Tunisia: what is it like as a holiday destination?
by Manal MANA
Tuesday, October 2, 2018
If you have been thinking of Tunisia as your next holiday escape, but you are a bit hesitant about it; continue reading so you can have it all cleared up!
Is Tunisia safe for tourists?
7 years ago, the Tunisian revolution was born marking the beginning of an ongoing Arab spring. The Jasmine revolution has ended the same year, and things in the country seemed to go back to ‘normal’, until 2015 when 30 Brits were victims of a terrorist attack in the city of Sousse; tourism since then has known a terrible fall.
Nowadays, tourism and all the related fields have started to refresh again, and we can say now that this tiny North African country is travel-friendly. You can go around and enjoy your trip in a very secure atmosphere.
Ps: However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be careful, no matter how safe is the country you are visiting.
The must-visit destinations in Tunisia
- Sidi Bou Said: this small town located 20 km to the north of Tunis (can be reached by TGM Train or taxi from the capital) is an African version of Santorini, it is known for its blue and white architecture and the incredible view from the famous ‘café des délices’.
- Carthage: this historical site was the capital of the Carthaginian civilization; it should definitely be in your list if you are visiting the capital Tunis.
- Hammamet: the most famous tourist destination in Tunisia, it owes its reputation to its amazing beaches with a clear blue water.
- Sousse: also famous for its outstanding beaches, this city is an important tourist resort especially due to its crazy nightlife and vibrating nightclubs.
- Monastir: the hometown of the 1st Tunisian president has as well some fantastic beach resorts.
- Djerba: the largest island in North Africa, it is popular for being the hometown of Jews in Tunisia. The island has some of the best beaches in the country and offers a variety of water sports and fun activities.
- Kairouan: a UNESCO heritage site, one of the oldest mosques in North Africa and the 4th most important city in the Islamic world; those are definitely enough reasons to visit Kairouan.
- Tozeur: if you are looking to relax and to find your peace of mind, this large oasis well known for its palm trees and high-quality dates will, without a doubt, be your favorite destination.
- El Jem: the famous Roman Amphitheater has a very similar architecture to the big Colosseum in Rome, that is why it receives an interesting number of international tourists annually.
What to eat in Tunisia?
You should never ask that question again; because Tunisian cuisine offers a large variety of traditional dishes. A mixture between Mediterranean and Arab flavors, and based mainly on olive oil, spices, seafood, tomatoes and meat.
As most of Maghreb Countries, Tunisia offers the famous Couscous, or as they call it ‘kosksi’, tajine (unlike the Moroccan tajine but more like the Spanish tortilla), Mlokhia (a green sauce), Slata (Tunisian salad), brik, Kamounia, Makloub, and Ojja are also worth trying alongside with other delicious Tunisian specialties.
Ps: Tunisian food is quite spicy, if you are not a fan of chili, you will probably want to stay away from Harissa.
Ever heard of Medina?
If not, you will probably do while visiting Tunisia, because you will find a Medina in every city you visit, so what is it?
The Medina is an ancient city in the center of the big city, it is popular for its tight streets, unique architecture, souks that sell everything from traditional clothes to street food, and the popular cafes with traditional decoration.
The Medina of Tunis, Sousse, and Hammamet are among the most visited and the most beautiful ones, that is why you will notice that prices get a bit higher there, unlike the small Medinas that are addressed to locals and where you can find a variety of choices at very reasonable prices.
If you are traveling on your own, you have many options to move around the country; trains and buses are available all day long and are a very practical way to travel, another cheap option is the “Louage” which is shared taxi with a capacity of 8 passengers, you can find it in stations all over the city; you just have to ask the locals!
Another more safe way to travel is car rental, this option is obviously more expensive but it can be a good one if you are traveling with friends or family. Tunisia also offers a couple of private taxis companies that can be at your service 24/7.
To benefit the maximum from your journey, you should live it like locals! So here is a list of what locals are proud of:
Tunisia is well known for its handmade items, and you can see it clearly in Medina where sellers expose their handmade ceramic plates, silver bracelets, leather bags and shoes, and many other souvenirs.
In Tunisia, each and every region has its own traditional clothes, the most popular ones are ‘Jebba’ and ‘Kaftan’, you can find them also in Medina in different sizes and colors. You might as well want to have the traditional red hat ‘Chachia’ that looks perfect in pictures with the colorful doors of the ancient Medina.
Tunisian dates are popular for being one of the best in the world, so don’t waste the opportunity to have some from their birthplace.
That should be number 1 on your list, this hot and very spicy sauce is used in almost every traditional dish in the country, and Tunisians cannot live a day without it.
From the Berbers and the Roman empire to the French colony, Tunisia was impacted by many civilizations, and that what makes this North African country one of the most interesting cultures of the continent, and a very tourist friendly destination as New York Times stated: “Tunisia is known for its golden beaches, sunny weather, and affordable luxuries.”
Enjoy your trip!