Tanzania is a land of breathtaking natural wonders and fascinating cultural riches. It boasts iconic destinations such as the Serengeti National Park and mountain range, Mount Kilimanjaro, and the idyllic Zanzibar archipelago.
Visitors are drawn to its wildlife safaris, pristine beaches, and vibrant cities like Dar es Salaam and Stone Town.
If you want to learn more about this country’s culture, its friendly people, and its numerous natural wonders, then read on; we’ll show you everything you need to know about where to stay in Tanzania!
The Best Places to Stay in Tanzania
Our top 5 areas of Tanzania include:
- Zanzibar: A world-famous place, this stunning archipelago enchants with its powdery beaches and amazing Stone Town.
- Dar es Salaam: Walking through its streets may feel chaotic at times, but this city is a place where you can find something new on every corner.
- Arusha: The gateway to Mount Kilimanjaro, this little corner of Tanzania has a lot to offer.
- Mafia Island: The perfect place for a secluded and peaceful vacation, unburdened by too many tourists and attractions.
- Mwanza: The best home base for exploring Lake Victoria in all its beauty.
Where to Stay in Tanzania: Best Areas & Hotels
As we mentioned earlier, Tanzania is known for its hospitality and friendly locals. It’s a place that offers a lot of accommodation options, from camps, tents, and bungalows to hotels and resorts.
The prices are fair, and there’s a lot to choose from — for everyone’s budget. But, generally speaking, Tanzania is a pretty affordable country when it comes to accommodation and food.
Zanzibar is an archipelago off the coast of Tanzania, a captivating destination known for its pristine beaches and its centuries-long spice trade history.
It’s not for nothing that Zanzibar’s moniker is “Spice Island.” It comes from the island’s numerous spice plantations, places still in existence where you can explore fragrant fields of cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon.
We recommend you take a guided tour to gain better insights into the historical and cultural significance of the island’s spice trade.
The historic hub of the archipelago is called Stone Town. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site, known for its narrow winding streets revealing historic buildings, vibrant markets, and architectural gems like the Sultan’s Palace and the House of Wonders.
Beyond Stone Town, Zanzibar boasts other historical sites like the Old Fort and the Anglican Cathedral, which is also home to the Slave Market memorial.
For fans of rock music, and especially the band Queen and its iconic frontman, we recommend you visit the Freddie Mercury Museum, the first museum solely dedicated to this rock legend located in his very place of birth.
But one of the things Zanzibar is most famous for is its pristine beaches. Zanzibar boasts some of the world’s most exquisite white-sand beaches, like Nungwi, Kendwa, and Paje Beach.
Here, you can not only enjoy the soft sand, sunbathe or swim but you can also do a number of water sports. Diving into the crystal-clear waters, snorkeling, scuba diving, surfing, windsurfing, jet skiing — you name it!
And when you get tired of all the sightseeing and swimming, you, of course, need to grab something to eat. It would be a pity not to sample Zanzibar’s unique cuisine, which blends African, Arab, and Indian flavors.
Don’t miss trying “pilau” (spiced rice) and “seafood biryani” at local eateries, like the beloved Lukmaan Restaurant, where both locals and tourists eat together some of the best — and freshest — local dishes on the island.
If you are keen to explore Zanzibar’s lively cultural scene, then we suggest you don’t miss out on festivals like the Zanzibar International Film Festival (ZIFF) and the Mwaka Kogwa Festival, which celebrates the Shirazi New Year.
Zanzibar Budget Hotels
- Equalia Boutique Hotel is a three-star hotel in the Jambiani group of villages on the southeast coast of Zanzibar. The hotel has a wonderful beachfront location, and most of its rooms have sea views. The rooms themselves are small but cozy and bright, with their own private bathrooms and Wi-Fi and a complimentary breakfast included in the price. The hotel has a nice bar and garden with lounge chairs where you can relax. It also offers bikes and cars for hire so you can explore the island.
- Promised Land Lodge is a wonderful three-star hotel on the southern tip of Zanzibar Island. It indeed stays true to its name of a “promised land,” especially judging from the all-around positive reviews. Its beachfront location and charming, laid-back bar, as well as the outdoor pool area with sunbeds, make it the perfect place for rest and relaxation.
