Tunisia Travel Information

Visas, Health and Safety, Currency, When to Go

Chenini Mosque, Southern Tunisia
••• Chenini Mosque, Southern Tunisia. © Anouk Zijlma
Page 2 -- Getting to Tunisia by Air, Land and Sea
Page 3 -- Getting Around Tunisia by Plane, Train, Louage, Bus and Car

Visas, Health and Safety, Currency, When to Go

Visas

Most nationalities including those from the US, Canada and the UK do not need a visa to enter Tunisia as a tourist. If your nationality is not on the following list, then you should contact a Tunisian Embassy and apply for a visa.

You do NOT need a tourist visa if you belong to one of the following countries: Algeria, Antigua, Austria, Bahrain, Barbados, Belgium, Belize, Bermuda, Bosnia & Herzegovina, British Virgin Islands, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Cote d', Croatia, Denmark, Dominica, Falkland Is, Fiji, Finland, France, Gambia, Germany, Gibraltar, Gilbert Islands, Greece, Guinea, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland Rep, Italy, Japan, Kiribati, Korea (South), Kuwait, Libya, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malaysia, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Monaco, Montenegro, Montserrat, Morocco, Netherlands, Niger, Norway, Oman, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Saint Helena, St.

Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent & Grenadines, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Seychelles, Slovenia, Solomon Is, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United States, Vatican City and Yugoslavia.

Your passport must be valid for at least six months after you enter Tunisia. You will get a stamp in your passport upon entry into the country (make sure you get it) which will allow you to stay for 3 months. No entry fees are charged.

Nationals of Australia and South Africa can obtain their tourist visa upon arrival at the airport, but double check with the Tunisian Embassy.

Health and Safety

As with most destinations in Africa you have to careful about what you drink and eat in order to avoid stomach upsets. Buying food from street vendors carries some degree of risk especially salads and uncooked food. Tap water can be drunk in major towns, but there's plenty of bottled water around to be totally safe.
Luckily Tunisia is malaria-free.

Immunizations and Vaccinations

No vaccinations are required by law to enter Tunisia but Typhoid and Hepatitis A are two vaccinations that are strongly recommended. It is also a good idea to be up to date with your polio and tetanus vaccines.

Terrorism

On April 11, 2002, Al-Qaeda terrorists used a truck bomb to attack a synagogue on the Tunisian island of Djerba.

The attack killed 14 Germans, five Tunisians and two French tourists. About 30 others were injured. In 2008 two Austrian tourists were kidnapped by an Algerian Al-Qaeda organization. The couple were on their own and driving close to the Algerian border deep in the Sahara desert. They were released 6 months later in Bamako, Mali. Apart from these two incidents, Tunisia has been free from terrorist attacks and is probably the safest destination in North Africa.

Crime

Violent crime is quite rare in Tunisia but getting harassed by "guides" and petty theft is fairly common in the tourist areas and souks. Avoid walking alone at night especially in unlit areas and on the beach. Take care of your valuables and don't flaunt your cameras and jewelry.

Women Travelers

Tunisia is an Islamic country so be modest with your clothing. In the major tourist areas and the capital Tunis, dress is quite modern and only half the women wear head scarves. But you won't see too many short skirts, shorts or tank tops. Wear a bikini or swimsuit only at a pool or on a beach. More information on women traveling alone in Africa.

Currency and Money Matters

The Tunisian Dinar is Tunisia's official unit of currency. Click here to convert your currency and see the latest exchange rates.
The confusing thing about Tunisian Dinar is that 1 dinar is equivalent to 1000 millimes (not the normal 100). So you can have the occasional heart attack and think you owe 5,400 dinar for a cab ride, when in fact it's only 5 dinar 4 millimes.

The Tunisian Dinar is not available outside the country, it's not an internationally traded currency. But you can easily change US Dollars, British Pounds and Euros at most major banks which line the main streets (as for Ave Habib Bourghiba whatever town you're in, and it'll be the main street!). Many of the banks ATM's (cash machines) accept credit cards. My US debit card (with a MC logo on it) was accepted everywhere. Using an ATM is much less time consuming than exchanging currency inside a bank, and often cheaper.

