How to get to Arusha City / Town
Arusha City is only a 1hour drive away from the town of Arusha, the starting point of any safari in northern Tanzania.
There are several ways to get to Arusha. The easiest is to get a direct flight to Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO), which is situated about 46km/29mi from Arusha. Alternatively, you can fly to Julius Nyerere International Airport (DAR), near Dar es Salaam and get a connecting domestic flight to Arusha Airport (ARK) or Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO).
Kilimanjaro National Airport and Arusha Municpal Airport are the two airports that service the city of Arusha, with KNA being the only airport that brings in international travelers. You can travel from Arusha to Zanzibar, i.e., from the Bush to the Beach, it is a very popular route and many people travel on this route to spend some time in the white sandy beaches of Zanzibar.
Another route is Arusha to Dar es Salaam and onward to Zanzibar or if you are coming to Arusha you can take flights from Zanzibar to Dar es Salaam and onward to Arusha. AMA deals specifically in domestic flights.
Arusha is a fascinating place that leads onto great opportunities for exploration and adventure. That said, it is also a city that’s alive with a distinct and beautiful culture. Anybody who values history and a deeper understanding of other cultures would do well to spend a day within the city before moving on.
4 ways to go to Arusha National Park
Difference between fly and go by a car is.
Arusha City - Town FAQ's
Nairobi is the largest city in East Africa and has good international flight connectivity. So you can also consider taking a flight to Nairobi and travelling to Arusha by road. Please keep in mind that Nairobi is in Kenya and you would need a separate VISA for Kenya and Tanzania if you are planning to travel from Nairobi to Arusha by road. Additionally, you will also need a Yellow fever vaccination certificate to show at the border while travelling from Kenya to Tanzania.
You can take a shuttle from Nairobi to Arusha. This shuttle takes around 6-6.5 hours which includes crossing borders (30-45 minutes) and VISA formalities at Namanga border. Shuttle usually departs at 8:00 AM and again at 2:00 PM from Nairobi to Arusha and costs about $35 per person. We can arrange private transportation between Nairobi to Arusha at $250 per vehicle (Toyota Alphard or similar).
Dar-es-Salaam to Arusha is about 620 km and takes about 11-12 hours by road. There are bus services available between these cities and bus tickets cost around $45 per person. Bus usually departs in the morning around 6:00 AM. Given the long duration of these bus rides, flying is the most popular option from Dar es Salaam to Arusha. You can also fly from Dar es salaam to a national park like Serengeti directly and start your safari.
Moshi town is the base for climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro. If you are trekking up Kilimanjaro before safari, your Kilimanjaro operator will drop you at Moshi on the last day of the trek. Moshi to Arusha is about 85 km and takes about 2 hours each way. We charge $100 for a private transfer between Moshi to Arusha in a Toyota Alphard or similar vehicle.
We advise clients finishing Kilimanjaro trek to travel to Arusha on the last day of their trek and rest in Arusha and start safari the next day. Starting your Northern Tanzania Safari from Arusha instead of Moshi will save you about 2 hours of transfer time.
Kilimanjaro International Airport
You can also fly to Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO) which is the nearest international airport to Arusha and has daily flights from local, African and international airlines. Arusha hotels will be about 1 hour drive from JRO.
JRO has regular connections from major cities in Tanzania like Dar-es-salaam and Zanzibar, along with major East African cities – Nairobi, Entebbe, Kigali and Addis Ababa. It also has flights from some large cities in Europe and Asia like Amsterdam, Istanbul, Dubai and Doha.
Regional Air Services is an airline based in Arusha, Tanzania. It is the Tanzanian division of AIRKENYA and operates domestic services and charter flights in East and Southern Africa.The airline was established in 1997 and started operations in July 1997. It is wholly owned by AIRKENYA Aviation Scheduled services are operated to Arusha, Kilimanjaro, Zanzibar, Manyara, Seronera, Grumeti and Klein’s Camp.
Precision Air is an airline based in Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania. It operates scheduled air services for tourists and business traffic between Dar Es Salaam and 12 airports in Tanzania, together with flights to neighboring Kenya and Uganda. Its main base is Julius Nyerere International Airport, Dar es Salaam with hubs at Kilimanjaro International Airport, Arusha Airport and Mwanza Airport. Precision Air was established in 1991 and started operations in 1994. It began as a crop sprayer, but expanded to serve the growing tourist market. Precision Air operates the following domestic destinations: Bukoba, Dar es Salaam, Arusha, Kigoma, Kilimanjaro, Lindi, Musoma, Mtwara, Mwanza, Shinyanga, Tabora and Zanzibar Airport.
