Where else can you find ancient Roman ruins, sparkling turquoise Mediterranean beaches, a pinch of the Sahara, and the unique Berber culture? Only in Tunisia!
Although it may have a reputation as a summer resort destination, Tunisia is so much more than that. The country is just starting to open up to independent tourism, which means it’s a fantastic time to go before the crowds arrive.
Once you have your Tunisia visa for US citizens, it’s time to start planning. To help you out, we’ve gathered our top Tunisia travel tips and everything you need to know before you go.
Best Time to Travel to Tunisia
Due to its climate and geographical location, certain times are better than others if you want to enjoy a comfortable trip to Tunisia.
For example, the summer period is best for those who want a sunny beach holiday. Between June to August, the temperature can go as high as 35C (95F), which is perfect for swimming and lounging on the beaches.
Those who want to explore the country and do sightseeing are better off scheduling their trip during shoulder season. April to May and October to November provide pleasant temperatures between 20 to 25 C (68 to 77F).
Another thing to note are the jellyfish. Most of them can be found off the coast of cities like Sousse and Monastir at the end of August. Although their stings are not lethal, they are slightly painful, so consider this when planning your trip.
Where Africa Meets Europe
When strolling around the streets of Sidi Bou Said, you might feel as if you’ve been transported to Santorini or a small Italian village — and that’s no mistake! Some parts of Tunisia feel more European because the country was under the influence of France for a long time. You can see French influence in everything from architecture to friendly customer service, and even the language.
The combination of elements of Arabic culture, pristine African nature, and European friendliness are sure to surprise and delight first-time tourists.
Money and Currency
The official currency is the Tunisian dinar. You can easily exchange dollars or euros at most banks, exchange offices, hotels, or at the airport.
In large cities, credit cards can be used almost everywhere. However, in smaller cities, you may need to have cash on hand in small shops or cafes.
There is also one interesting rule here that not too many travelers know: it is prohibited to take the national currency out of the country! No worries though, you can simply exchange your unused Tunisian dinar at the airport.
Another tip is to bargain in places where there are no price tags on the goods, such as souvenir stores. Bargaining is an integral part of Tunisian trade, and if you’re lucky, you can bring down the price two or three times lower than the original amount.
Tunisia has an excellent transport system and will not give you any problems while you’re out exploring the country.
The optimal mode of transport when moving around the city are the usual yellow taxis, which can be found everywhere. The cost of a taxi ride is only a few dollars and the price is determined by the meter (just make sure the driver turns it on before you go!)
There is also an excellent public transport system with air-conditioned buses, metro, and trams in major cities. You can travel between cities by train, which offers carriages of varying degrees of comfort, as well as by intercity buses.
If you want to go off the beaten path and pave your own itinerary, it’s best to rent a car. The only requirements are to have a driver’s license with at least one year validity and to be 21 years of age or older. Some places to check out via car are the Hotel Sidi Driss in Matmata (which was in the first Star Wars Film!), Ichkeul Lake, and the Dougga ruins.
Food and Water
Tunisian cuisine is a unique blend of cultures and ingredients that you won’t find anywhere else. On one hand, Tunisia is influenced by its Mediterranean location and native Berber roots, along with bits and pieces of Italian, Andalusian, French, and Arab cuisine. On the other hand, the food has a special spiciness that is different from its neighbors.
You’ll find tasty grilled meat, chicken, and freshly-caught fish cooked with special spices — Tunisia is, after all, bordered by the Mediterranean Sea!
However, don’t mistake Tunisia for a savory bunch. Their desserts are absolutely fantastic and have no competition, whether it’s baklava, bambalouni (sweet doughnuts), almond shortbread cookies, and more.
When it comes to drinking, be sure to avoid tap water and buy the bottled kind instead. It is also worth noting that alcoholic drinks in Tunisia are not sold everywhere, and you may need to scavenge around to find a store. Alcohol is usually sold in the largest grocery store in town, as well as some select supermarkets.
Be sure to keep these travel tips in mind and you’re bound to have a fantastic trip to Tunisia!