Tunisia is the northernmost nation in Africa, identified for its abundance of historic monuments and seaside resorts.
The nation is commonly ignored by travellers who flock to close by locations in North Africa, equivalent to Morocco or Egypt. Nonetheless, Tunisia’s wealthy historical past, coastal cities, and infinite kilometres of Mediterranean shoreline has a lot to supply of its personal.
On this article, I’ll share with you 10 suggestions to your first go to to Tunisia based mostly on my latest go to that can assist you profit from your journey.
1. Fly in from Europe
Air hyperlinks into Tunisia are most plentiful from Europe, notably France. You’ll discover ample day by day flights from Paris, in addition to handy connections from different French cities like Lyon, Nantes, Lille, Good, and Marseille.
Air France operates fairly a number of day by day flights, though they cost fairly a premium in comparison with Tunisair, Novelair Tunisie, and Transavia.
On condition that the flight instances are prone to be within the vary of 1 to 2 hours, an inexpensive economic system class ticket from a European hub would possibly properly be the easiest way to entry Tunisia.
Tunisia and Novelair additionally provide hyperlinks to Germany, Italy, Spain, and different European international locations, although with much less frequent service. Lufthansa’s providers from Frankfurt are additionally price a glance, particularly in the event you’re redeeming Aeroplan factors.
And in the event you’re visiting Tunisia as half of a bigger journey to the Center East and North Africa area, you possibly can search for flights on Royal Air Maroc, Egyptair, Qatar Airways, and Emirates from their respective hubs as properly.
In my case, I flew into Tunis (TUN) from Frankfurt on a Lufthansa ticket booked with Aeroplan, after which booked a departing flight from Monastir (MIR) to Good for about €150.
2. Rent a Driver
When travelling throughout Tunisia, hiring a driver is probably going the very best type of transportation. Most of the nation’s sights and sounds are unfold throughout massive distances, even throughout the identical metropolis.
For instance, Tunis, the capital, is a sprawling metropolis befitting of any that settlement that has existed since historic instances. To discover the town comfortably, your greatest guess might be to rent a driver for the day.
You’ll be able to anticipate to be quoted round 30–40 Tunisian dinars ($12–16 CAD) per hour when hiring a driver; nonetheless, you possibly can positively attempt to negotiate a decrease price in the event you’re hiring for an extended interval.
I’d advocate hiring a driver over renting a automobile – we had associates who rented a automobile and drove from Tunis to Sousse, however they reported a horrible driving expertise alongside the freeway.
You can too use the native Bolt app to rent a taxi in the event you’re within the metropolis. You’ll nonetheless need to pay the taxi driver immediately, however the app is a good way to name taxis to your location reliably, and also you’ll have a good suggestion of the worth you possibly can anticipate to pay.
3. Most Folks Solely Converse French & Arabic
The official language of the Republic of Tunisia is Arabic, however French is extensively used because of the nation being a French protectorate for 75 years.
You’ll discover that shopkeepers, wait employees, and lodge employees typically have an honest stage of English, however apart from that, most locals we encountered solely had a rudimentary grasp.
Brushing up in your French language expertise would definitely be useful to your go to, whether or not it’s merely speaking with taxi drivers a bit of bit alongside your experience or having the ability to change views extra confidently with any locals that you just meet.
Tunisians are usually fairly welcoming and interested in what you’re doing as a traveller and the place you’re from, so having the ability to talk successfully will certainly add to your general expertise.
4. Go to the Historical Medinas
The Medinas are the traditional metropolis centres of Tunis and most main cities in Tunisia. Not solely do they function bustling hubs for locals and their day by day actions, however they’re additionally a spotlight to go to.
You’ll discover a labyrinth of snaking alleyways, slender streets, and a seemingly infinite variety of hawking stalls to flick through and get misplaced in – all nestled between cafés, eating places, and road meals distributors.
I’d notice that a number of of the retailers and stalls we handed by within the Medina appeared to be in a transitionary part, maybe briefly shuttered because of the impression of the pandemic.
Thus, the Tunis Medina was maybe a bit quieter than regular throughout my go to in the summertime of 2022, however was nonetheless a worthy attraction.
What’s extra, the labyrinthine alleyways of the Tunis Medina are interwoven with every kind of historic factors of curiosity, together with mosques and palaces relationship to the twelfth and sixteenth centuries.