You can't take Tunisian Dinar out of the country, so try and spend it before you go!

The Tunis airport does not accept Dinar in its gift shops once you go through customs.

Credit Cards are accepted at high end hotels, in the tourist zones and some high end restaurants in the main cities, but you'll be using cash for the most part. American Express is not widely accepted at all.

When to Go to Tunisia

As with many destinations the weather usually determines the best time to travel to Tunisia. If you want to trek in the desert (which I highly recommend) the best time to go is late September to November and March to early May. It will still be chilly at night, but not quite freezing, and the days won't be too hot.

If you're headed for the beach and would like to avoid the crowds, May, June and September are all perfect. Most tourists visit Tunisia in July and August when the sun shines every day, the swimming is perfect and the beach towns are filled with life. Book your accommodation well in advance if you're planning to travel during the summer months.

Click here for average temperatures and more climate information.

More Tunisia Travel Information
Page 2 -- Getting to Tunisia by Air, Land and Sea
Page 3 -- Getting Around Tunisia by Plane, Train, Louage, Bus and Car

Page 1 -- Visas, Health and Safety, Currency, When to Go
Page 3 -- Getting Around Tunisia by Plane, Train, Louage, Bus and Car

Getting to Tunisia
You can get to Tunisia by boat, plane and road (from Algeria and Libya). Find details about all these options below.

Getting to Tunisia by Air

You can't fly direct to Tunisia from the Americas, Australia or Asia. You'll have to connect in Europe, Middle East or North Africa.

Most scheduled airlines fly into Tunis-Carthage International Airport, just outside the capital Tunis.

Tunisair is Tunisia's national carrier, they fly to various destinations in Europe as well as North and West Africa.

Other airlines flying into Tunis include Air France, British Airways, Lufthansa and Alitalia, Royal Air Moroc, and Egyptair.

Chartered Flights
Most chartered flights head straight for the airports close to the beach resorts. You can fly direct to Monastir, Djerba and Touzeur (for the Desert) from the UK, France, Sweden, Germany, Italy, Austria and the Netherlands.

Nouvelair offers charter flights to European destinations from various tourist resorts in Tunisia.

 

Getting to Tunisia by Ferry

Ferries sail to Tunis from France and Italy throughout the year and several times a week. Book well in advance if you're planning to travel in July and August. Ferries and Cruise ships arrive and depart from 'La Goulette' the main port, which is about 10km from the center of Tunis.

You can catch a taxi into town, or take a commuter train. You can also take a commuter train up to the very picturesque village of Sidi Bou Said.

Ferries to Tunisia from France
Ferries travel between Tunis and Marseille. The journey takes 21 hours and the ferries are operated by SNCM (French company) and CTN (Tunisian company).

Ferries to Tunisia from Italy
There are several ferries you can take from two ports in Sicily - Palermo (8-10 hours) and Tripani (7 hours) to and from Tunis. Grimaldi Lines and Grandi Navi Veloci operate the ferry services.

There are also several ferries a week to and from Tunis to Genoa(23 hours), Salerno (23 hours) and Civitavecchia (21 hours). Grimaldi Lines and Grandi Navi Veloci and SNCM operate the ferry services.

 

Getting to Tunisia By Land

You can cross into Tunisia by land from Algeria (which lies West of Tunisia). The most common border towns to arrive and depart from are Nefta and El-Oued. You can get a louage (shared taxi) from Tozeur or Gafsa. Make sure you check into the security situation in Algeria before you cross.

To get to Libya, most people take the road from Gabes (in Southern Tunisia). It's busy with lots of trucks carrying goods as well as Libyan and Tunisians on vacation. But unless you hold a Tunisian passport, you need special permission to travel in Libya and you have to join an official tour. You can arrange to be met at the border, head to Ras Ajdir on the Tunisian side. Long distance buses go from Tunis to Tripoli every day and take about 12 hours. Check out the national bus company web site (SNTRI) for schedules and prices.

Stop by and sample some fresh, roasted lamb along this road, it's delicious.

