Things To Do in Tunis: a guide to discovering the capital of Tunisia

Especiarias à venda na Medina de Tunes.
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2024-05-18

If you’re looking for suggestions on the best things to do in Tunis, Tunisia, then let me tell you that you’re in the right place!

Tunis, or Tunis in French, is the capital and largest city of Tunisia. It’s an amazing place that, while not abandoning the traditions of an Arab country, has adapted to welcome visitors from the West.

In general, people are friendly in Tunis, and there’s no significant barrier to communication. Although the official language is Arabic, the use of French is very common. Moreover, I noticed that in tourist places, there’s always someone who speaks English.

So, if you’re planning to visit Tunisia, I’ve gathered a set of tips on what to do and see in Tunis to help you plan your visit.

Best Things To Do and Visit in Tunis, Tunisia

O que ver em Tunes: a Mesquita Youssef Dey.
Visiting Tunis: Youssef Dey Mosque.
O que ver em Tunes, Tunísia: Arco Bab al-Bhar.
What to see in Tunis, Tunisia: Bab al-Bhar Arch.
Arquitetura ocidental na Tunísia.
Best things to do in Tunis: Western architecture in Tunisia.
Ver a arquitetura tunisina em Tunis.
Seeing Tunisian architecture in Tunis.
O que fazer em Tunes: visitar a Catedral de São Vicente de Paulo.
What to do in Tunis: Visit Saint Vincent de Paul Cathedral.
Monumentos a visitar em Tunes.
Monuments to visit in Tunis.
Especiarias à venda na Medina de Tunes.
Best things to do in Tunis: Spices for sale in the Tunis Medina.
Ruas estreitas cheias de gente no mercado de Tunes.
Narrow streets crowded with people in the Tunis market.
Bab al-Bhar: monumento histórico em Tunes.
Bab al-Bhar: historical monument.

Here’s a list of what to do and see in Tunis, including the most famous places like the Tunis Medina, Carthage, or the Bardo Museum, but also some lesser-known spots.

Visiting the Medina, or old city of Tunis

Medina de Tunes, capital da Tunísia.
Medina of Tunis, capital of Tunisia.
O que fazer em Tunes: ir às compras no mercado. Peças de madeira.
What to do in Tunis: Go shopping at the market. Wooden crafts.
Banca de copos de chá e café na Medina de Tunes.
Tea and coffee cup stall in the Tunis Medina.

Did you know that the word “medina” means old city? That’s why there are so many medinas, or old cities, especially in Arab-origin countries.

As for the Tunis Medina, I can give you some reasons to include it in your itinerary in Tunisia.

Firstly, because it has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979.

Then, because it is in the Medina that you can find buildings with the most interesting architecture, as well as bustling squares and cafes.

Moreover, it is in the Medina that you can find the Souk or market.

Exploring the Souk in Tunis, knowing you will get lost…

Comprar pão no souk de Tunes, Tunísia.
Best things to do in Tunis: Buying bread at the Tunis Souk, Tunisia.
Labirinto de ruas e lojas em Tunes.
Maze of streets and shops in Tunis.

The Souk in Tunis, like most souks, has a labyrinthine layout, with streets stretching in all directions. As a result, it’s very easy to get lost.

However, it’s often said that those navigating the souk can tell where they are just by their noses, as the smells waft through the air and each area has a distinctive odor.

So, they say it’s possible to find your way around just by following your nose.

In some alleys, artisans work with animal hides, wood, and metal; in other sections, there are shops selling clothes, jewelry, meat, bread, vegetables, and spices.

Locals come here for their daily shopping, as you can find everything. Tourists also come here to shop.

Visiting the ruins of the city of Carthage

O que fazer em Tunes: visitar as ruínas de Cartago.
What to do in Tunis: visit the ruins of Carthage.
Ver as ruínas de Cartago de perto.
Best things to do in Tunis: See the ruins of Carthage up close.
Ruínas de Cartago com o mar ao fundo.
Ruins of Carthage with the sea in the background.
Banhos romanos em Cartago.
Roman baths in Carthage.
Termas de Antonin: Banhos romanos em Cartago.
Best things to do in Tunis: Antonine Baths, the roman baths in Carthage.
Descobrir as ruínas de Cartago.
Exploring the ruins of Carthage.
Visitar as ruínas de Cartago, na Tunísia, com crianças.
Visiting the ruins of Carthage, in Tunisia, with children.
Cartago: capital da civilização cartaginesa.
Carthage: capital of the Carthaginian civilization.
Guia a explicar a história de Cartago.
A guide explaining the history of Carthage.
Ver Tunes a partir de um miradouro em Cartago.
Viewing Tunis from an overlook in Carthage.
Conjunto de colunas nas ruínas de Cartago.
Cluster of columns in the ruins of Carthage.

