Tunisia Explorer

A popular beach holiday destination, Tunisia isn’t what springs to mind when it comes to off the beaten track travel, but there’s more on offer than just its Mediterranean coastline. Home to shady oak forests and a section of the Sahara, the landscapes of Africa’s northernmost country are varied and even otherworldly in places, comprising golden deserts, lush oases, brightly coloured salt flats and rugged mountains.

Inhabited by the ancient Berbers and settled by some of the world’s great civilisations, Tunisia is rich in history and we spend time exploring the Phoenician city of Carthage, once a powerful trading port, as well as the remains of its Roman towns and cities from extraordinary underground villas to hillside ruins. We explore the spiritual centre of Kairouan which houses one of the most important mosques in the country, visit the charming blue and white village of Sidi Bou Said, and discover vibrant medinas jam packed with history.

Further south we discover a more traditional way of life, away from the cities. Around Tozeur we explore isolated Berber villages in the mountains and then head into the mighty Sahara Desert to spend a night amongst the dunes. In the Dahar Mountains we see centuries old cave dwellings which are still home to local people, and visit the ancient fortified granaries of the Tatouine region, experiencing a side of Tunisia that few venture far enough to see.

Heading back north, we visit the island of Djerba – the legendary ‘land of the lotus eaters’ from Greek mythology – and the superbly preserved Roman amphitheatre at El Jem.

A trip that will challenge your preconceptions about this North African gem.

Day 1 - Tunis

Arrive in Tunis and transfer to the hotel. The rest of the day is free to relax or explore. Overnight Carlton Hotel or similar.

Sitting on the shore of Lac Tunis and overlooking the Mediterranean, Tunisia’s capital and largest city is the seat of its government and its economic hub. Due to its desirable location, Tunis has attracted various civilizations over the centuries including the Romans, Ottomans and Arabs, all of whom have left their mark. Undoubtedly the city’s highlight, the vibrant medina of Tunis is home to local craftsmen and some 700 monuments covering a thousand years of history, and was once considered one of the greatest cities in the Islamic world. Also well worth visiting is the Bardo Museum which houses one of the finest collections of Roman mosaics in the world. Only a short distance from Tunis lies the ancient city of Carthage which once dominated the gulf, and the picturesque resort of Sidi Bou Said with its distinctive blue and white colour scheme, reminiscent of the Greek islands. Other areas of interest include Hammam Lif, which is nestled below the mountain of Jebel Bou Kourine, and La Goulette with its Spanish fort.

Day 2 - Carthage - Sidi Bou Said

Explore the ancient site of Carthage before continuing on to the pretty whitewashed village of Sidi Bou Said, one of Tunisia’s most picturesque places. We explore the village and visit the palace of Baron d’Erlanger, a showcase of Moorish architecture, before returning to Tunis for the night. Overnight Carlton Hotel or similar. (BL)

Sidi Bou Said
The charming town of Sidi Bou Said is known for its cobbled streets and pretty white and blue houses overlooking the Mediterranean. Although it’s a popular weekend escape for Tunisians and firmly on the tourist map, the chic town has successfully maintained its magic and quiet, laidback atmosphere. The town is named after the thirteenth century holy figure Sidi Bou Said, a Muslim saint who is still celebrated today and has an annual festival held in his honour. In the early years of Arab rule, the first building to be situated on the clifftop was a monastic fortress, now the site of a modern lighthouse, the location of which forms part of the chain of mountains stretching through Sousse and Monastir to Tripoli in Libya. After being discovered by the French in the early twentieth century, great efforts were made to preserve the character of the town, so it has retained its Tunisian style unlike anywhere else in the country. One of the architectural highlights of Sidi Bou Said is a beautiful Moorish style house built between 1912 and 1922, home of the aristocratic painter Rodolphe d’Erlanger who was responsible for Sidi Bou’s colour scheme.

Day 3 - Tunis

Spend the morning exploring the Tunis medina, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with its narrow streets, bustling souks and historic monuments. We also have an opportunity to meet a local journalist for an insight into the Tunisian Revolution. Overnight Carlton Hotel or similar. (BL)

Day 4 - Bulla Regia - Chemtou - Le Kef

Drive west to Bulla Regia where we visit its well preserved underground Roman villas. After lunch head to Chemtou, famous for its Numidian marble used throughout the Roman Empire. Here we visit the quarry and museum before continuing to Le Kef for the night. Overnight Dar Sidi Abdallah Hotel or similar. (BLD)

Day 5 - Le Kef - Dougga - Kairouan

Visit the old fortress in Le Kef then drive to the hillside town of Dougga, home to the best-preserved Roman city in Tunisia. Spend time exploring its temples, baths and theatres, then drive to Kairouan. Overnight La Kasbah Hotel or similar. (BLD)

Day 6 - Kairouan - Tozeur

Spend today exploring Kairouan, Tunisia’s oldest Arab city and one of Islam’s most important sites. We visit the Great Mosque and Barber’s Mausoleum, known for its beautiful hand painted tiles, then continue south to the oasis of Tozeur for the night. Overnight Dar Sayda Baya Hotel or similar. (BLD)

Kairouan, Tunisia’s oldest Arab city and Islam’s fourth holiest place, is the country’s spiritual centre and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Pilgrims flock here from across the Muslim world for the annual Mouled festival, and its old town is a labyrinth of white-washed houses, dotted with the domes of countless museums. Other places of interest include the old medieval cemetery at the base of the ramparts, its intriguing narrow streets and souks with vaulted passageways. Due to its religious importance, you’ll find some of Tunisia’s most revered sanctuaries here, including that of Sidi Sabhi, the walls and ceilings of which are decorated with beautiful blue-green tiles. The medina has a unique charm, prettier in comparison to Sousse and Tunis, and the Great Mosque is a sight not to be missed – some might call it an architectural masterpiece.

