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    Travel to Tunisia, where the Sahara meets the Med

    By Dmitry Petrounin Dmitry Petrounin Section editor Profile

    There is so much to discover in this small country in the Maghreb region of North Africa! Tunisia is a destination for year round sunshine without breaking the bank. You have the opportunity to visit the Sahara desert and relive the adventure of Star Wars, explore archaeological sites and charming cultural villages, not to mention the chance to swim in the beautiful Mediterranean

    Travel guide

    Many resorts

    The country has a well established tourist infrastructure which includes fine holiday resorts with hotels, shops, restaurants and entertainment venues geared towards its visiting population. Bordered by 1300km of coastline, its range of resorts includes Ctes de Carthage (near Tunis), Djerba, Nabeul, Hammamet, Sousse, Port El Kantaoui, Monastir and Mahdia. On the north coast, the resorts of Tabarka and Bizerte allow for a more relaxed holiday as they are preserved from mass tourism. Nationals of the UK and many other countries do not require a visa to enter the country and can stay for up to 3 months. Tunisia's main international airport for scheduled flights is Tunis-Carthage International Airport (TUN) near Tunis.

    Culture

    Ramadan is the traditional Muslim fasting period (ie. no drinking, eating, smoking or sex during the day) which lasts for 29 or 30 days. During this period, it is expected that shops, restaurants, banks, etc. are completely closed or open just for a few hours per day, either in the morning or at night. However, in tourist areas, restaurants and cafes usually remain open during the day. Not a requirement, but waiters and taxi drivers are usually tipped a few coins; waiters in tourist restaurants are accustomed to 10%.

    Sports and activities

    Whatever you're interested in, there is something for everyone in Tunisia: Tennis, beach volleyball, boules, archery, pedal boats, windsurfing, sailing, scuba diving or you can even ride a camel. With its many courses, golf lovers are spoilt for choice. Several trips to Tunisia would be needed to try everything!

    Transport

    The public local and long-distance transport system in Tunisia consists of bus, rail, collective taxis (minibuses with 8 or 9 seats) and individual taxis. In bigger cities, there are bus lines to destinations within the city. There are several railway lines, which connect the larger cities several times a day, and are usually on time.

    History awaits you

    To learn about ancient history, take a trip to the amphitheatre of El Jem. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is undoubtedly the most impressive Roman monument in Africa. The ruins of Dougga and Bulla Regia stand proudly against the beautiful green countryside, and the ancient city of Carthage is world famous for its archaeological sites, museums and the President's own seaside residence. The Bardo museum in Tunis is home to the largest collection of mosaics in the world.

    Beautiful weather

    Tunisia experiences a typically Mediterranean climate which sees year round sunshine and warm weather. Temperatures in every season vary from the northern to the southern part of the country but generally speaking, summers are hot and dry and winters are mild if not warm. Rain is scare in summer but can be more common in winter.

    Value for money

    Tunisia has a reputation for being great value for money! Its beaches are full of beautiful soft white sand and crystal clear blue waters of the Caribbean. The restaurants offer great quality of food and drinks for reasonable prices. If you choose to stay at a resort, they usually provide in-house entertainment free of charge and amazing water sports. Tunisia is roughly only a 3hr flight from the UK, and you can enjoy a complete change of scenery, while experiencing another culture and meeting friendly locals in this beautiful country.

    Our Editorial team's advice

    Spring and autumn are perhaps the best times to visit Tunisia, as summers are generally too hot for most people, with temperatures reaching 35C in the north and a scorching 45C in the south. Late March to early June and late September to November are much more bearable with temperatures rarely exceeding 30C. If you are seeking refuge from a country prone to cold weather during the winter months, Tunisia is a great place to escape to! Winters in the south can reach a very pleasant 20C during the five or six hours of sunshine per day.

    Keep in mind that Tunisia is not a year round swimming destination! The beaches are best laid out with equipment from mid-March to Mid-November and the water sports centres are usually open from April to October. Tourists who visit in the winter can take advantage of the thalassotherapy treatments, spa treatments, indoor pools, golf courses or go on excursions to the south.

