Tunisia is a fascinating country that combines past and present, mountains and sea, endless desert and picturesque oases. Once upon a time it was home to one of the centres of ancient civilisation. People of different nationalities live here, but all of them are very open, friendly and independent. Welcome to Tunisia, the country is looking forward to you!
Tunisia on a map
Geographical location of the country
Tunisia is located in central North Africa. In ancient times, this part of the black continent was called the Maghreb. Tunisia is the smallest country in the informal association of Arab states.
Its land neighbours are Algeria to the west and Libya to the east. The country itself is wedged between its powerful neighbours.
Tunisia has a coastline of 1,100 kilometres. To the northeast, 150 km away, lies the Italian island of Sicily.
In Tunisia, the Atlas Mountains extend from the Atlantic Ocean.
Tourist safety in Tunisia
Tunisia is ranked 78th in the Global Peace Index, but the holiday here is considered quite safe.
The main danger for tourists remains the unfamiliar climate, the bright sun and the sweltering heat. During the day, it is very easy to get sunburn or a stroke. Also, dangerous is the general dehydration. So tourists are advised to spend more time in the shade and not to limit themselves with drinks.
If you don’t visit the desert, the danger in the resort area can be posed by poisonous jellyfish. Their touch can cause burns or anaphylactic shock. Jellyfish are the most common sighting along the coast in August, but there is a risk of stumbling upon these sea creatures in other months as well.
Venomous snakes are commonly found in desert areas. The only large predator is the caracal, but it is barely dangerous to humans.
Terrorism can pose a serious threat. Terrorist attacks sometimes occur here, even affecting tourists. In 2015, for example, a terrorist armed with an assault rifle broke into a hotel in Sousse and shot 39 people.
Other dangers include pickpockets and crooks. There are many such people in the country, as its laws are very humane and differ from the strict Sharia law in many Arab states. So it’s better to avoid crowded and crowded areas and not to walk around the city alone.
And finally, you should be reminded of the standard danger in many southern countries. You can get enteric infections. It’s important to maintain good personal hygiene and not to buy food from dubious places. Following these simple rules will make your holiday a relaxing and enjoyable one.
Tunisia is a Muslim country and most holidays are religious in nature. But the official holidays also include important dates from the country’s history, and there are also many interesting festivals designed to attract tourists.
The Muslim holidays include Ramadan, Eid al-Fitr, Eid al-Adha and many others.
The secular public holidays include New Year’s Eve, Revolution Day, Republic Day, Independence Day, Labor Day.
Among the festivals that are of particular interest to tourists are the Festival of Trees, the Arabian Horse, the Sahara and the Tauzar Oasis. The Medina festival is held in the capital city every year. It includes religious events as well as shows. There are festivals in the major resorts of Hammamet, Djerba, Sousse and others.
Tunisia major tourist attractions
When imagining Tunisia, many people see a vast, very hot desert and a narrow strip of green along the sea. It seems that apart from the beaches there is no entertainment. However, this is a misconception. Having been to the country, everyone will see that there is a lot of entertainment for all tastes.
- Beach holiday. The Mediterranean coast is famous for its sandy and pebbly beaches. In Tunisia, there are a lot of paradisiacal places. They are suitable for both family and youth recreation. The bathing season lasts from May till November.
- Diving. In the country’s waters are not many coral reefs, which usually attract divers, but it is possible to enjoy the life of underwater inhabitants and visit wrecks.
- Yachting. Renting a yacht in Tunisia is cheaper than in many other countries, so this kind of holiday is accessible even to tourists with an average budget. You will be offered a cruise along the sea coast or even a trip on a pirate yacht.
- Water parks. There are not many water parks in the country and most are located in the recreational area of the hotels. However, you can get there for a very small sum of money. So, a visit to one of the largest water parks in the city of Sousse «Aquasplash» will cost you only 15 dollars.
- Amusement Parks. There are several large entertainment areas in the country, the most popular of which is Cartage Land in Yasmine. There are rides in the spirit of ancient Carthage or the 1001 Nights, as well as a small religious museum.
- Jeep Safari. A very popular attraction in all Arabian countries is a desert tour. You can not only drive on the dunes, but also visit the scene of several episodes of the famous «Star Wars» saga.
