7 Best Things to Do in Arusha & Moshi, Tanzania

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Planning a trip to Tanzania and looking for the top things to do in Arusha or Moshi? These regions are close together so you can easily explore both places during the same trip. 

Arusha is a large ex-pat town, so you will be able to make foreign friends and local friends as well. The scenery and landscape are beautiful and are a great starting point for exploring Tanzania or East Africa. 

I stayed in Arusha for a few months working as an ex-pat and was able to travel extensively around Tanzania. I also visited Arusha a year after I left to see all the amazing friends I made. 

Arusha is also the starting point for many safaris. So, you’ll find yourself in Arusha before heading to Serengeti or Tarangire National Park. There is also a huge nightlife and party scene if you enjoy hitting the bars and clubs. 

Here are my top recommendations for things to do in Arusha and a few things to do in Moshi on a day trip! 

women selling fruit at a local market, arusha tanzania

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Go on a Safari at Arusha National Park 

Arusha National Park is much smaller than Tanzania’s other national parks like Serengeti and Tarangire. You can see a large number of animals when you visit. I recommend visiting Arusha National Park, and making your way to another larger park as well. 

One unique thing about Arusha National Park is that you can go horseback riding right where the animals graze and lounge. It’s a much different experience than being in a safari car the whole time. 

Arusha National Park also has stunning views of Mount Meru. If you are doing other safaris around Tanzania, book them at the same time through the same company to get the best prices. 

giraffe at arusha national park, arusha national park, arusha safari

Soak up the View at Gran Melia 

Gran Melia is one of the best hotels in Arusha. They’re all about luxury, from the lobby to the rooms to the rooftop bar. You don’t have to be a guest of the hotel to visit the rooftop bar or eat at the restaurant. 

You can also pay a small fee and swim in their pool. When I was living in Arusha, I loved going to the rooftop bar in the evening. You can see the beautiful landscaping of the gardens below and get one of the best views of Mount Meru. 

Gran Melia is located at Simeon Road 1184 Tanzania TZ, 1184, Tanzania. The bar and lounge hours change depending on the season. So make sure to check the website to get enough time to order a drink and relax with the view. 

view from gran melia rooftop lounge, mount meru, hotel gardens, arusha hotels, arusha weather
Photo Credit: Natalie Castle

Take a Dip at the Mount Meru Hotel Pool 

If you’re visiting Arusha in the warmer months, enjoy a few pool days at the Mount Meru Hotel pool. Even on hot days, it’s quiet. You can enjoy the peace and order a few drinks. They have a poolside bar and food service. 

If you’re traveling solo, it’s a great place to meet fellow ex-pats on the weekends as it’s a popular hangout spot. They charge a small fee if you’re not a guest of the hotel, which you can pay at the reception desk. 

They also have bathrooms and nice showers behind the bar for changing and rinsing off. 

Mount Meru Hotel is located at Arusha-Taveta Road Sekei Area Arusha TZ, 2673, Tanzania. The pool hours change by season, so make sure to call ahead. In the warmer months, they are open from dawn to dusk. 

Take a Day Trip to Moshi 

Moshi is the next region over from Arusha. It’s huge, so there are many places to explore. It’s also a large ex-pat region, but I met more friends in Arusha as Moshi is more spread out. 

Moshi is home to Mount Kilimanjaro and Kilimanjaro National Park. If you’re planning to climb or visit the park, you can always spend a few days in Moshi before heading back to Arusha or your next East African destination. 

Moshi also has a large nightlife scene. It’s common for people from Arusha to go to Moshi for drinks and clubbing and then to come back early the next morning. 

For a single day trip, I recommend doing some (or all) of these activities:

Feel free to spend a night or two if you find more you want to do! Visiting the hot springs is my favorite thing to do in Moshi. It’s in a very remote area, and they have a nice bar and fresh goat meat dishes as well. 

It can get crowded in the warm months, so consider going early. 

maji moto hot springs in moshi, arusha to moshi, distance from arusha to moshi
Maji Moto, Photo Credit: Natalie Castle

Buy Some Tanzanite at Isle of Jewels 

You have probably seen many places that mention shopping for tanzanite at the Tanzanite Experience in Arusha. The Tanzanite Experience is a great place to learn about the jewel itself and the mining process, but I do not recommend buying your jewels here as they are a bit overpriced. 

The Tanzanite Experience is one of the main tourist attractions in Arusha, so the jewelry tends to be priced higher than at other places. Feel free to do the tour, then head to Isle of Jewels to make your purchases! 

Isle of Jewels has great prices, and the owner will usually give you a discount if you’re buying larger items or more than one item. They also sell gemstones and jewelry other than Tanzanite. 

I loved buying items for myself and my relatives here. I also never felt pressured to buy more which was a nice change from the Tanzanite Experience. 

Make sure to go out on the balcony for an amazing view of Arusha. The store is on the 8th floor of a business building so it has a great aerial view of the city.

Isle of Jewels is located at OLD MOSHI ROAD, PSSF BUILDING 8TH FLOOR ARUSHA TZ, 12581, Tanzania. They’re open weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. They’re closed on Sundays. 

Climb Mount Meru 

If you want to see Arusha and Moshi from above, you can climb Mount Meru. It’s much less difficult than Kilimanjaro and takes less time as well. Most climbers make the whole trip in 3 or 4 days. 

You can climb without much training, but it does get pretty challenging in some areas. If you are climbing during the dry season on a clear day, you can even see Mount Kilimanjaro looming in the distance. 

