The best time to visit Tunisia
Due to its climate and geographical location, certain times of year are better than others if you want to enjoy a comfortable trip to Tunisia.
For example, summer is the best time for those looking for a sunny beach holiday. Between June and August, temperatures can reach up to 35C (95F), perfect for swimming and lounging on the beaches.
If you want to explore the country and do some sightseeing, you should plan your trip for the low season. April to May and October to November offer pleasant temperatures between 20 and 25C (68 and 77F).
Another thing to watch out for are the jellyfish. Most of them can be found off the coast of towns such as Sousse and Monastir at the end of August. Although their stings are not fatal, they are slightly painful, so take this into account when planning your trip.
Where Africa meets Europe
Walking through the streets of Sidi Bou Said, you might think you’ve been transported to Santorini or a small Italian village – and you’re not wrong! Some parts of Tunisia feel more European because of the country’s long French influence. You can see the French influence in everything from the architecture to the friendly customer service and even the language.
The combination of elements of Arab culture, unspoilt African nature and European friendliness is sure to surprise and delight first-time tourists.
Money and currency
The official currency is the Tunisian Dinar. You can easily exchange dollars or euros at most banks, exchange offices, hotels and airports.
In major cities, credit cards can be used almost everywhere. However, in smaller towns you may need to have cash on hand in small shops or cafes.
There is also an interesting rule that not too many travellers know about: it is forbidden to take the national currency out of the country! Don’t worry though, you can exchange your unused Tunisian Dinar at the airport.
Another tip is to bargain in places where there are no price tags, such as souvenir shops. Bargaining is a way of life in Tunisia, and if you’re lucky, you can get the price down by two or three times the original amount.
Tunisia has an excellent transport system and won’t cause you any problems as you explore the country.
The best way to get around the city is to take a yellow taxi, which is ubiquitous. The cost of a taxi ride is only a few dollars and the price is determined by the meter (just make sure the driver turns it on before you go!).
There is also an excellent public transport system with air-conditioned buses, metro and trams in major cities. You can travel between cities by train, with carriages of varying comfort, or by intercity bus.
If you want to get off the beaten track and plan your own itinerary, it’s best to hire a car. The only requirements are that you have a driving licence valid for at least one year and are at least 21 years old. Some places to visit by car are the Sidi Driss Hotel in Matmata (which featured in the first Star Wars film!), Lake Ichkeul and the Dougga ruins.
Food and Water
Tunisian cuisine is a unique blend of cultures and ingredients you won’t find anywhere else. On the one hand, Tunisian cuisine is influenced by its Mediterranean location and indigenous Berber roots, along with bits of Italian, Andalusian, French and Arabic cuisine. On the other hand, the food has a particular spiciness that sets it apart from its neighbours.
You’ll find tasty grilled meats, chicken and freshly caught fish cooked with special spices – after all, Tunisia borders the Mediterranean!
But don’t mistake Tunisians for a savoury bunch. Their desserts are absolutely fantastic and have no competition, whether it’s baklava, bambalouni (sweet doughnuts), almond shortbread and more.
When it comes to drinking, avoid tap water and buy bottled water instead. It is also worth noting that alcoholic drinks are not sold everywhere in Tunisia and you may have to look around to find a shop. Alcohol is usually sold in the city’s largest grocery store and a few selected supermarkets.