South of Zanzibar Town
The main attraction on the coast immediately south of Zanzibar is the Mbweni area, which lies some 3km from the town centre and hosts a number of ruined and extant buildings dating to the late 19th century. There are also several hotels dotted around these southern suburbs of Zanzibar Town, and while they are not so convenient for sightseeing, shopping or visiting restaurants as their more central counterparts, they lie close to the airport (useful for early departures or late arrivals) and most run free shuttle services for guests to/from the centre. The hotels outside town are generally quieter, and they are also handy for people on business trips, as some government and NGO offices are also in this area.
Mbweni And Environs
The area of Mbweni is on the coast, about 3km directly south of Zanzibar Town. It was originally a plantation bought by the Universities Mission in Central Africa (UMCA) in 1871. Bishop Tozer (Bishop of Zanzibar from 1863 to 1873) planned to build a mission station here. His successor Bishop Steere (Bishop of Zanzibar from 1874 to 1882) oversaw the building of a church and other mission buildings, several of which are still standing today, and also used the area as a colony for freed slaves.
At the Mbweni Ruins Hotel, and bookshops in town, you can find an informative book called Zanzibar: History of the Ruins at Mbweni, by Flo Liebst, which also touches on the general history of Zanzibar and the UMCA missionaries of east Africa.
Getting there and away
To reach Mbweni, take the main road out of town going towards the airport. Go uphill through the area called Kinuamiguu ('lift your legs') and another area called Mazizini. After a few kilometres, at a signpost to Mbweni and Chukwani, fork right, then turn right again after 500m onto a smaller road. Continue down this road towards the sea to reach Mbweni. Dala-dalas on Route U run between the town and the airport and go past the main Mbweni and Chukwani junction.