Tunisia is home to some purely magnificent things to see and do, aside from the beaches which are beautiful and welcoming. Hotels in Tunisia are often extremely comfortable, with four star hotels having the amenities and services of what a five star would have in the west or Europe. Add to this some truly unique areas of the country in the interior in particular around the town of Tatouine, which was one of the filming location for some of the original Star Wars franchise. The underground cave-like dwellings in the area are used by the Berbers for protection from the elements and to keep cool in the scorching winter months and make for a unique travel experience. Caves are also available as accommodation for visitors.
For the beach lover, the island of Djerba, off the coast of Tunisia is an ideal getaway with impressive Middle Eastern style architecture and lush blue seas. Other islands perfect for getaways include the Kerkennah Island chain, near the city of Sfax. Generally speaking the coastal areas of the country are ideal for travellers who like to just sit back and bathe in the sun, with the interior being an absolute treasure trove of culture and experiences. Kairouan for example, while a main pilgrimage point for many Muslims, is also the Tunisian carpet capital and so you will find impressive woven carpets here that display the artistry of carpet weavers. The capital Tunis is home to the ruins of old Carthage and is an impressive display of ancient ruins that have been kept largely intact and well cared for. Sfax is home to one of the best examples of a Kasbah around and is the gateway to the Kerkennah Islands while the town of Toezur is the stopping off point for many Berber Saharan villages where you will find some great examples of desert hospitality.
Tunisia is largely a desert climate especially in the south but the coastline of the north is a welcome sight and has extremely enjoyable weather nearly year round. The north coast is temperate year round, with warm, rainy winters and hot summers. The Tunisian Sahara area is considered to be more gentle in terms of its climate severity. The temperatures in the height of summer can regularly reach in excess of 40 degrees, making the late spring and late autumn the more ideal times to travel to Tunisia. The climate is great for beach goers, especially in the warmer seasons into early summer. To put it in perspective, early April is typically fairly cool, highs of maybe 20 degrees in the daytime and night time lows around 10 degrees, but by the end of April the temperatures increase to 25-28 day time highs and around fifteen as night time lows and by June the day time temperatures are consistently high twenties into the thirties. It’s not uncommon for Tunisia to experience daily temperatures in excess of thirty degrees by the end of June.
Temperatures in the southern desert regions may be cooler in the evenings, even lending themselves to needing some kind of light jacket or thicker clothing if venturing out after dark, but the day time temperaturees can be positively scorching, with no coastal winds to cool it down. That being said though, Tunisia offers a variety of landscapes and mildly different climates, so it’s worth visiting a number of areas of Tunisia.
Tunisia is well serviced by some of the major airlines of Europe and Africa and it’s even possible to access Tunisia by ferry from the likes of Italy and Malta. Internal flights to the likes of Tozeur are available from the International Airport at Tunis as well as other airports in the area. There have been a number of new airports being developed in recent years.
Getting around Tunisia is fairly cheap and straightforward. Rental cars are available but for people not familiar with the road conditions, it may be worth your while to hire a guide to drive for you. Tunisia has an extensive rail network which connects most of the major centres and even towns and cities further out, such as Tozeur. First through second and third class accommodation on trains are comfortable and very affordable. Taxis are widespread but have the habit (as with many other countries) of trying to get more money from tourists than they would locals. It’s a good idea to research or ask around at your hotel reception desk in advance of taking taxis to destinations of what the average cost of a trip would be.
Louages are larger mini bus style taxis which are an extremely cheap option for tourists and travellers. They are safe, somewhat clean but may not always be comfortable. They can be stifling in the summer months and are often packed to the brim with people. There are not always a specific time table for the louage, they just leave to their destination when they are full up. You have more of a chance of your louage being filled up quickly in the mornings, so if you don’t want to have to wait around for people to join the louage, try heading off in the morning. Buses are also widely available for inter city trips.
Tunisia is a predominantly majority Muslim country and sensitivities towards females exposing even modest amounts of skin can result in unwanted attention. While even topless sunbathing is acceptable in some resorts, particularly outside of larger centres women are highly encouraged to wear long skirts or trousers and shirts. Carrying a scarf to cover up any low cut tops is also advised. From experience, covering up in this way is not just good, respectful practice for the place you are visiting, it also protects you from the sun and helps keep you cooler, often trapping winds within the clothing and acting like your own personal cooling system.
Tunisia is a coastal country along the northern coast of Africa on the Mediterranean. It is sandwiched between Algeria and Libya and directly south of Italy and Malta. Tunisia is home to some impressive ruins of Roman and Carthaginian origin, some being in even better state than those found in Italy and due to the smaller crowds of tourists, it is not uncommon to have whole swathes of ruins to yourself.
Tunisia has an extensive and vast history, well into antiquity. Early Phoenician settlers from modern day Lebanon set up settlements in what is modern day Tunis on the north coast of the country, and their capital Carthage eventually became an ancient Mediterranean powerhouse. Despised by Rome, Carthage and Rome fought three separate wars known as the Punic wars before Carthage was eventually destroyed by the Romans in 146 BC. The Roman era of Carthage brought a large level of prosperity to the region, and it flourished but by the 5th century the Roman era finished and the Vandals came into the region, making Carthage the capital of their kingdom. Carthage was then controlled by the Byzantine Empire prior to Arabic conquests and caliphates, and then the Turkish Pashas ruled the area in the height of the Ottoman Empire.
Eventually imperial rule over Tunisia dissolved paving the way for modern Tunisia, which was taken into French protectorate control with the likes of other northern African nations. As a result, French is one of the official languages of the country alongside Arabic. Independence from France was attained in 1956 and a one party system ruled the country for over thirty years. The president during this time, Habib Bourguiba, was incredibly progressive and Tunisian women enjoyed similar rights and inclusion in society to men, which went unmatched in other Arab nations.
Bourguiba was forced to abdicate his position in the 80s due in part to his ailing health and mental state and age, but he is still credited with the creation of modern Tunisia. Tunisia was one of the first locations of uprisings in 2011 which began the revolutionary movement of the Arab Spring, but demonstrations and other political upheaval while ongoing tend to be peaceful.