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Tunisia Best 2 Week Itinerary

Tunisia 2 Week Guide

Last updated on June 10th, 2024 at 11:06 am

After traveling extensively through Mauritania, Algeria and Libya, Tunisia felt like we landed in an exotic mix of Greece and Turkey, with a mix of cultures and scenery.  Tunisia totally blew us away – it has fascinating history, sandy beaches, and even vast deserts, all in one place!

If you are looking for an alternative to Morocco, Tunisia might be the perfect fit. Both countries share a rich North African (Maghrebi) culture, but Tunisia offers a unique advantage: many areas remain relatively untouched by tourism. Another perk? Tunisia is generally considered hassle-free, with fewer reports of scams compared to other destinations.

Tourism in Tunisia did take a hit after the 2015 terrorist attacks. However, even during peak times, most visitors stayed at resorts or stuck to organized tours. This means a trip to Tunisia offers a chance to be an explorer! Experience the warm hospitality and welcoming nature of the locals throughout your travels.

Tunisia’s convenient location is another plus. A short flight from many European cities, it’s a trip that’s both exotic and off-the-beaten-path, perfect for your next vacation, whether you have a week or two to spare. This guide includes everything you need to plan your Tunisian adventure, from travel tips to a suggested two-week itinerary.

And for any Star Wars fans out there, a trip to Tataouine is a must! Here you’ll find two iconic Star Wars filming locations: Ksar Hadada and Ksar Ouled Soltane. These traditional ksours (fortified granaries) were used as sets for villages on Tatooine in the Star Wars saga. Walk in the footsteps of Luke Skywalker and explore the otherworldly landscapes that brought the sci-fi franchise to life!

Map of Tunisia’s Top Sights

We recommend Day 1-3 to be spent in Tunis visiting Carthage, Sidi Bou Said, the Medina and the Bardo Museum.  The additional top sights can mostly be done as day trips from the capital.  These include:

  • Dougga
  • Bulla Regia
  • Sousse
  • Monastir
  • El Jem
  • Kairouan
  • Sfax
  • El Kef

The following top sights are a bit farther:

  • Tataouine
  • Tozeur
  • Jugurtha Tableland

Tunisia’s 2 Week Itinerary

Don’t let Tunisia’s size fool you! Whether you have 3 days or 2 weeks, this amazing country has something for everyone. This itinerary is like a menu – pick and choose the experiences that interest you most!

Even though Tunisia is smaller than some of its neighbors, its capital, Tunis, is a bustling metropolis. You can easily base yourself in Tunis and take day trips to explore other parts of the country.

Day 1- Tunis: Medina and the Bardo Museum

Tunis Medina
The colorful walkways of the Tunis Medina

In the heart of Tunis lies the bustling Medina, a maze of narrow streets packed with cafes, shops, and stalls selling everything imaginable. This vibrant area grew around the Ez-Zitouna Mosque, a historic landmark built in the 7th century. While non-Muslims can’t enter the mosque itself, a glimpse of the interior is possible from the terrace of Cafe Panorama.

As you wander the Medina, don’t forget to try some local specialties. A favorite is “baguette farcie,” a  flatbread stuffed with cheese, veggies, and your choice of chicken or ham. Tunisians are big fans of filled breads, and you’ll also find “makloub” (folded flatbread with similar fillings) and “fricassee” (deep-fried roll with olives, eggs, tuna, and potatoes) being sold by many vendors.

Baked goods are a staple here, with pizza readily available alongside the traditional breads.  For me, as a vegan, I would choose baguettes with vegetables, but choices were quite limited.

Marking the border between the Islamic and French quarters is Bab Al Bahr, a former gate to the medina that’s now a popular spot to relax, grab a coffee, and do some people-watching. Step across the threshold and be transported to Europe as you enter the French quarter. Grand buildings with Belle Epoque architecture dominate the area, with the Cathedral of Saint Vincent de Paul standing out as a unique blend of architectural styles.

South of the cathedral lies paradise for any foodie – the Municipal Market. The main hall is a feast for the senses, overflowing with fresh colorful produce. Dedicated sections offer a bounty of fresh seafood, meat, cheese, and spices. After exploring the market, head to Fondouk Al Attarine for dinner. This former inn offers a beautiful setting and classic Tunisian dishes like brik (savory pastry) and fish couscous.

