Tunisia travel guide
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 encapsulates everything that’s enticing about North Africa.
Lose yourself in the maze of medina alleyways inTunis, explore the Maghreban mosques of Kairouan and stand on the shimmering salt flats of Chott El Jerid. Tuck into freshly baked brik at a bustling street market, pretend to be a Roman gladiator at El Jem’s impressive amphitheatre and hoist yourself onto a camel for a trip into the desert.
Traditionally, sun-seeking tourists came to Tunisia for its beaches – lining the Mediterranean, the long, rambling coastline is impressive. There are also tiny coastal villages where fishermen haul in the day’s catch on quiet beaches and cobblestone streets are lined with blooming bougainvillea.
But Tunisia is so much more than a seaside destination where visitors lounge on the sands all day long. Join the locals at a café after the last notes of the call to prayer have faded, or puff on apple-scented shisha as you watch old men play dominos. Alternatively, get scrubbed and steamed on a marble slab under the tiled domes of a hammam. Or haggle in the souks, sipping glasses of mint tea while you barter for the best price. Suffice to say the age-old traditions of Tunisian life are still alive and well.
Regarded as one of North Africa’s most politically moderate countries, Tunisia balances traditional Islamic culture with modern influences. Beyond the ancient medina, the cities are full of restaurants, cafes and bars, many of which have a European air about them.
Though tourism took a hit in recent years after a number of suicide attacks on tourists and the authority. The Tunisian government is working to improve security in major cities and tourist resorts.
163,610 sq km (63,170 sq miles).
11,375,220 (UN estimate 2016).
67.4 per sq km.
President Kaïs Saïed since 2019.
Ahmed Hachani since August 2023.
The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) advises against all travel to:
- the Chaambi Mountains National Park and the designated military operations zones of Mount Salloum, Mount Sammamma and Mount Mghila
- the militarised zone south of the towns of El Borma and Dhehiba
- within 20km of the rest of the Libya border area north of Dhehiba
- the town of Ben Guerdane and immediate surrounding area
In addition and for security reasons, the FCDO advises against all but essential travel to:
- within 75km of the Libyan border, including Remada, El Borma and the town of Zarzis
- the governorate of Kasserine, including the town of Sbeitla
- within 10km of the border with Algeria south of Kasserine governorate
- within 30km of the border in El Kef and Jendouba governorates south of the town of Jendouba, including the archaeological site of Chemtou
- areas north and west of the town of Ghardimaou in Jendouba governorate, including El Feidja National Park
- within 10km of Mount Mghila
- Mount Orbata
Before you travel, check the ‘Entry requirements’ section for Tunisia’s current entry restrictions and requirements. These may change with little warning. Monitor this advice for the latest updates and stay in contact with your travel provider.
It is more important than ever to get travel insurance and check it provides sufficient cover. See the FCDO’s guidance on foreign travel insurance.
Since 1 July, the city of Sfax has witnessed several days of civil unrest, including reports of injuries, arrests and one death, related to heightened tensions between local residents and migrants from sub-Saharan Africa. Security forces in Sfax and the region are on high alert. Further disturbances could occur with little or no warning and impact other Black people perceived to be of sub-Saharan African origin.
Terrorists are still very likely to try to carry out further attacks in Tunisia, including against UK and Western interests. There have been a number of self-initiated attacks in 2023. On 3 July a National Guard officer was attacked with a knife in the La Goulette area of Tunis.
In June, a police officer was stabbed and killed outside the Brazilian Embassy in Tunis. In May, a fatal shooting took place on the island of Djerba, near to where Tunisian and international visitors were taking part in the annual Jewish pilgrimage at the El Ghriba synagogue. Three security personnel and two civilians were killed, and ten people were injured.