    If you want to discover the best parts of Tunisia and emerge yourself in its history and culture, there is no better way to do it than a guided tour. Opt for a laidback or an adventure tour to go off the beaten track. You can even take a guided tour on a camel's back! However, if you prefer to relax by the pool or play sports, staying in one place is the best option. You may even choose to spend an entire week at the hotel resort taking advantages of the facilities and the beach, or stay slightly longer to go on a few excursions.

    The country's public transport is cheap and reliable. Taxis are quite cheap, but be wary of taxi drivers in the tourist areas who often try to achieve higher fares by suggesting to pay a fixed fee (which is almost always higher than the normal price).

    pros

    • +An incredible array of sceneries and the possibility to combine several types of stay.
    • +The rich diversity of handicrafts.
    • +Tunisian hospitality in the villages.

    cons

    • -The persistant street hawkers could be a good reason to lose your cool.
    • -The dry heat in mid summer soon becomes unbearable inland.

    Traditions

    The most spoken language in Tunisia is Tunisian Arabic. Other minor languages include French and Shelha, although French is less understood in the far south. English and German are also spoken in major cities. English is taught in schools, so most employees in holiday resort areas will speak enough English to help you get by. Not all Muslims in Tunisia strictly follow the Ramadan period but the vast majority of them do. Therefore, some Tunisians might express displeasure if they observe tourists drinking, eating or smoking in the public during Ramadan.

    Bargaining is practiced in almost every private shop and market in Tunisia, thus prices can be reduced by about 20 to 50% of the original price, depending how good you are at haggling. Remember that Tunisians have to live too, so be realistic with your bargaining. In most Tunisian regions, women's costumes are largely varied and highly refined. Weaving and embroidery vary from one region to another. One of the greatest Tunisian traditions is pottery, particularly in Nabeul, north of Hammamet. Beautifully decorated plates, vases and animal figurines are available for purchase.

    Food

    Tunisian food combines Arabic, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and French influences. It is generally rich and spicy; which might not be the best thing to have in the afternoon's sweltering heat. So, if you would like something more suitable for the hot weather, the delicious salads available usually comprise of tomatoes, onions and sweet peppers sprinkled with olive oil and lemon - perfect for lunch! Roast chicken and baked lamb dishes are popular throughout the country, and the coast you'll find fresh seafood. You will also have the opportunity to try the traditional tajine (a mutton stew) and couscous, a speciality among the Djerba locals. A sweet version of couscous, with dates, raisins and almonds, is served for dessert. The local pastries are all incredibly tempting, including Turkish delights, and pistachio balls. In Tunisia, you cannot go for a day without being offered the national drink, mint tea.

    Ideal Weather Search

    Find weekly weather forecasts for Tunisia . Different criteria make it possible to predict with precision the best time of year to go to Tunisia . A comprehensive weather score, made up of temperature indicators, bad weather predictions, sunshine levels and wind speeds, will allow you to choose the activities best suited to the weather conditions and therefore make the most of your holiday in Tunisia .

    What to see

    The Atlas Mountains , Tunisia
    The Atlas Mountains
    The Chotts , Chotts , Tunisia
    The Chotts
    The desert , The Sahara , Tunisia
    The desert
    Mides Canyon , Tunisia
    Mides Canyon
    Ksar Ghilane oasis , The Ksar Ghilane oasis , Tunisia
    Ksar Ghilane oasis
    Monastir , The old town of Monastir , Tunisia
    Monastir
    Sidi Bou Sad , Sidi Bou Said , Tunisia
    Sidi Bou Sad
    Bizerte , The old port of Bizerte , Tunisia
    Bizerte
    Tabarka , Tunisia
    Tabarka
    Kerkenna islands , The Kerkenna Islands , Tunisia
    Kerkenna islands
    Djerba island , The capital, Houmt Souk , Tunisia
    Djerba island
    Hammamet , The Hammamet seafront , Tunisia
    Hammamet
    Land wildlife , A wild ostrich , Tunisia
    Land wildlife
    Birds and the Ichkeul national park , Wild storks , Tunisia
    Birds and the Ichkeul national park
    Plantlife , Flora , Tunisia
    Plantlife