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Courtyard of the Zitouna Mosque
Hôtel de Ville

Tunis (تونس) is the capital of Tunisia.


Located on the Mediterranean coast but lacking much in the way of beaches, Tunis has been spared the onslaught of package tourism in the resorts to the north and south. With a population of less than 700,000, the entire city feels small and compact. There isn't much in the way of must-see attractions, but Carthage is easily accessed from here and the souq is one of the most authentic and hassle-free in North Africa.


Tunis is divided into the old city, known as the medina, and the new city, or ville nouvelle in French.

Get in

By plane

Tunis-Carthage Airport (TUN), 8 km away from the center, is small and in reasonable shape with all standard facilities. You can exchange money here at decent rates. A taxi into the city center — insist on the meter — should cost around 3 dinars during the day and 5 dinars at night. Alternatively, buses depart fairly regularly during the day (but not at night) and charge a fraction of the price.

Beware of the Taxi drivers at the taxi stand, at night they will ask 20 - 25 TD. During the day, the drivers will use the meter without argument but it is often tampered with and thus reads high. If it reads more than 2 dinar before the end of the airport road, you are being ripped off and you should contemplate getting out (without paying) and catching another taxi.

A better idea is to go upstairs to the departure area and catch a taxi that has just dropped someone off. This increases the odds of an honest driver immensely and is often done by locals (especially those who work at the airport).

The food and drinks near the check in counters are very reasonably priced and good quality but those in the transit area are extremely expensive and poor quality (low turnover).

By train

Tunis Central Station is near Place de Barcelone for easy interchange onto the light metro. Trains are generally cheap and comfortable, but if you want to ride first class during peak season, do reserve your seat in advance. Trains are run by SNCFT.

By car

It is not highly recommended to drive in Tunisia, due to poor quality of roads, driving habits, and poor signage. It is also more dangerous to drive at night, and outside of the city and major tourist areas.

By bus

Tunisia has over 70 bus lines, with Tunis at the hub. There are two bus stations in town, with Gare Bab el Fellah serving southern destinations and Gare Bab Saadoun serving those to the north. Buses are run by SNTRI at both stations.

By boat

Ferries connect Tunis to a number of international destinations including Trapani, Pantelleria, Genova, Naples and Marseille. The main ferry terminal is at La Goulette, but check your departure terminal carefully as there are also other ports. Operators include GNV[4].

Get around

Illuminated clock tower, a good landmark

Tunis is well-served by a convenient four-line light metro system run by Société des Transports de Tunis [5] (French/Arabic only). The interchange hub for all lines is in the center of town at Place de la République/Place de Barcelone. Single trips cost 0,410 TD.

The TGM suburban train line, starting at Tunis Marine station on Lines 1-4, connects to La Goulette (ferries), Sidi Bou Saïd, Carthage and the beaches of Marsa.

Taxis are also a good option if you need to go a bit farther than the metro, though cabs picking up in front of nice hotels will charge much higher rates.


Port de France
  • Bardo Museum (Le Musée National du Bardo), Le Bardo-2000, (nearest station Bardo on Metro line 4), 1 513-650 (Fax: 1 513-842), [6]. Nov-Apr daily 9:30AM-4:30PM. May-Oct daily 9AM-5PM. Occupying the 13th century palace of the Ottoman-era bey (ruler) and renowned for its extensive collection of Roman mosaics, although the (huge) collection covers Tunisia's entire existence from the prehistoric era until the Ottoman days. Exhibits from Carthage, Mahdia, Sousse, many from the Roman period in addition to presentations of Arabian culture old and new.
  • Dar Ben Abdallah (Musée du Patrimoine Traditionnel). Tu-Su 9:30AM-4:30PM. A small but interesting folk museum within an 18th-century palace in the medina, covering the everyday life of a rich merchant in the Ottoman era with exhibits including faience, stucco ornament, costumes and furniture.
  • Cathedral of St. Vincent de Paul Built in 1882, this is the largest surviving building from Tunis' colonial era, in the neo-Romanesque style.
  • Zitouna Mosque (Jemaa ez-Zitouna). The largest mosque in Tunisia and an important landmark, this Aghlabite mosque dates back to the 8th century, although the distinctive square minaret is a much later 19th century addition. Modest dress essential, but non-Muslims can only enter the courtyard (3 TND), not the mosque itself. It is open every day but Friday, from 8-11am. The mosque is also surrounded on three sides by souks, which are worth exploring.
  • Bab el Bahr (Porte de France). The Gate to the sea, which remains unchanged since its erection in 1848. It can be found on the Avenue de France.
  • Bab Saadoun. Another gate, constructed originally in 1350 with one arch, then rebuilt in 1881 with three arches to facilitate commerce.