Now if you are vegan like me, or are looking for healthier options, look no further than Symbiose Healthy Tasty Food.  This restaurant is a bit of a drive but well worth it!

Bardo National Museum

No trip to Tunis is complete without a visit to the Bardo National Museum. Housed in a stunning former palace, this world-class museum has a collection of artifacts spanning thousands of years. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Roman Mosaics: The Bardo is famous for its collection of Roman mosaics, some of the finest and most extensive you’ll find anywhere. These intricate artworks depict scenes from mythology, daily life, and religious practices, offering a glimpse into the Roman era in North Africa.

  • Punic and Phoenician Antiquities: Explore artifacts from the Punic civilization, a powerful maritime empire that predated the Romans in North Africa. These include sculptures, jewelry, and everyday objects that provide insights into this fascinating culture.

  • Islamic Art: The museum also houses an impressive collection of Islamic art, featuring ceramics, calligraphy, and textiles. These intricate pieces showcase the rich artistic heritage of the Islamic world.

The Bardo Museum is open daily except for Mondays, from 9:30 am to 5 pm. Tickets can be purchased at the entrance, and guided tours are available in several languages. Remember to allow enough time to explore the vast collection.

Where to Stay in Tunis

Auberge El Medina – This hostel is located on Saida Ajoula street which is very close to the historical center of Tunis, the colorful souks, the Medina and shopping centers.

Dar el médina – Mid range hotel located within 400 metres of Dar Lasram Museum and 500 metres of Kasbah Square, Dar el médina features accommodation with a terrace.

Dar El Jeld Hotel and Spa – 5 star hotel and spa located within 400 meters of the Dar Lasram Museum.

Day 2 – Tunis: Carthage

Carthage Roman Ruins
The Roman Ruins of Carthage

Tunisia’s capital, Tunis, offers a unique blend of ancient and modern. This bustling city sits on the very land that once cradled a powerful empire – Carthage. Thousands of years ago, Carthaginian civilization thrived here, its influence spreading like ripples across the Mediterranean and beyond.

However, Carthage’s reign wasn’t destined to last. A brutal war with the Romans for control of the Mediterranean Sea culminated in Carthage’s destruction. Legend has it that the victorious Roman general, Scipio Africanus, went a step further, sowing salt into the earth to prevent anything from growing there again.

These events provide the backdrop for one of Tunisia’s most significant historical sites – the ruins of Carthage, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here, you’ll find remnants of both the Punic (Carthaginian) and later Roman city.

Now, let’s be honest – the ruins aren’t the most awe-inspiring remnants of the ancient world. But for history buffs and those who enjoy soaking up the atmosphere of a bygone era, Carthage is still worth a visit.

Your exploration will take you to various locations. The Sanctuary of Tophet, dotted with stelae (pillars), was believed to be a site of ritual sacrifice. The District of Roman Villas offers glimpses of ancient urban planning. The Roman Theater, largely reconstructed, pales in comparison to better-preserved theaters elsewhere.

The real highlight? The Baths of Antoninus. This sprawling complex, though in ruins, hints at its former grandeur. Imagine the palestras (gyms), frigidariums (cold rooms), caldariums (hot rooms), and tepidariums (warm rooms) that once served bathers.

Exploring the ruins can be a bit haphazard. You might find a seemingly unremarkable patch of stones cordoned off, while a more impressive site like the Basilica of Damus El Karita, with its half-pillars, fallen walls, and rotunda, stands freely accessible just off the highway.

Modern Carthage is a different story. This pretty suburb houses the presidential palace and luxurious residences, all under watchful eyes of the military. As you wander, keep an eye out for the occasional patch of ancient stonework peeking out between modern roads and lavish villas.

Grab a beverage and end your exploration with a climb up Byrsa Hill, where you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views of the city sprawling beneath you.

Day 3 -Sidi Bou Said

Sidi Bou Said
Sidi Bou Said is a picturesque coastal town next to Tunis.

The hidden gem of Sidi Bou Said on the Tunisian coast was one of our favorite places in the country. Imagine a scene straight out of a postcard – dazzling whitewashed buildings trimmed in a vibrant cobalt blue, cascading down a cliffside overlooking the sparkling Mediterranean. This is Sidi Bou Said, a picture-perfect town that offers a taste of Tunisian charm without the Santorini crowds or cost.

