of buffalo and gazelle and has one of the biggest concentrations of elephants in Tanzania. The Great Ruaha River is the principal feature of Ruaha National Park, providing spectacular animal watching on the banks. The river also provides the majority of the power to Tanzania through a hydroelectric project at Kidatu.
As a result, Ruaha National Park is the least accessible park in Tanzania, and as a result, the terrain stays mostly unspoilt. Birdwatchers may enjoy over 400 species of birds that are not seen in northern Tanzania, and the river, beautiful gorges, and towering trees are especially enticing to photographers.
National Park of Gombe Stream
Gombe National Park, also occasionally called Gombe Stream National Park, is mostly for people who wish to venture a bit off the beaten route and see chimpanzees. This is one of the smallest national parks in Tanzania and is famous for the work of Jane Goodall. This British researcher arrived in 1960 to study the wild chimpanzees, and her work developed into what would become the longest continuous behavioral research program of its sort in the world.
Guided treks take tourists into the forest to witness chimps in the wild. Many kinds of primates and animals dwell in the park. Over 200 bird species have been documented in the tropical forest, including barbets, starlings, sunbirds, crowned eagles, kingfishers, and the palm-nut vulture.
Hiking and swimming are popular activities; a route leads into the forest to a waterfall in the valley.
14. Katavi National Park
Katavi National Park is located in a secluded location, affording an unspoilt environment. A notable feature of Katavi is the huge flood plain, separated by the Katuma River and various seasonal lakes. The lakes support enormous groups of hippos, crocodiles, and around 400 kinds of birds. One of the sights in Katavi is the hippos towards the conclusion of the dry season, when as many as 200 try to squeeze into a pool of water. The masculine competition heats up, prompting territorial conflicts.
The dry season brings Katavi National Park to life. Herds of impala, reedbuck, lions, zebras, and giraffes may be observed in the remnant ponds and streams. Thousands of elephants and buffaloes also come to the park as the flood waters retreat.
15. Lake Victoria
Lake Victoria is the largest freshwater lake in Africa and is surrounded by Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. This lake is the source of the White Nile and offers an income for millions of inhabitants along its banks. The Tanzanian side of Lake Victoria is one of the least frequented sections in the country, although the cities of Bukoba, Musoma, and Mwanza have a lot of attractions.
Near Mwanza and Musoma are several islands, some of which have become nature reserves. Bird viewing and fishing expeditions are popular outings, and boat cruises or walks may be organized around Lake Victoria.
Rubondo Island National Park, which contains many additional smaller islands, is located on the southwest coast of Lake Victoria.
Frequently Asked Questions
When is the ideal time to do a safari in Tanzania?
The optimum time to go on a safari in Tanzania varies on the park you are visiting. For Tarangire National Park and the Selous Game Reserve, July through October is the best time to visit. If you are travelling to Katavi National Park, prepare for August through October. The Serengeti National Park gets most of its tourists from June through September, but the great concentration of animals year-round makes any season ideal. That said, most visitors don’t visit in the rainy season of March and April.
Where are the nicest beaches in Tanzania?
The nicest beaches in Tanzania are located on the island of Zanzibar, where you’ll discover unbelievably white sands lapped by turquoise seas. Some of the top beaches are Nungwi Beach; Kendwa Beach; and Paje Beach, one of the best kiteboarding beaches on the island. Other significant runners-up are situated on Pemba Island (Misali Island beach) and on Mafia Island (Utende Beach) (Utende Beach).
15 Most-rated Best Tourist Attractions in Tanzania