For many years Tozeur has had greater regional power than the central government, owing to the date harvest which attracted merchants and caravans from the far south. The oasis is Tozeur’s main attraction, but parts of the old fourteenth-century quarter still survive. Tozeur makes a great base for journeys into the surrounding area such as Chott El Jerid, Tunisia’s largest salt lake and the mountain oases to the north. With an enormous palm grove on one side and a desolate expanse of white salt on the other, the town, although lively, still feels far-flung.

Day 7 - En Negueb Mountains

Explore the oases of Chebika, Tamerza and Mides in the En Negueb hills, each with their own unique features from waterfalls and canyons to wadis and abandoned villages. This is an opportunity to get far off the beaten track and see a side of Tunisia that few visitors ever get to see. In the afternoon, take a walk through the old town of Tozeur, known for its interesting mud brick buildings. Overnight Dar Sayda Baya Hotel or similar. (BLD)

Day 8 - Douz - Tembain

Drive south crossing Chott El Jerid, Tunisia’s largest salt lake, to reach Douz – the gateway to the Sahara. We drive through the sands, making a few scenic stops along the way before arriving at our camp in Tembain, in time to watch the sunset over the dunes. Overnight camping. (BLD)

Day 9 - Matmata - Tamezret

Continue our journey through the desert to the Dahar Mountains, one of the country’s most traditional regions. We spend our time here visiting the villages of the Berber people with their underground cave dwellings, learning about their way of life. Spend the night in Tamezret. Overnight Dar Ayed Hotel or similar. (BLD)

The Berbers of Matmata live in underground pit dwellings, some of which are 400 years old. Built from sandstone and mostly based around a circular pit with vertical walls – the sunken courtyard and caves dug into its surrounds serve as rooms. Smaller chambers are sometimes dug out at higher levels with steps leading up to them, which are often used as storage space and have holes in the ceiling where grain can be poured in. Leading down from the ground level are passageways to the courtyard where animals are kept. In 1959 the government began building a modern settlement at Nouvelle, and a few years later the people of Matmata started to leave their traditional homes. Before the bulk of the Matmata tribe moved here in the sixteenth or seventeenth century, a much smaller community lived in ancient Matmata around the fortress, which you can just make out in the distance, above today’s town. Matmata may feel familiar to many – it was used as one of the locations in the original Star Wars film.

Day 10 - Tataouine

Drive to the Tataouine region, home to centuries old Berber villages and their ‘ghorfas’ – fortified granaries situated on the hilltops. Visit the picturesque village of Chenini and Mosque of the Seven Sleepers, among other sites. Overnight Dakyanous Hotel or similar. (BLD)

Day 11 - Djerba

Drive to Djerba Island and explore its main sites including the Hara Sghira Synagogue, one of the most important Jewish sites in North Africa, and ethnographic museum. Overnight Dar Dhiafa Hotel or similar. (BLD)

Djerba is a low-lying, semi-desert island and an excellent beach resort with good stretches of sand and warm sea. The capital, with its white-washed, fortified mosques, scattered Roman remains and historic forts, only became a town in the twentieth century and was once just a marketplace. The island was known to ancient geographers as the ‘land of the lotus eaters’ and was originally settled by the Romans. After being under the control of the Arabs, Sicilians, Normans, Hafsids and Ottomans, it was colonised by the French in the late 19th century. Now a part of Tunisia, Djerba is known for its date and olive orchards, fishing, pottery and woollen products. The population is mostly Amazigh (Berber) in origin but there also remains a portion of the island’s once significant Jewish community – one of the oldest in the world – and small population of the Kharijite sect of Islam.

Day 12 - El Jem - Sousse

Travel north and take the ferry back to the mainland where we visit the Ampitheatre of El Jem, the largest of its kind in North Africa. Continue to Sousse where we spend some time at the archaeological museum and enjoy a tour of the lively medina. Overnight Marhaba Palace Hotel or similar. (BLD)

Known for its historic medina and endless stretches of white beach, Sousse has a lot to offer its visitors. The city is an important trade centre and agricultural activity has declined in favour of the fishing and tourism industries. Although new developments have taken their claim, Sousse still boasts elements of old. The old town is enclosed by ramparts that date from the Byzantine period and Aghlabid dynasty and contains the Great Mosque, ribat (which is a 9th century monastery-fortress), souks, and some Muslim quarters. This part of the city was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988. The town is also the site of extensive catacombs which date back to the dominant Christian presence in the 3rd century CE. Older settlements can also be found at the clifftop village of Hergla and the hamlets in the hills just a few km inland. The hub of the Sousse is the huge square of Place Farhat Hached, and to the north is the cosmopolitan new town, almost entirely rebuilt since the war.

