Book a flight to Tunis and discover a different side to Tunisia. This North-African city remains less popular with tourists than Tunisia's coastal resorts. Yet it is this that gives the city, home to just 700,000 inhabitants, its unspoilt appeal. The colourful, bustling Medina's melange of mosques and souqs gives way to the Ville Nouvelle and the wealthy northern suburbs.
You can fly to Tunis with Qatar Airways, so brush up on your French and explore this compact, charming city for yourself.
Any trip to Tunis should begin with a visit to the Medina. This eclectic sprawl of ancient alleyways and winding streets is without a doubt the city's most atmospheric area. Come in the early morning when the only people around are street vendors selling breakfast treats. The air is filled with the smell of spices and fresh coffee. Later in the day, head for the souq, a fascinating insight into life in Tunis. Tiny shops and stalls sell everything from fabric and carpets to spices and jewellery. Haggling here is essential.
Zitouna Mosque, dating back to the 8th century, is a major draw for tourists although women should dress modestly. The Cathedral of St Vincent de Paul, built in 1882, is also a beautiful sight and a fine example of the French influence on the city’s architecture, although entrance to the cathedral itself is restricted.
When you travel to Tunis, do take the time to explore the Medina and the Ville Nouvelle on foot. Once upon a time, everything was traded in the Medina's souqs. Today, you're more likely to find unusual souvenirs and local handicrafts.
On scorching summer days, locals head for Belvedere Park. Here you'll find Lake Tunis, the zoo and the Museum of Modern Art, as well as plenty of places to enjoy a picnic.
The city is home to some interesting museums. The Bardo Museum (accessible via the Metro) is filled with Tunisian artefacts and renowned for its Roman mosaic collection. Dar Ben Abdallah, a small folk museum, and the Musee Paleochretien are also worth exploring.
Dining in Tunis is a chance to sample local cuisine, a unique blend of Mediterranean and Turkish influences. Popular ingredients here include seafood, lamb, tomatoes and olive oil. You'll find food is rich, spicy and hearty. Harissa, a potent blend of spices, is added to many dishes, giving them their distinctive flavour. Try Brik (fried dough stuffed with egg and tuna) or Merguez (lamb sausage). A popular local speciality is 'Poisson Complet' – a whole fish which is usually grilled or fried and served with a spicy sauce. Tunisian Baklawa, layers of filo pastry with sugar syrup and mixed nuts, is a great way to end any meal.
Tunis isn't just about spicy North African specialities though, and you'll find plenty of French restaurants and cafés across the city. From budget eateries to exclusive restaurants, there are options in Tunis to suit all budgets. Sometimes, the simplest establishments are the best; look out for restaurants serving fresh Salade Mechouia, grilled tomatoes and peppers with olive oil, olives, garlic and tuna.
Travel to Tunis and you will quickly discover the Medina's souqs are the best place to shop. Across the city, 90% of the goods for sale are of local origin, and if you can haggle, there are bargains to be found everywhere. For Tunisian crafts and souvenirs, shops on Rue Jemaa Zaytouna are worth checking out.
Tunis is home to many independent shops selling everything from antiques to household ornaments and beauty products made with locally produced honey and royal jelly. For local food, steer clear of chain supermarkets and head for Halfaouine, a traditional food market close to the Habib Thameur metro stop.
Flights to Tunis with Qatar Airways arrive at Tunis-Carthage Airport, just 8km from the city centre.
Visa restrictions for entry into the country will depend on your country of origin, length of stay and whether your trip is for business or pleasure. So before you fly to Tunis please check the visa and passport requirements.
Currency: Tunisian Dinar (TND)
Voltage: 230 V 50 Hz
Plugs: Type C / E
Language: Arabic / French / Berber
International dialing code: +216
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