The best months to visit are April to June and October/November, when it’s hot but not oppressively so. Summer sees soaring temperatures - often above 40C in desert areas - and the beaches fill up with European package tourists in July and August. Winter (December to March) is generally mild but can bring some rain along the coast and around Tunis; inland regions normally stay dry and warm by day, though temperatures can drop dramatically at night. Major Islamic holidays are based around the lunar calendar, so dates vary year by year. If you visit during the month of Ramadan, be prepared for daytime restaurant closures outside the main tourist areas. As a mark of respect, it's also a good idea to refrain from eating and drinking in front of locals.
NB, please do not rely solely on this information for your travel planning.
TUNISIA: BY AIR
The main arrival point for visitors is Tunis Carthage International Airport in the north, which is served by airlines from Europe and further afield. There are also international flights to Djerba-Zarzis. If you’re visiting the Sahara, you can fly to either of these airports and travel overland, or catch an internal flight from Tunis to Tozeur-Nefta (which is also served by some flights from France).
From the UK: carriers include Tunisair, British Airways and TUI.
Within Europe: try Tunisair, Air France, Transavia, Aigle Azur, Lufthansa, Air Berlin, Condor and Alitalia.
By boat: If coming from Italy, you can sail to Tunis from Genoa, Salerno, Civitavecchia and Palermo, and occasionally from Naples and Trapani. From France, there are sailings to Tunis from Marseille. Be prepared for a few bureaucratic hassles when arriving via sea.
If you're combining several regions and time is tight, you're best off flying between them. There are regular domestic flights between Tunis, Djerba-Zarzis and Tozeur-Nefta with Tunisair Express.
Car hire is the best way to explore Tunisia’s nooks and crannies, but it’s expensive compared to rental in Europe. Check you have an inflated spare tyre and wheel jack before setting out. Roads in Tunisia are pretty good, though smaller, less-travelled routes can be potholed or unpaved. Drivers are generally quite predictable, compared with, say, Italy, but a bit more haphazard than you’d find in the UK. However, look out for erratic local cyclists and moped drivers, who often seem to lack road sense and weave in and out of traffic disconcertingly. See our car rental recommendations.
We don't recommend driving in desert areas unless you have a 4x4 and an experienced guide.
Buses are cheap and efficient and there is a very good network to most towns in Tunisia.
Louage is the Tunisian shared-taxi system. These are often the best, quickest and cheapest way to travel. There is usually a louage station near to the town bus station. These station wagons or people carriers - white with a coloured stripe - wait to fill up and then leave when all the seats are taken. You rarely have to wait more than 45 minutes and fares are pretty similar to buses. Journeys tend to be quicker, and they’re also a great way to meet the locals. They don’t, however, tend to run after 7pm.
Train travel in Tunisia can be slow and inefficient, but this is the most comfortable way to travel for long journeys. First, second or comfort class is available. Second is usually crowded, first is more comfortable, and comfort resembles first but has smaller carriages. The main line connects Tunis with Gabès, via Sousse and Sfax, with regular services. A branch connects Tunis with Gafsa and Metlaoui, and there are also lines to Bizerte, Kalaat Khasba and Ghardimao. Other lines linked to the main north-south network run to Cap Bon and south from Sousse to Monastir and Mahdia.
Hitching is an accepted means of transport, particularly in the countryside, and you’ll see lots of local people touting for lifts. However, bear in mind that it's never necessarily safe to hitch. Women are advised never to hitch without a male companion.
IN THE TOWNS
The best way to get around Tunisia’s towns is to walk, as most centres are pretty small. The only trouble is that the summer heat might put you off doing so. However, taxis are cheap - much cheaper than in Europe - and handy. In Tunis you can also use the Métro Léger, the tram network, which is very useful for scooting about the city, and especially for reaching the Bardo Museum. The TGM overground train will take you out to Tunis’ suburbs, including La Goulette, Carthage and Sidi Bou Saïd.