Wander the labyrinthine streets, past characterful double doors and intricate mashrabiya windows, a unique architectural element offering both privacy and a glimpse of the vibrant life within. Indulge in a “bambalouni,” a giant, deep-fried donut smothered in sugary goodness – a steal at just one Tunisian Dinar.  For a touch of luxury, sip on the local tea, a fragrant blend of mint and black tea, on a cafe terrace boasting breathtaking coastal views.

History buffs won’t want to miss the Ennejma Ezzahra Palace, a stunning homage to Arab-Islamic architecture built by a French artist. Descend from the palace terrace, draped with vibrant bougainvillea, and discover a hidden cove with a clean, sandy beach – perfect for soaking up the Tunisian sun. Just be prepared for the climb back up – those 350 steps might feel a bit steeper on the way back!

Sidi Bou Said
The views of the coastline from Sidi Bou Said

Looking for more beach options? Explore La Marsa, though be prepared for some plastic debris marring the otherwise lovely stretch of sand. Inland, luxury seekers can marvel at the extravagant villas lining the coast.

Venture further west to Gammarth, a bustling seaside resort town where lively bars and camel rides paint a picture of a vibrant vacation scene. On the eastern side of Tunis lies La Goulette, the docking point for cruise ships. While not the most picturesque area, it has authentic seafood restaurants frequented by locals and a historic fort – a silent sentinel from a bygone era.

Experience Tunis like a local with a ride on the TGM, the city’s oldest metro line. This scenic journey connects La Marsa, Sidi Bou Said, the ancient Carthaginian ruins, La Goulette, and the heart of Tunis itself. The ride along La Goulette offers a particularly stunning vista as it traverses Lake Tunis.

PRO TIP:  Sidi Bou Said and the Carthaginian ruins can be tackled in a single day, but be prepared for a full itinerary. Hiring a driver or taxis can ease the burden, but for the adventurous traveler, a combination of walking and public transportation offers a truly immersive experience.

Day 4 – Day Trip to Dougga and Bulla Regia

Dougga Roman Ruins
The Roman Ruins of Dougga

Just 110 km from the capital is Dougga, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that can’t be missed.  Dougga has some of the most impressive Roman ruins we’ve seen, even more stunning than Baalbek in Lebanon or Jerash in Jordan. The ruins themselves are incredibly well-preserved, and the location surrounded by olive groves and wheat fields adds to Dougga’s beauty.

The highlight is the perfectly preserved Capitol temple dedicated to Jupiter, but there are also many other temples and a large amphitheater that is in good condition. Plan a few hours to explore, and try to visit on a weekday or towards closing time for fewer crowds.

Reaching Dougga by public transport can be tricky, so consider a tour or a combination of buses and taxis. This Roman city offers a glimpse into a bustling metropolis of the past. Among the ruins of temples, baths, and even public toilets, you’ll find a restored 19-tier theater that once held 3,500 people and the impressive Capitol with its grand portico still intact.

While Dougga has a long history before the Romans arrived, there’s little remaining evidence. One exception is the Libyco-Punic Mausoleum, a unique tiered stone structure decorated with griffins. It’s one of the few remaining examples of Royal Numidian architecture in the world.

Just over an hour’s drive away is Bulla Regia, another UNESCO site with a similar history of Berber, Punic, Numidian, and Roman inhabitants. While the Roman Memmian Baths are impressive, Bulla Regia is famous for its underground houses built around courtyards. Wealthy Romans used these cool, subterranean areas to escape the summer heat.

These incredibly well-preserved houses have gorgeous mosaics, many still in their original locations. The House of Amphitrite features a particularly striking mosaic depicting a powerful nude woman, possibly Amphitrite, surrounded by mythical creatures.

PRO TIP:  Both Dougga and Bulla Regia can be easily reached from El Kef at the end of your 2 week itinerary.

Day 5 – Sousse

Sousse
The architecture of Sousse, mixed with the beaches makes this city a place of magic.