More Tunisia Travel Information
Page 1 -- Visas, Health and Safety, Currency, When to Go
Page 3 -- Getting Around Tunisia by Plane, Train, Louage, Bus and Car

Page 1 -- Visas, Health and Safety, Currency, When to Go
Page 2 -- Getting to Tunisia by Air, Land and Sea

Getting Around Tunisia by Plane, Train, Louage, Bus and Car
Tunisia is very easy to get around by plane, train, louage (shared taxi) and bus. Public transport is well organized, cheap and runs frequently. If you don't have a lot of time, there are domestic flights to every major town (usually in and out of Tunis).

You can chose from trains, buses and shared taxis (louages) as well as rent your own car. Information on all transport within Tunisia follows below.

By Plane

Tunisia's national domestic airline is called Sevenair. Sevenair operates some charter routes as well in and out of Tunis to various destinations in France, Spain and Italy. Their scheduled domestic/regional routes include Tunis to Djerba, Sfax, Gafsa, Tabarka, Monastir, Tripoli, and Malta.

You can't book directly online, but I e-mailed from the US, got a booking and just paid for it upon arrival in Tunis. It worked perfectly well. If you live in Europe you can usually book through a travel agency.

By Train

Traveling by train in Tunisia is an efficient and comfortable way to get around. The train network in Tunisia is not very extensive but many of the major tourist destinations are covered. Trains run between Tunis, Sousse, Sfax, El Jem, Touzeur and Gabes. Read my Guide to Train Travel in Tunisia for details about routes, train passes, prices and more.

By Bus

Long-distance buses cover every major town in Tunisia and the network is more extensive than that covered by the train. Long-distance buses are comfortable, air-conditioned, and everyone gets a seat. The national bus company SNTRI has a decent web site with schedules and fares - in French.

Within big cities like Tunis and Sfax, local buses operate, these are extremely cheap and often crowded. In Tunis it's probably the least pleasant way of getting around, opt for the tram or a taxi instead.

By Louage

When there's no bus available or train, everyone uses a louage. A louage is a long-distance shared taxi, with fixed rates and routes, but no fixed departure times. They do go frequently, and they go when they're filled up (usually 8 passengers). But they travel fast and it's a very convenient way to get around. There may not be a huge amount of room for luggage and you'll be a bit squished. Sometimes, you'll be charged extra for large bags.

Most louages don't travel at night so plan accordingly. There are louage stations just like a bus station or taxi stand where you get on. You usually pay the driver and as soon as you show up. You'll have no problem getting help to find the right louage for your destination. Louages are either old white station wagons with a colored stripe down the side, or mini buses.

Renting a Car

All the major car rental companies are represented in Tunisia and you can rent a car upon arrival at any of the airports. The cheapest rate runs at around 50 TD per day, but that doesn't include unlimited mileage. If you're headed for the desert in Southern Tunisia you'll want to rent a 4x4 which is double the price.

Check out Tunisia Auto Rental web site for a comparison chart of all the major car rental companies that are represented in Tunisia. I got a good quote from Budget in Djerba as well. Auto Europe has some good advice about road conditions and what to expect in Tunisia. They are also an excellent car rental company.

The roads are decent for the most part in Tunisia and paved. Drivers don't always adhere to the rules though and often drive too fast. In towns and cities many traffic lights are just ignored, so be careful especially when driving in Tunis. It's best use public transport.

Private Taxi

Private taxis are a great way to get around major cities and towns. They're easy to spot, they're small and yellow and you just flag them down. Taxis have to use their meters and usually this is no problem except getting to and from the airport in Tunis. For some reason, this is where tourists always seem to get ripped off, and I was no exception.

If you'd like to tour around the south of Tunisia, chartering a taxi is a great way to get to the more remote Berber villages and avoid the large tour buses.

Tram

There's a good tram line in Tunis, it's called the Metro Legere and the hub is on the Place de Barcelone (opposite the main train station). Take the number 4 to get to the Bardo museum. Buy your tickets before you board and if you don't like crowds avoid commuting times. Click here for the route map.

More Tunisia Travel Information
Page 1 -- Visas, Health and Safety, Currency, When to Go
Page 2 -- Getting to Tunisia by Air, Land and Sea