Since our inaugural flight in 1992,
ZanAir has continued to establish a quality reputation and is an acknowledged expert within Tanzania serving all destinations, including remote unpaved bush locations.
ZanAir is looking forward to adding you to its list of satisfied customers.
That’s why it is “Zanzibars Premier Aviation Company” Domestic destinations:
Arusha (ARK), Dar es Salaam (DAR), Pemba (PMA), Saadani (SD1), Selous (SE1), Zanzibar (ZNZ).
Yes, there is a direct train departing from Dar es Salaam and arriving at Arusha. Services depart three times a week, and operate Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
There are currently seven lakes in the park: Small Momella, Big Momella, Kusare, Lekandiro, El Kekhotoito, Tulusia, and Rishateni.
Very much so! Besides the high animal concentration here, the park also boasts wonderful birdlife, landscape, and ease of access.
|Distance: 46.9KM||Time: 1.5HR|
Arusha Region in Tanzania
Arusha is the nearest major city to iconic parks of Northern Tanzania like Serengeti, Ngorongoro, Tarangire, Manyara & more. So most Tanzania safari tours start from Arusha and the majority of the tour operators and guides are also located in Arusha. Before you start your Tanzania safari, we recommend to arrive in Arusha a day in advance and rest in the city.
Serengeti Trips Tanzania
Find all the transport options for your trip from Arusha to Ngorongoro Crater right here. We displays up to date schedules, route maps, journey times and estimated fares from relevant transport operators, ensuring you can make an informed decision about which option will suit you best.
From Arusha to Other areas
Things to do in Arusha
Cultural tourism programmes are organised in several nearby villages to introduce visitors to the indigenous Wa-arusha and Maasai tribes. They are great alternatives to the safari scene.
These programmes are built around village activities and they can be half-day tours or overnight trips. If you stay overnight, expect basic accommodation – either camping or staying in a traditional homestay.
Some excellent tours include Mkuru, Mto wa Mbu, and Longido. Located north of Mt Meru, Mkuru stands out from the other villages as one of the only camel riding communities.
You can explore the local culture by arranging a camel riding safari guided by Maasai warriors. You can choose between a short safari that lasts for a few hours, or a longer trek to Lake Natron or OI Doinyo Lengai.
Longido town offers splendid walks around the village, with rare wildlife like gernuk, lesser kudu, and klipspringer antelopes living in the bush. Mto wa Mbu is a very interesting tribe with a diverse population, and many residents were attracted to the area by the fertility of its soil.
Each community farms its own produce according to the tradition of their tribal backgrounds. In this village, there are some basic guest houses for accommodation.
With any cultural tourism programme, there is a fine line between community empowerment and simply empowering the entrepreneurs that run them. Nevertheless, the programmes still provide employment for locals, and many of the programmes near Arusha raise money for projects that will benefit the local communities.
For example, the Longido village tour is raising money towards a new cattle dip to protect the herd, which suffers around 1,000 deaths per year.
Other projects fund education, irrigation, or ecological work. Moreover, these programmes are an excellent chance to educate yourself about other people, cultures, and history.
Learn about the history and rarity of tanzanite. This precious gemstone is unique to Tanzania and you can visit the small museum and makeshift mine on India Street.
Here, you can learn how this coveted stone was created, named, mined, cut, polished, and graded. And of course, you can purchase one of Tanzania’s proudest exports if you wish.
Arusha is filled with craft and curio markets to satisfy travellers who are looking for souvenirs and unique gifts. This is one of the best places to buy Maasai beadwork and jewellery, either from street venders or from the curio shops.
The Arusha central market is a good place to start, and it sells traditional Maasai fabrics, hand-woven baskets, exotic fruit, coffee, nuts, and spices.
The town is home to several interesting museums, including the Boma Museum, which chronicles the fascinating colonial history of the town alongside the tribal history of the area, and the Cultural Heritage Centre, which is dedicated to Tanzania’s culture.
The Cultural Heritage Centre explores Tanzania’s history, wildlife, and culture, and has an excellent shop which sells unusual souvenirs. This shopping experience is hassle free and you will find some truly unique experiences, although the prices are a little higher.
