Shops in Zanzibar - Best Shops in Stone Town
Shops in Zanzibar are very pleasurable. Bustling bazaars and market stalls are spread throughout the Stone Town.
The majority of souvenir shops are to be found at Shangani, Kenyatta Road and Gizenga Street. Hundreds of little boutiques, lined-up shoulder to shoulder, sell souvenirs and goods: carvings, products made of Maasai beads, T-Shirts, kikoys and fabrics, Tingatinga paintings and much more. Depending on their bargaining skills, travelers can find some good deals in the winding alleys of Stone Town.
At the lively Darajani market, locals sell everything that the Zanzibar soil brings forth: pineapples, beans, jack fruits, mchicha (a vegetable resembling spinach), bananas, oranges, potatoes, avocados, spices, tea, meat and fish. It is recommended to haggle.
Not far away from Darajani market, kangas, kitenges and other fabrics are sold in a small alleyway at Mkunazini. In general, these fabrics are considerably cheaper than the ones on display in well-stocked shops.
Everyday consumables are available in a small supermarket close to Darajani market. Nearby, a pharmacy and other mini-stores can be found, where shower and bath products, sanitary products and food are sold.
The Gallery Bookshop is the best-stocked bookshop in Stone Town and especially good for purchasing coffee-table books.
Elaborate handicrafts and distinguished art may be found in the alleys of Stone Town. Genuine, authentic Zanzibari chests, tiles, wooden furniture and brass goods originate from the deep-rooted Arab culture which dates back to the 8th Century. One will also find very attractive artifacts imported from Africa, being displayed as original Zanzibari handicrafts. Here are a few pointers to help travelers distinguish between local craftsmanship and African imports.
Lots of little workshops in Gizenga or Cathedral Street produce Zanzibari chests, which are hand-carved wooden chests with decorative, brass trims. Some are simple in design, others are more elaborate and prices vary, depending on the amount of time and craftsmanship put into the chest.
Zanzibar Secrets is a neat shop at the beginning of Kenyatta Road, focusing on high-quality and very tasteful local arts and crafts. Although various items come from abroad, lot of lamps, fabrics, jewelry, clothing, home items and accessories have been produced in Zanzibar.
Some stores in the shopping district, also known as curio shops, sell collectibles and true antiques like tiles, porcelain and ceramics. Primarily, curio shops deal with ordinary souvenirs.
With a few exceptions, there is no real wood carving tradition in Tanzania, but there is every possibility that a genuine Makonde carving could be for sale in any of the shops.
More Tanzanian handicrafts, such as brass goods, musical instruments, stools, figurines, bao games and mats are on display in the winding alleyways of Stone Town.
Anyone who loves Zanzibar shops with souvenirs has to come to Stone Town. Exquisite spices, fabrics, paintings, wood carvings can be found exploring the alleyways of Hurumzi and Gizenga, where you'll increasingly find more high quality designer shops selling locally produced items, such as bags, jewelery, shoes and other accessories. Although it should come as no surprise that not all of the goods touted for sale come from Zanzibar or Tanzania.
Spices, like cloves, cinnamon, pepper, cardamom, vanilla or coriander would make typical gifts from Zanzibar and you are most likely to find them at Darajani Market. Tea and coffee lovers should not leave before having purchased spice tea and spice coffee.
Only a handful of shops sell fabrics made in Zanzibar (or Tanzania). Small boutiques, mostly off the main shopping alleys, offer colorful clothes such as kangas, kitenges and kikoys. Initiated by international women's or relief organizations, the clothes are designed and produced by local women giving them income and work.
One hundred percent made in Tanzania are tingatinga paintings - flamboyant paintings which are sold on almost every corner of Stone Town. Edward Saidi Tingatinga invented this native style of painting in the 1960’s.
There is very little real wood carving tradition in Tanzania, although some carvings are touted as typically Tanzanian (they actually tend to mean African). With the exception of genuine Makonde carvings, most of the carvings on display are imported from Kenya. The same is true for goods made of soap stone, which is not native to Tanzania.
Typical Maasai bead jewelry is for sale at many street stalls. More traditional gifts from shops in Zanzibar include Zanzibari chests and jewelry made of Tanzanite.