Day 13 - Tunis

Return to Tunis where we visit the Bardo National Museum, home to one of the richest collections of Roman mosaics in the world. The rest of the day is free to relax or explore. Overnight Carlton Hotel or similar. (BD)

Day 14 - Tunis

Transfer to the airport for departure. (B)

What's included?

  • Airport transfers

    We include arrival and departure transfers regardless of whether you book flights yourself, or we book them for you. If you’re booking them yourself, then please let us know the details so that we can arrange the transfers.

    Please note though that if you arrive earlier than Day 1 of the tour, and leave after the final day, we may need to make an additional charge for an airport transfer.

  • Accommodation

    Accommodation as listed in the dossier. The nature of the destinations that we operate may sometimes mean that we need to change hotels, but we’ll always endeavour to keep the same standards. Please be aware that as we operate in many countries where tourism is in its infancy, hotel standards may not be the same as you’re used to elsewhere.

  • Guides

    In most cases you will be accompanied by one guide from start to finish. However there may be occasions when this is not practical, for example if your trip covers a number of different countries. In these cases it often makes more sense to include different guides for each place, to take advantage of their specific knowledge of the destination.

  • Meals

    As listed within the itinerary / dossier (B-Breakfast, L-Lunch, D-Dinner).

  • Entrance fees

    Entrance fees are listed for those sites that we mention within the itinerary. If there are any other sites that you’d like to see, these would be at your own expense.

What's not included?

  • Visas

    We don’t arrange visas for our travellers, but if an invitation letter is necessary then we will arrange this for you. If you need any advice with visas then just give us a call, or alternatively a visa agency such as Travcour can assist.

  • International flights

    Many of our travellers arrive from different destinations and so we don’t include international flights in the cost of our tours. If however you would like us to book flights for you, then just give us a call and we’ll be happy to discuss your options.

  • Travel insurance

    If you need any assistance with this, then let us know – although we can’t arrange it ourselves we can point you in the direction of a reputable provider that can assist.


Travellers from the UK, EU, US and Australia do not require a visa to enter Tunisia for visits lasting less than 90 days. Visa regulations can change however and so we recommend that you contact your nearest embassy for the most up to date information.

Health and vaccinations

We are not medically qualified and so we recommend that you speak to your doctor or nearest health professional for advice concerning recommended vaccinations. For more advice on vaccinations you can also visit www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk


It is a condition of joining our tours that you have suitable travel insurance in place, and we cannot accept travellers without insurance. All policies differ in terms of what they will cover, but as a minimum you need medical and health cover, which will cover you for the whole time that you are away. Most policies will also include cancellation cover, which will cover you if an unforeseen circumstance obliges you to cancel your trip. We recommend that you obtain your insurance as soon as you book your trip.

Please note that government travel warnings often affect the validity of your travel insurance, and you should check this with your insurance company.


Tunisia’s local currency is the dinar, which you will not be able to obtain from your local exchange bureau. We recommend taking Euros for exchange purposes. Changing money is fairly simple – many hotels will offer this service and there are also banks and exchange bureaus in larger towns. Your guide will be able to advise of the best option. Most towns also have ATMs which accept foreign cards, although don’t count on these always working.

Local conditions

When travelling to some of the destinations we offer you need to bear in mind that things won’t always work here as we’re used to them working at home. Travelling in underdeveloped and untouristed destinations requires both patience and a sense of humour. There may be problems with infrastructure, attitudes may be different, and maintenance may not be as high a standard as we would always like, but this is very much part and parcel of travelling in such a place.

In addition, roads throughout the parts of Africa that we visit are often poorly maintained (if at all!) and distances between key sites of interest can be long. Travelling in Africa can be tiring, hot and dusty at times, and inevitably it can be frustrating. While there are some issues that we are able to solve, others are intrinsic to the countries that we travel through, and you should be aware that many of the countries that we operate in cannot be compared to others on the continent that have better infrastructure – for example the popular tourist destinations of east and southern Africa.

Although travelling in these countries can at times be an ‘unpolished’ experience, this is all part of the adventure. We aim to resolve any issues as quickly as possible, and putting up with a pothole (or ten) is undeniably worth it for the amazing sights and cultural experiences you will encounter along the way.

This is particularly relevant to this trip – it travels through some remote regions, some of which are largely isolated from the outside world and have very little experience of tourism whatsoever.

Travel advice

We keep a very close eye on the travel advice issued by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office so that we can keep you up to date with any warnings. At the time of writing the FCO advises against travel to some of the villages that we visit on Day 7, for the reason that they are close to the Algerian border.

We work very closely with our local team and are fully confident that we can operate tours safely in Tunisia. Should you have any concerns over safety please do not hesitate to contact us and we can address your concerns.

Please note that the information contained above is highly susceptible to change, and while we endeavour to keep up to date we recommend that you use this as a guide only. Should you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Updated July 2023

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