The Mt Meru Curios and Crafts Market, sometimes referred to as the Maasai Market on Fire Road, is another popular shopping destination. It may take some confident bartering and time to pick out the best items, but this has some of the best options in the city.
Other shopping options include the Maasai Women Fair Trade Centre, Shwari, Shanga, and Jamaliyah.
The area has a strong coffee and café culture. Numerous coffee plantations surround the town, and many have small guesthouses on the property, including Arusha Coffee Lodge.
You can either stay overnight and enjoy a ramble across the plantation or take a ‘Bean-to-cup’ tour to learn about the coffee-making process.
Thanks to the abundance of coffee in the area, the town also has a surprisingly good café culture, with shops selling a selection of flat whites and iced lattes.
Some of the best options include Africafe and Jambo Coffee on Boma Road, or Café Barrista on Sokoin Road.
There are several day trips available from the town centre which showcase the surrounding landscape and wildlife.
One of the most popular experiences is a tour of Arusha National Park. You can visit for a half day or full day game drive. Although there are no predators, this hidden gem has some beautiful scenery and excellent bird-watching opportunities.
Another option is to go canoeing in the lake within the park. Remember to pause and enjoy the remarkable views of Mt Meru.
As well as Arusha National Park, you can reach Tarangire National Park for a chance to see the Big Five. This trip takes 8 hours, but it is a great chance to tick the Big Five off your bucket-list.
Mt Meru is a popular alternative trek to Mt Kilimanjaro. Although it is a more technically challenging climb than Kilimanjaro, it is often used as a warm-up. Hikes begin in the middle of the night so that you can enjoy the sunrise from the summit.
Alternatively, you can hike the lower slopes for a less strenuous option. And if that sounds too taxing, you can just admire this dormant volcano from afar.
For a really challenging hike, we recommend the OI Doinyo Lengai. This is the only volcano in the world to emit ‘cool’ (950°C) lava. This is a rather unforgiving hike as there are no flat areas, but most adventurers claim that it is worth the early start and physical effort.
A Maasai guide will escort you to protect you from hyenas and leopards.
The popular Meserani Snake Park is located 25km west of Arusha. Travellers can take a guided tour and learn about some of the most venomous snakes in the world, including the Green and Black mamba and the Egyptian cobra.
The park is a great day out for families. There are also crocodiles and monitor lizards, and you will get the opportunity to hold a tortoise.
You can also take a tour of the Maasai Cultural Museum with a Maasai guide.
Arusha Travel Guide
There is more to Arusha than initially meets the eye. With impressive museums, cultural heritage programmes, crafts, and curio markets galore, there is plenty to explore before you start your safari.
The city is multinational, with Iraqw, Hadzabe, Maasai, South Asian, and European residents.
The streets are bustling, with Maasai women sat on the sidewalks selling their beadwork, Maasai men wandering through town in their traditional red swathes, enterprising businessman trying to sell batiks, and tour guides offering various exciting 4WD adventures.
Despite this intensity, the city has a warm, welcoming atmosphere. Matching the ambiance of the city, the architecture and infrastructure is chaotic, with hectic traffic and old colonial buildings mixed with modern conveniences.
It is possible to rent a car in Arusha but parking costs $0.50 per day throughout the city. It is far more common to hire a driver, and this is particularly useful for daytrips to Arusha National Park. If you are renting a vehicle, make sure that there is no charge for ‘extra kilometres’, as this can become expensive.
Dala dalas (small minibuses) are common throughout Tanzania and these only depart when they are full. They cost 400 TSH/person and they operate along the major roads throughout the day. You will find a large station on Stadium Street.
You can also take a bajaji (tuk-tuk) for a one-dollar ride to the city centre. None of these options are particularly comfortable or safe, but they do offer an authentic Tanzanian experience.
Taxis are available and they can usually be found parked in front of hotels. A ride across town should not cost more than $2.50.
Due to the absence of predatory animals, such as lions, Arusha National Park lends itself perfectly for an exciting walking safari with a ranger.
Walking freely alongside the wildlife of Tanzania offers a truly unique experience. Here you´ll be walking at the foot of Mt. Meru, surrounded by green forests, lakes, waterfalls and a huge population of giraffes. A walking safari offers an amazing chance to be up-close with wildlife. The Colobus monkey is one of the highlights you can spot in Arusha NP and can often be found swinging from the trees.
There are some excellent authentic street-food options in Arusha. At Discovery Restaurant, you can sit beside Maasai men and enjoy a Myama choma (roasted meat and maize), chapati, pilau, or biryani.
