Old and new, exotic and traditional, the captivating North African country of Tunisia sits at the heart of the Mediterranean, caught in a cleft between Algeria and Libya, offering the world's travellers some sumptuous modern seaside resorts set side by side with a treasure trove of ancient Roman, Arab, Berber and Phoenician sites.
Just a few miles north of the capital, Tunis, lie the remains of the legendary ancient city of Carthage, founded in the 8th century BC. By contrast Tunis is a hustling, bustling modern metropolis where steel, glass and palm trees form the backdrop to streets filled with fast-moving yellow taxis. In the heart of this surprisingly pristine city, however, the centuries slip away in the medieval Medina, a haven for souvenir hunters with hundreds of narrow streets crammed with vendors of antiques, jewellery, pottery, carpets, perfumes, dried fruit, books, spices and many other delights. Also, no tourist to the city should miss a visit to the Bardo Museum, for the joy of viewing one of the world's greatest collections of Roman mosaics.
Tunisia has a thousand miles of coastline to the north, where luxurious resorts like Hammamet and Nabeul nestle amid citrus orchards. Vacationers relish the sandy beaches and crystalline waters along the waterfront, where the only alternative to lazy bronzing is to indulge in a round of golf or take the plunge with some watersports.
Those intrepid enough to venture into the south, on the threshold of the Sahara desert, will be rewarded with some interesting geographical features like the 'forest in the desert' at Ramada, the dry salt lake at Chott el Jerid, or the remote 'end of the road' oasis at Ksar Ghilane.
The cherry on the top for visitors to this affordable and exotic holiday destination is the warmth and genuine friendliness of the Tunisian people. This is evident in even the smallest of villages, where if you happen to pass through during one of the numerous summer festivals you will be welcomed, urged to join in and find yourself dancing and sharing a cup of tea.
Although recent political upheaval has kept Tunisia on the front page rather than in the travel section, the country has made the transition to democracy smoothly and is once again welcoming tourists and cruise ships to its shores.
The unit of currency is the Tunisian dinar (TND), divided into
1,000 millimes. Travellers cheques are widely accepted. Banks and
some hotels provide foreign exchange. ATMs are found in most towns
and at all the tourist resorts; almost all will accept Visa cards
and many will also accept Maestro (Switch) cards. Visa, Diners
Club, American Express and MasterCard are accepted for payment in
souvenir shops, upmarket hotels and restaurants, although Visa
encounters the least problems. All Tunisian currency must be
exchanged before departure.
|TND 1 =||US$ 0.65||Â£ 0.43||C$ 0.67||A$ 0.63||R 5.51||EUR 0.51||NZ$ 0.82|
Note: These currency exchange rates are not updated daily and should be used as a guideline only.
No vaccinations are recommended for Tunisia and no serious health risks exist, but all travellers are required to show a yellow fever certificate if coming from an infected area. Travellers' diarrhoea and other parasitic infections may be contracted, but is unlikely in the modern seaside resorts. Visitors travelling outside these resorts should ensure they drink only boiled, purified water and eat well-cooked food. All medical expenses must be paid for immediately after treatment in Tunisia, and costs can be quite high. The availability of medication is limited. Visitors should bring adequate supplies of their own medication. Health insurance is a necessity.
All visitors must hold documents and tickets for return or onward travel. Visas for Australians and South Africans can be obtained on arrival, incurring a fee of TND 3. Passports should be valid for at least 6 months before travelling to Tunisia. However, it is highly recommended that passports have at least six months validity remaining after your intended date of departure from your travel destination. Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated by travel agents and official sources.
Note: Passport and visa requirements are liable to change at short notice. Travellers are advised to check their entry requirements with their embassy or consulate.
Tunisian National Tourism Office (ONTT), Tunis: +216 (0)71 341 077
Foreign Embassies in Tunisia
The burgeoning of Tunisia's holiday resorts is a consequence of European sun-seekers having tired of the crowded beaches on the northern Mediterranean coast and islands. Just two and a half hours' flying time from the UK, holidaymakers have discovered that Tunisia, the little north African country with a big heart, is blessed with a stunning coastline where wide sandy beaches are gently lapped by the Mediterranean. To add to the charm the country also boasts the mysterious and magical Sahara desert, an abundance of historical sites, intriguing cuisine, and a modern infrastructure providing all the comforts of home and then some.
Tunisia's 'Riviera' extends for about 800 miles (1,287km) south of the capital, Tunis, and boasts an abundance of luxury resort towns the most notable of which are Hammamet, Port El Kantaoui, Sousse and Monastir (Skanes). The strip is bursting with attractive hotels and apartment blocks, and is fast becoming known as one of the best value destinations in the Mediterranean.
The capital city of this North African gem is Tunisia's largest city and stretches along the coastal plains and surrounding hills of the Gulf of Tunis. Steeped in a rich and fascinating history, Tunis is home to the famous Roman ruins of Carthage, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and popular tourist attraction, dating back to the fourth century BC. Tunis has witnessed the passage of the Phoenicians, Romans, Vandals, Byzantines, Turks, Spanish and French over the last 3,000 years.
Other attractions in the city include the National Museum of Bardo which tells the stories of Tunisia's history from the Phoenicians right through to modern-day times, while the old Medina in the centre of Tunis co-exists with the modern architecture of the new city (Ville Nouvelle), linked by labyrinths of alleys and covered passages infused throughout by the magical aromas, vibrant colours and sounds of bustling souks.
The modern city of Tunis is located just through the Sea Gate which has remained unchanged since it was erected in 1848 and is also known as the Bab el Bahr,where the Champs- ÃlysÃ©es of Tunisia - the grand Avenue Habib Bourguiba - crosses through the middle. Colonial architecture can be found here illustrating the history of this culturally diverse and historic city.
The spicy foods and flavours of local dishes may blow the socks of some tourists, but to others, the fragrant heat of the fiery red chilli paste known as harissais an essential accompaniment to ones' Tunis experience while the Tunisian coffee, much like the Turkish variety, is world-renowned for its rich flavours and energising properties.
Travel Guide powered by www.wordtravels.com, copyright © Globe Media Ltd. All rights reserved. By its very nature much of the information in this guide is subject to change at short notice and travellers are urged to verify information on which they're relying with the relevant authorities. Globe Media does not accept any responsibility for any loss or inconvenience to any person as a result of information contained above.