With his recipe for Tunisian Ojja, Alex has already shown the way the other day: Our next road trip leads us to Tunisia! This time it will be a road trip through the north of Tunisia, with emphasis on historical sites on the one hand and beautiful beaches on the other. We will leave Tunisia’s south with the desert, its oases and of course with a touch of Star Wars for another time.
Alex lived in Tunisia for two years and used pretty much every weekend to explore the country during this time – and to have a good time! He got to know and love the country and still often talks about the beautiful places he visited there. You might think that this made the planning of this road trip faster, as I have to do less research. Well, not quite. Because for each and every place, Alex told me in detail what he had eaten where and with whom…
In the end, out came is this road trip through the north of Tunisia that leads to impressive Roman sites as Carthage and the amphitheatre El Djem as well as to one of the most important mosques of Islam, the Great Mosque of Kairouan. At the same time, there is plenty of time to relax on Tunisia’s various beaches and swim in the Mediterranean. We have created a trip of 10 days so that you can relax on the beach in Tabarka for a few days. Alternatively, you can stay there for just one night if you only have a week.
We would like to add that Tunisia is in general a safe country to visit. However, there may be security issues once in a while, although they only seldomly affect tourists. But just to be on the safe side, we would suggest that you read up on the current situation before doing a road trip on your own in Tunisia.
Duration: 9 days plus arrival and homeward journey, hence 10 nights
Distance in total: 960 km = 597 mi
Themes: beach, historic sites
View the route on Google Maps.
Actually, Alex likes the beach of Tabarka a lot and he has told me about it many times, but he thinks the beach of Ghar el-Melh is even more picturesque. However, it may be more difficult to find good accommodation there. Furthermore, I find it important to spend a few nights at the same place, as a ten-day road trip would otherwise be too exhausting. Therefore I have now left out Ghar el-Melh in my planning. But if you want, you can of course still include Ghar el-Melh as well as a stop in the city of Bizerta on the way from Tabarka.
Wednesday: Arrival in Tunis
Depending on your arrival time, you can take a short walk along Avenue Bourguiba to get a first impression of Tunis’ busy main street and its French Art Nouveau houses. There, you can also go up to the last floor of the El Hana International hotel and enjoy the beautiful view on the city from the café up there.
Thursday: Start of the road trip with the drive from Tunis to Kelibia (136 km = 85 mi, detour to Cap Bon included)
Here we go! In the morning you can pick up the rental car and drive off. Your destination is the fishing village of Kelibia, where you will find some holiday accommodation, a beautiful beach and an impressive fortress.
Instead of taking the shortest way from Tunis, we rather recommend to explore a little bit the peninsula Cap Bon. It is also called the orchard of Tunisia and is characterised by its fertile soil for vineyards and fruit trees. There are also numerous lonely beaches far away from mass tourism.
Friday: Drive from Kelibia to Sousse (107 km = 107 mi)
The next day we continue along the coast to the south; on the road, you can also see flamingoes at the Korba lagoon. On the way to Sousse you can stop either in Nabeul or in Hammamet, although we would rather recommend Hammamet.
There, you should avoid the artificial medina in the tourist quarter with the big hotels and instead have a look at the real medina in the city centre. Right at the entrance to the medina at the sea, you will also find a nice café where you can already taste two Tunisian classics: Tea with pine nuts and strawberries with ice cream.
You habe a whole day for Sousse, so you can take it a little easier. It is especially worth a walk along the beach and through the medina. If you already want to buy souvenirs and do not want to haggle over prices at the market, you can shop at the Soula Center at the entrance to the medina which has fixed prices.
Otherwise it is best to leave the first streets of the medina directly behind you, as they are very touristy, and then stroll through the rest of the old town. You will find the vegetable and fish market there as well as small shops for spices and the like.
It is said that the catacombs and the view from the watchtower Ribat are worth a visit, but Alex did not visit them himself. Of course, you can also relax a little on the beach before you head inland the next day.
Sunday: Drive from Sousse to Kairouan (168 km = 104 mi, detour to Monastir and El Djem included)
This day includes two stops before you arrive in Kairouan afterwards.
First, you drive to Monastir, which is only about 25 minutes by car from Sousse. Monastir is especially popular with tourists because of its great beaches and it is ideal for a second breakfast in one of the many cafés by the sea. Here, too, we recommend to stroll through the alleys of the medina and visit the Bourguiba-mausoleum and the Ribat. In this supposedly largest and oldest fortress in North Africa you can enjoy a little peace and quiet away from the hustle and bustle on the beach. By the way, some famous scenes from the film The Life of Brian were shot here; you can find more detailed information (in German) about this in the blog filmtourismus.de.
We continue with a side trip to the south to El Djem. This third biggest amphitheatre of the Roman Empire is part of the UNESCO world cultural heritage and you can visit it much more relaxed than the Colosseum in Rome. Afterwards, you continue to Kairouan.
Monday: Drive from Kairouan to Tabarka (257 km = 160 mi)
In Kairouan, one has in any case to visit the Great Mosque, one of the most important pilgrimage sites of Islam. It is said that seven pilgrimages there can even replace the Hajj to Mecca. The mosque impresses especially by its size and its huge inner courtyard as well as by its architecture.
It is best to have lunch in Kairouan before going to Tabarka. Alex recommends, for example, the restaurant El Brija in the city wall next to the mosque.
If you like, you can stop in Dougga on the way to Tabarka and visit another important Roman archaeological site. If it is too much for you to spend two days in a row looking at stones, you can also drive the route in one and arrive earlier at the beach.
To do today: relax at the beach. You can stroll through the town and along the marina, sit down in a nice café or enjoy the beach and the sea.
By the way, the area around Tabarka is also known for its excellent diving and snorkeling locations.
Thursday: Drive from Tabarka to Tunis (228 km = 141 mi, detour to Sidi Bou Saïd and Carthage included)
The last day of the journey by car leads via Carthage and Sidi Bou Saïd to Tunis. Since the programme is quite tight and you have to return the rental car in the evening and get to your accommodation, you should not start too late in the morning, so you have more time during the day.
In Carthage, the famous Carthage, there are several ruins to visit. Alex especially liked the thermal baths, the harbour and the museum. In any case, he has raved to me about Carthage several times, so it seems to be very impressive.
Afterwards you can visit the picturesque village of Sidi Bou Saïd, which is right next to Carthage. However, the village has become so famous that it is unfortunately quite overrun by tourists. Nevertheless, it is worth a side trip. Alex suggest visiting the Ennejma Ezzahra Palace with its impressive architecture and decoration.
In Tunis both the old town, i.e. the medina, and the new town are worth seeing.
The medina is part of the UNESCO world cultural heritage and houses various souks. The best way to explore them is to simply let yourself drift through the alleys.
If you have not done this on the day of your arrival, you should start your tour of the new town in the Avenue Bourguiba.
If you still have time, you can also visit the Bardo Museum. There, you will find the largest collection of mosaics in the world as well as numerous Roman and Punic artifacts.
Saturday: Homeward journey from Tunis
Did you know that Carthage is situated in Tunisia? And which of the numerous beaches did you like best in the end?