Tunis is a modern city, but to truly experience Tunisia, venture beyond the capital. Take one of the two morning trains to Sousse, a journey of about 2.5 hours.  While day trips cramming Sousse, El Jem, and Kairouan into one day exist, they offer little time to explore each place. Consider spreading out your trip for a more relaxed experience.

Sousse, Tunisia’s third-largest city, is a great base for exploring the region. Founded as a Phoenician colony called Hadrumetum, it was later overshadowed by Carthage. Today, both Sousse and Tunis have UNESCO-listed medinas.  The medinas share similarities, with vendors selling various goods. However, Sousse’s sellers are more persistent, likely because the smaller medina caters more to tourists. Tunis’ medina seems to have areas where locals shop for everyday essentials.

Unlike Tunis’ medina, Sousse’s defensive structures are mostly intact, with sandy walls separating the medina from the city. The imposing kasbah (fortress) now houses the Sousse Archaeological Museum, a must-see for Roman mosaics.

The ribat, a compact square fort, is the oldest part of the medina. Climb the narrow spiral staircase to the top of the tower for panoramic views.  Opposite the ribat is the Great Mosque, resembling a defensive structure more than a mosque. It lacks a minaret and the usual decorative patterns. While non-Muslims can’t enter the prayer hall, you can peek through the doorway from the courtyard.

The medina can be overwhelming. If you need a break, head to Sousse’s coastline and relax on the soft sand of Bou Jaafar Beach. Grab a drink from a nearby store and unwind for a while.

Where to Stay in Soussa

Hotel Paris – Hostel located in the Medina, just a 5 minute walk to the beaches.

Dar Lekbira Boutique Hôtel – Mid range hotel that has recently been renovated, located in a historic building with a garden and terrace, less than 1 km from Bhar Ezzebla Beach.

Day 6 – Day Trip to Kairouan

kairouan
The beauty of the architecture and history of Kairouan

Kairouan, just west of Sousse, was founded as a military post in 670 CE and  it quickly became one of the most important Islamic centers in Northern Africa. The city’s jewel is the Great Mosque, built during this time and later rebuilt by the Aghlabid dynasty (who also built the Great Mosque of Sousse).

Unlike Sousse’s mosque, the interior of Kairouan’s Great Mosque is a sight to behold. Marble and colorful columns line the halls leading to the prayer hall, which is off-limits to non-Muslims. The boxy minaret adds to the mosque’s imposing presence.

Just a short walk away is the Mosque of the Three Doors, thought to be the oldest mosque with a sculpted facade in the world. While interesting historically, it’s not as visually impressive as the Mosque Sidi Sahbi. This mosque features beautiful tilework and stucco designs in its public courtyard.

Reaching Kairouan from Sousse is an easy one hour drive with a louage, a minivan taxi that’s a cheap way to travel where trains and buses don’t go. While figuring out the schedule might be tricky, your hotel can likely help you.

Kairouan is claimed to be the holiest Islamic city in Africa, and while there might be other contenders for that title, it’s undeniably Tunisia’s holiest site. The atmosphere here is unique – low-key, traditional, and very welcoming.

If you purchase a ticket at the Great Mosque, you can visit several sites, including:

  • The Great Mosque itself, a holy place dating back to the 7th century.
  • Bir Barouta, an Ottoman-era building centered around a well supposedly connected to Mecca. Unfortunately, a camel is used to power the well’s wheel.
  • Zaouia of Sidi Sahab, a beautiful Muslim complex featuring Andalusian-style tiles.

Day 7 – Day Trip to El Jem and Monastir

El Jem Ampitheater Tunisia
El Jem Ampitheater

El Jem, is just a quick one hour train ride from Sousse and is the world’s 3rd largest Roman amphitheater.  Unlike the Colosseum in Rome, El Jem’s amphitheater is much less crowded, offering a chance to explore this impressive ruin without the throngs of tourists.

This enormous amphitheater, built in the 3rd century CE, could hold a staggering 35,000 spectators. Although parts have crumbled, there’s still plenty to explore. Climb the tiered seating for breathtaking views of the arena, and then venture underground to see where the gladiators and animals prepared for their fights.

The entrance ticket to the amphitheater also includes access to a nearby museum with a collection of beautiful mosaics salvaged from Roman sites.