- Tours of historical sites. Tunisia is a country with a rich history. Once ruled by the rugged Phoenicians, it later became part of the Arab Caliphate. There are wonderful monuments of antiquity: the ruins of Carthage, historic Medina squares in various cities, mosques, mausoleums, ancient forts and fortresses.
- Museum visits. It is impossible to visit Tunisia and its historical museums. Among them, especially stands out the National Museum of the capital, Bardo. It has a large collection of Roman mosaics and other ancient artefacts.
- Night discos. The popular resort of Sousse at night turns into a solid disco zone, which stretches for several kilometres along the coast. There is always rousing rhythm, lots of young people and a lot of fun. The peak of the disco season is in August with the Aussu Carnival.
- Visiting bars and restaurants. What’s a holiday without delicious and unusual food? Tunisia has plenty of restaurants to suit all tastes and budgets. There you can get acquainted with the peculiarities of local cooking, try seafood, and for gourmets there are always corners of traditional European cuisine.
- Thalassotherapy. This is a very popular wellness procedure that is offered in specialised centres. It consists of several procedures and consists of the beneficial effects of sea air on the human organism. Hammamet is considered the best place for thalassotherapy.
What’s important to know about Tunisia
If you are planning to visit Tunisia, here are some of the most important things to know:
Arabic is the official language of the country, spoken by more than 300 million people in the world and nearly 11 million in Tunisia.
The Tunisian dialect of Arabic is called Darija. It is a spoken language of Tunisians. The official language is literary Arabic.
At the present time, just under 11 million people live in Tunisia. The majority of the population are Arabs and Berbers. They account for 98% of the population.
Other national minorities include the Nafusa Berbers, who speak their own dialect, and the Circassians, descendants of the Mamelukes, a military class from medieval Egypt, who are from the Caucasus.
For more facts about Tunisians, their personality and local culture, see this article.
The national currency is the Tunisian dinar. It is divided into 1,000 dinars. You can’t take dinars out of the country. All goods and services in the country are paid in dinars.
Tourists are advised to bring with them dollars, which can be easily exchanged for dinars at the hotel. Euros are less readily exchanged. You may bring into the country up to 10,000 USD in cash tax-free.
The majority of the population follows the Sunni Islam. Muslims account for 98% of the total number of believers. However, this does not prevent Tunisia from positioning itself as a secular state. There have long been significant religious relaxations, for example many Tunisians drink alcohol freely, polygamy is banned and women have constitutional rights equal to those of men.
Of the other faiths, there are a small number of Christians, mostly Catholics, and a tiny Jewish community on the island of Djerba.
The country’s climate is greatly influenced by two factors – the proximity of the hot Sahara Desert and the Mediterranean Sea that washes its shores.
Therefore, along the coast Tunisia has a Mediterranean climate, with hot summers and cooler and wetter winters. Summer temperatures often exceed +32 Celsius, while in winter they sometimes drop to +10 Celsius.
The southern parts of the country have a dry desert climate. There is much less rainfall than in the north and the contrast between summer and winter temperatures is greater. These are signs of a continental climate.
The main feature of Tunisia’s weather is the irregularity of rainfall. Their amount varies greatly from year to year. One year it can be 800mm of rainfall, the next year only 100mm.
The maximum temperature recorded in the country is +54 degrees. The minimum temperature is -7 degrees.
The average seawater temperature in the Mediterranean Sea off Tunisia is +20 degrees. It varies throughout the year, increasing in the summer and decreasing greatly in the winter months.
- The water temperature in winter, December to January: +14 to +17 degrees Celsius. The coldest month is February.
- The water temperature in spring, March to May: +15 to +19 degrees. In the middle of May, it is already safe to swim.
- Water temperature in summer, June-July: +22 to +27 degrees. The water is the warmest in August.
- The water temperature in autumn, September-November: +25 to +20 degrees. The bathing season lasts until the beginning of November.
Natural disasters are not an everyday occurrence in this African country. Rather, they are rare. With one exception: sandstorms.
The sirocco wind, which blows from the southern regions of the Sahara, brings not only devastating heat, but also sand. Sirocco can last for weeks, and on such days it is best not to go outdoors. Sandstorms are particularly common in winter.
Earthquakes in Tunisia occur every year, but their intensity is low, and they are almost never dangerous. The intensity of earthquakes usually ranges from 3 to 5 and their epicentres are located in the desert part of the republic or in neighbouring countries.
