Backpacking Tunisia

Looking for important travel information while backpacking around Tunisia? Here you will find information on working in Tunisia, entry visas, Tunisia hostels, and much more.

Table of Contents

Facts About Tunisia

Tunisia is a very small country yet somehow it manages to boast a huge number of attractions. Hostory and culture fans will love the ancient ruins of Carthage, outdoors types come to see the stunning oases, sun seekers com for the glorious beaches and geeks and film buffs alike will make eager pilgrimages to Star Wars sets of Matmata. Many travellers dismiss a country this small, or include only a cursory few days of a longer tour but they are doing this country a grave injustice in not exploring all that this feature packed destination has to offer.

  • Currency: Tunisian Dinar (TD) = 1000 millimes
  • Time Zone: GMT + 1
  • Language: Arabic
  • Telephone Services: Country code +216, International access code 00
  • Emergency Numbers: 197 police, 198 firefighters, 190 emergency

Climate

Tunisia is hot and dry all year round especially inland. The best time to visit is in the spring and autumn when temperatures drop slightly to a more comfortable level. Winter is very mild and experiences the most of what little rainfall Tunisia experiences.

Tunisia climate map including average rainfall and temperature by month. Find the best time to backpack Tunisia based on your climate preferences.

Things to see and do

The capital of Tunisia, Tuni, in many ways reflects its parent country. It is small by the standards of modern capitals yet still manages to pack literally scores of compelling sites within its boundaries. The medina is the oldest area of the city, constructed in 7AD it also houses the Zitouna Mosque which was built in part from the ruins of Roman Carthage, although non-Muslims are not allowed right into the mosque it is still a fascinating structure to see. Just a stones throw away is the Tourbet el-Bey which is an enormous mausoleum which houses the remains of much of the Husseinite court. Also worth cheking out is the Dar Ben Abdallah Museum which specialises in popular arts and the Cathedral of St Vincent de Paul.

One of the most interesting areas of the country is Carthage. This city was once an incredibly influential city under both Carthaginian and Roman rule. Most of the ruins which remain are from the Roman period but they are still quite spectacular. The key sight is the huge Roman amphitheatre which is rumoured to have once been one of the biggest in the world and despite much of the ruins being scavenged for other building projects it is still worth taking a look at. The other main attraction is the Sanctuary of Tophet which was a Carthaginian sacrificial sight with an adjoining burial ground, the myths and folklore around this sight is immense but it is rumoured that the Carthaginians killed and roasted children at this sight to appease their gods.

Travel

Tunis air operates a small number of domestic flights although these are quite reasonably priced they are only really useful if you are in a hurry, especially since they are so busy that you will normally have to book in advance.

The SNCFT operates the rail network which links Tunis, Gabes, Sousse, Sfax and Gafsa. It is worth noting that cikets bought on the train are usually over double the price of those bought at stations so it is well worth purchasing before you get on the train. The majority of services now have air conditioning and a buffet car although the air conditioned facilities are very popular so when you can try to book them in advance. Trains passing through Tunis, Gabes, Sousse, Sfax and Gafsa are all air-conditioned, but for travelling from Tunis to Hammamet through Bir bouregba it’s not advised to take a train as they are not comfortable.

There is a state-run bus service recognisable by its green and yellow buses, these are operated by SNTRI and are air conditioned, comfortable and affordable. In addition there are numerous small private companies offering a similar service. Between these and the SNTRI buses you should have any problem reaching anywhere in Tunisia.

Accommodation

There are plenty of hotels in Tunisia, mainly centred around urban areas. Hotels are graded by a star sign ranging from luxury (close to international standard) 5 star hotels to cheap and basic 1 star hotels. During the peak tourist season it is advisable to book in advance as hotels can fill up.

There are a number of youth hostels throughout Tunisia and they are open to all members of the International Youth Hostel Association. Hostels are moderated by the Association Tunisienne des Auberges et Tourisme de Jeunes and standards are of good quality. Reservations should be made well in advance especially if you are travelling in a group as these hostels are extremely popular.

Health

Tunisia has a fairly well developed health service but it is not available throughout the country. Health insurance is essential and it is advisable to purchase a policy which will cover the cost of repatriation if required.

There is a significant cholera risk in Tunisia and you should consult your GP for advice concerning the somewhat disputed cholera vaccination. Vaccination against typhoid is recommended; this can be supplied by your local GP and should cost around $40. Rabies is present in the country and those at risk (i.e./ working around animals) should consider vaccination before arrival. Anyone bitten by an animal is advised to seek immediate medical advice.

