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Tunisia

 
Author kintante
Partaker
#1 | Posted: 3 May 2018 07:39 
Tunisia is a nice hotspot to tick off a few WHS in around a week. A few travel tips:

Stay and travel around
If you are only there for the WHS, Tunis is clearly the place to stay. You could see all WHS within day trips from Tunis. Most are close to the African Highway. Only Dougga and Kerkuane are off. We stayed half of the time in Port El Kantaoui near Sousse to combine it with beach holidays. Be aware that you will cross the "all inclusive crowd" there. Go for quality, when I filtered in Kantaoui for hotels with an 8+ rating on booking.com, around 95% disappeared.

Driving will save you a lot of time or money, if you have the skills to drive in a no rules country. The public transport system is not good at all. Almost no trains, only buses. But there are taxis everywhere, even in the most remote places. Locals mostly do hitch hiking. Not sure if that is a save option for foreigners. There is road pricing, but fares are very low. Around 1 TDH per pay station.

Internet & money
There are booths at Tunis airport for every mayor phone company. I bought a data only SIM from Ooredoo for only 11 TDH with 2GB included. Enough to be always online. Coverage is quite good in the country. I was never offline.
Tunisia is quite cheap, but you should always have some cash from the start. Count 20 TDH in a good restaurant per meal and around 10 or less for a local place.

Weather
Just like Morocco, Tunisia is not a sunshine only country. Weather can change fast. There is lots of cloud movement and I had to time my visits to get sunny sky pictures. Temperature in April varied between 20 and 30. Pools and the sea were too cold for me personally, so I only used an indoor pool. I January I had already canceled a trip due to bad (cloudy) weather. If you want sun for sure, I guess it would be better to go in Summer. But then, temperatures are rather too high to wander around stones.

WHS
All WHS can easily be covered within one week. If you have to select, I would skip Kerkuane and Ichkeul. Dougga is a must, as it is the best site in Tunisia. Ticket prices are usually 7 TDH + 1 TDH for picture license. None of the WHS were overrun by tourists, so you can enjoy them almost for yourself. Be aware of touts and shop owners in the Medinas, that could ruin your fun.

Author meltwaterfalls
Partaker
#2 | Posted: 15 May 2018 03:56 | Edited by: meltwaterfalls 
Thanks for that kintante, and I'm enjoying reading the reviews as well.

It has now been almost 14 years since I visited, but looking online some of the things I learnt still seem relevant.

I visited all the sites (except Lake Ichkeul, though I did go further down to Matmata in the Sahara) in a 10 day trip covering everything by public transport, and managed to fit in the WHS plus quite a lot more on a pretty relaxed schedule.

Trains
Whilst the Trains are pretty limited, I found them useful, mostly for one long haul trip from Tunis down to Gabes (T-List) which gave access to the Saharan hinterland or onwards to the Island of Jerba (T-list). I did it on a decent overnight train, though I see the timetable has changed a little so doing it the opposite way round is a more practical process now if you want an overnight journey.

We also used trains for a couple of the short haul trips, between Tunis - Carthage, Sousse - Monastir (former T-list) and Sfax (T-list) - El Jem.

Other Public transport
The bits that weren't served by trains we filled in with a mix of Busses and Minibus Share Taxis (Louage). The scheduled busses took us out to Dougga and Kairouan, everything else was done by Louage. These Minibus Share Taxis were excellent, flexible and cost effective, there have been innumerable times since that I wished every country had an equivalent form of transport. They were particularly useful in getting out to Kerkuane.

My most memorable things from Tunisia

Dougga
Yep certainly agree this is the finest site in the country. Also keep an eye out for the Punic Mauseloeum in the field below the Theatre as this is part of the T-List site (Les Mausolées Royaux de Numidie, de la Maurétanie et les monuments funéraires pré-islamiques) I'm not sure how it stacks up against Leptis Magma in neighbouring Libya (when we arrived in Gabes they had day trips available in 2004, though visa issues meant us Brits weren't able to join them at that time, I don't know if this is possible now).

Kerkuane
I think Kintante's review is pretty fair on Kerkuane and broadly chimes with what I saw. However it looks like I have fonder memories, and I think that is because I visited having spent a night in nearby Kelibia rather than seeing it after a long return car journey.
To me this was a highlight, the slow evening in a quiet town at the end of the Cap Bon Peninsular, going to visit a small remote site telling a distinct story of the country was so enjoyable because it felt very removed. As such I think if you are picking it up on a road trip it may not be as rewarding.

Matmata
It may be slightly touristy, but how many times can you say you stayed in a troglodyte dwelling under the Sahara? Extra bonus points that it is also the childhood home of Luke Skywalker. The food at Hotel Sidi Driss was great when we stayed.

Harissa
This Glorious deep red chilli paste was served with a baguette as a starter with pretty much every meal we ate, this should be adopted universally.