Security forces remain on a high state of alert in Tunis and other places. You should be vigilant at all times, including around religious sites and festivals. Crowded areas, government installations, transportation networks, businesses with Western interests, and areas where foreign nationals and tourists are known to gather may be at higher risk of attack. You should be particularly vigilant in these areas and follow any specific advice of the local security authorities. In more remote areas of the country, including tourist sites in southern Tunisia, security forces’ response times to an incident may vary. Follow the advice of the Tunisian security authorities and your travel company if you have one. See Terrorism
Parliamentary elections took place in December 2022 and January 2023 and the new Parliament opened in March 2023.
Protests occur in Tunisia with little or no warning, and can sometimes become violent. They usually take place in central areas of Tunis and other major cities, and in the vicinity of government buildings, often but not always on weekends or around prominent national anniversary dates. Avoid all protests, and move away from gathered crowds. Keep up to date with developments through the media and follow the instructions given by the Tunisian authorities as well as your hotel and tour operator, if you have one. See Political and security situation
You can contact the emergency services by calling:
- 197 (police - when in cities and towns)
- 193 (national guard - when in rural areas or small villages)
- 190 (ambulance)
- 198 (civil protection - for assistance at incidents, such as car accidents, to provide medical assistance and response to fire).
If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission. Consular support may be limited in parts of Tunisia.
Coronavirus travel health
Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Tunisia on the TravelHealthPro website
See the TravelHealthPro website for For COVID-19 general advice for travellers.
You should contact local authorities for information on testing facilities. A test can be organised on the Ministry of Health webpage (available in French only).
Entry and borders
See Entry requirements to find out what you will need to do when you arrive in Tunisia.
Be prepared for your plans to change
No travel is risk-free as a result of COVID-19. Countries may restrict travel or bring in new rules at short notice, for example due to a new COVID-19 variant. Check with your travel company or airline for any transport changes which may delay your journey home.
If you test positive for COVID-19, you may need to stay where you are until you test negative. You may also need to seek treatment there.
Plan ahead and make sure you:
- can access money
- understand what your insurance will cover
- can make arrangements to extend your stay and be away for longer than planned
Travel in Tunisia
Travellers are advised to check the status of their flights before arriving at the airport.
Healthcare in Tunisia
For contact details for English speaking doctors visit our list of healthcare providers.
Your emotional and mental wellbeing is important. Read guidance on how to look after your mental wellbeing and mental health.
View Health for further details on healthcare in Tunisia.
For information on financial support you can access whilst abroad, visit our financial assistance guidance.
A state of emergency is in effect in Tunisia, imposed after a suicide attack on a police bus in 2015. It has been extended a number of times, most recently in February 2022. The state of emergency means that there continues to be a heightened countrywide security presence, including security checkpoints in and around some cities and tourists resorts, as well as on main roads and at borders.
President Kais Saied ratified a new constitution in 2022, following the suspension of parliament in 2021 and its dissolution in 2022. Parliamentary elections took place in December 2022 and January 2023. The new Parliament re-opened in March 2023.
Demonstrations, Protests and Strikes
Demonstrations and protests occur in Tunisia quite often with little or no warning. They can sometimes become violent. Larger demonstrations and protests usually take place in central areas of Tunis and other major cities, and in the vicinity of government buildings. Demonstrations can be called at short notice, and are often at weekends. There are certain prominent national dates on which demonstrations traditionally occur.
Avoid demonstrations and protests wherever possible and follow the advice of the local authorities. Some demonstrations in the past have turned violent. If you do find yourself unexpectedly near a demonstration or protest, move away from the area.
You should keep up to date with developments through the media and follow the instructions given by the Tunisian authorities as well as your hotel and tour operator, if you have one.
Strikes take place in Tunisia periodically, sometimes called at short notice that can cause disruption to public transport (including air travel and ports), as well as road networks and borders.
Curfews can be imposed at short notice in response to events. You should follow the guidance of local authorities when travelling around the country.
You should check the latest guidance of local authorities and subscribe to the Travel Advice updates before moving around the country, to be aware of local events taking place and how that might impact your internal travel.
