Tunisia


Overview

Tunisia travel guide, including map of Tunisia, top Tunisia travel experiences, tips for travel in Tunisia, plus how to explore the Sahara in Tunisia

Tunisia for some is a fly-and-flop beach destination. And with a lovely climate, fine Mediterranean beaches and cheap flights, who can blame them? However, Tunisia has plenty for the more adventurous traveller too.

Wave goodbye to the package holidaymakers at the airport in Tunis and jump aboard a louage to the Roman city of Dougga or the lovely mountain town of Le Kef. Other less touristy destinations include Sfax and Kairouan, where you can potter around the souqs, steam away your troubles in a hammam and gorge on couscous.

If you’ve always dreamed of crossing the Sahara by camel, Tunisia is the place: fly to Tozeur or bus it to Douz, where bona fide explorers can also rent a 4WD to access the remote south.

Wanderlust recommends

  1. Gallop across the Sahara Desert on horse-back
  2. Take a weekend break in Tunis
  3. Scrub yourself clean in a hammam
  4. Head to Kairouan, one of Islam’s holiest sites and a world away from the touristy coastal resorts
  5. Visit Douz at the end of December for the Festival of the Sahara
  6. Bargain in the souqs of Sfax – one of Tunisia’s most unspoilt walled cities

Wanderlust tips 

Always use licensed cabs, especially from the airport, and ask around first about how much the fare should be.

If you hate haggling, head to one of the government-run Socopa shops for quality souvenirs without the patter. Otherwise, learn a few words of Arabic and bargain hard over a few glasses of mint tea.

 

Further Reading

Travel in Tunisia: vital statistics

  • Capital of Tunisia: Tunis
  • Population of Tunisia: 10 million
  • Languages in Tunisia: Arabic, French
  • Time in Tunisia: GMT+1/2
  • International dialling code in Tunisia: +216
  • Voltage in Tunisia: 127 - 220V/50Hz
  • Visas for Tunisia: Tunisia visa
  • Money in Tunisia: Tunisian dinar (TD). The Euro, UK pound and US dollars are easy to change. ATMs are available in major towns and tourist areas. Credit card use is not widespread. Tips are not necessary in restaurants or in taxis but will be much appreciated.  
  • Tunisia travel advice: Foreign & Commonwealth Office
  • Tunisia tourist board: Tunisia National Tourist Office

When to go to Tunisia

Costal towns in Tunisia are at their busiest in July and August when sunny days are guaranteed. For desert trips, visit between late September and November and March to early May and avoid July and August at all costs. For central and northern Tunisia, April, June, September and October are good months to visit.

 

International airports

Tunis (TUN) 10km from city

 

Getting around Tunisia

Louages (long-distance shared taxis) are by far the most popular way for local people to travel the country. Buses offer more comfort than louages but you miss out on meeting the locals.

Trains are comfortable but slow and don’t cover the whole country. Cycling in Tunisia is good in the spring and autumn. Stay off the major roads and bring plenty of spares. Most regional airports have a daily flight to Tunis.

Tunisia accommodation

Tunisian accommodation runs the whole gamut from swanky 5-star resorts to campsites and grotty, shared rooms. Hotels are either classified (meaning they’ve been inspected by the government, given a star rating and include breakfast) or non-classified.

Solo female travellers should choose budget accommodation very carefully – if all the clientele are men, think again. Campsites tend to be basic. If you’re just after a week by the pool, tourist resort hotels are good value if you book them in advance as part of a package.  

Tunisia food & drink

Couscous is the number one dish in Tunisia, eaten in hundreds of different ways but most often alongside a thick meaty stew. Tunisians like it spicy –  harissa, a fierce chilli sauce, creeps into everything.

Tunisia has excellent seafood. Look for kabkabou, a baked fish dish with tangy lemons, capers, tomatoes and saffron or juicy garlic-grilled prawns. The French influence is strong here which means excellent coffee, long crusty baguettes and sticky pastries are common.

Alcohol is fairly readily available but female travellers will find most bars are dauntingly all-male.

Health & safety in Tunisia

Check with your GP before you travel that your vaccinations are up to date. Mosquitoes are a pain in southern oasis towns – take plenty of repellent. 

Street crime is not a big problem but hang on extra tight to your stuff in the medina. Women can find travelling in Tunisia challenging; unwanted attention is extremely common.