Tunisia is the first North African country I’ve ever visited, and I loved it! I’d been to Turkey, so I figured I had an idea of what I needed to bring along. I was shocked to find that I was far more comfortable walking through the streets in Tunis than in Istanbul. Though still on the conservative end of the spectrum, the European influence is strong and I didn’t have as many uncomfortable stares.
I also found that it was hard to even tell who was a tourist and who was a local. People come from all over Europe and Northern Africa to visit Tunisia, so it’s a beautiful melting pot of cultures, colors, and languages.
What to Expect in a Conservative Country
Tunisia is possibly the least conservative country in Northern Africa, but it is still a good idea to dress on the conservative side, despite the weather. The bigger Tunisian coastal cities like Tunis, Sousse, and Djerba have Mediterranean vibes and attract tourists mainly from France, Germany, and England. Therefore, it’s common to see tourists – and even some locals alike – in shorts, flowy dresses, and bathing suits along the beach. However, no matter the heat, the majority of a people will still cover at least the shoulders and knees.
It’s a good idea to keep in mind that some places of worship or establishments do require women to cover their shoulders and legs in order to enter. I kept this in mind every day and decided not to risk rejection from a potentially amazing site by wearing a lot of loose T’s with boyfriend jeans and maxi dresses. Should it have been the peak of summer, I would have worn dresses (over the knees) and brought a scarf in my bag just in case.
Spring – I visited during this season (March-April) and can speak best of this time. Tunis and the coast can be very overcast, rainy, and chilly. Best to bring clothing items to layer in case a freak cold or warm day occurs during the trip. Though, the weather also tends to take a turn and can deliver some beautiful, clear days, warm enough for laying by the beach. Inland and the desert are already hot now, but be weary of sandstorms if visiting during this time.
Summer – Temperatures get very high, especially inland. Loose clothing in the desert is a must, plus scarves and hats to protect from the sun. Most medinas are designed to keep the heat out with their light color, small streets, and type of stone; but they’ll definitely get hot and stuffy in the souks.
Autumn – Similar to spring, autumn is nice and temperatures get down to mild and comfortable.
Winter – Temperatures in the north and along the coast do drop to where you’ll need a coat. It gets windy along the coast, so layer and bundle accordingly.
Sunglasses : A must! For obvious reasons, to keep the sun from scorching your eyeballs but also because a lot of the towns are painted bright white and reflect the sunlight. Even when it was overcast, I needed these badboys.
Scarf : Again, very important if you plan to visit a mosque or place of worship that requires to have shoulders covered.
Secure Day Bag : This is very important, especially when visiting souks. It’s best to bring a bag that is hard to get into, can be wrapped across the body, and that doesn’t attract too much attention.
Sunscreen/after-sun : The sun can be very unforgiving on the coast and in the desert. Take care of your skin!
Bathing Suits : I brought along a one-piece and bikini and both were acceptable. I ended up just wearing my bikini in order to get some sun on the beach and felt very comfortable. To prevent confusion, some hotel properties have full instructions of what to wear and what not to wear – no burkinis, no topless, etc.
T’s : I brought 4 V-neck T’s in a variety of colors and used each one. I love them with my boyfriend jeans and a long necklace. Easy to dress up or down!
Flowy boho : I love my embroidered loose tops, as long as they cover the shoulders though!
Loose long sleeves : A button up is great to throw over a tank or spaghetti strapped dress.
Light jacket : A denim or similar light jacket was great to grab and throw over my outfit in the evening.
Boyfriend jeans : My loose boyfriend jeans were a perfect for travel days and cooler evenings. Easy to roll up the legs and durable for louage rides.
Drawstring Pants/Skirts : A mix of these in solid or a pretty print will be perfect with a plain top in the summer.
Harem Pants : Airy, cute, and comfortable.
Dungarees/Overalls : A pair of loose denim ones or even a comfy material will be wonderful in Spring or Autumn.
Leggings/Skinny jeans (colder months) : I didn’t need or use these at all during my trip in spring, but for winter, a pair of black skinny jeans will go a long way.
Maxi : A flowy maxi is where it’s at! I have multiple from long sleeved to spaghetti strapped.
Jumpsuit : Who doesn’t love a loose jumpsuit? They can do everything a maxi dress can do… and more.
Two Piece : I felt comfortable enough to wear some long flowy pants with a croptop a few days.
Beach Cover Up : I just used a maxi for this, but a cover up or kaftan would be perfect.
Sandals : I’ve been in love with Sam Edelman sandals for years now. Every pair I’ve owned has come along on my backpacking journeys and still lasted to this day. They’re comfortable, beautiful, and durable.
Trainers : I love my Vans Authentic Low Pros in navy. They’re lightweight, comfy, and go with almost everything.
Espadrilles : Since moving to Spain I’ve purchased at least 5 pairs in a variety of styles and I just can’t get enough. Similar to my vans, these go with everything, keep the dust off your feet, and are lightweight. Just don’t wear them in the rain!
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