Mobile phone coverage can be patchy or unavailable in more remote areas, particularly in the south of Tunisia. Check before travelling, and/or consider downloading maps for offline use.
Some online or GPS maps may not be accurate in remote areas.
There is a heightened Tunisian security presence at the borders with Libya and Algeria due to cross border terrorist activity and fighting in Libya. Border crossings are sometimes closed temporarily without notice. Some violent incidents have occurred.
The FCDO advise against all travel to the Chaambi Mountains National Park area, as well as Mount Salloum, Mount Sammamma, and Mount Mghila (all designated military operations zones). The FCDO advise against all but essential travel to all other areas within 10km of Mount Mghila.
Tunisian security forces continue to conduct operations. Security personnel have been killed and severely wounded in attacks and by booby-trap explosives in these areas.
Incidents of mugging, pick pocketing, bag-snatching and petty theft occur. Take sensible precautions to protect yourself and your belongings. Where possible, avoid carrying all your important documents, money and other valuables in the same bag. You should remain alert to potential confidence tricks.
Personal attacks are rare but they do occur.
There have been several recent reports of assaults and theft in Tunis. Harassment of foreign women in Tunis is also reported to have increased. These have occurred in a variety of areas, including busy public places at night, and quieter public parks and beaches during the daytime.
You are advised to maintain at least the same level of personal security awareness as in the UK and take care when walking or travelling alone.
Some British nationals of South Asian descent have been subject to additional screening or refused entry by immigration authorities at airports, including Enfidha, on alleged security grounds. See entry requirements for further details.
Discrimination and harassment
Though not commonly experienced by visitors, racial discrimination may be an issue, particularly in public places. Following public comments on irregular migration in February 2023, there was a temporary spike in verbal and physical assaults against those thought to be sub-Saharan African migrants. There have also been recent anti-migrant protests in certain coastal towns, including Sfax.
You can drive in Tunisia with a valid International Driving Permit (IDP) for up to one year. You will need to have a 1968 IDP to drive in Tunisia. 1949 IDPs previously issued by the UK may no longer be accepted in Tunisia. You can only get IDPs over the counter from UK Post Offices. You will not be able to buy an IDP outside the UK, so get one before you travel.
If you’re living in Tunisia, it may be possible to drive on a UK licence for up to one year, providing that you meet a number of conditions and submit an application to the Tunisian Ministry of Transport. Please check the conditions and application process with the Tunisian Ministry of Transport. For any longer periods, you will need to apply for a Tunisian driving licence.
A green card is proof that you have vehicle insurance when driving abroad. You need to carry a green card to prove you have the minimum insurance cover in Tunisia.
Driving standards can be erratic. There is very little lane discipline and often confusion about the right of way, especially at roundabouts. There are few pedestrian crossings and traffic lights are sometimes ignored. Take care when driving in towns as pedestrians tend to walk on the roads and have the right of way. Take particular care when crossing roads on foot, even where there is a signal allowing you to do so.
Roads are of a reasonable standard although large potholes can appear quickly following heavy rain, and most towns and villages have large speed bumps.
Driving at night can be hazardous particularly out of towns due to a lack of road lighting, unlighted vehicles, and animals on the roads in rural areas. Exercise caution and slow down when approaching sand drifts on roads.
You may come across military or police security checks. If you do, approach slowly, don’t cross boundaries without permission and be prepared to present photo ID if asked.
Demonstrations can occasionally affect road travel.
You should check the availability of fuelling stations before travelling long distances in remote areas.
Rail travel is generally safe, although safety standards tend to be lower than those in the UK. There is a risk of petty crime on trains.
Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Tunisia and there have been a number of attacks in recent years.
There is a high threat of terrorist attack globally affecting UK interests and British nationals, including from groups and individuals who view the UK and British nationals as targets. You should remain vigilant at all times.
