Top events in Tunisia

May
01

On the island of Djerba, the 7th century La Ghriba Synagogue is the venue for a pilgrimage of Tunisia's now tiny community of Jews on the Jewish...

June
01

The Festival d’Epervier is a four-day celebration of falconry, with regular demonstrations alongside live music, food stalls and a large market....

July
01

The four-week festival explores the traditions and rich heritage of this ancient city. Aimed mainly at tourists, the festival programme includes...

Tunisia's eastern Mediterranean coast
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Tunisia's eastern Mediterranean coast

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Tunisia Travel Guide

Key Facts
Area

163,610 sq km (63,170 sq miles).

Population

10.8 million (2013).

Population density

66.2 per sq km.

Capital

Tunis.

Government

Republic. Gained independence from France in 1956.

Head of state

President Moncef Morzouki since 2011.

Head of government

Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa since 2014.

Electricity

230 volts AC, 50Hz. European-style plugs with two round pins are used.

From broad sweeps of beach, overlooked by a tumble of sugar cube houses, to grand ancient ruins, and the vast, rolling dunes of the Sahara; Tunisia is a fusion of everything that makes North Africa enticing. It may be most famous as a summer beach break destination but there's something for everyone here.

Lose your way by following the scent of spice amid the twisting maze of medina alleyways in Tunis or Kairouan to stumble upon remnants of grand Ottoman glory.  Stand on the edge of the glittering Chott El Jerid salt pan to see the silver crust shimmer mirror-like as it stretches boundlessly across the land. Walk through the underground tunnel of El Jem to arrive in the middle of the amphitheatre arena, the way the gladiators of Rome once entered this mighty colosseum. Or hoist yourself onto the high camel saddle and venture out into the desert dunes. It's no wonder Tunisia is such a favoured spot for shooting movies. The diversity of landscapes and experiences, over such a small nation, is its greatest appeal.

Traditionally seen as North Africa at its most laid-back, Tunisia manages a delicate balancing act between traditional Islamic culture and the encroaching tide of modernity. Gender equality rights are written into the constitution, alcohol is freely available, and the state and religion are treated as two separate entities. But that's not to say that the fascinating rhythms of the Islamic world have disappeared.

Sit down at a street side cafe after the last notes of the muezzin's evening call to prayer have faded. Then sink into a hypnotic stupor of apple-scented shisha smoking while old men slam tiles onto the surrounding tables in a clatter of competitive domino playing. Get scrubbed, rubbed and steamed until your skin is smooth and pink, upon a marble slab, under the tiled domes of a centuries-old hammam. Haggle your heart out with the craft vendors in the souks, consuming dozens of tiny glasses of mint tea while you barter for the best price. The age-old customs and traditions of Tunisian life are still alive and well for those who wish to look for them.

It is the beach life though that most visitors come here for and the sun-dappled Tunisian coast doesn't disappoint. Straddling the Mediterranean, the long, rambling coastline has something for every kind of beach-lover. There are modern resort towns boasting all the facilities sun-seekers need, perfect for families looking for an easy summer escape. And there is the gentler pace of the tiny coastal villages with cobblestone streets framed by walls of flowing bourganvillia and jasmine that lead down to the sea.

The Tunisian Revolution of 2011 may have kept the tourists off the beaches and out of the monuments for a while, but it's not hard to see why they're coming back. As a destination, Tunisia balances natural beauty with a pulse-quickening - at times turbulent - energy; a place where you can have as relaxed, or as adventurous a trip as you decide. If you're looking for an evocative taste of North Africa you're in the right place.

Travel Advice

Last updated: 23 April 2014

The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. 'We' refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all travel to:

  • the Chaambi Mountain National Park area

The FCO advise against all but essential travel to:

  • areas south of, and including, the towns of Nefta, Douz, Médenine and Zarzis

  • within 30km of the border with Algeria from south of the town of Ghardinaou

Tunisia is going through a period of political transition following the 2011 revolution, and has experienced protests in the post revolutionary period. After months of political stalemate and heightened tensions, a new constitution was agreed in January 2014 and a new technocratic government was appointed. A State of Emergency, which had been in place since January 2011, was lifted on 5 March.

There is a possibility of further protests. These, are not normally aimed against foreigners, but international events can trigger anti-western demonstrations.

There is a general threat from terrorism, including kidnapping. The FCO advise against travel to some areas of southern Tunisia and near to the border with Libya and Algeria due to the threat from terrorism.

There has been a recent increase in terrorist activity in Tunisia, including an explosion on the beach next to the Riadh Palm Hotel in the tourist zone in Sousse on 30 October. The only reported casualty was the individual carrying explosives. On the same day 2 other individuals found with explosives at the Borguiba Mausoleum in Monastir were arrested.

The possibility of further attacks, including in the coastal resorts and desert areas cannot be ruled out. The British Embassy is in regular contact with the Tunisian authorities and this travel advice is kept under constant review.

You should be vigilant, keep up to date with this travel advice, and follow the advice of the local authorities and your tour operator.

329,619 British nationals visited Tunisia in 2012. Most British tourists stay in the coastal resorts and most visits are trouble free.

In the resort areas, the dress code is much like any European city or tourist area. In other parts of the country you should dress more modestly.

Some areas of the interior have been declared military zones and will have an increased security presence. If possible, trips into the interior of Tunisia should be made with a reputable tour guide.

The Overseas Business Risk service offers information and advice for British companies operating overseas on how to manage political, economic, and business security-related risks.

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