I had been craving a trip to Tunisia for so long, and when talks of Easter weekend plans came up, it was pretty much a done deal.
I partnered with My Concierge to see what they could offer my clients and MAN did they deliver! I’m personally not one to opt for guided tours because I like to wander freely, but after spending our first day with them, Andy and I decided it was an absolute highlight of the trip. Feel free to also check out my Photo Diary for Tunisia for some general inspiration! So without further ado,
Here’s my guide to spending a weekend in Tunis!
Where to Stay
The two main areas I’d suggest staying in are Sidi Bou Said or the Tunis Medina. You need to decide what vibes you prefer: bustling city life at your doorstep or relaxing hilltop views. If you have enough time, why not start in one and move to the other? Here’s some input:
In Sidi Bou Said
Ultimately I decided upon staying in Sidi Bou Said and I’d recommend that for anyone’s first time in Tunisia, at least for the first night. The ambiance was tranquil, the views were absolutely heavenly, and it was a great starting point when entering a country that you don’t quite know what to expect.
I chose the boutique hotel Dar Said and it really was one of the best properties in the neighborhood. Now, we visited in the shoulder season when many places were just opening up for summer. The property was under a lot of renovation, but it was very enjoyable regardless. The pool was closed (empty and being retiled), the lobby was being repainted, and they were in the midst of moving furniture in. However, the staff were very kind and what wasn’t being worked on was gorgeous.
There was a security guard present day and night in addition to a security gate, however we noticed he never requested proof of us staying there. It never made us feel uneasy, but we decided he served as more of a deterrent to unwanted guests rather than a proper guard.
In the Medina
I visited a few properties that I would stay in if I go back. I love Dar el Medina for it’s truly authentic vibe, the wonderful rooftop terrace, and ideal location. It’s located right in the medina on a quiet street near the souks and the Zitouna Mosque.
I was also very happy with Guesthouse El Patio. It’s a family run guest house in a great location as well. It’s decorated with traditional Berber rugs, pottery, and has a very Tunisian feel.
Itinerary : Day 1
Stroll through the Medina
Begin at Monument Place de la Kasbah and check out the Town Hall and the Post Office. From here I’d cut down Rue Dar El Jeld, back around Rue Sidi Ben Arous, and over to the Medina Souks. Don’t be afraid to get a little lost, the medina has a lot of winding streets, but everyone is very welcoming. You’re welcome to bargain for any items you want, so don’t pay outright without shopping a bit first.
Visit the Zitouna Mosque
Currently the mosque is not accessible to nonmuslims, however there are talks that it will soon open for viewing. Regardless, you can stroll around it and admire its façade.
Lunch at Fondouk el Attarine
Located in Souk Attarine, this authentic Tunisian restaurant has all the traditional eats. It can get busy for lunch, so arrive a little early or make reservations. Be sure to try couscous here and a Brique!
Place de la Victoire
This large square is the entrance to the medina, but I suggest that you end here. It’s home to the old British embassy and the Bab el Bhar archway. From here, you can wander down Ave de France and Ave Habib Bourguiba for some shopping, to see the St. Vincent de Paul Cathedral, and the Baroque Palace turned movie theater.
Ruins of Carthage
If you’re not worn out from the day, make your way out of the medina to the ruins of Carthage. There are hardly any visitors, so don’t worry about crowds or long lines. Allow an hour to meander through the ruins, admire the views, and read up on your history.
Les Ports Puniques de Carthage
A short drive from the ruins, this ancient port is now a place to relax and admire the fishing boats. It’s a very cool stop when you think about how casually you can wander on top of old dry docks.
Itinerary : Day 2
Wander through Sidi Bou Said
I love a good wander and this neighborhood is perfect for that. The small winding streets hide elaborate street art, Mediterranean architecture, and of course, beautifully ornate doors. There are a few overlooks that’ll make you want to stop for a break, so make sure to allow for a lot of stopping and photo ops. Along the main street, dip into Rock the Kasbah, an art gallery with modernized Tunisian jewelry, clothes, and furniture for sale.
