Join Odyssey Traveller on this small group tour of Tunisia in North Africa, where Carthaginian ruins sit side by side with Roman monuments, grand Islamic mosques, Arabic souks and medina, and honeycomb-like Berber cave dwellings and hilltop villages.
Odyssey travels by a small coach. Specifics are always outlined in your tour itinerary. Taxis are widely available, and are inexpensive. Tunisia has a modern road network, weaving through the country and connecting towns and villages. Buses serve most major cities and smaller towns, so can make for a decent travel option. In Tunis you can also use the Tram network called the “Métro lége”.
In major cities, Odyssey stays in centrally located 4 star hotels in Tunisia, with easy access to public transport. In smaller towns or rural areas, we usually stay in family-run hotels or guesthouses. On our long stay tours, during which you spend the length of the tour in a single location, we use serviced apartments.
Odyssey always engages local guides with regional knowledge to ensure an authentic experience during which you can learn as much as possible about the history and culture of places you visit.
Geography environment and weather
Tunisia is the most northern country in Africa, bordering with Algeria in the WEst, Libya in the South and the Mediterranean Sea in the East/North.
Tunisia is dominated by the Atlas Mountains in the north and the Sahara Desert in the south. The capital is Tunis.
Tunisia’s climate is mediterranean, where where winters are mild with moderate rainfall and summers are hot and dry. Depending on the season you intend to travel, check weather reports and dress accordingly.
World Heritage sites
Tunisia has 8 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. You can view the official list of the sites here http://whc.unesco.org/en/statesparties/TN. It is well worth visiting every site, if you are able. But here’s a few highlights from the bunch:
The archaeological site of Thugga/Dougga with its impressive ruins, give an idea of the resources of a Romanised Numidian town.
Medina of Tunis is one of the first Arabo-Muslim towns of the Maghreb (698 A.D). Kairouan, Maghreb’s principal holy city, with its rich architectural heritage, including the Great Mosque.
Festivals and events
Tunisias most popular festivals are focused around music, crafts, or other aspects of Tunisian culture . The most famous Yasmine Hammamet festival is most famous for its live music or the international Jazz festival in Tabarka. The Tunisian Medina festival which is held in Tunis during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan is filled with festivities and street shows and people dressed in medieval costumes.
A History of Modern Tunisia – Kenneth Perkins’s second edition of A History of Modern Tunisia, updated with a new chapter, carries the history of this country from 2004 to the present, with particular emphasis on the Tunisian revolution of 2011 – the first critical event of that year’s Arab Spring and the inspiration for similar populist movements across the Arab world. After providing an overview of the country in the years preceding the inauguration of a French protectorate in 1881, the book examines the impact of colonialism on the country, with particular attention to the evolution of a nationalist movement that secured the termination of the protectorate in 1956. Its analysis of the first three decades of independence, during which the leaders of the anticolonial struggle consolidated political power, formulated a series of economic strategies, and promoted a social and cultural agenda calculated to modernize both state and society, assesses the challenges that they faced and the degree of success they achieved. The final chapter brings the book up to the present, examining the 2011 revolution and Tunisia’s part in the Arab Spring. No other English-language study of Tunisia offers as sweeping a time frame or as comprehensive a history of this nation. Ifriqiya: Thirteen Centuries of Art and Architecture in Tunisia – Ifriqiya: Thirteen Centuries of Art and Architecture in Tunisia is a voyage through the history of the Islamic architecture of the Maghreb, to uncover a millenary civilisation that made works of art of its most important spaces. The great Islamic dynasties – Abbasids, Aghlabids, Fatimids, Zirids, Almohads, Hafsids, Ottomans – and Islamic religious schools and movements left the mark of their artistic expression over the centuries. Islamic art in Tunisia is a cultural crossroad, widely influenced by local artistic customs, by Andalusian and eastern architectural and decorative elements, by Arab, Roman and Berber traditions and by the variety of its natural landscape. Bloody Road to Tunis – . The result is a brilliant example of historical writing and a unique insight into six months of stubborn fighting. The land of veiled women; some wandering in Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco – Books about Travel in Africa Tourism discus and describe the key features of interest in African countries, the foremost of which is Egypt, with its rish ancient civilization, and adventure and eco-tourism to many other African countries.
Eating and Drinking
The cuisine in Tunisia is brave and diverse, with influences from Romans, Arabs, Turks, and French during their rule over the country. As in all Muslim countries, eating pork is strictly prohibited. Among the meat variety is used mainly lamb and beef and also goat, camel (!!), and poultry meat. Traditional dishes are for example: lamb in a pot, shorba (sorba) – spicy soup with vegetables and beef, brick – cheburek from unleavened dough stuffed with eggs, chopped meat or fish; fingers of Fatima – pancakes stuffed with minced meat and eggs. Most dished are severd with Couscous and roasted vegetables. Mint tea and coffee are the most traditional drinks in Tunisia. The consumption of alcohol in Tunisia is, according to Islamic law, forbidden, however, to drink Tunisians calmly and sometimes even themselves violate the prohibitions.
Of course no problem to buy alcohol in hotels and restaurants.
Supermarkets sell alcoholic beverages and beer under limited hours.
Health and safety
Although much of the country is safe to travel in, however independent travellers should consider avoiding the boarders to Libya and Algeria regions due to underlying local tensions.
Whenever you travel overseas, it’s always wise to take an appropriate travel adaptor. The electricity supply runs at 230V, 50Hz. Tunisian plugs, types C and E, have two round pins. These are shared most of the European countries, including France, Spain and Germany.
Tunisia has a single time zone, Central European Time (UTC+1). Tunisia does not observe daylight savings.
If you’re on an Odyssey tour, we take care of tipping so you don’t need to give it a second thought. However, in your free time, or if travelling independently, it’s essential that you make sure you tip an appropriate amount for services, as is the case throughout much of Europe. It’s customary to tip 10-15% of the bill at restaurants, or a few dinars at a more casual establishment. It’s polite to round a bill up to the nearest whole figure or leave the change when buying drinks.
Internet access is easily accessible, and most hotels and many cafes will be able to offer it.
Check with your cell phone provider to see whether you’re able to make calls and use data while in Tunisia. Many providers will offer a daily fee that allows you to make calls and check the internet while only being charged your regular rates. However, be certain to inform your provider that you’re heading overseas, because just like a bank they can turn off your service as a result of unusual activity.
Responsible travel tips for Tunisia
- Learn at least the local greetings to break the ice. Although many locals speak English, the more you know of the native language, the greater your experience of the country will be.
- Carry a business card in your wallet or purse from your local hotel, to assist you with the return journey if you do become lost.
- Always ensure that you are covered by travel insurance. If you need advice on this feel free to contact Odyssey and we’ll be able to help.
- When travelling independently, make sure you check the opening hours of shops and museums so that you don’t miss out! Museums and galleries are often closed on Mondays. Also be certain to check whether your trip coincides with any public holidays, so you can plan accordingly.
- Consider contacting your bank to inform them that you may be making purchases overseas. Otherwise, they may flag any activity on your account as suspicious. Also, check which ATMs and banks are compatible with your cards, to ensure you can withdraw cash with minimal fees.
- Before departing, make sure you have a number of dinars in a range of denominations. You don’t want to be carrying around enormous amounts of cash, but take enough to make it easy to pay in locations that might not accept credit card. It will also help you avoid card transaction fees, and it makes tipping a breeze.