The main terrorist threat is from Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and Libya-based extremists with links to Daesh (formerly referred to as ISIL). Despite some improvements in border security, Tunisia has a porous border with Libya, where there is a continuing conflict, an absence of security, and where Islamist terrorist groups operate. Tunisian security forces have repeatedly been targeted in terrorist-related incidents, mainly in border areas including in the Chaambi Mountains.
A nationwide state of emergency, first imposed after a suicide attack on a police bus in November 2015, remains in place. Follow the advice of local security officials, including in and around religious sites.
Crowded areas, government installations, transportation networks, businesses with Western interests, and areas where foreign nationals and tourists are known to gather may be at higher risk of attack. You should follow any specific advice of the local security authorities. In more remote areas of the country, including tourist sites in southern Tunisia, security forces’ response times to an incident may vary.
There’s a heightened risk of terrorism against aviation interests. Additional security measures have been in place on flights departing from Tunisia to the UK since March 2017. You should co-operate fully with security officials.
The Tunisian authorities regularly report that they have disrupted planned attacks and terrorist cells and made arrests. The Tunisian authorities have improved security in tourist resorts and their ability to respond to a terrorist incident. Tunisian security forces have also improved and are better prepared to tackle terrorist threats than they were at the time of the 2015 attacks. But further attacks remain likely, including in places visited by foreigners such as tourist resorts. Attacks may be carried out by individuals unknown to the authorities, whose actions may be inspired by terrorist groups. There have been a number of self-initiated attacks in recent months.
Recent incidents include:
- on 3 July a National Guard officer was stabbed in a knife attack in the Goulette area of Tunis.
in May 2023, a fatal shooting took place on the island of Djerba, near where Tunisian and international visitors were taking part in the annual Jewish pilgrimage at the El Ghriba synagogue. Three security personnel and two civilians were killed, and ten people were injured.
in June 2022, two security officers were injured in a knife attack by an assailant near a synagogue in central Tunis.
in January 2022, January three passengers on a tram at Bab Alioua station in Tunis were injured after a knife attack.
in November 2021, police shot and wounded an assailant who attacked them with a knife and axe in front of the Interior Ministry on Habib Bourguiba avenue, central Tunis.
in September 2020, two officers of Tunisia’s National Guard were attacked by three assailants in Sousse. Security forces later killed all three attackers.
in March 2020, a suicide bombing targeting a police patrol near the US Embassy in Tunis killed one police officer and injured four more, as well as a civilian.
in October 2019, a French national was stabbed to death in Zarzouna, northern Tunisia, by an individual who then attacked a Tunisian soldier.
in June 2019, there were 2 suicide bombings targeting security personnel in central Tunis; 3 people, including the perpetrators, were killed.
in October 2018, 15 security personnel and 5 civilians were injured in a bombing on Avenue Habib Bourguiba in central Tunis.
in July 2018, militants attacked security forces near Ghardimaou, close to the Algerian border. A number of Tunisian National Guard officers were killed. This follows separate media reports in early July 2018 of Tunisian security forces disrupting a terrorist group in Hammamet.
in June 2015, 38 foreign tourists were killed, including 30 British nationals, in a terrorist attack at Port El Kantaoui near Sousse.
- in March 2015, 21 tourists were killed, including a British national, in a terrorist attack at the Bardo Museum in the centre of Tunis.
There is a threat of kidnapping by groups operating in North Africa, particularly from Libya, Mauritania and groups originating in the Sahel. This includes Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQ-IM) and Daesh-affiliated groups, who may travel across the region’s porous border. There is a heightened risk of kidnap in border and remote desert areas of North Africa. Terrorist groups have kidnapped foreigners, government officials and civilians in the region for financial gain and for political leverage. Further kidnaps are likely.
Those engaged in tourism, humanitarian aid work, journalism or business sectors are viewed as legitimate targets. If you’re kidnapped, the reason for your presence is unlikely to serve as a protection or secure your safe release.