view from government store
  • Take a walking tour of the ancient buildings, mosques, and gates of the medina.
  • See an opera, ballet, or other production at the Théâtre municipal de Tunis.
  • Wander through Tunis' largest park, Belvedere Park, which houses the Museum of Modern Art and the municipal zoo, and overlooks Lake Tunis.


There is an American school in Tunis, the American Cooperative School of Tunis. It is a private, non-profit day school. If you would like to study Arabic or French while in Tunis, there are a few options, including The Language Academy [[7]], or private tutors.



the Souk
Camel skin and other lamps for sale
  • ATMs are a convenient way of getting money without going to a bureau de change and there are many VISA cashpoints around the city [8]
  • The souq in the medina makes for a fascinating stroll. Tiny shops overflowing with stuff; people selling, buying, milling about; skeletal cats lurking in the shadows; the smells of essential oils, spices, frying food and rotting garbage; the sounds of the muezzin, raï, football on the radio, Arabic and French... The Tunis medina's main routes are labeled "touristique", but even a few steps off the beaten track it's a real, working market. Behind the often scruffy facades hide old palaces, mosques, medrasas (Islamic schools). Compared to Morocco or even Sousse you will not be hassled here. Bab El Bahr (The large stone-arch "French Gate" at the head of Avenue DeFrance) is a good starting point for the Souk. The goldsmiths are close to Bab Bnet. Haggle if you wish to buy anything.
  • Halfaouine a cheap, traditional food market, located at Place Halfaouine, near the Habib Thameur metro stop.

There are little stores near every hotel [9] in Tunis, where you can buy everything you need, but it's difficult to call their prices loyal. So it's better to go shopping to other parts of the city. Aproximate 90% of presented in Tunis goods are of local origin. There are networks of state supermarkets Monoprix and General in the capital.


Most hotels include breakfast, and some include dinner. If you want to enjoy a cup of coffee and a french pastry, you may have to search, as most coffee shops do not offer pastries.


  • Abid, 98 rue de Yogoslavie, tel: 216 1257052. You can get a solid meal such as lamb in macaroni for TD5.
  • Restaurante Les 3 Étoiles, Rue Mustafa M'barek. Very cheap and filling food such as couscous and salads.


  • L'Orient 7, Rue Ali Bach Hamba, tel: 216 71 252 061. close to porte de France. The steaks are bland, the fish good and local food such as Berber Lamb is excellent. The service is prompt.
  • La Mamma, Av de Carthage, tel: 216 71340423, email: [email protected] Very cosy restaurant on several floors. Good italian inspired food. Has live music and is open to 3 am.
  • El Khalifa, rue d'Iran, tel: 216 22428470. close to Metro stop Nelson Mandela. Delicious West African food at very reasonable prices, popular with employees of the African Development Bank. Far tastier and friendlier than the typical mediocre Tunisian restaurant experience. Open for lunch only until 3pm, Monday through Saturday.


  • Dar el-Jeld, 5-10 rue Dar el-Jeld (near the Prime Minister's residence, and the Youth Hostel), 71 560 916. Perhaps the best of the restaurants in Tunis, this restaurant pays attention to every single detail. You don't even open the door - just knock on the large yellow door, and they open it (this gives it the appearence of not being open). The food is excellent, and the management speaks English and French fluently, and can recommend various dishes. The menu is a bit complicated, with price categories, rather than prices, listed (check the last page for what each price category costs). The physical setting is inside a beautiful, tiled covered courtyard, and has private areas off to the side. As of March '09, prices for a main course ranged from 20-30, appetizer 7-9, and water or tea 3.5. Everything is recommended, though the couscous is simply good, but not incredible. 25-40 TD.