Getting to El Jem is easy from Sousse. Take a train towards Sfax, a one-hour journey. Since El Jem has little else to see and trains mostly run before noon, consider visiting the amphitheater in the morning and returning to Sousse for lunch.

In the afternoon, explore Monastir, a beach resort area connected to Sousse by a metro (30-minute ride). While technically a separate city, Monastir offers beautiful beaches like Qaraiya Beach. Here, you can relax on the sand and admire the scenic view with the impressive remains of the city’s ribat (fortress) overlooking the beach. This ribat is even more impressive than the one in Sousse, as it has a watchtower you can climb for panoramic views.

If you have extra time, visit the Mausoleum of Habib Bourguiba, a 20-minute walk from the ribat. This dazzling monument honors the father of Tunisian independence. The golden central dome and minarets glitter in the sun, making it a beautiful sight. Habib Bourguiba is revered for leading Tunisia to independence from French rule, becoming the country’s first president, and promoting social reforms like universal education and women’s rights. A visit to the Mausoleum is a great way to pay homage to this influential figure and his ideals.

Day 8 – Sfax

Kasbah of Sfax
The Kasbah of Sfax

Sfax, Tunisia’s second-largest city, has a rich history and architectural heritage that reflects its evolution as a vital trading hub. Founded in the 9th century, the city was built with a strong defensive focus. Massive ramparts, some of the oldest in North Africa, earned Sfax the nickname “al-Mahroussa” (the well-guarded). Its strategic location on the Mediterranean coast fueled its commercial success for centuries. The large medina, a maze of narrow alleyways and bustling souks, is a testament to this vibrant past.

Within the medina, unlike many others, the layout is more organized with a grid-like structure. Traditional houses called “Dar” feature central courtyards, designed for ventilation and privacy in the warm climate. The heart of the medina is the Great Mosque, dating back to the city’s founding. Built with local materials, it showcases two domes and a minaret adorned with Islamic geometric patterns.

The Kasbah, originally a watchtower, now houses a museum dedicated to Sfaxian architecture, offering a glimpse into traditional building techniques. Beyond the historic walls, a vibrant modern city awaits, where the past and present blend together. The bustling port and fresh seafood Sfax is known for are just a taste of what this unique city has to offer.

Here are some ideas for exploring Sfax:

  • Lose yourself in the medina: As mentioned, this traditional Medina offers a genuine Tunisian experience.
  • Visit the Abandoned Synagogue: Explore Tunisia’s Jewish history at this synagogue. Sfax once had a large Jewish community.
  • See the Place de la Republique: Admire the French-style buildings marking the entrance to the Medina.

If you plan to continue south towards Tataouine, then renting a car in Sfax is a good way to go.  Our recommendation is to rent a car there and drop it off in Tunis, once you return from this itinerary.

Where to Stay in Sfax

Appart Gyptis Résidence Chahrazad – Budget apartment with great character located across the sea on Sidi Mansour. The apartment is equipped with 2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, a flat-screen TV with satellite channels, a dining area, a fully equipped kitchen, and a patio with garden views.

Day 9 & 10 Tataouine and Beyond

Tataouine Star Wars Tunisia
The many landscapes and khsars of Tataouine.

Are you a die-hard Star Wars fan with a yearning for ancient cultures and dramatic landscapes? Then southern Tunisia, specifically the Tataouine region, should be on your travel wish-list. This is Berber land!

The southern reaches of Tunisia stretch towards the Libyan border, a vast and arid territory quite unlike the rest of the country. Here, you’ll find Berber villages, camel caravans, and ancient ksour (fortified Berber granaries). The remoteness and striking beauty of the region is no surprise as this is where George Lucas filmed key scenes for Star Wars.

Be prepared for a cultural shift. Southern Tunisia is more conservative than the north, reflecting the rich heritage of the Berbers, the indigenous people of North Africa who predate the arrival of Arabs. The vast distances, scattered tourist sites, and limited public transportation require some planning. Buses are available, but not a convenient option for independent travelers. Renting a car is the best way to explore or joining a guided tour is another option.

Exploring Tataouine and Beyond

Tataouine
One of Tataouine’s many ksars.