Eat All the Bombolonis
This sweet treat is pretty much a doughnut, but they’re so fresh and melt-in-your-mouthy that I don’t know anywhere else that makes them quite like it! You also won’t find them anywhere else in Tunisia, so get them while you can!
Sidi Azizi Market
If you forgot to pick up any gifts or trinkets, the open market in Sidi Bou Said will probably have it. Again, don’t forget to bargain, but prices may be higher in this more touristic area.
Dinner at Au Bon Vieux Temps
I enjoyed this place best for the convenience (right next to Dar Said) and the views during the day. The couscous and grilled fish were a tad underwhelming but the brique, wine, and service were fabulous.
Transport Within the City
There are local trams, trains, and buses that regular through the city. They make stops in the main train station, Sidi Bou Said, Carthage, and beyond. Taxis are just fine if you’re short on time, but be sure to bargain thoroughly. From the airport to Sidi Bou Said, you should pay about $6usd, however we were charged $12 and they wouldn’t budge on the price.
Of course, there’s also the option of private luxury transport and a guide. For the first day of your trip at least, I strongly suggest this option so you don’t have to lift a finger and you can get your bearings. It’ll save you loads of time and stress, which is essential if you just have a weekend. If you’re even thinking of making a trip, let me know so I can give you a better of idea.
Heading Out of the City
There are a few options for this and it all depends on your budget, trip duration, and patience. Shared louages (mini buses) depart from the main louage station and are the best for a low budget. They cost between $1-4 for journeys up to 2 hours and to major cities like Hammamet, Sousse, Kairouan, and Bizerte. The driver waits until his bus is full, so don’t expect them to have any strict schedule. I found it very safe and comfortable and it was great to chat with some locals. *Basic French is strongly recommended.
Trains are reliable and frequent. From the main train station, you can catch local or tourist trains to virtually everywhere in the country, even an overnight train down to Tozeur. Prices are very good and it’s a nice choice if you have some time yet want to remain price conscious.
If you only have a few days (like Andy did) and you aren’t fussed about a budget, a private taxi is the option for you. The lowest I ever bargained was 140TND to go from Sousse to Tunis, which took an hour and 45min (This was my ONLY option because all public transport was on strike the day I needed to head back for my flight.) There’s definitely room for bargaining.
Clothing: While the country is quite progressive and modern, I still felt more comfortable wearing long but loose clothing, especially in the medina. Check out my full overview of What to Pack for a Trip to Tunisia for some tips and inspiration.
Money: It’s easiest to take money out at the ATM in the airport. Taxis and vendors only accept cash while restaurants and hotels will take card. You’ll want small bills for bargaining at the souks and don’t keep a huge wad on yourself while walking around.
Language: English is pretty widely spoken, mostly with younger generations, but French will definitely help you bargain and anywhere outside the touristic areas.
Not much went awry on our trip. However, we were getting desperate for the beach since this was the first good weather we’d seen in a while. We made a little trip down a massive staircase on the side of the mountain to get to the beach only to realize that the beach was really underwhelming and quite uncomfortable. They had just “plowed” it so there were huge ditches which made for a very uncomfortable lie down.
To save on time, we opted not to take public transportation while Andy was in town and asked the hotel to call us a cab to our next accommodation in Hammamet. The combination of staying in a touristic area plus the fact that cabs don’t regular in Sidi Bou Said (due to the narrow streets) meant that we were disgustingly overcharged for our taxi. We had little comparison of what the price should have been, but if you’re doing this option, my best advice is to bargain regardless.
A massive thank you to My Concierge for taking care of me for a day. I’m so happy to now call them a preferred partner of AlyssaAllDay Adventures and will be working with them to send all my lovely clients to Tunisia!
Affiliate links may be used in this post which may give me a small commission when clicked on or purchased through. Regardless, I love and personally use everything I recommend.