Climbing Mount Meru will require some heavy-duty warmer clothes. You can always rent them from the climbing company, so you don’t overburden your own suitcase on the flight to Tanzania. 

This tour to hike Mount Meru looks like a great one with great reviews!

mount meru, things to do in arusha, arusha tanzania weather

Go Shopping in the Local Markets 

The local markets can be overwhelming since they are crowded and everyone is trying to sell you something. I recommend going with a guide the first time. Or, take one of your new local friends. Pickpocketing is common, so make sure to watch your belongings. 

These markets are a great way to practice your Swahili, learn about the culture, and get some great deals on local items. 

You can buy produce, meats, spices, and more. I also bought tons of clothes and second-hand hiking boots here. They have name brands you’ll be familiar with as many ex-pats leave behind their clothes, and the market sellers resell them. 

There are many local markets, but the largest ones with the best things for sale are the central market and Kilombero market.

How to Get to Arusha

If you’re already in Tanzania, you can fly to the small Arusha Regional Airport (ARK). It only has daily domestic flights with Precision Airlines and sometimes Air Tanzania. 

If you’re coming from outside of Tanzania, you will need to fly to Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO). Then, you can catch a bus to Arusha or hire a private taxi from the airport. JRO is located in Moshi and is about 45 minutes to an hour to Arusha. 

Renting a car from the airport is quite expensive. I don’t recommend renting a car unless you have a local friend that knows someone who rents cars or has a local car renting service. 

How to Get Around Arusha

My favorite way to travel around Arusha and most cities in east Africa is by taking a boda boda (motorbike). It’s the easiest and quickest way to travel. 

Don’t hop on the back of just anyone’s motorbike, though. Always ask the hotel or place you’re staying if they have a recommendation for a driver for you. Most hotel workers have a list of safe drivers or a friend they trust. 

You can also take the dala dalas, which are public taxis. They can be confusing to navigate since the driver just shouts out the stops in Swahili. There is no posted route or map. I stayed in Arusha for a few months before I got comfortable taking these by myself. 

You can also download the InDriver app. It’s similar to Uber in that you order rides, but you pay in cash instead of linking a card to the app. This is the best way to get home at night, especially if you’re leaving a bar or club very late. 

arusha town aeriel view, arusha time

Best Time to Visit Arusha

Considering Arusha, Tanzania weather is important when trying to determine your travel dates. Arusha is mountainous and can get pretty cold and dreary. 

The first time I went was in September.  I didn’t pack appropriately, so I was cold for the first month until the weather got warmer in October. It generally stays cold from about June to October. 

I enjoyed the cold because I thought it was better for hiking and safaris. You generally only need pants, a light jacket, and a thin scarf. So, it’s not so cold that it’s too uncomfortable to be outside. 

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June through October is also the dry season, so you won’t experience much rain. If you plan to visit Arusha National Park, the animals are also more active during the dry season. 

Best Arusha Hotels

BudgetTulia Retreat Hotel & Spa is in the Uzungini district, very close to many restaurants and bars. They have an amazing breakfast that is a mix between local food and western-style options. The grounds are also beautiful if you feel like sitting and relaxing in the nice weather. 

Mid-rangeFour Points by Sheraton Arusha: The Wi-Fi is incredibly stable and one of the best places to use your computer while in Arusha. I often took advantage of it in the restaurant or bar. The grounds are really pretty and lush with a full garden and pool. It’s also only a 6-minute walk to the Natural History Museum. 

LuxuryGran Melia Hotel: I only stayed at Gran Melia one night for a friend’s birthday party. The rooms are expensive but worth the splurge. You can upgrade to a suite if you’re traveling with friends or family. Definitely take advantage of the bathtubs and the room service! 

If you’re in Arusha for a while and want to get outside the city for a bit, check out Legendary Lodge and Serena Hotel. Legendary Lodge is on a coffee farm with tons of grounds and gardens to explore. You can choose between a single-room cottage or a family cottage.

Serena Hotel is right on the edge of Lake Duluti about 11 miles from Arusha town. The flower gardens are amazing. You can even host events or a wedding here if you are visiting Arusha for a special occasion. They also have a spa and library on-site.

breakfast at grand melia hotel, arusha hotels, coffee, fruit and granola breakfast
Gran Melia Breakfast, Photo Credit: Natalie Castle

Best Restaurants in Arusha

George’s Tavern is one of my favorite places if you are homesick and looking for western food. They mostly offer Greek and Italian-style food. I love the salmon fillet with fresh mashed potatoes, and the lamb meatballs are also fantastic. The outdoor seating is cute with lanterns and heaters. 

Uzungini Park is my top recommended place if you want to try local food. I love the barbecue fish (it’s a whole fish) with your choice of sides. The ugali (thick maize porridge) with vegetables or beans was another favorite. They have nice wine at good prices, and you can even take your unfinished bottle to go. 

The Hub is my favorite place if you want to eat and drink. It’s a bar inside, but you can sit outside in one of the canvas tents or around the fire pit if you don’t want to be right near the music. They have great mixed drinks and wine and serve local and western food. 

The Best Things to Do in Arusha (and Moshi!) are Waiting For You! 

Ready to travel to Arusha and Moshi? Hopefully, this guide of the best things to do in Arusha will help you plan your trip! 

Arusha is one of my favorite places I have ever lived as an ex-pat, and I’m always itching to go back. 

You’ll definitely fall in love with Arusha and will want to see more of Tanzania! The huge region of Moshi can also keep you entertained for a while since it’s home to Kilimanjaro National Park. 

If you’ve been to Arusha, share your favorite thing you did below.

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