Friendly
At the time of my visit Tunisia was the friendliest country I had ever been to. Looking back hassle levels were much lower than they were in Morocco, with the only real issues coming around the more traditional holiday resort of Port el-Kantaoui.

Author clyde
Partaker
#3 | Posted: 17 May 2018 11:29 
Thanks guys! I'll surely make use of your tips once I'm a bit less busy. I'll definitely look into the possibility of visiting Leptis Magna if I venture further south in Tunisia, even though the security situation in Libya might be an issue.

Author elsslots
Admin
#4 | Posted: 5 Jul 2021 15:07 | Edited by: elsslots 
Looking at a 2 week trip to Tunisia in September.

A good, recent write up of the WHS can be found here: https://www.kathmanduandbeyond.com/visiting-unesco-world-heritage-sites-tunisia/

My tentative itinerary:
- 3 nights in Tunis center, for Tunis medina WHS, Bardo Museum and Carthage WHS
- 3 nights at the outskirts of Tunis, renting a car to access the 3 WHS of Ichkeul, Kerkuane and Dougga
- 3 nights in Sousse, taking a train to get there: Sousse WHS, El Jem WHS, Kairouan WHS
- 1 or 2 nights in the south, taking train and taxi/louage to get me to Tatatouine & Matmata troglodyte TWHS
- 2 or 3 nights in Djerba, TWHS and flight home from there via Paris

Any suggestions (in addition to the ones in the posts above)?

Author meltwaterfalls
Partaker
#5 | Posted: 6 Jul 2021 12:16 | Edited by: meltwaterfalls 
That seems like a pretty good itinerary to me, it would be a pretty relaxed trip for most of it (by this communities standards anyway).
If you wanted to tighten the schedule a little I think the time in and around Tunis and Sousse could probably be trimmed a little, but otherwise I think it looks good.

3 days in Tunis allows you to see everything at a very relaxed pace. This will help get a feel for the medina, but it isn't to the same standard as Morocco's (probably the closest equivilent is Rabat) and on the third day you may start to get a little bored.
(We stayed 3 nights, but that included a daytrip to Dougga, but we had an extra night at the end for logistical reason to fly home)
If you wanted to just do the the bare minimum I think you could cut this to 1.5 days. A half day each for the Medina, Bardo and Carthage, transist between them all is quick and straight forward.
The tradditional addition to a visit to Carthage is the village of Sidi Bou Said, which is a nice place to have a meal and a glass of Muscat de Kelibia overlooking the Mediterranean.

A car to pick up Ichkeul, Dougga and Kerkuane feels like a good idea.
I didn't realise how short the drive is to Ichkeul from Tunis, depending on how much time you wanted to spend at the lake, you could probably combine with the drive to/ visit to Dougga, and stay nearer the ruins rather than returning to Tunis. Though you may well get more out of the National Park than I would. (Don't forget Dougga has a tenative site as well Numidian Mausoleums though this would barely add 15 minutes to the visit).

I think we did your Sousse itinerary in 2.5 day/ 2 nights, and managed to visit Monastir's Rabat as well (recommended). Sousse is a nice medina, though it felt the most touristy site in the country. And whilst it is nice, there isn't much to see beyond a half day's exploration (plus wandering around for ambiance in the evenings after side trips). Kairouan is an easy day trip and El Jem can be picked up on the way to/from somewhere farther south.

On the way south I think Sfax is worth a stop, it is a TWHS and from memory was the least touristy medina we visited, probably not worth an overnight stay unless it eases the itinerary. Likewise for the Oasis at Gabes, the town will probably feature logistically anyway if heading to the desert, I missed the oasis though, so can't say if it is a worthy stop.

I enjoyed Matmata, though I fear it may perhaps be a little underwhelming, unless you are a big Star Wars fan, or stay the night in a cave. But adding Tatatouine should certianly improve the visit.

I have no experince of Djerba, but flying back from there makes sense, and can probably provide a nice place to relax.

I would also be interested on how much Harissa you put on your bread on the first day vs last day of the trip.

Author elsslots
Admin
#6 | Posted: 6 Jul 2021 12:42 
meltwaterfalls:
a pretty relaxed trip for most of it (by this communities standards anyway).

Yes, I decided to allocate 2 weeks to it to try to fully cover it during this visit that probably will be my first and only. You can see all WHS in 8 days, but my bets for future WHS are in the south.
And I have some leeway then, if things go wrong logistically (also in the south, as distances are longer there) or Covid related.

Djerba has a Numidian mausoleum TWHS as well by they way, although it doesn't look very appealing on photos.

Author christravelblog
Partaker
#7 | Posted: 21 Jul 2021 04:31 
Hi all,
I have done a 2 week itinerary some year ago. It can be done slightly faster but I was with family so we also relaxed a bit!
Yes, it can all be done from Tunis but I suggest to stay also in the Sousse area. It saves driving.
My itinerary is here: https://www.christravelblog.com/tunisia-a-two-week-tunisia-itinerary-a-road-trip-to-all-the-highlights/

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