Dar es Salaam in Arabic means ‘the abode of peace’. It might have been intended as a peaceful place when building began in 1865 or so, but today it is the biggest city in Tanzania! Dar boasts the largest population of all East African cities and it is Tanzania’s most important financial centre. Most travellers pass through on their way to a beach holiday on or off the coast, but those inclined to spend a little more time here enjoy a thrilling break in this most sprawling of cities!
Dar’s situation close to the Indian Ocean and near the equator accounts for the city’s tropical climate. There are two rainy seasons and it gets pretty humid here! We recommend visitors stay in the hotels with good facilities and plenty of air-conditioning – for example, the luxurious Hyatt Regency.
The first years of Dar were decidedly shaky, but by the early 1900s it had become something of a trading hub due to the arrival of the German East Africa Company and the subsequent laying of the Central Railway Line. The British took the city during the First World War and began an indirect rule that lasted until 1961. During this period, Dar continued to develop.
Following independence, the city’s growth was slowed by the Ujamaa policy, in which the government urged people to live in socialist villages rather than cities. However, by the 1980s it was accepted that the policy had failed. A second policy – known as the liberalization policy – permitted people to live where they wished, and as a result Dar experienced a rapid influx of migrants from rural areas. Growth resumed apace, such that today the city is considered in the same league as giants Nairobi and Johannesburg.
Activities & things to do in Dar Es Salaam
Heading into the city, you will not be short of things to do!
- You could make a start at the National Museum, which is all about the history of Tanzania.
- Dar’s botanical gardens are just next door and perfect for a picnic lunch.
- The Oyster Bay area is home to the Nyumba ya sanaa, the House of Art, where you can request a picture of anything you like and it will be prepared for you in the Tingatinga oil-painting style. The Nyumba ya sanaa showcases many other arts and crafts of Tanzania.
Music is also pretty prevalent in Dar, with a scene that includes live dance, hip hop, R&B, and rap. Traditional music and dance is performed every day at the Village Museum, a collection of traditional huts from 16 of Tanzania’s ethnic groups. This museum is located out of town, on the way to the coast, so a visit here combines well with a seaside trip. Continuing on the ocean theme, we also recommend Dar’s Marine Reserve, where you can sunbathe, swim, snorkel, and even enjoy a little hiking!
If you love sports, you could head to the National Stadium to see an international football match. And if you are a foodie, you are spoilt for choice here. From Tanzanian barbecue snacks to international cuisine, there really is something to tantalise every set of tastebuds! Arab, Thai, Turkish, Italian, Chinese, Japanese… the range is seriously impressive!
Just get in touch with our travel experts if you would like to pay a visit to the exhilarating city of Dar.