Anyone been to Tunisia?

I have a week break at the end of October and I’m going to Tunisia. I just bought the ticket, and I am super excited (and I feel like the luckiest person in the world to have the opportunity to do this). But I have some questions:

1. Is it a safe place for a woman to travel alone? I was supposed to go with a friend, but she sadly can’t go.
2. If it’s not that safe for me to travel alone, do you recommend any particular tour groups that I could travel with, despite my general disdain for tour groups?
3. I have nine days to travel, which I think should be sufficient because Tunisia is pretty small. What are the must-see spots and must-do activities?

Any other tips, warnings, suggestions or well-wishes are most welcome.

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14 comments for “Anyone been to Tunisia?

  1. September 10, 2007 at 8:52 am

    My sister went there in the summer of 2001 and got around quite well. The one warning I know of is that you don’t really want to go anywhere near the Algerian border, as Algeria is not exactly stable at this point. Otherwise, she had good things to say about Tunis. Congrats!

  2. September 10, 2007 at 8:55 am

    My best friend and roommate (who is sitting here drinking coffee) went the year we both studied abroad (I to greece, she to france) and I asked her. Her answers:

    1) Not particularly. She had horror stories when she came to visit me in Greece.
    2) No idea. But I wonder if you might be able to find a travel agent in the city where you’re staying? When I was in Greece, anytime my friends and I wanted to travel, we went to this agent who lived about a block from my house and she would set up everything for us. We were never disapponted — we always ended up at great hotels within walking distance of main attractions. My roommate says to pick hotels carefully, because she ended up at a resort that was far away from everything and kept getting ripped off on taxi rides.
    3) She recommends Djerba for the beach and Sidi Bou Said for a great marketplace.

  3. Dianne
    September 10, 2007 at 9:13 am

    I’ve never been to Tunisia, but it sounds cool. Hope you have fun. I generally feel uncomfortable with tour groups, both because of the lack of feeling like one is seeing the “real” country and because I actually feel less safe in a tour group than alone or with one companion. Being in a tour group is an obvious advertisement that one is not a local and is wealthy enough to go on such tours. Not the safest implication in some places. However, that has to be balanced against the problems of being alone in a strange place. I suppose finding another person to travel with, i.e. playboy housemate, is out of the question? (Wikitravel suggests that it is probably relatively safe, for whatever that’s worth.)

  4. Betsy
    September 10, 2007 at 9:56 am

    I went briefly in the spring of 2001 when I was studying abroad in Ireland. My friend who was studying in Brussels organized everything. I had mixed feelings about it. It was an all-inclusive resort package on the Mediterranean (priced extremely cheap), including hotel, food, alcohol, a trip to a local open market, and a day trip into Tunis. On the one hand, I wouldn’t have felt confident traveling alone in a country whose mores I didn’t know at all; on hte other, it was VERY pre-packaged and I’m entirely certain I didn’t see much of the real thing. There was some, though – the big marketplace in Tunis was amazing, and my (male) friend and I (who pretended we were married; it seemed simpler) had a great time exploring it and talking to some of the proprieters who spoke English. Sorry I can’t be more helpful! I heard that for people staying longer, going into the Sahara on camel is a super-amazing thing to do (and can only be done through a tour, I think). The only traumatic thing for me was that the resort we were staying in was infested with enormous roaches, which got into my backpack and all through our room. FREAKED me out; I don’t do well with roaches. I know, I know, don’t travel to equatorial countries (or even the American south, where I’m from) if you hate roaches. But still. They were in my clothes!!!!

  5. Jessica
    September 10, 2007 at 10:47 am

    Oh my God, I studied abroad there!
    Shoot me an email. You are the luckiest person in the world.

  6. September 10, 2007 at 10:52 am

    Will you bring me back some cool stuff with St Felicity and St Perpetua on it? :)

    Seriously, I’m interested in anything you find there locally on either of them, and how they portray their relationship. (I’m doing a “women saints” series on my blog.) Feel free to email me if you find any links or information in English!

