Situated at the foot of the beautiful Mount Meru, Arusha is known as the safari capital of Tanzania’s Northern Safari Circuit. It’s a bustling city filled with an interesting mix of markets, chaotic traffic, old colonial buildings and modern conveniences, like coffee shops with WiFi, and an array of great restaurants.
- Gateway city to a number of Tanzania’s gems, including Serengeti, Ngorongoro and Kilimanjaro
- Situated at the foot of Mount Meru, it has a temperate climate and lush surroundings
- Chequered history from Maasai to German to British and back to Tanzanian occupation, providing for an interesting mix of architecture and history
- Lively nightlife with many restaurants and nightclubs
- Shopping mecca with various markets selling everything from brightly coloured fabrics and curios to car tyres
- Museums and galleries to discover the history and marvel at the art of the area
- Tanzanite, straight from the source
- Meserani Snake Park, just outside Arusha
Arusha is often seen as a stopover on the way to doing a safari. If you stay a while longer, though, there is plenty to see and do in this busy town, with its mix of colonial and modern architecture intersected by chaotic roads filled with friendly Tanzanians.
Things to see and do in Arusha
Arusha offers visitors a wide array of places to go and things to do. There are many coffee shops and restaurants, and the town has lively nightlife. If you want to experience a real, bustling, busy African town, stay in Arusha for a day or two.
- The Clock Tower, situated slap-bang in the centre of town, is a great meeting point for both locals and tourists. Urban legend has it that this is the middle-point between Cape Town and Cairo. It’s completely untrue, but a great story nonetheless.
- Central and Maasai Markets – chaotic and vibrant markets that sell everything from meat and fish to fabrics and electronics. Maasai Markets have a wide array of curios and African art. They’re crowded and busy but they’re a great way to experience real Africa. Beware of pickpockets and be prepared to haggle!
- The Cultural Heritage Centre includes a museum, restaurant, spice centre, shops, and a garden scattered with incredible sculptures. The Makonde Museum filled with masterfully carved masks is a must-see.
- At the Tanzanite Experience, learn about the history of tanzanite, and how these gorgeous gems are mined. Don’t forget to buy one to take home.
- The Boma Museum, originally a fort built by the Germans in the early 1900s, chronicles the colonial history of the town and the tribal history of the area. It also houses the Natural History Museum, with fascinating info on the archaeological and paleoanthropological sites in the area and wildlife.
- Shanga, out on the Dodoma Road, is a fabulous centre incorporating a workshop for disabled artists who make beautiful glasswork, beadwork, jewellery and clothes, boutiques and an open-air restaurant.
- Meserani Snake Park, a little further out of Arusha, allows you to see a wide range of snakes, learn about them, and even hold some! There’s also a small Maasai Museum and camel rides there.
Arusha is served by two airports. Arusha Airport has daily flights from numerous local destinations while Kilimanjaro International Airport has daily flights from local, African and international airlines.