The three countries that make up the North African Maghreb are Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. These countries have ancient histories and their cultures are similar with many commonalities. Morocco is one of the most popular countries in the world to visit, while neighboring Algeria is effectively closed (or limited) to international tourism.
Tunisia is a friendly country with an ancient history and plenty to see and do. Only a few people bother to visit – everyone goes to Morocco instead, making it an ideal destination for the most intrepid of travelers. Tunisia is a great country to visit, but be aware that the summer months can be very hot. Tunisians are very welcoming towards international travelers.
What to know about visiting Tunisia
While Tunisia is visa-free, cheap, and backpacker-friendly, few people take the time to visit. It draws tourists from Europe — but these mostly go to all-inclusive resorts along the pristine Mediterranean coast, and few bother to explore the country.
- Visa policy: Visa free for 3 months
- Official language: English French
Tunisia is generally considered a safe country to visit. At the time of writing (September 2022) the UK Foreign Office has listed it as green (take normal security precautions) except for some border regions.
Tunisia is a country where English is not widely spoken, but enough people speak it to be able to get by quite well. Arabic and French are the official languages of the country.
It is cheap and easy to get around the country if travelers are willing to use local transport (mainly van-buses which leave as soon as they are full). Alternatively, many choose to travel with an organized tour of the country – this is a great option for the less than intrepid traveler who wants to travel to an intrepid destination.
Another popular option is to rent a car and tour the country that way. Just be aware that driving in Tunisia is not like driving in western countries (expect to be cut off, lots of honking, people running red lights, etc.).
Top Attractions and What to Do in Tunisia
Some of the country’s main attractions include the ancient Roman Coliseum of El Jem, the country’s many beautiful beaches, the ancient ruins of Carthage, the old medinas and souks in each city, the national cuisine, the film sets of the ‘original. The Star Wars movies, and even the only hostel in the country that’s a real museum.
Top attractions in Tunisia:
- The Coliseum of El Jem
- Beaches in Bizerte & Sousse
- Medinas in Hammamet, Sousse, Monastir and Tunis
- Ruins of Carthage
- Performances in Roman theaters
- Star Wars movie set
- Sahara Desert Tours
The Coliseum of El Gem (or the Amphitheater of El Jem) is just as impressive as the vaulted Colosseum in Rome and is equally impressive. It is worth visiting Tunisia on its own. While the Colosseum in Rome is (sometimes at least) filled with masses of tourists, the Colosseum in El Gem is nearly deserted.
Visitors are free to explore the huge amphitheater and explore its tunnels at their leisure without hindrance.
- Colosseum entrance: 12 dinar ($4)
Plan your trip well and you can even catch modern performances in ancient Roman theaters like the Coliseum of El Gem and the ancient Roman theater in the capital Tunis.
Hostel Auberge El Medina – Meet other intrepid travelers
Most backpackers in Tunisia will spend at least one night at the Auberge El Medina hostel. It is the only hostel listed on Hostelworld in the country and is a hub for the few intrepid backpackers exploring the country. The Auberge El Medina is located in the heart of the old town of the capital Tunis.
The hostel offers a selection of dorms and private rooms (with twin beds). It is a small hostel with four dormitories of four beds each and three private rooms. There are two male dorms and two female dorms.
- Price: 50 Tunisian dinars ($15.00) per night – dormitory
- Private room: $25.00
The Inn building is historic, having stood for around 700 years, and has seen many uses over the years.
Backpackers planning to explore Tunisia should plan to stay at this hostel. It’s a great place to meet other intrepid travelers from around the world. It is the favorite place for backpackers to meet and exchange notes and even organize trips together.