A stone's throw from Italy, Tunisia is a North African country with Mediterranean sensibilities. From the sun-drenched beaches of the north to the unforgiving desert of the south, and with desolate, lunar landscapes in between, there is nowhere quite like Tunisia. With multifaceted, modern cities speckled with reminders of an ancient past, villages steeped in mysticism, medieval towns of tangled laneways and archaeological ruins to rival Rome, travelling through Tunisia is like slowly unravelling a tapestry from another time.
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Posted on Wed, 6 Jan 2010
If you are in search of an adventure of Ben Hur proportions, then Intrepid’s Across the Sahara, from Cairo to Casablanca, is one of the great epic journeys. There are [...]Read more
At a glance
|Capital city:||Tunis (population 887,800)|
|Language:||Arabic, Italian, English|
|Time zone:||(GMT+01:00) West Central Africa|
|Electricity:||Type C (European 2-pin) Type E (French 2-pin, female earth)|
Best time to visit Tunisia
Tunisia boasts a Mediterranean climate in the north and an arid, desert-like climate in the south. Tunisia typically receives most of its visitors in July and August, when the hot weather draws tourists to the beaches. The coldest and wettest months are January and February, although the rainfall average for this time is low and many interior Saharan regions of Tunisia do not see rainfall for years. March to May is a great time to travel as it is less crowded, the temperatures are cooler and the scenery is spectacular. November is considered the optimal time for trekking in the desert. Travelling during the holy month of Ramadan presents benefits and challenges as many restaurants close and business hours can be interrupted, although travelling during Ramadan often provides rare insight into a country and culture during this holy period.
Geography and environment
Top 5 Essential Experiences of Tunisia
1. Desert Dunes
The imposing, mysterious Sahara has captivated travellers for centuries. Heading into the desert is a must-do - whether on 4x4 or camel, you'll fall in love with the silence, the stars and the sandy dunes of desolation. There is nowhere on earth quite like the Sahara.
2. Hot Hamam
Like many other countries in the region, the age-old tradition of visiting a hamam for a steam and scrub is still alive and well. Tourists and locals alike can be seen indulging in this invigorating custom, popular with people of all ages and sexes. Don't leave Tunisia without experiencing it.
3. Magnificent Mosques
As a Muslim country, Tunisia is home to many fine examples of Islamic architecture, including a plethora of spectacular mosques. While the interiors are not open to non-Muslims, the exteriors are worthy of admiration. The Great Mosque of Kairouan is regarded as North Africa's holiest Islamic site, while the Zaytouna Mosque is one of Tunis's biggest attractions, be sure not to miss their brilliant beauty.
4. Roman Ruins
Tunisia is home to some of the most impressive Roman ruins outside of Italy. From the statues, baths and mosaics of Carthage through the show-stopping amphitheatre of El Jem and to the lesser known, yet equally impressive, ruins of Dougga, Tunisia's archaeological sites are absolutely astounding.
5. Medina Markets
Tunisia's delightful medinas are not only a place of community and trade but also a link to the past, with many being built centuries ago. Sitting in a medina's coffeehouse and watching the world go by is a great tourist favourite, and the markets (souqs) are one of the best ways to get acquainted with local customs, language and traditions. Peruse handmade crafts and haggle for a memento (or two) to bring something uniquely Tunisian home.
FAQs on Tunisia
Australia: Yes - on arrival
Belgium: No - not required
Canada: No - not required
Germany: No - not required
Ireland: No - not required
Netherlands: No - not required
New Zealand: Yes - in advance
South Africa: Yes - on arrival
Switzerland: No - not required
United Kingdom: No - not required
USA: No - not required
At the time of writing all Western European countries, Americans, Canadians, Irish and Japanese can get a free 3 month visa at the Libyan/Tunisian border crossing of Ras El-Jedir. Australians can also get a 3 month visa at this border without any trouble but must pay a fee of $6 US. New Zealand citizens are required to apply for a visa before arriving into the country as visas aren't available at the border. They should check with their Tunisian embassy to ascertain the most recent requirements.
Please note that it won't be possible to enter Tunisia with Israeli stamps in your passport.
Street food snack = 2-3 TND
Basic lunch at a cafe = 6-10 TND
Dinner in a restaurant = 15-20 TND
For more information on insurance, please go to: [site:intrepid_insurance_link]
Jan 24 Birth of Prophet Muhammad
Mar 20 Independence Day
Mar 21 Youth Day
Apr 9 Martyr's Day
May 1 Labour Day
Jul 25 Republic Day
Aug 8 Eid al-Fitr (End of the Ramadan)
Aug 13 Women's Day
Oct 15 Eid al-Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice)
Nov 4 Hegire (Islamic New Year)
Nov 7 New Era Day
Please note these dates are for 2013. For a current list of public holidays go to: http://www.worldtravelguide.net/tunisia/public-holidays
Health and Safety
Intrepid takes the health and safety of its travellers seriously, and takes every measure to ensure that trips are safe, fun and enjoyable for everyone. We recommend that all travellers check with their government or national travel advisory organisation for the latest information before departure:
From New Zealand?
Go to: http://www.voyage.gc.ca/
Go to: http://travel.state.gov/
Go to: http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/
The World Health Organisation
also provides useful health information:
Go to: http://www.who.int/en/
Tunisia Travel Tips
Intrepid is committed to travelling in a way that is respectful of local people, their culture, local economies and the environment. It's important to remember that what may be acceptable behaviour, dress and language in your own country, may not be appropriate in another. Please keep this in mind while travelling.
Top responsible travel tips for Tunisia
1. Be considerate of Tunisia’s customs, traditions, religion and culture.
2. Dress modestly and respectfully. Shoulders to knees should be covered, especially when entering places of worship.
3. For environmental reasons, try to avoid buying bottled water. Instead, fill a reusable water bottle or canteen with filtered water.
4. Always dispose of litter thoughtfully, including cigarette butts.
5. When bargaining at markets, stay calm, be reasonable and keep a smile on your face. It's meant to be fun!
6. Learn some local language and don't be afraid to use it - simple greetings will help break the ice.
7. Shop for locally made products. Supporting local artisans helps keep traditional crafts alive.
8. Refrain from supporting businesses that exploit or abuse endangered animals.
9. Please ask and receive permission before taking photos of people, including children.
10. When on community visits or homestays, refrain from giving gifts or money to locals.
11. Ramadan is the fasting month for all Muslims. During this month no food, drink or smoking is permitted during daylight hours. While non-Muslims visiting Tunisia aren't expected to fast, it's recommended to try to avoid eating, drinking or smoking in public during daylight hours.
|Carthage Must Be Destroyed||Richard Miles|
|The Tremor of Forgery||Patricia Highsmith|
|The Pillar of Salt||Albert Memmi|
|Behind Closed Doors: Women's Oral Narratives in Tunis||Monia Hejaiej|