Zanzibar Mid-Range Hotels
- Mahali Zanzibar is a beachfront three-star hotel in the Paje village on Zanzibar’s east coast. It’s a great value-for-your-money kind of hotel because of its many amenities and its great price (with breakfast included!). It has spacious rooms with en suite bathrooms, air conditioning, and sea or garden views. The hotel has an outdoor pool with sunbeds and lounge chairs, as well as lots of opportunities for sports activities.
- Z-Lodge Zanzibar is a three-star beachfront hotel near Kiwengwa village. It has a wonderful atmosphere and an outdoor pool with sunbeds and chairs, where you can also have your breakfast (included in the price). Rooms are bright and cozy, with air conditioning and Wi-Fi, private bathrooms, and patios or terraces.
Zanzibar Luxury Hotels
- Zanzibella Hotel & SPA is a splendid, five-star beachfront hotel in the wonderful Kiwengwa village in Zanzibar. It has a large outdoor pool with sunbeds and a nice outside lounge area with a pool bar. Guests can also use the hotel’s spa facilities and massages. The rooms are big, bright, and super cozy, and the breakfast is exceptional.
- The Residence Zanzibar is an outstanding, five-star resort hotel with its own private beach on the southern part of Zanzibar’s coast. It has huge suits, bigger than 1700 square feet, with en suite bathrooms and a spa bath. The hotel offers tons of options for water sports and other sports activities, like table tennis, yoga classes, and even billiards. Breakfast and dinner are included in the price, as is a spa and fitness center of the highest quality.
2. Dar es Salaam
Dar es Salaam is the largest city in Tanzania and its commercial capital. It’s an interesting, vibrant city, filled with restaurants and local sights, also serving as a gateway to the country’s remarkable landscapes and cultural riches.
The city’s population is a blend of diverse ethnic groups, and the Kariakoo Market is the perfect place to explore this diversity, try out local foods and spices, and get yourself a wonderful handcrafted souvenir.
Another market you can go to is the Mwenge Woodcarvers Market. Here, you can find unique wooden crafts, sculptures, and souvenirs created by local artisans and craftsmen.
The next thing you can do in the city is to take a walk through the central, historic Kisutu district, notable for its colonial-era architecture. Notable landmarks in the area include the Askari Monument and the Lutheran Azania Front Church, which are also worth a visit.
Nearby, you can also find the National Museum and House of Culture, which was established in 1934, where you can find out a lot about the history of Tanzania and its people.
Located along the Indian Ocean, Dar es Salaam also boasts a nice coastline. If you’re up for a beach setting in the middle of the city, then go to Coco Beach and Kigamboni Beach, where you can just chill or try out some water sports.
Dar es Salaam is also considered as a gateway or departure point for ferries to Zanzibar, making it a convenient launchpad for exploring the island’s historic Stone Town, pristine beaches, and spice plantations.
Dar es Salaam Budget Hotels
- Lantana Hotel is a three-star hotel near Dar es Salaam University. It’s a budget-friendly, decent hotel with a friendly staff and rooms with all the basic comforts you’ll need for a nice stay. The rooms have private bathrooms, Wi-Fi, and air conditioning, as well as city views. Some even have kitchenettes. Breakfast is included in the room price.
- Sophia Hotel is a three-star budget hotel in the center of Dar es Salaam. The hotel has a great location and a very convenient price. Pair that with great service and nice, clean rooms with private bathrooms, air conditioning, and Wi-Fi, and you’ve got a winner. Choose this hotel if you want to be in the city center and want a quality room without spending too much money on accommodation.
Dar es Salaam Mid-Range Hotels
- Pauraque Soho Hotel is a four-star hotel a few miles away from Coco Beach. It’s a multi-story hotel with lots of amenities like an outdoor pool and a fitness center, as well as complimentary breakfast. The rooms are spacious and bright, with en suite bathrooms, Wi-Fi, and air conditioning, as well as private kitchenettes. Another great thing about this hotel is that pets are allowed.
- Mediterraneo Boutique Hotel is a charming beachfront three-star hotel outside Dar es Salaam’s city center. You’ll love this place for its sun-adorned, bright, and cozy rooms, its neat, spacious private bathrooms, its spa services, the relaxed atmosphere, and the wonderful sunbed and lounge outdoor area. The restaurant overlooking the sea is extra nice, and the hotel also often organizes evening entertainment there.