The oldest mosque within the Medina is the Al-Zaytuna Mosque. It’s a novel architectural sight with its rectangular open courtyard and marble columns, and all 4 sides are surrounded instantly by the Medina alleyways.
Certainly, I truly stumbled upon the Al-Zaytuna mosque by likelihood when merely stepping by an archway and rising into the grand central courtyard.
In the meantime, in distinction to the capital, the Medina of Sousse is surrounded by a metropolis wall. There are a number of rooftop cafés within the Sousse Medina, the place you possibly can get pleasure from panoramic views of the outdated metropolis and the shoreline past it.
It’s price timing your go to to a rooftop café with the sundown to make it all of the extra particular.
5. See the Ruins of Carthage
Because the saying goes, historical past is written by the victors. You’ve probably heard of the Roman Empire, however maybe not North Africa’s as soon as dominant energy: the traditional Carthaginian civilization.
Carthage was as soon as the formidable opponent of the Romans, and the 2 nice empires fought three Punic Wars over lots of of years, through which the Romans finally emerged victorious. Now, all that’s left of Carthage are its ruins right here in modern-day Tunisia.
I discovered the ruins of Carthage to be a captivating ingredient of the nation. There’s a group of 5 – 6 historic websites shut to at least one one other, so a driver can simply take you round and go to all of them inside a number of hours.
The Baths of Antoninus have been as soon as one of many best bathtub complexes within the Roman world, and the biggest such constructing on the African continent.
Solely the foundations stay, however you possibly can stroll round, inside, and on prime of the ruins and admire the sheer scale of what they have been.
The Roman Amphitheatre consists of a circle of arches supported by columns, and was as soon as a significant Roman stadium able to holding 30,000 spectators.
Sadly, in contrast to many Roman amphitheatres, little of this one stays right now, however your creativeness actually fills within the gaps as you discover the grounds.
The Roman Villas are what’s left of Roman luxurious homes that have been constructed within the space. One villa particularly, the Villa of the Aviary, has well-preserved intricate mosaic tiling of animals on the partitions.
Stepping by the ruins of Carthage, it was fascinating to think about a path of historical past that wasn’t adopted. Tunis might’ve change into the house of a modern-day superpower in a distinct universe, and there’s a lot to ponder as you traverse throughout the dilapidated columns, partitions, and ruins.
Should you’d wish to discover extra historic ruins past Carthage, Tunisia additionally has a number of different comparable websites to supply, which have been really helpful to me:
- The Dougga archeological website was as soon as the capital of Numidia till the Roman annexation, with spectacular historic baths, cisterns, theatres, and temples.
- El Jem is an exceptionally well-preserved third-century amphitheatre that when housed 35,000 folks. It’s the third largest colosseum within the Roman Empire, and it’s in significantly higher form than the Roman Amphitheatre in Carthage.
After visiting Carthage, you’ll probably be a bit of overwhelmed by the warmth, and I’d advocate heading to Sidi Bou Mentioned to relax out a bit of.
6. Go to Sidi Bou Mentioned
Sidi Bou Mentioned is one among Tunisia’s most picturesque seaside cities. The charming suburb is simply half-hour north of Tunis, and it’s price dedicating a day or a night to spend out right here.
You’ll be able to consider Sidi Bou Mentioned because the Santorini of North Africa, with cobbled streets, white partitions, blue-domed homes, and gorgeous ocean views.
You gained’t discover a unhealthy view at any of the eating places and cafés that dot the shoreline. From the Mausoleum of Abu Mentioned el Baji, you possibly can catch stunning views of the Gulf of Tunis, Carthage, La Goulette, and the town of Tunis itself.
Ensure to cease by Café des Delices, which sits on a collection of terraces cascading down the hill and presents breathtaking views, scrumptious espresso, and refreshing fruit juice.
7. Eat Harissa for Days
There’s a ton of scrumptious meals to eat in Tunisia, virtually all of which shall be accompanied by harissa, a vibrant North African crimson chilli paste that’s served with bread at the beginning of your meal.
Staples right here in Tunisia embody dishes with lamb, fish, and couscous, and French eating can be standard in main cities. However in fact, it virtually felt like every part we ate in Tunisia was merely a car for harissa.