Exploring the key sights takes a full day, so plan accordingly and consider renting the car a day in advance as most rental offices open around 9-10 am. Here are some highlights you can’t miss:

  • Ksar Ouled Soltane: This ksar has the best-preserved ghorfas in the area. These ancient, four-story structures were used by Berbers to store grain.  This site was also rumored to have been used as a backdrop in Star Wars as the slave quarters in the Phantom Menace, where Anakin and his mother lived.
  • Chenini: This 12th-century ksar perched on a hilltop is, for many visitors, the crown jewel of Tataouine. Its size and grandeur are truly impressive.
  • Guermassa: Another impressive ksar, though not quite as grand as Chenini. Reaching the top requires a 4WD vehicle due to the terrain, but the views are truly worth it.
  • Ghomrassen: Venture off the beaten path to this modern town with unique architecture. It’s a great place to stop for lunch and experience local life.
  • Ksar Hadada: This ksar was a film location for the Star Wars movies. While some find the restored ghorfas a bit overdone and commercialized, it’s still a significant site for fans as it is well known as being a filming location for 1999 film Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace.

Where to Stay in Tataouine

Dar Essadeg – Budget apartment with air conditioning and WiFi that is fully equipped and comfortable.

Villa Mimosa Tataouine – Budget apartment that is comfortable with fully equipped kitchen and Wifi, 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms

Day 11 & 12 – Tozeur

Tozeur
The landscape of Tozeur

Southern Tunisia continues to offer a captivating glimpse into Berber culture, dramatic desert landscapes, and historical attractions.  After exploring the unique sights of Tataouine, venturing to Tozeur, a desert oasis town roughly 130 kilometers (80 miles) to the north, is a natural next step on your Tunisian adventure. While the journey can take 2-3 hours by car or louage (shared taxi), the transformation in scenery and cultural experiences is well worth it.

Must-See Sights in Tozeur:

  • Brick Architecture: The distinctive red-brick architecture found throughout Tozeur is a visual treat. These sunbaked bricks, often laid in intricate patterns, create a unique atmosphere in the old town (Medina).
  • Palmerie de Tozeur (Tozeur Palm Grove): Escape the desert heat beneath the shade of over 10,000 date palms. Wander through the maze-like groves, enjoy a camel ride, or visit a traditional troglodyte dwelling carved into the hillside. These dwellings were built by early inhabitants of the region as a way to stay cool in the desert climate.
  • Dar Chrait Museum: Step back in time at the Dar Chrait Museum, housed in a beautifully restored 14th-century mansion. Exhibits showcase Berber culture, traditional clothing, and everyday life in a Tozeurian household.
  • Museum of Arts and Popular Traditions: Delve deeper into Tunisian heritage at the Museum of Arts and Popular Traditions. Artifacts on display include pottery, jewelry, and carpets, offering a window into the region’s rich craftsmanship.

Beyond the Town:

Mos Espa Star Wars Film Set Tunisia
The Mos Espa Star Wars Film Set
  • Mos Espa (Star Wars Film Set): Calling all Star Wars fans! A short drive from Tozeur lie the remnants of the Mos Espa set, used in filming episodes I, II, and III. While the structures themselves are simple, the chance to stand in a location featured in the iconic sci-fi saga is a thrill for many visitors.
  • Chott el Djerid (Chott el Jerid National Park): Venture beyond the town limits to explore the vast Chott el Djerid, a salt lake considered the largest salt pan in the Sahara Desert. The glistening white landscape creates stunning vistas, especially at sunrise or sunset. Boat tours are available on the lake during the wetter months.

Where to Stay in Tozeur

Résidence Le Ruisseau – Budget accommodation with a garden, private parking and a shared lounge.  Some units have air conditioning. There is a  shared kitchen and an outdoor fireplace,

Appartement Chebbi – Budget accommodation that feels mid range, a spacious air conditioned apartment with 2 bedrooms, a living room with a flat-screen TV, an equipped kitchen, and 1 bathroom with a shower and a hair dryer.

Day 13  – El Kef

El Kef
Night view of El Kef

Your Tunisian adventure through the south isn’t complete without a visit to El Kef, a city steeped in history and offering dramatic mountain scenery. Located roughly 175 kilometers (109 miles) northwest of Tozeur, El Kef offers a contrasting landscape – a refreshing change from the desert plains. This journey, taking approximately 2.5 to 3 hours by car or louage (shared taxi) from Tozeur or Tunis, unveils Roman ruins, Ottoman architecture, and a rich Berber heritage.

