Our last trip to North Africa was to Egypt, which we loved, and we couldn’t wait to do something like it again. When we first started researching our Tunisia road trip, we found Roman ruins instead of pyramids.
We were intrigued, until now all we had ever heard about Tunisia was the all-inclusive beach resorts. We had no idea how many wonderful things there were to do in this under-rated country. Hopefully this Tunisia Travel Guide will help you in your planning.
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Everyone wants to go to Morocco, but not many people think about going to Tunisia. I’m not exactly sure why I did, but it’s probably thanks to seeing photos on one of the blogs I follow. We found it to be similar to Morocco in many ways, but cheaper. At any rate, we had our first couple of nights booked in Tunis, and our rental ready to pick up at the airport. We couldn’t wait to get on the road.
Our Road Trip through Tunisia Map
Our Tunisia Itinerary – 10 days
- Tunis – 3 nights
- El Kef – 1 night
- Sousse – 2 nights
- Sfax – 2 nights
- Hammamet – 2 nights
- Tunis – 2 nights
We started and finished our trip in Tunis, since that’s where the international airport is located. We usually get on the road right away, but this time we were waiting on our friends to meet up with us, and we arrived a full day and a half before they did.
We took advantage of that extra time and visited the Bardo National Museum, which is chock full of mosaics relocated from the many Roman ruins throughout the country. We were amazed at how many, how large, how varied the artwork was. If there is one museum to go to you need to visit the Bardo.
Then we had one full day to head north. We walked around the city of Bizerte, visited the ruins of Utica, and drove around the Ichkeul National Park. Ichkeul is known for its wetlands, and flocks of a variety of migratory birds. We did see some flamingoes while we were there.
At the end of the trip, we visited Carthage, the U.S. North Africa Military Cemetery, and even spent the afternoon in Sidi bou Said.
One of our favorite stops, El Kef feels like it’s on the frontier. We certainly did not see any other tourists, or westerners on this part of the trip. The furthest they seem to go is Bulla Regia. We spent a fun night in the one restaurant that we found open. There were no women, but it was packed, and we spent hours there drinking rosé wine and talking to the people closest to our table.
Sousse is a pretty city on the coast. The medina here has a night market, and we discovered it as the sun was setting. People were sitting in the square, kids playing, parents gossiping. It felt relaxed and fun. The beaches here were some of the prettiest as well.
Monastir was probably our favorite spot of the whole trip. We had fun here touring the Ribat and the Habib Bourguiba Tomb. The best part was the family we met, as the people always make it or break it.
If I were to travel to Tunisia again, I would make Monastir my home base. The town was quiet. The beach was beautiful. We just loved the vibe of this town, and it’s close enough to both Sousse and Sfax that you could do a lot in just a few days.
We stayed in Sfax because it was our gateway to visiting Tatouine and El Jem. These two days were spent trundling through the Saharan towns, stopping and chatting with people along the way whenever we could.
We had a couple of experiences with olives, but otherwise the towns were so far apart that at first it looked like we’d have to wait to get back to the city before we had a meal, but we got lucky and found a man grilling outside in a small town.
We were the only customers, but it was a good lunch of lamb skewers making us all very happy. Other than walking around the medina and the souk, we didn’t do much in Sfax. Suffice it to say, it’s a pretty modern city.
We spent a couple of nights here, because this is the place that people go. The beaches here are full of resorts, and all my friends who’d been to Tunisia ahead of me loved this town. It did have a quaint medina, very pretty and clean. It also had a lot of really nice hotels, which after a few days of being out in the countryside, we really welcomed.
Driving in Tunisia
It was surprisingly easier than we thought. The cities are crowded, and traffic could get a little chaotic, but overall the signage was good. Drivers were courteous, and we found free parking almost everywhere we went.
A Few Tips for Driving in Tunisia
- Fill up whenever you see a gas station if you are out in the countryside. Gas stations were at most major intersections, but you don’t want to risk running out.
- Don’t drive at night. There are lots of people and animals on the road and no street lights. It’s very difficult to see, even with your headlights on bright. It’s just better to be parked by the time the sun goes down.
FAQ on Tunisia
Where is Tunisia Located?