The long-standing policy of the British government is not to make substantive concessions to hostage takers. The British government considers that paying ransoms and releasing prisoners increases the risk of further hostage taking. The Terrorism Act (2000) also makes payments to terrorists illegal.
Local laws reflect the fact that Tunisia is an Islamic country. Respect local traditions, customs, laws and religions at all times and be aware of your actions to ensure that they don’t offend, especially during the holy month of Ramadan or if you intend to visit religious areas.
In the coastal holiday resorts the dress code is very much like any European city or tourist area, although topless sunbathing on beaches may cause offence. If you are visiting religious sites or more remote areas of Tunisia, you should dress more modestly.
Possession, use and trafficking of controlled drugs are all serious criminal offences. The possession of even a small amount of ‘soft’ drugs could result in a prison term.
You should get permission from Customs authorities before removing antiquities from Tunisia. Failure to get permission could result in lengthy delays on departure, a fine and/or imprisonment.
Carry a form of photo ID at all times (for example a copy of your passport) and be prepared to show this to uniformed security officials if asked to do so.
British nationals wishing to buy property in Tunisia have often been advised to do so through a Tunisian ‘friend’ on the basis that it is illegal for foreign nationals to purchase property in Tunisia. If you are considering purchasing property in Tunisia, you should consult a local lawyer who will be best placed to offer advice. Don’t make private arrangements, which may be illegal and could result in large financial loss.
Homosexuality is a criminal offence in Tunisia. See our information and advice page for the LGBT+ community before you travel.
Photography and drones
Do not take photographs near sensitive political or military sites.
Any drones brought to Tunisia without prior permission will be confiscated by the Tunisian authorities on arrival in the country and stored until the owner’s departure. Ownership of drones is licensed and gaining a licence is a lengthy process.
This page has information on travelling to Tunisia.
This page reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British Citizen’ passport from the UK, for the most common types of travel.
The authorities in Tunisia set and enforce entry rules. If you’re unsure how Tunisia’s entry requirements apply to you, contact its UK embassy, high commission or consulate
On arrival in Tunisia, you may be asked to share your contact details and travel information with the authorities.
Evidence of a hotel reservation is required to enter the country, and a small number of visitors have been denied entry into Tunisia, or delayed, for not being able to provide sufficient evidence of accommodation. This policy is not applied uniformly, and in most cases, if asked, an explanation of alternative accommodation arrangements will be accepted.
Some British nationals of South Asian descent have been delayed, temporarily detained, or denied entry into the country by Tunisian immigration authorities at airports. This can cause distress and inconvenience. The British Embassy has raised this issue with Tunisian authorities.
Entry to Tunisia is decided by Tunisian authorities, and the British Embassy cannot override decisions to refuse entry. However, if you have been subject to the above practices and wish to report it to us, contact the Consular team at British Embassy Tunis on +216 71 108 700.
Check your passport and travel documents before you travel
If you are visiting Tunisia, your passport should be valid for the full duration of your stay. You don’t need any additional period of validity beyond this.
Dual British-Tunisian nationals should enter and leave Tunisia on their Tunisian passports.
Check with your travel provider to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.
For stays longer than 90 days, you will need a visa. You should contact the Tunisian Embassy in London for information on how to apply,
If you stay in Tunisia for longer than the authorised period, you will have to pay a fine. This rule may not apply if you are vulnerable or if circumstances oblige you to remain in the country.
If you have a health condition, or you are pregnant, you may need specialist healthcare abroad. Check whether your destination country can provide the healthcare you may need and ensure you have appropriate travel insurance for unexpected medical evacuation or local treatment.
See the Coronavirus travel health and Healthcare sections in the Coronavirus page for COVID-19 health information.
At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the latest country-specific health advice from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) on the TravelHealthPro website. Each country-specific page has information on vaccine recommendations, any current health risks or outbreaks, and factsheets with information on staying healthy abroad. Guidance is also available from NHS (Scotland) on the FitForTravel website.
