Excursions from Tunis: the best day trips around Tunis

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Lluis Enric Mayans

wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

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This city is the capital of Tunisia, it offers very interesting attractions, just mention its Medina and Bardo Museum, the most important archaeological museum in the entire Maghreb.

It is located in a strategic position that allows you to make day trips towards sites of great historical value such as El Jem and Carthage, more pleasant places such as Sousse and Monastir, picturesque villages such as Sidi Bou Said and Keirouan, the fourth holy city for the Islamic world.
Here are the best day trips around Tunis!


  1. Carthage
  2. Sidi Bou Said
  3. El Jem
  4. Sousse and Monastir
  5. Kairouan
  6. Dougga
  7. Hammamet
  8. Bizerte and lake
  9. Ichkeul National Park
  10. Experience in the Sahara Desert
  11. User questions and comments

1 - Carthage

This very important archaeological site it is located on the outskirts of the city.

It is a unique place, which evokes ancient times and millennia of history.
The site is very vast and half a day is the minimum essential to visit at least the main attractions, if instead you want to do things right and visit everything, including museums, calmly and without haste, a full day is perfect.

The main stages are: the Amphitheater, the Roman Villas, the Roman Theater, the Early Christian Museum, the Carthage Museum, the Tofet di Salambo, the Baths of Antoninus and the Magon District.

  • Range: 16,5 km
  • TGM train from Tunis Marin (33 minutes, € 0,30), bus no. 20 leaves from the roundabout near the Tunis Marine (Place de la République - 40 minutes, € 0,50), taxi (15 minutes, € 2,50) - Get directions
  • in winter 8: 30-15: 00, in summer 8: 00-18: 00
  • € 4,50 + € 1,00 for photography rights
  • Carthage and Sidi Bou Said: half day tour from Tunis Carthage: guided bike tour of the archaeological site

2 - Sidi Bou Said

This village is perched on a promontory overlooking the Gulf of Tunis and for this reason it has been awarded the nickname "Balcony of the Mediterranean".

The feature that sets this place apart is the predominance of white and blue hues: the houses are of an iridescent white (to keep them cool in summer and to keep mosquitoes away) and blue doors, gates and shutters stand out on the facades. A fantastic glance made even more dazzling by lush bougainvillea bushes!

Over the years, the village it has always attracted many artists, especially the avant-gardists of the early th century. The Cafe des Nattes, a famous restaurant on the top of a hill at the end of the main street, is proof of this.
Sipping a mint tea with pine nuts you can observe the furnishings of the past and the yellowed photos on the walls that testify the passage of characters of the caliber of Paul Klee, Simone de Beauvoir, Andrè Gide and Jean Paul Sartre.

  • Range: 17,7 km
  • TGM train from Tunis Marine (37 minutes, € 0,30), bus no. 20 leaves from the roundabout near the Tunis Marine, Place de la République (40 minutes, € 0,50), taxi (20 minutes, € 3,00) - Get directions
  • Carthage and Sidi Bou Said: half day tour from Tunis

3 - El Jem

It is a Roman amphitheater, elliptical in shape, is 149 m long, 124 m wide and 36 m high. The spaces could accommodate up to 30.000 spectators.

These measures classify theEl Jem Amphitheater in 7th place among the largest, after that of Rome, Capua, Milan, Autun, Verona and Carthage.

Its round and massive shape rises on a flat plain in the middle of the desert, which allows it to be seen at a very long distance.

It is also about one of the few best preserved works despite the many vicissitudes it has suffered over time, one above all, the cannonballs with which it was bombed at the end of the seventeenth century to remove a rebel tribe that had entrenched itself and that caused a great breach.

Not just a historical monument, it is used as one cultural space for the El Jem Symphonic Music Festival and other artistic events.

  • Range: 207 km
  • train 5/53 direction Gabes to take in Tunis Gare Centrale (Place de Barcelone) (2h and 45 minutes, € 4,00), taxi (2h and 10 minutes, € 20,00) - Get directions
  • 8:00AM - 18:30PM
  • € 4,00
  • From Tunis: Kairouan and El Jem Day Trip with Lunch

4 - Sousse and Monastir

It is a town founded by the Phoenicians which preserves monuments of rare beauty.
It boasts a Medina which has become a Unesco world heritage site and its port, played a strategic importance since the dawn of time. In fact, important commercial exchanges passed from here to haggle spices, fabrics and typical products.