Dar es Salaam Luxury Hotels
- Johari Rotana is a five-star luxury hotel with a wonderful location in Dar es Salaam’s city center and port area. It has big rooms with air conditioning, Wi-Fi, and private bathrooms with great views of the city’s skyline. The hotel has a pool, a sauna, and a sun terrace where you can relax and sunbathe. Continental or buffet breakfast is included in the room price.
- Aya Sophia Villa Garden Hotel is a five-star, super luxurious hotel complex that offers entire villas for rent. It’s located just outside of the city, in the beautiful countryside by the sea, filled with fresh air and lots of greenery and beautiful blue horizons. The suites are equipped with anything you can imagine for a super-comfortable stay, from fitness rooms to outdoor pools, room service, private beach areas, and patios.
Located at the foot of Mount Meru in northern Tanzania, Arusha serves as the primary gateway to some of the world’s most renowned safari destinations, including the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater, as well as to Tanzania’s — and Africa’s — highest mountains, like the Kilimanjaro and Meru.
So it makes perfect sense that Arusha is often called the “Safari Capital of Tanzania.” Travelers flock here to embark on wildlife safaris in nearby national parks, including the Serengeti, Tarangire, Lake Manyara, and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area.
The city’s backdrop is the majestic Mount Meru, Tanzania’s second-highest peak and the fourth-tallest in all of Africa.
Mount Kilimanjaro is a few hours’ drive from Arusha, which is why this city is also often visited by mountaineers, pro hiking enthusiasts, and trekkers who want to conquer its trails and high peaks.
Once you reach the Kilimanjaro region, you’ll typically start your trek or climb from one of the mountain’s designated gates or trailheads, such as the Marangu Gate, Machame Gate, or Londorossi Gate, depending on your chosen route.
It’s important to book your climb with a reputable tour operator well in advance and obtain all necessary permits for your Kilimanjaro adventure. Just a short drive from the city is Arusha National Park.
It’s a wonderful place where you can see forests and savannas and visit the Momela Lakes. It’s home to a number of wildlife species like flamingos, giraffes, and the elusive black-and-white colobus monkeys, all of which you can spot if you go on a safari here.
Arusha Budget Hotels
- Kiteme Comfort Lodge is a nice two-star hotel in Arusha. It has all the basic comforts you need for an enjoyable stay for an unbeatable price. Expect cozy rooms with private bathrooms, free Wi-Fi, and complimentary continental breakfast every morning. The staff is very friendly and ready to help out with whatever questions you may have.
- The Charity Hotel International is a three-star hotel in Arusha. It’s a very nice hotel with spacious rooms that provide private bathrooms, air conditioning, Wi-Fi, and balconies with garden or mountain views. The hotel offers free parking and bicycle rental services. There’s also a wonderful garden where you can relax after a long day of exploring the area.
Arusha Mid-Range Hotels
- Njiro Legacy is a great four-star mid-range hotel in Arusha. It has friendly staff who can help you rent a bike or a car to explore the area. Rooms are super cozy, with private bathrooms, Wi-Fi, and air conditioning. Also, every room has a balcony with a mountain view, making the stay even more enjoyable. There’s also a hotel restaurant that serves delicious African, American, and Argentinian cuisine.
- Mount Meru Hotel is a four-star hotel in the center of Arusha. Former guests at the hotel compared it to a resort within the city and were especially content with its surrounding greenery, the hotel’s gardens, and the two amazing restaurants. The hotel also offers spa and massage services and has a fitness center and an outdoor pool for its guests.
Arusha Luxury Hotels
- Gran Melia Arusha is a wonderful five-star hotel in Arusha. It’s set amidst lush nature, and it has a huge pool you can swim in or sunbathe beside. It also has amazing service — four restaurants and a bar where you can have any meal of the day. You can relax at the spa and wellness center or do your weekly exercises at the fitness center and then head out to the sauna.
