Independent travel in Tunisia is easier than most people would expect. This country has a fantastic transport network to help you discover all of the highlights and more. Many visitors, particularly Europeans head to Tunisia as part of a week-long all-inclusive package deal. The drawcard is the beaches along the Mediterranean coastline of Tunisia and the competitive prices for many chic resorts.
But, if you’re interested in discovering Tunisia beyond just the resorts and tourist towns, you’re in for an exciting time. For adventurous travellers looking for a destination to explore in more depth, I’d recommend Tunisia.
If you ask us, this North African nation is so underrated. We had an amazing few weeks discovering this country and the diversity it offers. Read our 10 best tips for travel in Tunisia below and our detailed 14-day itinerary for Tunisia, and you’re all set!
10 Best Tips for Independent Travel in Tunisia
We travelled to Tunisia in late November, early December 2021. The prices quoted in this itinerary for Tunisia are in local currency, Tunisian Dinar (TND).
At the time 1 USD = 2.9 TND
1) Get a SIM Card on Arrival
The wifi and internet are not very reliable in Tunisia so I’d recommend picking up a SIM Card for your phone with one of the providers at the airport. There are several to choose from and they all offer similar data plans. I got an Orange SIM Card for free at the airport, then topped it up with 10GB for 20 TND (USD $7). You can also get 2GB for 10 TND.
Travel in Tunisia will be easier if you’re connected. It means you can access the BOLT app and order a ride, book your hotels on the go with Booking.com and find reviews on the best places to eat in Tunisia. If you’re a food-lover like me, don’t miss my post on the 8 most popular street foods in Tunisia that you must try.
2) Download BOLT Ridesharing App
Download the BOLT App before you arrive, (or when you’re here). It will save you time and money. If your French or Arabic language skills are non-existent, this app will help you to get from A to B without any hassle.
It’s a useful tool to learn what fares typically costs from A to B and it works similarly to Uber. The main difference is that you must pay cash (Tunisian dinar) for your fare directly to the driver once your ride is complete.
3) Get a Bank Account that doesn’t charge International Transaction Fees
There is no good reason why you should still be paying International transaction fees or ATM withdrawal fees in 2022. Banks have come a long way over the years. If you haven’t signed up for a bank account with ING Direct yet, then you’ll most likely be paying for unnecessary bank fees when you travel to different countries.
During my trip to Tunisia (read our 14-day itinerary for Tunisia here) I was charged 12 TND ($4.20) each time I withdrew local currency from an ATM. But, because I have a bank account with ING Direct, every ATM bank fee was reimbursed to me. It’s fantastic! I’m also refunded for any foreign transaction fees charged to me whilst I’m travelling abroad with this bank. For more information about ING and why it’s the best debit card for travellers, read our post with more information.
5) Download Maps.me App and use louage for transport
One of the best tools to get around Tunisia is the Maps.me app. You can download offline maps of the country which means you never have to use mobile data to get around. The map also shows hiking trails and walking paths, something that Google Maps doesn’t have.
Although Tunisia has a great train network between cities as well as buses, it is much faster to use louage. Louage is the name for small vans that connect all cities and towns. You go to the dedicated station in town, buy a ticket from the ticket office and take a seat in the van that fits 8 people. Once the van is full, it departs directly to the final destination. It is the fastest way to get from A to B in Tunisia whiteout using taxi or your own car.
5) Booking.com offers the best range of accommodation for travel in Tunisia
We love Booking.com. It’s one of the most used apps on our phones. This is our go-to for booking accommodation on our adventure to visit every country in the world. Time and time again, Booking.com offered us the best range of accommodation and prices as we travelled around Tunisia. The best part is that the app is really easy to use and you pay in local currency or credit card once you arrive at your accommodation provider. In many cases, the app gives you the option to reserve the hotel for your selected date and if you need to change it or cancel, there is often no cancellation fees.
6) Drink Only Bottled Water or Bring a LifeStraw
Avoid drinking the tap water in Tunisia and stick to bottled water. Large bottles of water (1.5L) can be purchased from small shops and supermarkets for about $0.25.
Better yet, bring along a LifeStraw filtered water bottle. Not only will you be helping the environment to reduce plastic waste, but you can take it with you on your future travelling adventures.
7) Check GetYourGuide to book experiences in Tunisia
Tunisia has some amazing highlights and places to visit. From visiting Star Wars film set locations, desert day trips in the south or visiting the epic amphitheatre in El Jem, there’s so much to see.
If you’re travelling solo or just want to share the experience, consider checking out GetYourGuide website. Browse and book activities for travel in Tunisia and all over the world. We love the fact that in case plans change, you can cancel most bookings for free up to 24 hours before they start. We’d highly recommend both this cooking class in Tunis and this day trip to Kairouan and El Jem.
8) Download XE currency converter
A tip we’d recommend not only for travel in Tunisia but for every country you visit. We use XE Currency Converter regularly to convert currency and exchange rates when we’re on the go. I’d recommend that you download the app to your phone and add Tunisian Dinar (local currency) into your browser. Whenever you need to withdrawal currency at an ATM or change other foreign currencies in Tunisia, you can double-check you’re getting the right rate within seconds on XE.
I frequently use my XE app to calculate prices of goods in supermarkets, and at markets if I’m buying souvenirs or food.
9) Exchange your Tunisian Dinars before your departure
As you explore and travel in Tunisia, remember to keep any foreign currency receipts or ATM currency withdrawal receipts with you. Before departing Tunisia, ensure you convert all of your Tunisian dinars to Euros/USD (or another hard currency) before you depart. Tunisian Dinars are impossible to exchange once you’ve departed the country. If you exchange currency at the airport before your departure, you may be asked for the receipt proving where you got the cash initially.
10) Travel Insurance
We recommend getting a good travel insurance policy for travel to Tunisia. SafetyWing Travel Insurance is created by travellers, for travellers. These guys offer Travel Medical Insurance that covers people from all over the world, while outside their home country – The best part is that COVID-19 coverage is included in their very affordable plans.
Use the box below to get a SafetyWing travel insurance quote
Where to stay in Tunis:
Most flights from around the world will likely arrive in Tunis, the capital city of Tunisia. My final tip for independent travel in Tunisia is to reserve at least your first-night accommodation here to begin your trip. My recommendations for affordable, comfortable and well-located hotels, for any budget, are listed below.
Budget: Dar Ya – A great budget option in the heart of Medina. Rooms are clean and comfortable, yet only shared bathroom facilities available. Breakfast is included in the price. The staff is very welcoming and helpful in providing local knowledge to explore Tunis and the surrounding area.
Midrange: Dar Ben Gacem – A beautifully restored old Tunisian home, now a boutique hotel. Rooms are beautiful, and an amazing breakfast is included in the rate (the best omelette and coffee in Tunisia). The young staff is always around to help with anything you need, even if it’s just to prepare you a hot pot of tea or coffee after a long day of exploring.
Luxury:Treat yourself: Hôtel Belvédère Fourati – If you’ve got the budget that allows a swish stay in this hotel in Tunis, I recommend it.
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