Visiting Carthage is an incredible experience and, personally, it’s one of my favorite places in Tunis.

This ancient enclave was once the most important commercial center in the Ancient Mediterranean, being considered one of the wealthiest cities in the classical world.

The ruins of Carthage are very well preserved and it’s a pleasure to explore a place with such a grand past.

Moreover, the ruins are strategically located overlooking the sea, making the stroll even more beautiful.

The Archaeological Site of Carthage has been part of the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1979, highlighting its cultural and historical significance.

Visiting the Bardo Museum

Museu Nacional do Bardo.
Best things to do in Tunis: visit the National Bardo Museum.
Sala dos mosaicos no Museu do Bardo.
Mosaic Room at the Bardo Museum.
Painel de mosaicos.
Mosaic panel.
Detalhe de um painel de mosaicos, no Museu Nacional do Bardo.
Detail of a mosaic panel at the National Bardo Museum.
Peças de arte no Museu do Bardo.
Sculptures at the Bardo Museum.
Mosaicos antigos no Museu do Bardo.
Ancient mosaics at the Bardo Museum.
Visitar o Museu do Bardo com crianças.
Visiting the Bardo Museum with children.

The Bardo Museum, or National Bardo Museum, was inaugurated in 1885 and is located on the outskirts of Tunis, about 5 km from the city center.

It has the largest collection of Roman mosaics in a palace, as well as artifacts from the excavations of Carthage.

But the treasures you can see are not all from Tunis. This is because you can also see up close antiquities from Ancient Greece and artifacts from other regions of Tunisia.

And when I say up close, it’s not a figure of speech! The artifacts are really close to those who visit them.

In addition to all that I have already mentioned, there is yet another reason to include the National Bardo Museum in your itinerary in Tunis, which is related to the building itself.

The museum operates in a nineteenth-century palace that belonged to a Bey, that is, a Tunisian monarch. I particularly liked the central courtyard interior, as well as the high ceilings of the rooms, but I believe you will find other interesting features in this palace.

Buying carpets in Tunisia

O que fazer em Tunes, Tunísia: comprar tapetes.
What to do in Tunis, Tunisia: buy carpets.

Similar to other countries in the Maghreb, such as Morocco, carpet craftsmanship is very common in Tunisia.

In fact, the sale of carpets follows a ritual with different stages to ensure a successful sale.

Firstly, visitors are asked to sit in a room and offered tea. Then, the carpets are laid out on the floor, with each one being described in detail, explaining not only how long it takes to make the carpet, but also the materials used and what the colors, designs, and patterns mean.

Next, negotiations begin, starting with separating the carpets that visitors have shown the most interest in.

Some “perks” may include shipping the carpets home by mail, as well as potential discounts.

Is it worth staying overnight in Tunis?

Alojamento em Tunes: ficar a dormir na Medina de Tunis.
Accommodation: Staying overnight in the Medina of Tunis.
Avenida Habib Bourguiba, em Tunes.
Habib Bourguiba avenue, in Tunis.

If your idea is to explore the medina and souks of Tunis, then it makes perfect sense to book two or three nights in Tunis, the capital of Tunisia.

For that, my recommendation is to check out the traditional Dar Ben Gacem (3 stars) or the luxurious Palais Bayram (5 stars), which are located in the Medina of Tunis.

However, if you prefer the comfort of international chain hotels, both the El Mouradi Hotel Africa Tunis (4 stars) and the Sheraton Tunis Hotel (5 stars) are excellent choices.

Hotels in Tunis, Tunisia

Everything You Need to Know Before Traveling to Tunis, Tunisia

Mapa de Tunes.
Map of Tunis.
Detalhe da Catedral de São Vicente de Paulo, em Tunes.
Detail of the Cathedral of St. Vincent de Paul.
Vista de Tunes, a partir do Museu Nacional do Bardo.
View of Tunis from the National Bardo Museum.

Is travel insurance necessary for traveling to Tunisia?

Praça 7 de novembro.
November 7 Square.

Although it is not mandatory to purchase travel insurance for traveling to Tunisia, I do not recommend going without it.

This is because unexpected events can occur, and healthcare in Tunisia is different from what Europeans are accustomed to.

Moreover, travel insurance is currently so affordable that I believe it is not justified to travel without it.

I use and recommend IATI Travel Insurance, which, in my opinion, offers excellent coverage at great prices.

Check how much travel insurance for Tunisia costs.

How do the shops in the Souks of Tunis operate?

Ver artistas a trabalhar peças de latão no souk de Tunis.
Watch artists working on brass pieces in the souk of Tunis.
Interior do mercado de Tunes.
Interior of the Tunis market.

