Channel your inner-Jedi, grab your favourite droid and pack your lightsaber – you'll need it when you get to Matmata, the Tunisia town that served as the set for Star Wars. Hans Solo might not pilot the flights to Tunisia, but the journey to this African country will certainly be memorable.
Tunisia may be tiny, but it’s packed full of things to do. From hot springs to the Star Wars set and moonlit landscapes you have to see to believe, Tunisia is space-age country surviving in desert lands. Tunisia’s location on the Mediterranean, and within the boundaries of the Sahara desert, makes this country appealing to any traveller. Take a walk through Tunisia’s narrow streets and sample authentic African jewellery, antiques and spices. The museums in Tunisia are not to be missed – filled with Roman mosaics and ancient artefacts, Tunisia packs a lot of history into one country. Whether you’re flying to Tunisia for a holiday in one of the luxurious resorts on the coast or you plan to dry out in the Sahara, let the force be with you as you travel Tunisia.
In northern Tunisia the climate is Mediterranean - hot summers (up to 35 degrees) and mild winters. In the south, the weather is hotter - up to 45 degrees and hotter. Winters are UK-summer warm - about 18-20 degrees. The Sahara sees temperatures of up to 50 degrees.
When to fly to Tunisia
The high season is July and August. If you wish to visit the south, November is the best time as longer expeditions into the Sahara Desert will be possible. There are desert festivals at Douz and Tozeur around this time.
Low season is January and February.
May, June and September are pleasant times to book a flight to Tunisia. This is when temperatures are comfortable and the crowds have receded.
Getting around Tunisia
Tunisair flies domestically from Tunis to to Djerba, Tozeur and Sfax.
There is a decent rail service; good value for money. Tunis city centre has trams and there is an electric train network that fans out to the suburbs of La Marsa, La Goulette, Carthage and Sidi Bou Said.
Louage taxis are shared vehicles which travel to a fixed destination. They leave when they are full so it’s best to arrive early. Taxis are reasonable and are easy to find in the most popular beach resorts. Bus services run almost nationwide.
Car rental is another option. All the major car-rental companies – Budget, Avis, Hertz, Europcar - are to be found in Tunisia. Drive on the right.
Tunisia insider information
- The Roman ruins of Dougga – Tunisia’s largest archeological site – are in the north. There are ruins of important temples such as the Capitol, the city’s principal temple, dedicated to Jupiter, Juno and Minerva, and buildings ranging from arches to cisterns. The theatre has been restored and is where concerts and plays are held each August. There are some mosaics, although the Bardo museum in Tunis has most of these.
- Fight or die: the well-preserved El Djem amphitheatre in central Tunisia is the third largest in the world (after Rome and Verona). This is where 35,000 spectators oohed at bloody gladiator fights and aahed at chariot races. It’s open to the public and tourists can visit the cells where the fighters (gladiators and prisoners as well as religious martyrs) and wild animals “prepared” for battle.
- In Tunis, the Medina (the original Arab city, dates from the 12th century), is a Unesco-listed site. To get to the souks (markets), start at the Bab el Bahr (means “Gate to the Sea”) and take the left entrance. The Zitouna Mosque is the main mosque, around which the city was designed. To the east of the Medina is the New Town, built by the French. Avenue Bourguiba is the main drag on which you will find the St-Vincent-de-Paul Cathedral, the French Embassy and the elaborate Municipal Theatre.
- Carthage is a Unesco World Heritage site. The ancient Phoenician city was destroyed by the Romans in 146BC. There are lots of Roman sites including villas, Antonin’s thermal baths and an amphitheatre where the Carthage International Summer Festival is held. The International Carthage Festival is held every other year in the Roman theatre (in July/August), the October Musical Festival is held in the Acropolium. The Film Festival of Carthage takes place every other year in October.