Tunisia is the smallest country in North Africa, but has a rich and vast history, as well as an intriguing culture. The balmy Mediterranean coast makes it the ideal destination for those looking for a beach escape in spring, summer or autumn (the seafood is always fresh on your plate), but for those who really want to get out and explore you’ll find a land full of treasures.
For such a small country, it really packs a punch.
Is it safe?
This is probably the first question you should be asking as a first-time tourist to this North African paradise. Tunisia saw the beginning of the Arab Spring in 2010, with rioting in the central areas of the country. This has since calmed down, and with the tourist areas being found in coastal resorts there is nothing to worry about.
For additional peace of mind, it’s worthwhile contacting the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) before travelling.
Climate and when to go
As you’d expect, North Africa is hot. But with a Mediterranean coast, Tunisia isn’t all desert. The stunning coastal resorts enjoy a Mediterranean climate of hot dry summers and mild winters. Summer is always a good time to go for those wishing to get their fill of sun, sea and sand, but it can get a little hot in the desert. If exploring this barren landscape is the aim of your trip, then heading in the late autumn is your best bet. Tunisia is also a great option for those looking for a little springtime sun, as the weather is warm and wild flowers cover the countryside.
Where to stay
There are a number of top holiday resorts in Tunisia, offering all-inclusive accommodation. Making your choice from Hammamet, Sousse, or Port El Kantaoui is the best place to start. They offer a mix of fantastic accommodation, nightlife and local culture. As a beginner to the country, you can’t really ask for more.
What to eat
Tunisian cuisine showcases the diverse past of the country, combining Arabic, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and French influences. Most dishes are cooked with olive oil and spiced with aniseed, coriander, cumin, caraway, cinnamon or saffron. You’ll also find mint, orange blossom, or rose water flavouring. Think roast chicken, baked lamb, and couscous. Salads are also an integral part of the local diet; simple, lightly dressed and eaten year-round. A common accompaniment for many dishes is harissa, a spicy chilli and garlic condiment.
In coastal areas you can enjoy the freshest seafood you’ll find, caught and cooked the same day. For an authentic experience in the Saharan regions you’ll often find many Berber specialties. These most commonly take the form of rustic wholesome stews.
Traditional drinks include:
– Thé à la menthe (mint tea), often served with pine nuts
– Ahwa arbi (Turkish/Arabic coffee)
– Boukha (thick aromatic spirit, distilled from figs)
– Thibarine (herb-based liqueur)
Although Tunisia is an Islamic country, you are permitted to drink alcohol with it being sold in bars, restaurants and some supermarkets.
What to see
There’s so much to see and do during your stay in Tunisia it can be difficult to know where to start. There’s water sports, diving, quad biking tours, and of course numerous fantastic beaches to keep you occupied, but it’s also really worth exploring the local history and culture. Here are some of our top picks to do just that:
– The ruins of Carthage – truly understand the Roman influence on Tunisia.
– Ancient City of Tunis – the capital of Tunisia.
– Acropolium – located in Carthage and the largest church in North Africa.
– Sahara region – visit the Berber tribes in Chenini, Douirat & Ghomrassen.
– Sousse Archaeological Museum – often voted the #1 attraction in Tunisia.
– North Africa American Cemetery and Memorial, Tunis – a monument to American war heroes who fought in WWII during the North African campaign.
These are just a taste of what you can expect, with many more cultural delights to explore. The big question is: when are you planning your Tunisian adventure?