A semi autonomous trading centre and melting pot of African, Indian and Arab cultures, Zanzibar is an archipelago and numerous small islands with fine white sand beaches in the Indian Ocean.

Unguja; also referred to as Zanzibar and Pemba to the north are the two most notable but each island has a very distinct character.

Stone Town, located in the centre of Zanzibar's capital is the main attraction, with cobbled alleys, coral houses, quaint shops, bazaars, mosques, ancient buildings, squares and interesting museums. One of the largest structures, the House of Wonders (Beit el-Ajaib), Zanzibar's Museum of History and Culture is well worth a visit, take a dhow tour (traditional boat) or go in search of Freddie Mercury's origins.

Where is it?
An archipelago and islands in the Indian Ocean, less than 31 miles (50km) off the mainland coast.

What is it?
A semi autonomous part of Tanzania in East Africa. Stone Town, the historic center of its capital city Zanzibar City, is a world heritage site, protected as the only functioning ancient East African town.

Best time to visit?
The long dry season is between June and October (there's a less predictable short dry season too). Try to time your visit so that you can see the wildebeest migration in the Serengeti on the same trip

Must see?
In contrast to Zanzibar, verdant Pemba is hilly, densely vegetated and off the tourist track. The beaches, hidden coves and emerald coloured bays are unspoiled and voodoo still flourishes in its interior.

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Zanzibar, Tanzania