General information on travel vaccinations and a travel health checklist is available on the NHS website. You may then wish to contact your health adviser or pharmacy for advice on other preventive measures and managing any pre-existing medical conditions while you’re abroad.
The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or purchased in the UK can be different in other countries. If you’re travelling with prescription or over-the-counter medicine, read this guidance from NaTHNaC on best practice when travelling with medicines. For further information on the legal status of a specific medicine, you should contact the Tunisian Embassy.
While travel can be enjoyable, it can sometimes be challenging. There are clear links between mental and physical health, so looking after yourself during travel and when abroad is important. Information on travelling with mental health conditions is available in our guidance page. Further information is also available from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC).
There’s no provision for free medical attention for foreign nationals in Tunisia. All doctors’ fees, medication and hospitalisation in private clinics have to be paid for on the spot (and sometimes in advance of treatment). These costs can be quite high. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.
If you’re bringing prescription medicines, carry a note from your GP confirming that the medication has been prescribed for an existing condition. If you have any specific concerns about taking certain types of medication with you to Tunisia, contact the Tunisian Embassy in London.
If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 190 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.
ATMs are widely available. Almost all ATMs will accept Visa cards, and many (including Bank of Tunisia and BIAT) will also accept Maestro cards for cash withdrawals.
UK issued credit and debit cards are accepted in an increasing number of shops, restaurants and hotels, though there can be connectivity problems. In places that do take cards, there can be problems authorising Mastercard purchases. Travellers Cheques are accepted in some hotels but not others.
It is strictly prohibited to take Tunisian dinars out of the country. To exchange any Tunisian dinars left over at the end of your stay into Sterling or other hard currency you will need to show the receipt from the bank where you first withdrew or bought the dinars. Please note that receipts from cash machines are not accepted.
If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission. If you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad, contact the FCDO in London on 020 7008 5000 (24 hours).
Foreign travel checklist
Read our foreign travel checklist to help you plan for your trip abroad and stay safe while you’re there.
The FCDO travel advice helps you make your own decisions about foreign travel. Your safety is our main concern, but we can’t provide tailored advice for individual trips. If you’re concerned about whether or not it’s safe for you to travel, you should read the travel advice for the country or territory you’re travelling to, together with information from other sources you’ve identified, before making your own decision on whether to travel. Only you can decide whether it’s safe for you to travel.
When we judge the level of risk to British nationals in a particular place has become unacceptably high, we’ll state on the travel advice page for that country or territory that we advise against all or all but essential travel. Read more about how the FCDO assesses and categorises risk in foreign travel advice.
Our crisis overseas page suggests additional things you can do before and during foreign travel to help you stay safe.
Refunds and cancellations
If you wish to cancel or change a holiday that you’ve booked, you should contact your travel company. The question of refunds and cancellations is a matter for you and your travel company. Travel companies make their own decisions about whether or not to offer customers a refund. Many of them use our travel advice to help them reach these decisions, but we do not instruct travel companies on when they can or can’t offer a refund to their customers.
For more information about your rights if you wish to cancel a holiday, visit the Citizen’s Advice Bureau website. For help resolving problems with a flight booking, visit the website of the Civil Aviation Authority. For questions about travel insurance, contact your insurance provider and if you’re not happy with their response, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.
Registering your travel details with us
We’re no longer asking people to register with us before travel. Our foreign travel checklist and crisis overseas page suggest things you can do before and during foreign travel to plan your trip and stay safe.
Previous versions of FCDO travel advice
If you’re looking for a previous version of the FCDO travel advice, visit the National Archives website. Versions prior to 2 September 2020 will be archived as FCO travel advice. If you can’t find the page you’re looking for there, send the Travel Advice team a request.
If you’re a British national and you have a question about travelling abroad that isn’t covered in our foreign travel advice or elsewhere on GOV.UK, you can submit an enquiry, or contact us on Twitter or Facebook. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.