The Medina is dominated by Khalef Tower, while in the old city there are monuments such as the Ribat, fort and place of religious retreat, the Great Mosque reminiscent of a minimalist fortress and the Kasbah. History lovers can learn more about the country at Archaeological Museum of Sousse which preserves important mosaics.

Not far from here, we find Monastir ,with its long beaches of golden sand. In addition to seaside life, Monastir also offers interesting monuments: the beautiful Harthema fortress Medina, Islamic Museum ed il Mausoleum of Bourguiba built in 1963, identifiable by 3 domes (2 green and one golden) and 2 minarets that mark the entrance where Habib Bourguiba, the first President of Tunisia, is buried.

  • Range: 150 km
  • train 5-22 direction Mahdia to take in Tunis Gare Centrale (Place de Barcelone - 2h and 25 minutes, € 4,00), taxi (2 hours, € 26,00) - Get directions
  • From Tunis: Sousse and Monastir sightseeing tour From Tunis / Sousse / Hammamet: tickets and transfer to the Bardo Museum

5 - Kairouan

It is the fourth holy city for the Islamic world after Mecca, La Medina and Jerusalem. This charming city is far from the coast, and is characteristic for its location in the middle of a steppe landscape.

It was the first capital of the Maghreb. Inscribed by Unesco in the World Heritage, possesses numerous wonders: the medina, the Great Mosque, the Aghlabid Basins, the enchanting mausoleum of Sidi Saheb.

Non-Muslims can enter the courtyard of the Grand Mosque and see the majestic prayer hall; if you want you can also get on minaret, inspired by the lighthouse of Alexandria.

Another important monument is the graceful one zaouia Sidi Saheb ("Barber's Mosque"), lined with colored ceramics. Interesting the Raqqada Museum where pottery, gold coins and pages of the Koran are kept.

Other magnificent experiences not to be missed are strolling through the alleys of the Medina, get on crenellated ramparts surrounding the old town, visit the Barrouta well, very ancient and revered in popular belief.

  • Range: 161 km
  • bus direction Oueslatia departure from Place de la République (2h and 40 minutes, € 3,00), taxi (3 hours, € 26,00) - Get directions
  • mosque: 8: 00-14: 00. Closed on Friday
  • the mosque € 4,00
  • From Tunis: Kairouan and El Jem Day Trip with Lunch

6 - Dougga

Ancient Thugga is considered the best preserved ancient city in all of North Africa. In fact, still today, it preserves numerous remains of Punic, Numidian and Roman monuments, which makes it one of the most important archaeological sites of Unesco.

The monumental center, forum and market, together with the public baths, the theater and the circus, all fully preserved, perfectly reflect the way in which an indigenous population was urbanistically adapted and evolved during the Roman period.

The most impressive monument in the archaeological complex it is the Capitolium. Built in the time of Marcus Aurelius, between 166 and 167 AD, the Capitoline Temple is dedicated to the Capitoline Triad (Jupiter, Juno and Minerva), a true national cult of the Roman people.

The other great monument is the Mausoleum of Massinissa, built in honor of his father by Micipsa, Berber ruler king of the Numidians, in 138 BC This funerary monument it is a tower mausoleum consisting of a polygonal plan that supports a multi-level structure, the last of which has a pyramid shape.

  • Range: 112 km
  • bus direction Jendouba license from Place de la Republique (2h and 50 minutes, € 4,00), taxi (1h and 30 minutes, € 18,00) - Get directions
  • from 15 September to 30 April 8: 30-17: 00; from 1 May to 16 September 8: 00-19: 00
  • € 2,50
  • Tunis: Dougga and Bulla Regia Private Day Tour with Lunch From Tunis: Oudhna, Testour, Djebba and Dougga Day Tour

7 - Hammamet

The city is theideal for enjoying some sun and relaxation, with its white beaches and turquoise sea characterize the coasts of northern Tunisia.

The charm of the city also derives from its fabulous Medina, which, according to many, is even the most spectacular of all the medinas in Tunisia. And, in the corner of the old City you can admire the imposing Kasbah.

In a more modern context, one of the main attractions is today's Dar Sebastian International Cultural Center, built in 1920 by the Romanian billionaire businessman George Sebastian. Building that combines Art Déco elements with others typical of local architecture, a riot of marble and columns, so spectacular that the architect Frank Lloyd Wright called it "The most beautiful house he had ever seen".

