As many other beautiful places of Tanzania, Tanga also overlooks the coast and the Indian Ocean. Smaller than Dar Es Salaam, quieter than Arusha, brighter than the capital Dodoma, Tanga is the third city of Tanzania with over 270.000 inhabitants. And certainly a city to discover and to live.
The name means “sailing”, which already says it all about this city and its port. No matter how beautiful Tanga’s historic centre is, the real soul of the place is the harbour and the neighbourhoods around it. Tanga is also the name of the lovely region of which the city is proud capital. Why should you choose this corner of Tanzania for your African trip? Well, because you just cannot miss it.
Tanga, from slave trades to tourism
Tanga used to be a quiet fishermen town up to the 16th century. Then, the Portuguese colonization turned it into one of the most important points of slave trades in Africa. This sad “business” made the city grow larger and larger, though today it is seen as a shame.
Germans arrived in the 19th century and changed the architectural aspect of the small capital. It became an elegant, rich city and very important too. At least until 1900, when the new agricultural policy of Tanzania moved the people’s interest to the inner towns.
Recently, tourism has discovered again the region of Tanga and its capital city. But besides the beauty of the city itself, tourist love the surroundings and use Tanga as a base for their trips and safaris.
Tanga port and its surroundings
The port of Tanga is the second largest in Tanzania, today. But it is also the oldest. It seems it was a known and active harbour since the 6th century AD! Today it is very modern, the beating heart of the city.
Also tourism lives around it. The surrounding areas are the most beautiful, with monuments, shops, restaurants, hotels, museums and panoramic points. Some of the most charming beaches in Tanga are very close to the port.
More tourist attractions near Tanga
Not far from Tanga, there are interesting places to visit. Toten Island is a small islet set off the port. It used to be a cemetery-island but it also keeps the ruins of very old mosques. Old mosques and tombs make another interesting archaeological site: Tongoni. This used to be an important trade town, before the Portuguese dominion left it abandoned.
Worth the visit: the hot springs of Galanos, the Magoroto Lake, Amboni Limestone Caves (8 km from Tanga, covering over 230 sq.km). Do not miss the chance of your Tanganese safari! Saadani National Park is 240 km south of the city and you can get there in a 4-hour drive. Speaking of beautiful nature … Tanga is proud of its protected mangrove bushes, mainly growing along the coast.
Tanga is well connected to the rest of Tanzania thanks to motorways, railways and a small airport. Flights land here from Dar Es Salaam and Zanzibar everyday.
The best period to visit Tanga is from June to August. No rain and not too hot temperatures.
Curiosity about the city: the most important hospitals and research labs of Africa have their seat in Tanga.