Tunisia is in Northern Africa, sandwiched between Libya and Algeria, neither of which are very friendly to westerners. We came very close to both borders, but we didn’t even think of crossing them. Tunisia is not very large, so you could pick only one of two places and do day trips from them.
However, we like trying out different cities. Each one had its own flavor, and we could easily have spent more time in Monastir, Sousse, and Le Kef. However, we were ready to get out of Sfax. It just didn’t set well with us, even though we really enjoyed the souk there.
What Languages Do They Use in Tunisia?
Arabic is the official language of Tunisia, but French is widely spoken and can be found on signs and instructions. Many people also speak English, especially in the major cities and all the coastal areas where there are beach resorts.
At no time did we have trouble with language. When ordering meals, if the restaurant did not have an English or French menu, we just pointed and that worked.
What is the Tunisian Currency?
The currency in Tunisia is the Dinar, which is roughly one-tenth of a dollar. Conversion was very simple. Meals, souvenirs, and souk items were all very cheap for travelers. The most expensive meal we ate was only $15 per person.
Do You Need a Visa?
Most people traveling to Tunisia require no visa, and you can stay for 90 days. You can check the list here to find out if your country is one of the 97 approved visa-free countries. If not you can apply online for one.
What Vaccinations Do You Need?
The following are recommended vaccinations before traveling to Tunisia:
- Hepatitis A and B
- Rabies (if you will be around animals)
When is the Best Time to Go to Tunisia?
Tunisia has pretty nice weather all year round. It’s a very dry country, and either has mild temperatures or it just gets hot. The temperature rarely dips below 50 degrees, even in winter, so a jacket and layering will keep you warm.
It does, however, get quite windy on the coast so a hat to cover your ears would be essential. Temperatures range between 70-90 from June to October. The hottest months are July and August. Most people travel to Tunisia to take in the resorts on the beaches, and the best time to go to the beach would be summer and fall.
The water temperature doesn’t hit 70 degrees until June, but the nice thing is that it doesn’t dip below that until November. That means there are seven full months of premium beach weather, and depending on how you like it, the fringes wouldn’t be too bad either.
Is Tunisia Safe?
Overall, yes it is very safe. In Monastir, we were offered to eat lunch with a family. Both in Sousee and outside of Sfax we were invited into homes. In El Kef and in Sousse, we were invited to tour bakeries. And near Bulla Regia, we were given an impromptu tour of an olive oil factory. None of this was planned. It was all serendipitous and left us feeling so happy and welcome in Tunisia.
When I was researching our trip, online it looked like there has been recent terrorism activity. However, there was only one, and that was in 2015. Nothing since. I personally wouldn’t worry about terrorist activity. Other cities like Paris, have had much more in the last few years.
We only ran into one small problem in all of Tunisia, and it turned out almost funny in the long run. We were in Sfax, and a man started following us. He followed us all day long.
He didn’t interfere; he didn’t talk to us. He just followed. We got kind of fed up with it, so I started talking to him. He replied in quiet, short sentences, but never really engaged. We got the feeling he was trying to figure out where our hotel was so he could rob us.
Now, to be fair, maybe he wasn’t up to no good, but it was a feeling we all shared. He was making us feel uncomfortable, very uncomfortable. I had asked him why he was following us, and he would just shrug, and look away guiltily. So, we decided to wave goodbye to him and try and lose him. We could not. He kept following. It was just weird.
Finally, I went up to another man, and in my stilted French explained how this man was making us feel uncomfortable, because he was following us. I said, we are tired now and want to go back to our hotel.
The other man shooed him away in Arabic, in a scolding, not quite yelling Arabic. It was obvious that he was shaming him for making us feel bad. Once the other man had left, he came and apologized to us, and sent us on our way feeling a bit travel weary and a little disenchanted, but much safer.
That was it. Nothing bad happened. We don’t know if the man was a danger or not, but he didn’t make us feel good. I think if any one of us had been alone, we would have been more worried. That was the only thing that was ever even questionable during our visit. All the rest of the time, the Tunisians were some of the most hospitable people we’ve met.
Tunisia is an under-rated destination. Its charms include busy souks and markets, beautiful tiles and architecture, delectable local foods, stunning beaches, and plenty of Roman ruins and museums to wander around. If you’re looking to go someplace a little different, go to Tunisia.