From artistic maps of local national parks to beaded jewellery and exotic coloured homewares, the local markets in Arusha could entertain a full week of your itinerary. For a stint of barter-free shopping visit the Cultural Heritage craft mall, or for a more chaotic setting and varied selection venture to Kilombero Market or Soko Kuu. A great way do indulge your inner-shopaholic under the guise of supporting the local economy, the local markets will be found in every Arusha guide.
Visit Maasai Women Fair Trade Centre
Developed as a tourist destination that promotes an awareness of human rights issues, visiting the Maasai Women Fair Trade Centre means more than picking up a pair of leather sandals or traditional beaded jewellery. A not-for-profit organisation established in 2000 by three determined Maasai women, the Maasai Women Development Organisation supports female entrepreneurs across Tanzania, with over 5,000 women signed up as members. Every purchase made supports these women and pays for the education of their children, making it one of the most important things to do in Arusha.
Visit Meserani Snake Park
Electric green reptiles and piercing snake eyes will haunt your dreams for weeks after a trip to the Meserani Snake Park. Located about 30-minutes drive from the centre of Arusha Tanzania, the Snake Park does more than just present travellers with slimy creatures, also boasting a health clinic that is free for locals and treats over 1,000 patients per month. If snakes aren’t your favourite animal you can opt to enjoy a camel ride instead, or simply stay inside wandering around the park’s adjoining Maasai Cultural Museum.
Stand in the centre of Africa - by the Clock Tower circle
Supposedly marking the halfway point between Cairo and Cape Town, the famous Clock Tower of Arusha is a pride of the country. Found on a grassy roundabout in the middle of the city, it is adjacent to the Safari Casino and a short stroll from the Tanzanite Experience Museum and the Maasai Market Curios and Crafts, meaning you are likely to admire it many times during a visit to Arusha. Standing since the 1950’s it is one of the oldest landmarks in the city, bearing witness to the country’s difficult past.
Go drinking and dancing Arusha-style
Grab your travel tribe and prepare a few choreographed dance moves; stepping into the nightlife of Arusha requires some serious dance-floor talent and a deep sense of rhythm. Though the streets of this city might appear dusty and at times quiet, the few clubs on offer see the hours of the night come alive with music and dance. Catch live music at Mjengoni Club, professional dancers at Dar Es Salaam, and live fire shows at Via Via.
Things to do in Arusha
Dive into the vibrant culture of Tanzania at Wanyambo Festival, held every year in January in the coastal town of Dar es Salaam. Music, food, dance and costume come to life in spectacular fashion, making this an event worth timing your trip with.
Much like Zanzibar Revolution Day of January 12th, Unification Day holds great significance for the people of Tanzania and Zanzibar, the spice islands that have caused great conflict through the 1900’s. A national holiday, you can expect official parades, music and the appearance of many government officials.
Arusha African Film Festival
Arusha African Film Festival takes viewers on a journey through some of the most important socio-cultural issues of the continent via the power of film. Usually held for a week in September, it is an important event for the African film industry.
Top 3 Festivals in Arusha
An Arusha guide might not present a great number of festivals in this country, but what they do offer abounds in enough culture to satisfy the most discerning traveller. African films, traditional dance and vivid costumes are just some of what can be expected from this enriching line-up of festivals.
National Natural History Museum
Found in a white miniature castle style building from the German colonial era, the National Natural History Museum is a must visit when in Arusha. The exhibitions have been divided into 3 sections of the building, all take a vivid and insightful look at the incredible unearthings of Tanzania, a country which played a vital role in piecing together the story of human evolution.
Maasai Market Curios and Crafts
The Maasai Market Curios and Crafts offers an up-close look at the immense artistic creativity of this country. Admire exquisite beadwork, antique wood carved statues, and elaborate fabrics, and unlike a traditional museum you can buy things to take home.
Step inside the walls of an old German home and take in the immeasurable historical significance of the country of Tanzania. Old black and white photographs, archeological findings and taxidermy animals are just some of what you will find here.
Take in the unfathomable hues of royal blue in the gemstone of tanzanite, found nowhere else in the world apart from the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro. The only gallery in the world that stands in dedication to this rare and precious stone, which holds 585 million years of history within it, the Tanzanite Experience should be on your Arusha to do list.
Top 4 Museums and Galleries in Arusha
The museums of Arusha nod to the dense culture of this country, celebrating their national gemstone, tradition housing, and remarkable archaeological discoveries. You’ll soon discover museum hopping is an essential element of Arusha travel.
Almost as fun to eat as it is to pronounce, nyama choma is a hallmark of family celebrations in Tanzania and Kenya. Though the name refers to many varieties or roast meat, it’s most commonly goat, best eaten with your hands and washed down with a chilled beer.
Best eaten at Khan's Barbeque, Mosque Street
Kilimanjaro Premium Lager
Speaking of chilled beer, a trip to Tanzania is scarcely complete without a sip or two of their national pale lager, Kilimanjaro Premium. Said to be made with ingredients grown on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro, it pairs perfectly with many of the country’s most beloved dishes, abounding in spices and chunks of meat.
Best eaten at any supermarket
Though ugali itself is a fairly bland, doughy item, when used as a base for other dishes it offers an easy fill up and makes a meal complete. Commonly used to dip into saucy curries or as a side for salads, it would be hard to venture to this part of the world without trying at least one ugali.
Best eaten at Fifi’s restaurant, Themi Road, Next To Tanesco
Food in Arusha
Carnivores will get their culinary kicks in Arusha, a city where indulging in roasted meats washed down with beer can be an everyday staple. Dive into hearty curries lapped up with doughy breads - using your hands to eat will make you feel more at home here.