While waiting for our visas to re-enter Libya we spend the whole summer in Tunisia (which shares a border with Libya) and as always we had a fantastic time. If you don’t know Tunisia, let’s look at all the reasons why you should consider it for your next vacation.
This was not the first time that i visited Tunisia but as before i was totally taken in by this surprising country. There is loads to do in Tunisia, the country may be small but it is very rich in culture, history, architecture and the landscape between desert, turquoise beaches and fine sand beaches is second to none. All this under a clear blue sky all year round…
As the country is really not very big, you can easily tour the whole of Tunisia is a short time, this would allow you to discover the variety of landscapes and traditions. In the North (the capital Tunis, Hammamet…) you’ll find many structures in place to accommodate tourists while in the South (Gabes, Douz, Tozer…) you’ll discover a more traditional and intimate part of the country.
Every city offers different activities of course but there are a few totally typical ones that you shouldn’t miss:
#1 A stroll in a traditional Souk
most cities have a Souk, a kind of traditional market where you find absolutely everything. Usually located in the oldest part of the city, you’ll have to make your way through a maze of narrow streets and once you find something to your taste, don’t forget: haggling is a must. In Tunisia, unlike in Cairo, Egypt, i always find the haggling to be very friendly and amusing and people are genuinely upset if you don’t try to haggle, it’s all part of the game.
#2 Check out the colours of Tunisia
if you take the time to travel a bit, you’ll soon notice that Tunisia is a country in white and blue. Most houses are painted white with blue features… doesn’t sound much but just visit Sidi Bousaid in the north and you’ll understand what i’m talking about. The whole city is nothing but white and blue, with a view over a turquoise sea: it’s simply breathtaking.
#3 Have someone do Henna for you (ladies only)
avoid the tourist area for that, they’ll offer you nothing really special and, this is important, they sometimes use products that can be dangerous. Henna is NOT supposed to dry in 10 or even 20min, if you’re offered that you’ll know they use chemical solutions which can at the very worst, burn your skin. The real henna takes a long time to dry and the traditional patterns are very different and much more beautiful.
#4 Try the traditional food
i can think of two main dish: Couscous and Mechoui. Couscous is cooked all over North Africa but each country has its own special recipe. You’ll be able to order a couscous anywhere in Tunisia but i recommend small family restaurants rather than fancy flashy tourist spots. Food will be fresher and more authentic. As for Mechoui, the best place is no doubt called Sidi Bouzid, it’s on the road to the south. Stop on the side of the road, choose your piece of freshly slaughtered sheep and they’ll cook it on the spot in front of you.
Tunisia is famous for a few things such as ceramics from Nabeul, spices and leather crafts. You can find those everywhere in Tunisia, especially in the souk, go for it. The ceramics is very original and perfect for cooking, and the leather bags are all hand made to high quality standards. The spices are very cheap, just ask the price of Safran and you’ll see what i mean.
#6 a trip to the desert
nothing easier in Tunisia, simply drive south to Douz or further south and you’ll be able to take a camel or quad bike ride into the desert. You can also organise something longer which could include spending a night in a desert camp. Totally unique experience!
This is just a quick guide to get you started in Tunisia and make the most of some typical activities and local curiosities.
Check out the Tunisia Gallery for a complete Photo Tour of this amazing country.
This post is part of the Weekend Inspiration Series over at Reflections Enroute. You can find some other amazing posts and picture that will give you itchy feet.