Tunisia is appreciated for its combination of European sophistication and traditional Arab charm and hospitality.
Following a popular revolution that overthrew the former president of Tunisia, the country is still tense. Travelers should check to see if their governments have issued any travel advisories before departing and remain aware of developments.
Though Tunisia is one of the more liberal Arab countries, Tunisians are often religious and traditional. Modest dress will help female visitors from being harassed by the local men, normally limited to verbal harassment. Exceptions are beach and resorts where showing skin is acceptable. Tunisia tends to become more conservative the further south you travel. The sale of alcohol is somewhat restricted although easily found in many restaurants, grocery stores, shops, and bars.
It is important to respect local traditions and avoid criticism of religion. Due to the politically volatile situation in Tunisia at the moment, political discussions are best avoided.
Tunisian drivers are aggressive and unpredictable, often ignoring traffic regulations. Visitors are advised to exercise caution if they take the risk of driving in Tunisia. Rental companies are easy to find, but can be relatively expensive. Public transportation is usually the most convenient way for visitors to travel. Taxis are reasonably priced. Be sure to agree on the fare before entering the vehicle. Shared taxis, called “louage” can be hired for long distance trips where there are no trains or busses.
Intercity buses are a comfortable, safe, and cheap. There are usually several departures each day for each destination.
Tunisia also has a well-developed rail system at good prices. A membership card, the “carte bleue” can provided you with further savings.
Arabic is the official language of Tunisia, and along with French is considered the language of commerce. Almost all Tunisians are fluent in French. English is also widespread and is common in tourist areas.
The Tunisian currency is the Tunisian dinar. All money must be exchanged locally, since it is illegal to bring Tunisian dinars in or out of the country.
A variety of hotel accommodations, from hostels to five star hotels are available. Furnished apartments are easily found for rent.
ATMs are widely available and foreign credit cards widely accepted. When paying your bill at a restaurant, be sure that you are presented with the actually bill and not the price the waiter quotes from the “calculations” in his head. Be sure to check the prices on the menu.
Travelers should be aware that during the month of Ramadan, which varies based on the Islamic calendar, the daily routine of the country changes drastically. Because this is a month of fasting, many businesses, especially restaurants, are closed during the day.
Though crime rates are low in Tunisia, theft of travelers’ possessions is common. Be sure to keep your valuables in a secure place and be weary of pickpockets.
Tunisia is a hot, dry desert climate and visitors are advised to use sunscreen and make sure to stay hydrated. Most travelers find the tap water safe to drink, but one should use caution.