The scrumptious sauce is native to Tunisia, consisting of crimson chillis as the primary ingredient and a mixture of garlic, olive oil, citrus and some spices. We rapidly turned obsessive about it at each meal.
Harissa is an ideal dip to your bread, and mixes deliciously along with your principal dish. Whether or not you’ve ordered beef, lamb, or fish, you possibly can’t go mistaken with a beneficiant dollop of harissa on prime of every part.
We discovered that there’s all the time some variation in how spicy every venue serves its harissa, with the sauce typically getting spicier the additional south within the nation you go. Nonetheless, you by no means fairly know the way spicy your subsequent portion of harissa shall be.
Usually, you’ll discover nice meals all throughout Tunisia in the event you’re into North African delicacies. Beneath are a few eating places that I visited and loved:
- Restaurant L’Escargot serves a mixture of French, Tunisian, Mediterranean, and European meals. The standard of the meals is superb, and costs are cheap in comparison with what you’d pay for comparable meals in Europe.
- Dar Belhadj is positioned within the coronary heart of the Tunis Medina, serving a standard Tunisian multi-course menu.
- Dar Zarrouk might be present in Sidi Bou Mentioned and presents Mediterranean, European, and Tunisian dishes. The area has oceanfront views and a extra luxurious surroundings, however the costs listed below are a bit costlier.
8. Calm down at a Seaside Resort
Tunisia has an abundance of coastlines and seashores to unwind for a bit of bit. Sousse is a well-liked seaside resort metropolis, the place I stayed on the Mövenpick Resort & Marine Spa.
This Mövenpick feels prefer it was the crown jewel of the town 20 years in the past, however now it’s beginning to present its age in a noticeable method.
I wouldn’t say I wholeheartedly advocate it, and as a substitute, the Marriott Sousse Pearl Resort down the road seems fairly a bit newer and nicer. (We merely stayed on the Mövenpick as our associates occurred to be staying there too.)
Again in Tunis, whereas I loved my keep on the Tunis Marriott Lodge, probably the most luxurious resort possibility might be the 4 Seasons Tunis within the beachside city of Garmmarth. It’s about an hour or so outdoors of Tunis, and has stunning seashores with the Mediterranean Sea proper at the doorstep.
You probably have an prolonged keep in Tunisia, I’d positively take a number of days to easily calm down on the seaside, along with trying out the traditional websites and the town.
9. Witness the Delight of a Younger State
Tunisia underwent the Arab Spring in 2011 and has since transitioned to a really younger democracy. I noticed many expressions of nationwide pleasure throughout my brief go to to the nation.
Regardless of continued struggles with earnings and the price of residing within the nation, I took notice of extra nationwide flags being proudly flown in all places than I often see alongside my travels.
Take a stroll down Avenue Habib Bourguiba, the arterial thoroughfare usually described because the “Champs-Élysées of Tunis”, and it’s clear that there’s a youthful and enterprising power among the many Tunisian folks, together with a way of pleasure in what the nation has achieved up to now and the route they’re shifting in.
10. Strive Shisha
Shisha is a staple of the Center East and North Africa. Scorching coals are positioned atop of flavoured tobacco; as you breathe in, the smoke filters down by water and thru a protracted pipe with a mouthpiece.
Irrespective of the place you go in Tunisia, you’re prone to discover locals enjoyable, sipping tea, and having fun with some shisha collectively. Cafés that provide shishas are in all places, and it’s not arduous to seek out one in the event you’d wish to attempt it for your self.
After all, smoking comes with dangers to your well being, so maintain that in thoughts if you end up in a state of affairs with shisha on provide.
Admittedly, we indulged in shisha on maybe one too many evenings, however as they are saying – with a good bit of historic accuracy on this case – “when in Rome” and what not.
From exploring historic ruins to mingling with locals within the Medinas, Tunisia is a vibrant nation with a bit of one thing for everybody.
Whereas it hasn’t essentially marketed itself for tourism in the identical method as its North African neighbours, I nonetheless found loads of historical past, pure magnificence, and gastronomy to soak in throughout my go to.
I’d advocate Tunisia for anybody seeking to enterprise off the overwhelmed path alongside their travels, and ensure so as to add some scrumptious harissa to your breakfast, lunch, and dinner while you’re there.