Imagine a country where you can sense an endless amount of different aspects from different continents. Where you can feel the occidental importance of the Mediterranean Sea, experience the Arabic way of life, still feel the influence of the Ottoman Empire. A country where you can visit cork oak forests, spot Roman ruins and wander the Sahara Desert. A country with endless variety. A country located in North Africa: Tunisia.
I had the pleasure of spending 7 days in Tunisia traveling along the coast. I got to swim in the crystal clear blue water because we traveled by boat and spend evenings in cities. I managed to get an insight of a country with a for me yet unknown religion and way of life. And I guess that was also the starting point of me wanting to discover not only Tunisia, but all of Africa.
Tunisia’s official main language is (Tunisian Arabic. But due to the fact that the French once colonized this country from 1881 to 1956, French is also the second main language and many street names, films, holidays etc. are still in this very langauge. So while you are strolling through the colorful foreign markets in the North African country, people will be talking to you in both Arabic and French. “لكن هذا هو جمال البلاد / Mais c’est la beauté du pays!” (ar. / fr.: “But that’s the beauty of the country!”)
Hotels in Tunisia are relatibely cheap. I would recommend to actually stay in a hotel though, not a hostel, out of safety reasons. Be sure that breakfast is always included in the price. A room with shared toilet – which is very common – and breakfast costs about 18 TND (+/- 8€). If you want to enjoy a bit more comfort, a hotel room with a private toilet and breakfast will be priced at about 40 TND (+/- 18€). You might also be able to lower the price a bit through bargaining. People bargain a lot in all of Africa, prices are mostly negoitable.
Talking about money matters: Tunisia is not only a wonderful country to explore with scenerys which leave you dreaming for months, but is also great to travel to if you do not want to spend too much of your hard-earned travel money 🙂 (Struggle is real). Here are some examples: a grilled meat sandwhich costs 2 TND, 2 tomatoes and a bread in Tunis market is 0.35 TND, 1kg of bananas 3.8 TND and 500ml yogurt for 0.7 TND. The attractions such as mosques, museum, ruins etc. are relatively expensive by comparism (8-12 TND on average).
Tunisia is a very easy country regarding transportation. Every city has different types of transportation, such as louage, train or bus. Louages are shared minibus taxis which basically go everywhere in cities. The easy to travel train system can also take you far away from big cities and buses are obviously the slowest form of transportation. A train ticket from Tunis to Sousse costs 7.6 dinar and takes about 2 hours.
Nevertheless, Tunisia is a country in Africa. And many breaking news on the TV regarding wars/ fights/terrorism… have something to do with the Middle East or North Africa. So how safe is it really to travel to this multifaceted country? According to the UK Government, the country of Tunisia itself is safe to travel to, yet you should under all circumstances not travel within 20km of the Libya border area and definetly avoid the area around Chaambi Mountains National Park because these are military zones All militraized zone shsould be aboslutely off-limits. If it is not essential for you to travel within 30km of the Algeria border area, do not do so. Tunisia is still in a state of emergency and there is a heightened risk of terrorism against aviation. On the other hand, protective security in major cities and tourist resorts have been improved. The best advice for you is to be vigilant at all times, especially around religious sites and keep your eyes open for policemen etc. who you can report something to. Furthermore, protests are often held in Tunisia, but the large majority of them are peaceful.
- Restaurants: 5-10%
- Taxi: round up
- Guides/Staff: 5 TND
- Greet others with a gentle handshake. Men should bow their head to women if they do not offer their hand.
- Close male friends may officially hold hands, but you should always be careful because homosexuality is illegal in Tunisia.
- You should always dress adequately. No butt-showing shorts or short crop tops. And while I was in the city, people were touching my blonde hair, so maybe keep it in braids.
- Be aware of the fact that Tunisians who offer any kind of assistance will often request a tip. Refuse assistance if you do not need any.
- You should only eat with your right hand. The left hand is to be kept at your side or on your lap, but never on the table.