Ladies, try to bring a man out with you, and be careful about what bars you frequent, because many are frequented only by men and prostitutes, and can get a bit rowdy.

  • Café M'Rabet cafe and restaurant.
  • Le Boeuf sur le Toit, 3 avenue Fatouma Bourguiba. The name means The Beef on the Roof, and trendy people come for food, drinks, live music, DJs, and a dance floor.
  • Bar Jamaica, 49 Avenue Habib Boutguiba. On the 10th floor of the Hotel el-Hana International, this is a funky and popular destination for locals and foreigners, with music and outdoor seating available.


Most tourists will be interested in accommodation in either the Medina or in Ville Nouvelle. The medina includes the youth hostel and several other budget accomdations, and the high end Dar El Jed. The Ville Nouvelle offers a large number of budget and mid-range accomodation, many grouped within a few blocks of each other north of Place Barcelone.


  • Tunis Youth Hostel, "25, +216 71 567 850. Buried deep within the Medina and a bit of a challenge to find (although there are intermittent signs along the way), this former palace of a sultan is architecturally impressive. Rooms are basic and cooled only by fan. The included evening meal is filling. Breakfast, a simple affair of French bread and coffee, is a bit ropey and is served in the large open courtyard. The communal bathrooms, however, are not cleaned regularly, and may border on offensive. The shower times are limited to an hour in the morning and at night, though hot water may not be available at these times. Plan on using the local hammams for all hot water and cleaning needs. 8TD incl. breakfast.


  • La Maison Doree, 6 bis rue de Hollande, +216 71 240 632 (fax: +216 71 240 631). This hotel captures a slightly faded, colonial era charm. Rooms are basic (the hotel building is old) but clean. Excellent restaurant with bar (2.5 TD Celtia) that provides room service. Breakfast is included in the price, and the croissants are better than average. Rooms come with ensuite sink and shower, but shared toilets - a room with a toilet is an extra 10 TD. Some rooms overlook the local tram, which can be excessively loud - you may want to look out the window to the street below, and possibly listen to the noise of the passing tram. Located half a block north of Place Barcelone. 32-52 TD.


  • Dar El-Medina, 64 Rue Sidi ben Arous. A luxury hotel in a century old mansion in the Medina, this is best accessed (at least until you get your bearings) by taking a taxi to Place du Government on the West side of the Medina - it's a few blocks walk from there. Google for more info, sadly no web page. 200-250.
  • Sheraton Tunis Hotel and Towers, Avenue de la Ligue Arabe · B.P. 345 · Tunis Carthage Cedex 1080, (216)(71) 782 100, [1]. Modern hotel overlooking the entire city. Conviently located in the Central Business District.


Stay safe

Touts and unofficial "guides" hang around near tourist spots. Shoo them off if they start to launch into a spiel on the architectural wonders of this or that, or they will expect to some baksheesh for their unwanted efforts.


One thing that can get really annoying in Tunis is the number of "friends" a tourist will attract. There is a decent number of men who hang out on avenue Bourguiba, the main drag in Tunis. They work individually. They approach tourists and start talking to them. The tourist may think that this person is just being friendly but don't buy it. Also beware of teens approaching you on or around Av. Habib Bourguiba. They often "prey" on male tourists and try to talk you into joining them to the cinema. Later on your new "friend" will ask you for 10 Dinars or a pack of Marlborros or this or that. It is best to just avoid these people or to shoo them off. They also have different techniques to get your attention. They include: asking for a cigarette, asking for the time, asking for a lighter, bumping into you on the street. The most common one seems to be when they ask you for a cigarette or a lighter. It is wise to get rid of anyone who tries to just bluntly start a conversation with you on the street. Chances are that there are no good intentions involved whatsoever. Tunisian people are nice and curious towards strangers but avoid the ones who seem too friendly.


Get out

  • Carthage, famously razed by the Romans with the few remnants now safely encased in a museum, easily reached by train
  • Kerkouane, Phoenician and Punic historical site 80 kilometers west of Tunis
  • Sidi Bou Saïd, a lovely village of white-and-blue houses and fancy cafés and restaurants, easily reached by train
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