Kent MacElwee

photo: Kent MacElwee

View Map

Overview

The former capital of Tanzania, the Indian Ocean port of Dar es Salaam remains the country’s most populous city, and main economic and transport hub. It is where the vast majority of international flights to Tanzania land, though most tourists are only in transit, en route to the facing offshore island of Zanzibar, or one the country’s many world-class safari destinations. The city was founded in the 1860s by Sultan Majid of Zanzibar, who named it "Bandari Salaam" (Haven of Peace), and it served as the national capital throughout the German and British colonial eras, as well as in the socialist climate of the immediate post-independence era. ...

The former capital of Tanzania, the Indian Ocean port of Dar es Salaam remains the country’s most populous city, and main economic and transport hub. It is where the vast majority of international flights to Tanzania land, though most tourists are only in transit, en route to the facing offshore island of Zanzibar, or one the country’s many world-class safari destinations. The city was founded in the 1860s by Sultan Majid of Zanzibar, who named it "Bandari Salaam" (Haven of Peace), and it served as the national capital throughout the German and British colonial eras, as well as in the socialist climate of the immediate post-independence era. As might be expected with such a mottled pedigree, the city center boasts a rich variety of architectural influences, incorporating buildings of Zanzibari, Indian, Bavarian, British and even Soviet origin. Yet the whole is oddly cohesive, giving downtown Dar perhaps the most character of East Africa’s large cities, even if many visitors find it simply too hot and humid to be very enjoyable. Fortunately, Dar es Salaam also lies at the center of a lovely stretch of coast, with suburban Oyster Bay being the closest swimming beach to the city center, though many tourists prefer to stay at Ras Kutani, a luxurious small resort set 30 kilometers (19 miles) farther south, or at one of the larger and more mainstream beach hotels that line Kunduchi Beach to the north. For history buffs, the small port of Bagamoyo, an hour’s drive from Dar es Salaam, is well worth the effort, as it boasts some excellent 16th-century Swahili ruins, as well as several buildings dating to the Victorian Era, when the likes of Livingstone and Stanley used it as the springboard for their explorations of the African interior.

Philip Briggs
About the Expert

Philip Briggs has written or contributed to 50-plus editions of Bradt, Insight, AA and Berlitz guidebooks to African destinations.

view full overview

Philip Briggs for Triporati

Compare Flight, Car Rental, and Hotel Rates

Note: A new window will open for each site you select.

Note: A new window will open for each site you select.

Note: A new window will open for each site you select.

Facts at a Glance

  • Location: The city is situated on a massive natural harbor on the Eastern coast of Africa, formerly called Mzizima, it is the largest city in Tanzania.
  • Language: Kiswahili or Swahili, English and Arabic
  • Currency: Tanzanian Shilling
  • Research: Wikipedia

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    The city tends to be hot and humid at all times, but is less oppressively so in the relatively cool and dry months of June-September. If you are visiting Dar es Salaam in transit to the game reserves of the interior, your timing should be dictated by seasons in the reserve(s) you plan to visit, not by the climate in Dar es Salaam.