Just off the coast of Tanzania, the African island of Zanzibar isn't simply a sunny, sandy paradise geared toward honeymoon couples -- it's an island of bright beauty and dark history.
Every building, boutique hotel and narrow street in UNESCO World Heritage Site Stone Town has a story -- from the slave trade to the birthplace of Freddie Mercury.
Yes, the beaches are stunning, the breezes are warm and the beer is cold.
But there's a lot more to see, do and enjoy on this small island in the Indian Ocean.
The Palace Museum
Built in the 19th century, the former Sultan's Palace (also known as Beit el-Sahel) perches on the seafront and is one of Stone Town's iconic buildings.
One of the palace's most famous residents was Khalid bin Barghash, who was forced by the British to outlaw seaborne slavery in 1873.
This edict -- more can be learned about it in the museum -- was a significant step toward the abolition of the Arab slave trade, memorialized by the nearby Cathedral of Christ, which was built on the site of the old slave market.
It's said that the altar is positioned where the old whipping post once stood.
More on Stone Town and the Palace Museum.
Streets of Stone Town
The historic center of Zanzibar, Stone Town is the archetypal Arabian Nights town.
Guests can spend days losing themselves in the winding, narrow streets, marveling at the minarets that spear the skyline, as well as exploring the colonial buildings leftover from the Portuguese, British and Germans.
Fans of Freddie Mercury (born Faroukh Bulsara in Stone Town, 1946) will appreciate the Zanzibar Gallery, which features a gold plaque commemorating its most famous son.
Mercury's Bar & Restaurant (Mizingani Road, +255 77 741 3081) capitalizes on the singer's adopted name.
Unsurprisingly, Queen's greatest hits permeate the venue's soundtrack, and staff are eager to tell you where they think the singer was born -- though it seems no one can agree on an exact location.
Mercury's is one of the few restaurants in Stone Town located on the beach, and is conveniently close to Forodhani Gardens.
Many such buildings have been converted into stunning boutique guesthouses, including Mashariki Palace Hotel (doubles from $220) and the more affordable Stone Town Café bed and breakfast (rooms start at $80 per night).
Forodhani Gardens at Stone Town
The Forodhani Gardens food market comes to life as the sun goes down.
People wander amid the food stalls for snacks including Zanzibar pizzas, sugarcane drinks and fresh seafood.
Even if you're not hungry, Forodhani Gardens is worth a visit for the sights and sounds.
Forodhani is located close to the Zanzibar ferry port, walking west along the Mizingani Road (keeping the sea to your right).
As the name suggests, Zanzibar pizza is the island's signature dish.