Tunis hasn’t yet been ravaged by the tourist onslaught, so it may be one of the best places to visit if you’re up for a chilled travel experience. The largest city of Tunisia is a maze of alleyways brimming with the scent of exotic spices and many, many fantastic deals. We’re talking bargain-shopper heaven here, guys!
Start by exploring how the other half live at Dar Ben Abdallah, a magnificent 19th Century palace that makes Buckingham Palace look like a tin shack! Next, catch a show at the majestic Theatre Municipal de Tunis, a place where theatre magic happens. Up for some haggling? Hit up the sweet-smelling Souk El Attarine and the Souk El Birka to bag a bargain or 10. And then, to get yourself ready for a night spent bar-hopping and restaurant-trying, grab some R&R in Belvedere Park with its killer view of Lake Tunis. Perfection!
Tunis’ Top 10
10. Halfaouine Grab cheap and delicious traditional eats at this food market. Try the lablabi. Mmm…spicy!
5. Souqs Scattered all over the city and the places for exotic perfumes, jewellery and handicrafts.
9. Dar Lasram This 18th Century palace will make you wish you were Tunisian royalty.
4. Bardo Museum Discover the history of the city (and not Bridgette).
8. Bab el Bahr No Tunis trip is complete without a photo op here. Sometimes it’s fun to act like a geeky tourist!
3. Al-Zaytuna Mosque Tunis’ oldest and most important mosque. You’ll feel all gooey and spiritual inside!
7. Sidi Bou Said This stunning seaside town is only a short train trip from Tunis. Bring your camera to capture all the pretty stuff.
2. Avenue Habib Bourguiba Champs Elysees, Tunis-style! Upmarket shopping, restaurants and a cool and cosmopolitan vibe.
6. Cathedral of St. Vincent de Paul This immaculate 19th century structure will blow your mind with its mix of architectural styles and design.
1. Medina This ye olde part of the city is home to stacks of attractions, including monuments, markets and mosques.
- Dougga - Once a Roman town, now an historical site that you can explore.
- Bab El Bhar - The gate into Medina. Because it used to face France, it was once called the French gate.
- Catacombs - This is a fascinating cemetery. If only the walls could talk.
- Zitouna Mosque - An active mosque that was built in 860 AD.
- Cathedral of St. Vincent de Paul - A lovely church next to Medina where you will appreciate the quiet.
Tunis Art & Culture
- Bardo Museum - Part art museum, part history museum, with spectacularly intact Roman mosaics.
- Tourbet El Bey - Native architecture and the tombs are mysterious and fascinating.
- Dar Ben Abdallah Museum - This former officer's home has been refurbished.
- Dar Lasram - A former palace and now home to the Association de Sauvegarde de la Medina, a conservation organization.
- National Theatre - Built in 1902 by the French, it is a beautiful example of art nouveau.
- Medina of Tunis - An open-air market and a marked World Heritage Site.
- Central Market - Operating since the 19th century. Fun, even if you don't buy anything.
- Mains de Femmes - This is a specialty store featuring handicrafts by Tunisian women's cooperatives.
- Hanout Arab - Tunisian crafts including jewellery and pottery at a fixed price.
- Fella - An upscale boutique that has had some very famous clientele.
Gay & Lesbian Tunis
- Blanko Kitesurfclub - A gay-friendly bar and party place. You can also take kite-surfing lessons.
- Avenue Bourghiba - The most commonly known cruising site in the area.
- Cap Bon - A residential area in which many well-to-do gay men have purchased homes.
- Toto Tours - This is a professional touring company that markets Tunis to gay men.
- Tunisia Sex Guide - Easily found online, this is the guide to being gay in Tunis.
- Kasbah Square - Lovely square in the city that is taken over by boys playing soccer in the afternoons.
- Tunis Zoo - This is a child-friendly zoo, not as modern as some in Europe or the United States.
- La Marsa Beach - The less-crowded beach to soak up the sun and surf without the crowds.
- Medersa Bachia - Come see the lovely fountain outside the school for studying the Qur’an.
- Cafe de Paris - Choose an outdoor table and enjoy people watching while you dine.
- You will enjoy the Tunis Open, a professional tennis tournament.
- You can watch professional teams at the Stade El Manzah.
- Handball, basketball and volleyball are played at the Stade Chedli Zoutain.
- The Tunisians love sports of all types and soon they will be able to play at Sport City.
- Auto racing was once a passion here, and it is making a comeback with the Grand Prix of Tunis.
Who can resist the lure of the Tunis Furniture Exhibition in January to February? Bring plenty of cash – and a seriously big suitcase.
The Mediterranean Guitar Festival in March is the place for great tunes and cool crowds. Different genres are featured. Death metal, anyone?
Celebrate words ’n’ stuff at the Tunis International Book Fair during April and May.
Release your inner film critic at May’s International Film Festival. This is a pretty big deal for the city, so wear your shiniest diamonds and sharpest tux. Left your diamonds and tux at home? Slap on some jeans and go.
The Medina (old city area) will grant your every bargain wish with the stack of souqs open every single day. Pick up everything from cheap-as-chips silver jewellery to the most exquisite handmade silk scarves. Don’t forget to haggle!
When To Go
If you’re not a rain fan, it’s best to avoid the city from October to February.
Summer averages 28°C (82°F), so slap on the sunscreen and pack plenty of cool clothing.
Tunis’ winters are pretty mild, so you can leave that big ol’ coat at home.
Most tourist spots lie in and around the Medina. Getting around on foot isn’t just possible; it’s advisable.
SNCFT trains are the best bet if you want to move around the greater city area.
While the Tunis Metro (light rail system) is fast and cheap, it’s also quite limited in terms of lines and routes.
A cultural and historic gem of the Mediterranean, the dynamic capital of Tunisia is remarkable city. Home to some 1.2 million people, Tunis is the veritable heart of a country with roots that run deep and well into the last millenia of prehistory. As such, Tunis, like so much of North Africa, feels old in a romantic, nostalgic way. Narrow streets in the old UNESCO World Heritage medina teem with vibrant color, pungent aromas and vociferous merchants. The ancient quarter is where you want to get lost in Tunis, with important points of interest at every turn. From monuments to ornate palaces, elaborate mosques and mausoleums, the medina is rife with charm.
Specific landmarks to watch out for include the Cathedral of Saint Vincent de Paul, Zitouna Mosque and Bardo National Museum. Souks, or suq, run the gamut in Tunis, from the jewelry of Souk El Birka to the carpets of Souk El Leffa. Others specialize in copper, leather and textiles. Last but not least, take a day trip outside of Tunis to Carthage.
Attractions & Activities
Restaurant & Nightlife
Tunis has a typical Mediterranean climate, with wet winters and hot, dry summers.
- Winter (November to February) 6-20°C
- Spring (March to May) 8-24°C
- Summer (June to August) 17-33°C
- Fall (September to October) 15-31°C