The name of the city derives from hammam, that is thermal bath: in fact the waters that flow from the springs have therapeutic and regenerating properties for body and spirit.

  • Range: 64,7 km
  • bus n. 35 from Place de la République (2h and 45 minutes, € 3,00), taxi (50 minutes, € 13,00) - Get directions
  • always
  • free
  • Tunis: Hammamet and Nabeul tour

8 - Bizerte and lake

Located between sea and lake, this city it preserves the remains of a tumultuous history since the time of the Phoenicians.
Cozy town that allows you to take advantage of the advantages and comforts of a modern city but which, at the same time, has kept the traditions in the most picturesque neighborhoods.

Do not miss the visit of Kasbah, surrounded by mighty walls of fortification within which a labyrinthine maze of alleys develops and where the Ksiba, a small fortress now used as an Oceanographic Museum.

Also recommended a ride to the souk and the visit to the Great Mosque. The area of ​​the old port it is very impressive with colorful boats that slide alongside the walls of the Medina.

35 km from Bizerte is the Ichkeul Lake Nature Reserve, included by Unesco in the World Heritage Site. It can be reached via the RN 11 road, heading south-west towards Mateur; after crossing Tinja the road cuts the railway. The entrance is 50 m on the right.
The park is a paradise for bird watchers. You enter for free and you can walk in total freedom and autonomy. Camping is not allowed.

  • Range: 70,7 km
  • bus n. 35 from Place de la République (1h and 30 minutes, € 2,00), train from Tunis Ville (4 stops, 1h and 50 minutes, € 3,00), taxi (45 minutes, € 12,00) - Get directions
  • always
  • also free parking in the nature reserve

9 - Ichkeul National Park

This park is a protected area in the north of Tunisia which includes the lake of the same name and the wetlands that surround it.

The park covers a rectangular area of ​​11,4 by 20 kilometers, rises around Lake Ichkeul, near the coasts of the Mediterranean Sea whose particularity is to be powered by six freshwater wadis in winter and to be connected to the Mediterranean through Lake Bizerte during the summer.

It has been a biosphere reserve since 1977 and has been part of the World Heritage Sites since 1980.
Lake Ichkeul and the surrounding marshes are an important landing place for hundreds of thousands of migratory birds every year: over 200 birds from Europe. You can see ducks, geese, storks and pink flamingos. There is also a small number of water buffaloes, Tunisia's largest mammal, now endangered.

To get there, once you cross Tinja the road cuts the railway, the entrance is 50 m on the right.
You enter for free and you independently make a path on foot in freedom. For guided tours it is necessary to purchase a tour that includes other destinations in the north.

  • Range: 85 km
  • bus n. 35 from Place de la République with change in Bizerta (2h and 10 minutes, € 8,00), taxi (1h and 15 minutes, € 14,00), train from Tunis Ville (change in Tunjie, 2 hours, € 5,00, ) - Get directions
  • always
  • free admission also allowed on the campsite

10 - Experience in the Sahara Desert

To discover the real desert you have to go into the southernmost region of the country. Certainly one day it will not be enough andexcursion includes at least one overnight stay.

Our advice is to rely on a tour, which also includes pick-up from the hotel where you are staying, overnight stay and transport.

Tours usually start from Douz, "the gateway to the desert": the oldest oasis in Tunisia that stands close to the Sahara desert between white sand dunes and date palm forests. From here you can choose between a day trip to back of a dromedary or a more reckless adventure aboard a quad or 4 × 4 driving through the dunes, and then conclude with a dinner based on typical dishes under a Berber tent.

Night under the stars in the tented camp. The next morning we reach Chott El-Jerid, a salty expanse of iridescent colors that extends for over 5.000 square kilometers. Further north you come to Tozeur, the date capital where you can admire typical architecture of ocher bricks arranged to form fascinating geometric designs - book your tour online

  • bus n. 35 from Place de la République with change in Bizerte (2h and 10 minutes, € 8,00), taxi (1h and 15 minutes, € 14,00), train from Tunis Ville (change in Tunjie, 2 hours, € 5,00, )
  • always
  • tours start from € 200,00 per person - book online
  • Recommended tours: Douz: Sahara Desert Half-Day Dune Buggy Tour Douz: Sahara 2-Day Camel Excursion

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