Located on the Indian Ocean coast, Dar es Salaam is Tanzania’s largest city (although not the capital). Founded in the 1860s, Dar is relatively modern compared with other coastal settlements. Aside from a few museums and their botanical gardens, we don’t find that there are many attractions in Dar itself, which is why we use it as more of a stopover location for no more than a night. Be wary of long layovers in Dar es Salaam before connecting on an international flights. There’s nothing to do near the airport (apart from a basic aviation lounge), yet the traffic in and out of the city can be atrocious and upwards of 1 to 2 hours one-way, depending on the time of day – making a trip into town less appealing on a 6-hour layover.
Dar es Salaam is most often included on an itinerary when visiting Tanzania’s Southern Circuit (the Selous and Ruaha), when incorporating a beach experience onto a Tanzanian safari, or when connecting East with Southern Africa. Dar is only an hour’s scenic drive from the beaches of the Tanzanian Coast, an area which we like (including Ras Kutani), yet we still tend to prefer Zanzibar’s beaches and activities. If your safari happens to end in Zanzibar or Mozambique, you will likely make a stopover in Dar es Salaam en route home; however, most international flights will fly in and out of Kilimanjaro International Airport (near Arusha), so you’d likely skip Dar altogether if your itinerary does not include the beach.