Products do not have fixed prices, so the seller will set the price as they please.

Usually, they ask where you are from, and based on the response, they adjust the prices.

This makes bargaining necessary; in fact, it’s a culturally accepted practice, as merchants might feel offended if you don’t engage in it.

We tried bargaining there; it was even fun, but perhaps it didn’t go well… as we ended up bringing home a tea set consisting of a teapot, tray, and six glass cups.

We paid the agreed-upon amount following a negotiation, but the truth is, the seller offered us an extra small plate as we were leaving the shop.

I think we made a bad deal, and maybe it weighed on his conscience. Anyway, it’s a story to tell.

Is there Uber or Bolt in Tunis, Tunisia?

Há Uber na Tunísia?
Is there Uber in Tunisia?
Trânsito na cidade de Tunes.
Traffic in the city of Tunis.

Yes, in Tunis there is Uber and Bolt, as well as other ride-sharing applications, such as Yassir, Careem, and Heetch.

On the other hand, if you want to have a different experience in Tunis, check out the IntiGo service, which is a taxi service but on bicycles.

You already know how it works; download the app on your phone, link a payment card, preferably Revolut or another that allows foreign currency payments without fees, and when you need it, request a car.

However, traditional taxis remain a reliable and relatively economical solution, as long as you take some precautions.

So, when ordering a taxi in Tunis, ask beforehand for the fare and make sure you have the exact change. Try not to pay with excessively large bills to avoid the risk of them saying they don’t have change.

Other than that, you shouldn’t have any problems using taxis in Tunis.

Does Revolut work in Tunisia?

Ir às compras com cartão Revolut na Tunísia.
Shopping with a Revolut card in Tunisia.

Yes, the Revolut card works in Tunisia, but honestly, I only found it worthwhile because of the withdrawals at ATMs.

This is because both in the Medina and in the cafes in downtown Tunis, they always asked me for payment in dinars.

So, my recommendation is to bring your Revolut card to Tunisia, but plan on always having some cash with you.

What is the best time to visit Tunis?

Visitar Tunes, na Tunísia, na primavera e verão.
Visit Tunis, Tunisia, in spring and summer.
Arquidiocese de Tunes com a luz da manhã.
Archdiocese of Tunis in the morning light.
Esplanada no centro de Tunes, no verão.
Esplanade in the center of Tunis, in the summer.

The best time to visit Tunis is usually between May and June when the weather is ideal for exploring not only the capital of Tunisia but also for diving into the warm waters of the Mediterranean.

During these months, the hot summer Mediterranean climate prevails, with pleasant temperatures and less intense heat than in the peak months, namely July and August.

Although there are several charter flights from the UK and other european destinations during this time, the hottest months in Tunis are usually July and August. These months can experience very high temperatures, which can make the experience less comfortable for visitors.

Therefore, in May and June, you can expect an average maximum temperature of around 24°C, which provides mild and pleasant weather for outdoor activities.

Furthermore, by choosing to visit Tunis during the spring, you also have the advantage of avoiding the typical crowds of the high season, as well as finding more economical prices in hotels.

Anyway, I visited Tunis in early June, and the experience was great, so I recommend it!

What kind of clothing to wear in Tunis?

Pessoas numa praça em Tunes, Tunísia.
People in a square in Tunis, Tunisia.
Vestuário local na Tunísia.
Local attire in Tunisia.

When visiting Tunis, it’s advisable to dress respectfully, taking into account the predominantly Muslim local culture.

Opt for modest clothing that covers the shoulders, arms, and legs, such as half-sleeve or long-sleeve shirts, long pants, or skirts below the knee.

While Tunisian society is generally tolerant of Western clothing, I believe it’s a matter of education and common sense to show respect for local tradition.

The same applies to men, who should reserve shorts for beach outings.

But remember, this article refers to appropriate attire in cities, as in beach areas and resorts, swimwear and bikinis are perfectly acceptable.

Is the city of Tunis safe?

Turistas e locais numa esplanada em Tunes, durante o dia.
Tourists and locals at a café terrace in Tunis during the day.
Segurança na Tunísia. Ruas menos movimentadas em Tunes.
Safety in Tunisia. Less crowded streets in Tunis.
Viajar para a Tunísia com crianças.
Traveling to Tunisia with children.

In general, Tunis is a safe city, but you should take some basic precautions.

Tourists, in particular, are often targets of petty theft, so be mindful of your belongings when out and about.

Additionally, from my experience, people are friendly but may not engage in lengthy conversations with foreigners. In other words, they will assist if asked for something, but they may not engage in conversation about the country.

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