    I’m so jealous of all of your cool travels!

  7. wren
    September 10, 2007 at 3:01 pm

    There are some interesting Roman sites with mosaics and villae and the like. Definitely worth checking out while you’re there.

    If you think you’re going to have trouble filling nine days, don’t forget that Sicily is thisclose.

  8. AC
    September 10, 2007 at 5:10 pm

    If you’re in Tunis, which I assume you will be, the Bardo Museum is a definite must if you’re at all interested in Roman and Islamic artifacts. I believe it has the largest collection of mosaics in the world, all housed in a Moorish palace. I highly recommend this, the mosaics were really amazing and interesting, and many were massive in size. Try to get there early though, it gets quite busy and hot during the day.

    Another big tourist attraction is the ruins of Carthage, but I found that underwhelming. Unless you’re a history buff, you could probably give it a pass.

  9. Alix
    September 10, 2007 at 5:22 pm

    Another big tourist attraction is the ruins of Carthage

    Which is why I want to go sometime. (History buff here.)

    Jill, have fun! And tell us all about it when you get back.

  10. Laurie
    September 10, 2007 at 5:49 pm

    Jill, do you know any French? I seem to recall Tunisia is French speaking as well as Arabic speaking, and that can help you get by a LOT.

    See if the National Folkloric Dance Troupe (can’t think of their *official* name right now) is performing anywhere near where you’ll be. They are very good and the local dance forms are REALLY cool. If you’re into that kind of thing. ;)

    Other than that, no helpful information. :( But I’m really, really looking forward to hearing about your excursion and seeing pictures!

  11. September 10, 2007 at 8:50 pm

    I was in Morocco (pretty similar) last Spring, and found that a good guidebook was invaluable, if only so I could get off the train and know where to find a hotel. I used the rough guide and was impressed: it also had information on traveling while female, which my companion appreciated. One word of advice—never get into a cab without settling on the fare (or the use of le compteur) first: that’s the easiest way to get ripped off.

  12. Anna in PDX (was Cairo)
    September 11, 2007 at 9:29 pm

    Hi, I lived in Tunisia from 93-94.

    The beautiful beach town of Sidi Bou Said (a bit northwest of Carthage) is a wonderful place to visit, for its distinctive blue and white buildings and for the very nice museum that’s there.

    The Bardo museum in Tunis is also great – an old Bey’s palace, it has some really nice stuff.

    There are Roman ruins an easy drive from the capital that are great to go to but I have forgotten the name of them. They’d be in a guide book.

    Sousse is a nice town further down the coast (SE) that I visited.

    As for women traveling alone, like other mediterranean countries there is some attention from youths / men on the street that is kind of annoying if you are annoyed by construction workers here in the US, same with Greece, Italy, Egypt (why I mentioned it seems to be a Mediterranean thing). If you are in the major areas people are very used to tourism (it is a popular tourist spot for Europeans) and dress is casual and it is not nearly as conservative as the other N. African countries (like Egypt e.g.)

    Email me with any specific questions and I can try to answer them, though it has been a while.

    Oh, knowing French is a very good thing particularly in the urban areas where a large percentage of the population speak it in addition to Tunisian dialect of Arabic.

  13. khedija
    September 12, 2007 at 8:25 am

    Tunisia is a safe place. You will find that you may have lots of young men trying to be…nice to you. Don’t be afraid, Tunisia is a safe place. However, remember the old advice: “don’t talk to strangers”
    But as you are going to meet only strangers, don’t be careless in the way you talk to people.
    There are travel agencies, you will find information at any of the hotels you will stay at. you will enjoy Tunisia

  14. haSSane
    September 18, 2007 at 3:53 am

    hi! am Tunisian, and I live there. There is no need for anyworries at all being here. Just enjoy it. wanna know anything in particular. Bombard me with questions :)

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