Tunisia

Tunisia: When to Go

To see the best (and worst) times to visit, please read our reviews of our recommended places to stay

12:18 | GMT + 1 Hours

TRAVEL ESSENTIALS

Getting There

Note: flight, boat, train and bus timetables change constantly, and airlines come and go, so please do not rely solely on this information for your travel planning. Check with relevant companies, or a flight search engine like Skyscanner, first.

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:
Tunisair flies regularly from London Heathrow and Manchester to Tunis, and British Airways has flights from London Gatwick. There are direct charter services to Djerba-Zarzis with Thomas Cook Airlines (from London Gatwick and Manchester) and Thomson Airways (from London Gatwick. Birmingham and Manchester).

From elsewhere in Europe:
Tunisair has flights to Tunis from numerous European airports, including Amsterdam, Athens, Barcelona, Bordeaux, Berlin, Brussels, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Geneva, Hamburg, Lisbon, Lyon, Madrid, Marseille, Milan Malpensa, Munich, Nantes, Nice, Paris Orly, Rome, Strasbourg, Toulouse, Vienna and Zurich. It also flies to Djerba-Zarzis from Basel, Berlin, Brussels, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Geneva, Lyon, Marseille, Paris, Nice and Zurich, and to Tozeur-Nefta from Lyon, Madrid, Nice and Paris Orly.
Air France flies to Tunis from Lyon, Marseille, Paris Charles de Gaulle and Toulouse, and to Djerba-Zarzis from Paris Orly.
There are also flights from various French cities to both airports with Transavia and Aigle Azur, as well as Transavia flights from Paris Orly to Tozeur-Nefta.
Lufthansa flies to Tunis from Frankfurt, and seasonally from Munich.
Air Berlin has services from Dusseldorf to Djerba-Zarzis.
Condor flies to Djerba-Zarzis from Berlin, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt and Munich.
Alitalia has services from Rome to both Tunis and Djerba -Zarzis.

From further afield:
There are no direct flights from North America to Tunisia. Your best bet is to take a flight to a European centre such as London, Rome or Paris, then pick up a return flight to Tunis from there. If you’re coming from Asia or Australasia, you can fly via Dubai with Emirates.

From the Airport:
Tunis-Carthage International Airport is 8km from the centre of Tunis. The best way to get to your hotel, if you haven’t arranged a pick-up, is to take a taxi. There’s a small charge for each piece of baggage. Be warned that you’re likely to be tricked by a taxi driver when you arrive at the airport. Make sure you get a licenced cab, which is metered, but even then some drivers fiddle with their meters to make the fare a lot higher. If you suspect that the fare is too high, you can suggest that you will check it with the tourist office or police. If you want to make a complaint, take their licence number.

If you’re flying to Djerba-Zarzis or Tozeur-Nefta, it’s best to arrange a transfer with your hotel.

BY SEA

If coming from Italy, you can sail to Tunis from Genoa, Salerno, Civitavecchia and Palermo, and occasionally from Naples and Trapani. Sailings are not daily and times can vary according to season, so check schedules before making firm plans.

From France, there are sailings to Tunis from Marseille.

Be prepared for a few bureaucratic hassles when arriving via sea. It’s just paperwork (though your bags may be thoroughly searched) but it does take time. Police are friendly and as a tourist you will get seen first, but expect a wait. If you're bringing a car on the ferry, you should extend your home vehicle insurance to have Green Card insurance, preferably with a reference to the country in French. It’s worth having an international driving licence, though your domestic licence will also be valid. You’ll also need your vehicle registration papers.

Getting Around

INTERNAL FLIGHTS

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.

BY CAR

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.

BY BUS

Buses are cheap and efficient and there is a very good network to most towns in Tunisia.

BY LOUAGE

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.

BY TRAIN

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.

HITCH-HIKING

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.

When to Go

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.