Transportation Options:

  • By Car: For maximum flexibility and the ability to stop at interesting sights along the way, renting a car is the best option. The route is well-paved, making for a comfortable drive.
  • By Louage: This is a more budget-friendly option. Louages depart from designated stations in both Tozeur and El Kef. Confirm departure times a day or two in advance as schedules can be less rigid than buses.

Must-See Sights in El Kef:

Sidi-Bou-Makhlouf-Mosque of El Kef
Sidi-Bou-Makhlouf-Mosque of El Kef
  • Kasbah of El Kef: A commanding presence overlooking the city, the Kasbah of El Kef is a must-visit. This imposing fortress, a blend of Byzantine and Ottoman architecture, served as a strategic military stronghold for centuries. Explore the ramparts, courtyards, and the Kasbah Museum showcasing artifacts from the region’s rich past.
  • The Old Town (Medina): Wander the narrow, winding alleys of El Kef’s old town, a charming maze of traditional houses and shops. Look out for beautifully preserved doorways and ornately decorated facades. The Great Mosque, with its towering minaret, is a prominent landmark in the Medina.
  • Roman Ruins: History buffs will appreciate El Kef’s Roman heritage. Explore the remains of the city walls, the Baths of Antoninus, and the cistern known as Achkel. While not as extensive as other Roman sites in Tunisia, these ruins offer a glimpse into El Kef’s Roman past.
  • Museum of Art and Popular Traditions: Immerse yourself in Tunisian culture at this museum. Exhibits showcase Berber handicrafts, traditional clothing, and everyday life in the region, providing a deeper understanding of El Kef’s unique heritage.
  • Jugurtha Tableland: For the adventurous traveler, a day trip to the Jugurtha Tableland, a plateau with breathtaking views, can be combined with your visit to El Kef. Located about 50 kilometers (31 miles) from El Kef, this natural fortress offers stunning panoramas and a glimpse into Tunisia’s military history (See additional information about Jugurtha Tableland below).

Where to Stay in El Kef

Our recommendation would be to stay in an Airbnb in El Kef as there are many options with a wide range of prices.

Day 14 – Jugurtha Tableland

Jugurtha Tableland
The tremendous landscape of the massive Jugurtha Tableland.

If you’re looking for a unique and historical adventure in Tunisia, look no further than the Jugurtha Tableland. This hidden gem, located near the town of El Kef, is a massive flat-topped mountain that towers over 1270 meters (4,167 ft) – making it a natural military fortress. The Jugurtha Tableland has been used for defensive purposes for centuries, from the Romans all the way to the modern Tunisian army.

Important Considerations:

Be aware that due to its strategic location near the Algerian border, the Jugurtha Tableland is a sensitive area. Stunning views of Algeria are a bonus, but having a guard accompany you at all times is mandatory (and thankfully, free of charge).

Getting There:

The Jugurtha Tableland can be easily reached as a day trip from El Kef. There are two options:

  • Drive: If you have a rental car, you can drive directly from El Kef.
  • Public Transportation: Take a bus from El Kef bus station to the border town with Algeria called Kalaat Senan (also spelled Qalat as Sanan). Most likely, the bus driver will be familiar with your destination and will drop you off at the police station.

Registration and Security:

At the police station, you will answer a few questions and register your visit to the Jugurtha Tableland. The police may also help you find a taxi to take you to the base of the mountain (around 4 km away) for a reasonable price (around $10).

Reaching the Top:

Once you arrive at the base, an official guide will greet you and escort you to the summit. While the climb can be challenging, the panoramic views are absolutely worth it.

Camping:

Camping enthusiasts will be happy to know that camping at the top of the Jugurtha Tableland is possible. However, you’ll need to obtain permission from the police station beforehand, and a guard will be stationed with you throughout the night. Keep in mind that the summit can get very windy, so be sure to pack accordingly.

Logistics – How to Prepare for the Trip

Tunis, Sidi Bou Said
The bougainvilleas of Sidi Bou Said

While Tunisia has always been quite accessible, some pre-trip planning is recommended.