Alternatively, try out Khan’s BBQ on Mosque Street, which serves great chicken dishes, Indian style chutneys, naans, and salads.
More upmarket options can be found in the Eastern side of town. Some of the best dining options are found outside of the city. The Themi Living Gardens is a leafy spot where you can eat at the eco-restaurant, Eat Wild. The Mulberry is another outer-city oasis where you can sit back and enjoy cocktails as you watch the sunset. For travellers who like to party, this is an excellent spot for pre-drinks.
The city has a lively nightlife, with several bars and nightclubs (we recommend Via Via) and a growing live music scene. There are weekly acts at the Mount Meru Game Lodge, Blue Heron, and the Fig and Olive.
In the city
There are several budget options in Arusha, including The African Tulip and the Impala Hotel.
The Impala Hotel: A large hotel with a pool and restaurant, and it is a great option if you are looking for a place to stay after an international flight or the night before a safari.
The African Tulip: A quaint boutique hotel which offers an airport shuttle. Most of the upmarket hotels can be found in the eastern area of Arusha. The Gran Melia Arusha offers fantastic views of Mt Meru, a well-stocked bar, a spa, and a pool.
In the suburbs
Some of the best accommodation options in Arusha lie outside of the city. The less expensive options include Onsea House, Rivertrees, and Arumeru River Lodge.
Onsea House: A charming boutique guesthouse that was originally a farmhouse. It has two swimming pools, a sauna, a steam room, and a jacuzzi, and its gardens are tranquil. The guesthouse also has a restaurant which serves delicious food.
The guesthouse is only an hour away from the airport, making it an excellent place to relax before or after a safari. Onsea House offers 2 double suites and a family suite that overlooks the Meru Valley. The adjacent self-contained cottage is perfect for families.
Arumeru River Lodge: A peaceful lodge which offers great access to Kilimanjaro International Airport. It has vast gardens which are home to dik-diks, monkeys and countless bird species. On a clear day, the lodge has exceptional views of Mt Meru and Mt Kilimanjaro. The lodge organises horseback safaris and it is tastefully furnished with traditional dhow furniture.
Rivertrees Lodge: Located on an old coffee farm and with views of Mt Meru and Mt Kilimanjaro, the lodge is an excellent base for trekking. The delicious food matches the high quality of the coffee, and its oven-fired pizza pit is popular with its guests.
Arusha Coffee Lodge: Just a 25-minute drive from Arusha, this old plantation brims with luxury. The exquisitely decorated rooms are spread across the grounds and each room has its own indoor fireplace. Given that the lodge is a former coffee plantation, it offers tours of the old plantation house and coffee-making process. The theme of coffee runs throughout the hotel – in the bar, restaurant, gardens, and even the spa.
Arusha offers visitors a wide array of places to go and things to do. There are many coffee shops and restaurants, and the town has lively nightlife. If you want to experience a real, bustling, busy African town, stay in Arusha for a day or two.
- The Clock Tower, situated slap-bang in the centre of town, is a great meeting point for both locals and tourists. Urban legend has it that this is the middle-point between Cape Town and Cairo. It’s completely untrue, but a great story nonetheless.
- Central and Maasai Markets – chaotic and vibrant markets that sell everything from meat and fish to fabrics and electronics. Maasai Markets have a wide array of curios and African art. They’re crowded and busy but they’re a great way to experience real Africa. Beware of pickpockets and be prepared to haggle!
- The Cultural Heritage Centre includes a museum, restaurant, spice centre, shops, and a garden scattered with incredible sculptures. The Makonde Museum filled with masterfully carved masks is a must-see.
- At the Tanzanite Experience, learn about the history of tanzanite, and how these gorgeous gems are mined. Don’t forget to buy one to take home.
- The Boma Museum, originally a fort built by the Germans in the early 1900s, chronicles the colonial history of the town and the tribal history of the area. It also houses the Natural History Museum, with fascinating info on the archaeological and paleoanthropological sites in the area and wildlife.
- Shanga, out on the Dodoma Road, is a fabulous centre incorporating a workshop for disabled artists who make beautiful glasswork, beadwork, jewellery and clothes, boutiques and an open-air restaurant.
- Meserani Snake Park, a little further out of Arusha, allows you to see a wide range of snakes, learn about them, and even hold some! There’s also a small Maasai Museum and camel rides there.