- Kili Seasons Hotel is a five-star hotel on the outskirts of Arusha. It’s significantly cheaper than the Gran Melia Hotel, and even though it has fewer amenities, it still has splendid service. Moreover, there is a great outdoor swimming pool and a lounge area, nice, bright, and clean rooms with en suite bathrooms, breakfast included in the room price, and lots more. Staff at the hotel will be happy to help you out with the numerous options for doing outdoor sports in the area.
4. Mafia Island
Don’t let the name fool you — this island doesn’t have anything to do with the mafia. In the local language, the name is derived from the Arabic morfiye, which means “archipelago,” or from the Swahili mahali pa afya, “a healthy dwelling place.”
So, the total opposite of what we understand the word to be in English, funnily enough.
Nestled in the Indian Ocean just off the coast of mainland Tanzania, Mafia Island is an unspoiled gem known for its beautiful, calm beaches and its vibrant coral reefs.
Being here actually feels like a step back in time, and this has a lot to do with its laid-back atmosphere. You’ll notice that one of Mafia’s primary attractions is its incredible marine biodiversity.
The surrounding waters are part of the Mafia Island Marine Park, a protected area teeming with colorful coral reefs, tropical fish, and rare marine species, making it a paradise for snorkeling and diving enthusiasts.
Some of the island’s top dive sites include Chole Bay, Kinasi Pass, and the famous Kitutia Reef, where you can see dolphins, turtles, vibrant coral gardens, and mesmerizing underwater caves.
But Mafia Island is not just about the beaches and coral reefs. You can also explore remnants of the island’s historical past, including ancient ruins and buildings from the era of the Arab and Swahili trading routes.
Chole Island, in particular, is a great place to start this exploration, as it features archaeological sites and historical ruins.
One of the best things about Mafia Island is its commitment to sustainable tourism, with a focus on preserving its fragile marine ecosystems. That’s why it’s not uncommon to see many accommodations and tour operators supporting eco-friendly initiatives.
Mafia Island Budget Hotels
- Butiama Marine Camp is a lodging and camp place on Utende Beach that offers tents and single and double rooms for rent. It’s an amazing budget-friendly place right on the beach, where you can be close to the sea for a superb price. There’s a restaurant and a bar at the site, and breakfast is included in the room price. Big Blu Mafia Island Diving Center is right next to the camp, the perfect place where you can sign up for diving lessons.
- Juani Beach Bungalows are bungalows for rent in the Kilindoni area on Mafia Island. It’s a wonderful place to stay if you’re after an in-touch-with-nature kind of lodging. It offers bungalows for rent with their own private bathrooms. There’s also a restaurant at the site that offers free breakfast every morning. And best of all — pets are allowed on the premises!
Mafia Island Mid-Range Hotels
- Maisara Mafia Beach Lodge is a three-star hotel that rents bungalow-style rooms with private bathrooms. It has a great beachfront location, and the bungalows have sea views from the balconies or terraces. The lodge also has a restaurant and a snack bar where you can have different meals during the day.
- Mafia Beach Bungalows are beach bungalows for rent in the Utende area in Tanzania. You can rent the whole small bungalow, which includes private bathrooms and breakfast included in the price. There’s a big common lounge terrace where you can also have your breakfast or just chill during the day and the evening. The bungalows are on the beachfront, so you can also just as easily go swimming or sunbathing.
Mafia Island Luxury Hotels
- Butiama Bustani Hotel is a great four-star hotel in the Kilindoni area on Mafia Island. It has an outdoor pool lined with sunbeds and a lounge area, as well as a wonderful garden. There’s also a hotel restaurant serving Italian and African food, and this is also the place where you can have your complimentary breakfast. Rooms are spacious, with walk-in showers and private bathrooms, Wi-Fi, air conditioning, and TV, as well as patios or terraces.
- Kileleni Resort is a four-star hotel in Kilindoni on Mafia Island. It’s a very nice place with a large swimming pool with sun chairs and a nice garden. It also has very spacious suites with private bathrooms, balconies, and extra-long beds. The great thing about this hotel is that it has breakfast and dinner included in the room price, and there’s also room service should you need anything while you’re there.
Affectionately known as “Rock City,” Mwanza is a vibrant and captivating place nestled on the shores of Lake Victoria in northwestern Tanzania. Its unique topography, natural beauty, and friendly people make it a destination worth exploring.