BEST TIME TO VISIT

If you’re looking for pleasant weather and fewer crowds, visit Tunisia in spring (April-May) or fall (October-early November). Summer (July-August) is scorching hot, but September offers sunshine with fewer beachgoers. Spring and fall offer the perfect balance of comfortable temperatures and a less crowded atmosphere.

SAFETY

When we visited and at the time of writing, all travel advisories (CanadaUSAAustralia, etc.,) where at the Exercise a High (or Increased) Degree of Caution level. This is due to the potential risk of terrorism and kidnapping in this country. However, the last major terrorism attack that affected tourists occurred in 2015.  Therefore, in our opinion the risk of a terror attack in Tunisia is not unlike any other place in Europe or North America.  All travelers are recommended to make a  conscious decision based on the information that is available and your tolerance for risk.

I mean hey, we have visited the DRCBurkina Faso, Central African Republic of the Congo, AfghanistanMyanmarMaliSudanSouth Sudan and some other risky places.  All of these quests were based on deep research, conversations with people on the ground balanced with our sense for adventure.

Ultimately, the decision to travel here (or to any other potentially risky travel destination) rests with you and your personal tolerance for risk.

CURRENCY

The Tunisian Dinar is the currency used here and ATMs are readily available for cash withdrawal.  Keep in mind that it is prohibited to leave the country with any denomination of the Tunisian Dinar.

TOURIST VISA

As of 2024, regular passport holders from 95 countries visiting Tunisia for tourism purposes including Australia, Canada and United States do not require a visa and will be granted permission for short-term stay on arrival – for most of these countries it is a 90 day stay.  For additional information check here.

CONNECTIVITY: SIM/ESIM CARDS

There are many options for SIM and eSIM cards in the country.  If your phone is eSIM compatible then we recommend that you get the Airalo eSIM card.  At time of writing 1 GB was $4.50 USD, 2 GB was $7.50 and 3 GB was $10 USD.

However, if you need a proper SIM card, then there are some options: Tunisie Telecom and Ooredoo are considered the best for signals and coverage, particularly away from the main towns or hubs.

TUNISIAN GUIDE/DRIVER

It is quite easy to travel through this country interdependently.  However, an author turned guide that we can recommend for Tunis is Riadh who is available on What’s App: +216 22 735 875

TRANSPORTATION

Tunisia offers a variety of public transportation options to get you around:

  • Buses and Tram: Major cities like Tunis have a large network of buses and trams. Tickets are cheap, costing around 0.58 Tunisian Dinar (TND) for a single ride, with discounts for children and multi-day passes available.

  • Taxis: There are three main types of taxis in Tunisia:

    • Intercity Shuttle Cabs (Louage): Look for minivans with a red stripe near train stations or city centers. These leave once full, and fares are negotiated beforehand.

    • City Shuttle Cabs (Collecte): Blue-striped taxis hold five passengers and have a set fare. Ask your hotel or locals about the current rate to avoid being overcharged.

    • City Taxis: These standard yellow cabs operate like taxis in Europe, seating four people. Fares start at 0.25 TND for landing and 0.25 TND per kilometer on the meter. Nighttime fares (10pm-5am) double.

  • Trains: Trains are a comfortable way to travel between cities in Tunisia. The network is well-developed and caters to tourists, with routes connecting major cities and coastal resorts. There are also suburban lines, like the train to Carthage. Check the website https://www.sncft.com.tn/ for schedules and ticket prices.

  • Car Rental: Traveling by car through Tunisia is inexpensive ($25-$30/day).  In addition, gas is quite reasonable here and the roads are mostly paved and in good condition.

Wrap Up

Tunis
Sunset over Tunis

Tunisia packs a big punch despite being a compact country. History buffs will be dazzled by Roman ruins, ancient Carthage, and Berber cave dwellings. Foodies will love the fresh flavors and unique dishes. Beach lovers can soak up the sun on the Mediterranean coast and Star Wars fanatics can geek out over filming locations.

This itinerary gives you a taste of everything, from the bustling capital of Tunis to the dramatic landscapes of the south. Explore ancient cities, unwind on pristine beaches, and delve into the rich Berber culture. Whether you have a short stay or two weeks to wander, Tunisia promises an unforgettable adventure.

Have you been to any of the North African countries or do you plan to visit any of them soon?  We would love to hear from you in the comments.

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