Ironically, flooding is a frequent occurrence in Tunisia. They occur in coastal regions after heavy rainfall and sometimes cause loss of life.
The calm Mediterranean Sea can also prepare for an unpleasant surprise in the form of storms. Storm season starts in autumn, but there are occasional ones in summer.
Generally speaking, holidays in the country remain safe and there have not been any truly catastrophic natural disasters for a very long time.
You can read about the most devastating disasters in Tunisian history in this article.
Tunisia is a presidential republic. The head of the country is the president, who is elected for a term of 5 years. He forms the government, which consists of a cabinet of ministers.
The legislative power in the country is represented by a unicameral parliament, here called the Assembly of People’s Representatives.
Administratively, the republic is divided into 24 regions – vilayets, which are governed by governors – Wali.
The capital of the country is called Tunis.
Major cities and resorts
Tunis is the capital and the most densely populated city. More than 700 thousand people live there. It is one of the most ancient cities in the world, the first mention of which dates back to 814 BC. The city was originally called Carthage, founded by the Phoenicians, and for a long time was Rome’s chief adversary. Ruins of this ancient city, museums, mosques and other ancient monuments can be found here.
Sousse is an ancient city on the coast with a population of almost 300 thousand people. It attracts not only the sea and beaches but also the old Medina centre, a water park and other attractions. Music can be heard all day long, which is why the resort is popular with younger people.
Hammamet is another popular resort and is considered to be the most respectable in the country. High-rise buildings are forbidden to be built here, which gives the town an unusual flavour. The beach area is divided into two sections. The sandy one is called the Medina and the pebbly one is called the Yasmina.
Monastir is the name of the port and resort and translates to Monastery. There is an amusement park, a yacht club, a diving centre and golf courses. And for those who love historical monuments, Monastir offers a fortress-ribat, ancient mausoleums and mosques.
Djerba is an island resort off the eastern coast of Tunisia. It is connected to the mainland by a causeway. The island itself has many hotels, amusements, a crocodile farm and a tactile zoo. It is a favourite holiday destination for families with children.
The symbols of Tunisia
Jasmine is the most important unofficial symbol of Tunisia. It is sold and grown at every turn, used in food and added to tea. Even the revolutions in the country have been called Jasmine revolutions.
Dates are a staple of the economy. The date palms give people food, shelter and shade and are considered almost sacred trees.
Hamsa or the Hand of Fatima is a symbol in the form of a palm with five fingers. It is used as a talisman and amulet, and as a talisman of faith and patience.
How to get to Tunisia
Most tourists arrive in the country via airports. The country has 8 international airports, which link it with all the continents. Most are close to popular holiday resorts such as Tunis, Monastir and Djerba.
Rail and road transport connect the republic only with neighbouring countries, and are suitable only for internal travel.
However, Tunisia can be reached by sea. In major ports of the country – Sfax, Bizerte, Sousse and others, cruise ships, which connect Tunisia with Italy, France and Spain, call regularly. The cost of such cruises is quite high, and they are mainly designed for lovers of travelling by sea.
How much money to bring
Tunisia can be called an inexpensive country, which will delight you with low prices and allow you to save significantly in comparison to the European states of the Mediterranean region.
Tours to Tunisia start at $2,000 with an all-inclusive package. Even more inexpensive tours are available with breakfast. Their price starts at $1300 for two people.
In the country itself, tourists are expected to pay the following costs:
- Meals: If you buy an All Inclusive tour, the additional cost of food will be minimal and will not exceed $50 per person per week. If to eat in restaurants, will leave a little more expensive: 20 dollars a day or 150 dollars a week.
- Water parks, entertainments, excursions: average cost of the excursion is 30–50 dollars, and in some places it is possible to go absolutely free. Altogether, 3 excursions would cost an average of USD 250.
- Souvenirs: each one can choose according to his budget. Some people can afford no more than 20 dollars, and some can spend several hundreds.
- Transportation: depending on whether you take a bus or a taxi, costs may range from $20 to $50.
Thus, given a contingency amount for unforeseen expenses, a holiday in Tunisia for two will cost between $500,000 and $1500,000 for 7 days. And of course, the maximum amount of the holiday may be much higher.
If you have already visited this country, please share your impressions in the comments. Please write a few words about what you liked most about the country, what moments you remember forever, and what you would recommend to other tourists. Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated!