Unjustly overlooked by travelers en route to Tunisia's celebrated seaside resorts, the nation's capital certainly deserves more than a just a quick glance outside the shuttle bus window. The city lives and breathes history, and has a lot to offer in the way of art and culture. Ancient Roman ruins, palpable traces of French colonial presence and an Oriental flair well-preserved in the Medina all constitute major elements of Tunis' eclectic charm.
1 Tunisian Dinar = 0.34 Euro
National guard: 193
The Tunis Times (English)
As of May 2014, most of downtown Tunis (centre ville) begins closing around 8pm and is usually completely empty by 9pm. It is therefore recommended to explore the city during daylight hours. Throughout the month of Ramadan, the Medina is open from 8am to 4pm. Business is low on Sundays, when only about a quarter of shops remain open.
Office National du Tourisme Tunisien
1 Avenue Mohamed V, Tunis
+216 71 120 300
The historic Medina dating back to the 8th century and the "Ville Nouvelle" are two worlds that represent two very different epochs - those of Arab roots and French colonial presence of the 19th century. The mix of Maghrebi and European heritage reflects in today's layout of Tunisia's capital, and the two parts of the city couldn't be more different.
The Medina, a maze of narrow streets brimming with life and packed with historic monuments, remains the primary tourist attraction. Unlike the newer part of the city, the Medina still preserves an Oriental charm that takes travelers on a journey through Tunisia's glorious past - historic mosques, private homes-turned-museums, old Islamic schools as well as limitless shopping opportunities await visitors to the area at every turn.
The "ville nouvelle" still bears resemblance to central districts of many modern-day French cities. Avenue Habib Bourguiba, the main artery of Tunis' "centre ville", is where one will find the National Theatre, housed inside a beautiful art nouveau building. The avenue is lined with outdoor cafes, fixed-price stores and has a pedestrian walk running straight through it.
Travelers to the area must keep in mind, however, that as of 2015 a sequence of curfews has been imposed in Tunis in response to a number of tragic terror episodes, which resulted in the city now being completely deserted after 9pm. Visitors must familiarize themselves with the current curfew regulations prior to traveling.
Get lost in the maze of the Medina's windy streets, occasionally stopping to marvel at the work of craftsmen or admire local art and architecture. Pay a visit to one of the former Islamic schools (many of them have been turned into cultural centers), and remember to stop for a glass of traditional hot mint tea.
Only a few kilometers west of the city centre lie the coastal suburbs of Carthage, La Marsa and Gammarth, where most holiday resorts and luxury hotels are located. While La Marsa and Gammarth are known for their vibrant nightlife, Carthage (former seat of the powerful Carthaginian Empire) with its ancient Roman ruins is a must to explore for history lovers.
Medina of Tunis
Bardo National Museum
North Africa American Cemetery and Memorial
Cathedral of St. Vincent de Paul
Former Islamic Schools
Mosque Sidi Youssef
Archaeological Site of Carthage
Sidi Bou Said
Rue Charles de Gaulle
Tunisian cuisine, much like Tunisian culture, is a blend of culinary traditions from various parts of the world, from indigenous nomadic populations to Arabic, French, Turkish and Italian influences. Some of the dishes you are likely to find on a menu are "tajin" (frittata-style dish), "couscous" (not just as a garnish, but a full dish with meat and vegetables), "shakshouka" (ratatouille prepared with eggs and tomatoes) and much more. Tunisian food tends to be spicier than that of other North African countries, so make sure to ask for your desired level of heat prior to ordering.
Dar El Jeld
Fondouk El Attarine
Fresh K Salad Shop
Restaurant La Mamma
Dates, nuts and honey are the three ingredients that feature in most traditional Tunisian desserts. Makroudh and Baklawa are the two most common ones, along with powdered donuts sprinkled with nuts and honey. Seasonal fresh fruit is often served as dessert after a meal, and is well expected when dining out.
There is no shortage of European-style pastries and sweets in the Tunisian capital either - small bakeries dot the new part of the city, and French-looking cafes offer all sorts of desserts and pastries such as crepes, croissants and cakes.
Café El M'rabet
Le Grand Cafe du Theatre
Sidi Ben Arous
Topkapi Coffee Shop
Tunis may not have much in the way of nightclubs, but the nation's capital certainly boasts a few enticing spots for an evening drink. Most hotels feature adjacent bars and lounges, some with superb views - such as the Sky Bar of the Novotel, for example. The Jamaica Bar at El Hana Hotel is another establishment with a fantastic view that serves drinks and draws an international crowd.
The seaside areas of Marsa and Gammarth are known for their luxury hotels, most of which have their own tourist-friendly bars and clubs. Female travelers to the area must be warned that quite a few establishments outside of big hotels still only cater to men, and going out solo at night is highly advised against.
Café El M'rabet
Sky Bar Novotel Hotel Tunis
Le Carpe Diem
Le Comptoir de Tunis
Le Boeuf sur le Toit
The number one shopping spot in the city of Tunis is, of course, the Medina and its endless narrow souqs, most of which specialize in a particular product - whole streets here are devoted to books, spices, textiles, ceramics, natural cosmetics and other goods. Haggling is expected here, so the first price you hear may be eventually decreased to a mere fraction.
If haggling becomes overwhelming, head to the new part of town, or "nouvelle ville", where most shops sell a very similar array of goods but offer fixed prices and are pleasantly air-conditioned. Those with a sweet tooth should stock up on "candy" made with dates, boxes of which make good edible gifts and souvenirs.
Medina of Tunis
Rue Charles de Gaulle
Librairie Espace Diwan
Central Park Shopping Center
To enter Tunisia, you will need a passport valid at least for the duration of your stay. Furthermore, Australians and nationals of Cyprus also need a visa to enter the country (which is not required for European, Canadian, British and American nationals), which can be obtained on arrival at the airport. For further information about visas and passport requirements, please contact the embassy in your country.
The Tunis International Airport is conveniently located in close proximity to the city center, and a journey to or from the airport should take no more than 20 minutes (depending on the traffic).
There are two bus lines connecting Tunis city center to the airport. SNT buses run at 30 minute intervals with trips costing less than 1 dinar; TUT buses depart more frequently (every 15 minutes) and are more modern and slightly more costly.
Taxis are readily available upon exiting the terminal, but make sure to either agree on the price beforehand or check that the driver uses an official taxi meter prior to departure.
Address: Tunis Carthage International Airport, Tunis
Phone: +216 71 754 000
Best Time to Visit
Even though the best time to visit Tunisia, which has an essentially Mediterranean climate, seems to be the summertime, most of all for the seaside lovers, the "intermediate" seasons are definitely better.
You would rather prefer to pay a visit to Tunis in April, May or October and especially in May, when the temperatures are already hot, but more bearable, and the weather is less rainy.
In any case, the springtime (from April to June) is the best time to plan your trip, in order to enjoy the beautiful weather and the blooming trees and parks.
As of 2015, a sequence of curfews has been imposed in Tunis in response to a number of terror attacks resulting in fatalities, which led to the city now being completely deserted by 21:00. Visitors must familiarise themselves with the current curfew regulations prior to travelling.
"Métro léger" is a modern light rail system that runs through the city and is the cheapest, most efficient way of getting around. The trains are usually colored green and are easily recognizable. There are public buses as well, and tickets to both may be purchased at the tram/bus stops directly.
More Information: Information about tarifs: www.transtu.tn/fr/tarifs
Yellow cabs that circulate around the city usually run with a taxi meter, but make sure one is in use/turned on prior to the beginning of the journey. Oddly, the taxis with red lights on are those free to be hailed down, which those with a green light are occupied.
If the taxi you decide to use does not have a meter, make sure to agree on the price to your destination before getting in. Cab prices are normally very affordable.
Some taxi providers in Tunis are:
+216 22 204 022
Taxi Mami Tunisie
+216 98 201 300
Phone: +216 22 204 022
There are several post offices located around the city, with the main one located at Rue Hédi Nouira. Post boxes are usually colored red and are also scattered around the city.
Address: Rue Hédi Nouira, Tunis
Phone: +216 71 839 000
There are quite a few pharmacies around the city, nearly every corner. Night pharmacies are rare but indicated at every closed pharmacy doors.
220-240 Volts, Europlug
Country code: +216