Mwanza is renowned for its stunning rock formations, the most famous being Bismarck Rock, a delicately balanced rock named after the famous Prussian and German general, which rises majestically from the waters of Lake Victoria.
These rocky structures provide picturesque backdrops, perfect for taking photos as the sun sets or while admiring the views of the city and the lake.
As Tanzania’s second-largest city and a major port on Lake Victoria, Mwanza offers plenty of opportunities for water-related activities. Visitors can enjoy boat trips, fishing excursions, and lakeside vacations.
In addition, there’s Saanane Island National Park, located on the lake, a haven for wildlife enthusiasts and a perfect place where you can do game drives, walking safaris, or go birdwatching. You can even spot animals like crocodiles and hippos.
From Mwanza, you can also get to the Serengeti. The most common way to reach this stunning area is by hiring a safari vehicle with a driver or taking a guided safari tour.
The journey can take several hours, depending on the route and road conditions, so you should be prepared for a longer ride, albeit a scenic one. Another option is to take a domestic flight from Mwanza to one of the Serengeti’s airstrips.
Many local airlines operate flights to Serengeti airstrips like Seronera, Kogatende, and Lobo. This option significantly reduces travel time and is ideal for those looking to spend as much time in the Serengeti Park as possible.
Mwanza Budget Hotels
- Lenana Hotels is a three-star hotel in Mwanza. It has a nice garden, free private parking, a shared lounge where you can unwind, and a terrace. The hotel also has a restaurant and offers free Wi-Fi and air-conditioned rooms with private bathrooms. The hotel also has room service and provides currency exchange services.
- Samanene Hotel is a two-star hotel with a great location on the shores of Lake Victoria. Guests were particularly taken by the amazing service and the clean, comfy rooms. The hotel has a garden, bar, and restaurant where you can have your complimentary breakfast, and it also offers free parking.
Mwanza Mid-Range Hotels
- Hotel Tilapia is a three-star hotel located on the shores of Lake Victoria. It has an outdoor pool, free private parking, a garden, and a terrace where you can relax. It has especially nice rooms that are extra spacious, with en suite bathrooms, a seating area, a TV, and a terrace. Guests especially loved the location, and considering there’s breakfast included in the price, it’s a really good value-for-your-money hotel option.
- Leyshof Hotel is a three-star hotel with a great price and great service. It has breakfast included in the room price, and there’s also an international restaurant and bar where you can dine and sip cocktails or nonalcoholic drinks. Its rooms are spacious, bright, and clean and have all the amenities you need, like private bathrooms, a TV, a closet, a lounge area, air conditioning, and Wi-Fi.
Mwanza Luxury Hotels
- Malaika Beach Resort is a wonderful five-star resort on Lake Victoria with a stunning beachfront location. It’s a great option if you want a luxurious stay while you’re visiting one of the world’s most famous lakes. It has everything — an outdoor pool, a spa, and a sauna, and a great restaurant that serves Tanzanian and Indian cuisine. This is also a very convenient place if you’re traveling with kids because it has a special children’s playground area to keep them busy and entertained.
- Gold Crest Hotel is a four-star hotel near the Bismarck Rock attraction, super close to the Kamanga Ferry Terminal and Mwanza Train Station. It’s a great hotel with wonderful views of Lake Victoria and a rooftop pool with sunbeds and a bar that guests can use. The hotel has three restaurants and a nightclub where there are regularly organized events with DJs. Rooms are classy and modern, with private bathrooms, a safe, TV, and air conditioning.
So, Where Should You Stay in Tanzania?
|⛱️ Best for Beaches||Zanzibar|
|🍽️ Best for Food||Dar es Salaam|
|⛰️ Best for Exploring Kilimanjaro||Arusha|
|🧘🏻 Most Relaxing Area||Mafia Island|
|🌅 Best for a Lakeside Stay||Mwanza|
Tanzania is a beautiful country, a land of many natural wonders and stunning scenery, of culture and amazing food that blends the best of East African and Asian cuisine.
As you were able to see, it offers plenty of options to stay in different cities, and it’s pretty affordable by international standards.
So, with so much to see and do, what are you waiting for — book your trip today and experience for yourself all that this storied country has to offer. Happy travels!