Water in the main urban areas is chlorinated and while safe to drink may cause mild stomach upset, it is advisable to use bottled water for the first week or so of stay. Drinking water from other sources should be treated as potentially contaminated and should be sterilised before use. Both pasteurised and unpasteurised milk is sold so always check the packaging and ensure you are buying pasteurised milk. If pasteurised milk is unavailable milk should be boiled before consumption. Dairy products should be avoided as they are not guaranteed to be made from properly sterilised milk. Meat should be well cooked and eaten hot, fruit and vegetables should be washed and cooked or peeled where appropriate. Caution should be observed when buying food from street vendors.

Useful Links

Tunis air operate a small number of domestic flights between major towns

The Association Tunisienne des Auberges et Tourisme de Jeunes runs a number of youth hostels in Tunisia

Entry Visas for Tunisia

All foreign visitors to Tunisia require a passport valid for at least 3 months after the period of intended stay as well as evidence of a return ticket. EU nationals do not require a visa for a tourist visit of up to 3 months and US nationals do not require a visa for tourist visits of up to 4 months. All visa application and enquiries should be directed towards the local Tunisian Embassy, Consulate or High Commision.

Addresses

Visa and immigration enquiries should be directed towards the nearest Tunisian Embassy:

Embassy of the Republic of Tunisia 
29 Prince's Gate 
London 
SW7 1QG 
Tel: (020) 7 584 8117 
Fax: (020) 7 225 2884 

If you require UK representation while abroad you should contact the UK Embassy:

British Embassy
5 Place de la Victoire 
Tunis 

Visa Section 
141-143 Avenue de la Liberté  
Tunis 1002. 
Tel: + (216) 1 341 444 (Chancery) 
Tel: + (216) 1 846 184 (Consular)
Tel: + (216) 1 793 322 (Visa)

Tourist information is dispatched by the Tunisian National Tourist Office:

Tunisian National Tourist Office 
77a Wigmore Street 
London 
W1H 9LJ 
Tel: (0171) 224 5561 
Fax: (0171) 224 4053

How to Say Common Arabic Phrases

Meeting People

English
Arabic
yes
na’am
no
laa
thank you
shokran
you are welcome
ala eirahib wa eisaa
please
min fadilak
excuse me
ann eazinak
hello
ahalan
goodbye
ma’a eisalama
Good morning
saba’a aikair
Good night
laila tiaba
I do not understand
Ana laa afham
Do you speak…?
Hal tatakalm…?
english
alingli’zia
What is your name?
Ma ismok?
Nice to meet you
Sorirart biro’aitak
How are you?
Kaifa halok?
good
taib/ bikair
bad
saia/ mosh bikair

Directions

English
Arabic
map
karita
left
shimal
right
yam’ain
straight on
lilamam
far
ba’aid
near
karib

Methods of Transport

English
Arabic
Where is…?
Ain…?
How much is the fare?
Bikam al ogra’a?
ticket
tathkara
A ticket to…, please
tathkara wahida min fadlik…
Where are you going?
ila ain anta thahib?
Where do you live?
Ain ta’issh?
train
kitar
bus
autobees
underground
metro
airport
matar
train station
mahatit al kitar
bus station
mahatit al autobees
underground station
mahatit al metro
departure
al mogadara
arrival
al oso’ol
parking
mokaf

Time

English
Arabic
What time is it?
Kam al sa’aa?
today
al youm
yestarday
amis
tomorrow
bokira

Accommodation

English
Arabic
hotel
fondok
room
korfa
reservation
hagiz
Are there any vacancies?
Hal togad koraf fadia al laila?
No vacancies
la togad koraf fariga
passport
gawaz safar

Places

English
Arabic
post office
markaz barid
bank
bank
police station
kissam shorta
hospital
mustashfa
chemist
sidali’ia
shop
maha’al
restaurant
matiam
museum
matihaf
church
kanisa
square
meedan
street
shari

Shopping

English
Arabic
How much does this cost?
bikam?
I will buy it
Sa’ashtariha
I would like to buy…
O’reed ann ashtary
Do you have…?
Hal aindak…?
open
maftouh
closed
mogilag
postcard
kart barid
stamps
ta’wabia
little
kalil
lot
kathir
all
kol

Meals

English
Arabic
breakfast
iftar
lunch
gadaa
dinner
ashaa
vegetarian
nabati
cheers!
fi sahitak
The bill please
El fatora min fadilak

Drinks

English
Arabic
drink
sharab
coffee
kahioa
tea
shai
juice
asir
water
ma’a
beer
bira
wine
khamr

Food

English
Arabic
meat
la’him
fish
samak
vegetable
kodrawat
fruit
fawakih
potato
patatis
salad
salata
dessert
halawia’at

 

Tunisia Hostels

Hostels are a cheap form of accomodation, and so they are essential to backpackers and other budget travellers.

Sorry, no hostels have been registered for this country yet.

There you have it, the ultimate Tunisia backpacking guide. We hope you have found all the information you need for backpacking around Tunisia.

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