A Week in Tunisia: Tunis, Sousse and Al-Kairouan


Embarking on a week-long adventure in Tunisia reveals a treasure trove of cultural wonders and historical marvels. The journey commences in Tunis and its neighboring regions, offering an immersive experience into the country's vibrant past and captivating present.

Day 1: Sidi-bou-Said - A Coastal Gem

A good way to start your leisurely day after a long trip is by exploring Sidi-bou-Said. Perched upon a rocky outcrop overlooking the azure Mediterranean Sea, Sidi-bou-Said entices with its picturesque vistas and enchanting ambiance. Visit museums like the Dar Al Annabi and palaces such as Ennejma Ezzahra to admire the village's whitewashed and blue-adorned houses. Take leisurely strolls through its narrow streets, discover local handicrafts, and support the artisans by purchasing a few souvenirs.

While in Sidi-bou-Said, don't miss the chance to try the famous Bambalouni, a sweet Tunisian donut. We also recommend enjoying a cup of coffee at Al-Alya coffeeshop or Café des Délices. Keep in mind that the prices here are relatively higher than in downtown Tunis, so it's a good idea to ask for the menu.

Thanks to its proximity to Carthage, downtown Tunis, Al-Marsa, and Gammarth, Sidi-bou-Said is an excellent choice for finding a hotel or guest house to spend your initial days exploring the capital city of Tunis and its neighbouring regions.

Traditional old door and window in Tunis © Haythem Gataa

Traditional old door and window in Tunis © Haythem Gataa

Day 2: Carthage - Immersion in History

As you explore Carthage, you will be immersed in a living tapestry of history, where the threads of its three-millennia past unfold before your eyes. Unfortunately, Carthage has suffered destruction multiple times in the past. Nevertheless, its enduring ruins bear witness to the city's extensive historical narrative across different empires.

When exploring Carthage, there are several must-visit ruins and destinations worth mentioning, including the Tophet, Baths of Antonine, Archaeological Park, National Archaeological Museum, Quarter Magon, Byrsa Hill, Theatre and Roman Villas, Amphitheater, and Punic Harbor.

Keep in mind that these attractions are scattered throughout the city, so it is advisable to allocate at least one day to visit most of them. Alternatively, you can consider renting a car or booking an organised tour with a reputable travel agency to efficiently explore the city.

As you venture near the ruins, you may encounter knowledgeable guides offering their services. Engaging the services of a guide is highly recommended as it provides a deeper understanding of the history behind the ruins and the city itself. Remember to inquire about the price beforehand to ensure a good experience.

Carthage Ruins With a Touch of Nature © By Salaam Halila

Carthage Ruins With a Touch of Nature © By Salaam Halila

Day 3: Tunis - The Heart of Enchantment

After exploring Sidi-bou-Said and Carthage, it's time to visit the medina or the old town of Tunis. This city offers an immersion into over 10 centuries of history. The first thing you will encounter, before entering the labyrinth of the old city, is the immense door. It is one of the seven doors that used to protect the people residing inside.

This UNESCO World Heritage site boasts a maze of winding alleys, bustling souks, and magnificent architectural gems. Consider purchasing souvenirs from the medina, such as incense, paintings, or clothing, as there is a wide range of choices available in the souk.

Don't miss the opportunity to visit the oldest mosque, Al-Zaitouna, which has been serving as a university since the 8th century and remains the oldest university still in use today. Note that the university is now located in a separate building but retains the same name: Al-Zaytouna University.

For lunch, we recommend dining at Dar Al-Jeled in the old town.

Afterward, make your way to Al-Kasbah, where you will be amazed by the unique architectural style. Al-Kasbah has been serving as the seat of the country's prime minister since the Hafside era, seven centuries ago.

To continue your exploration, take a taxi from Al-Kasbah to Bardo and immerse yourself in history at the esteemed Bardo Museum, which houses an impressive collection of ancient artefacts and masterpieces.

Tunis by night © By Unknown

Tunis by night © By Unknown

Day 4: Sousse - A Medina of Splendor

Embark on a scenic journey from Tunis and arrive in the beautiful coastal city of Sousse, Tunisia. Explore the heart of the city's medina, a UNESCO World Heritage site filled with architectural marvels.

Visit the impressive Ribat and delve into the depths of the small but rich archaeological museum. Take a stroll through the vibrant souks and appreciate the intricate craftsmanship found in the traditional houses.

Sousse at night is a vibrant and vivid place, bustling with a lively atmosphere. The city comes alive with illuminated landmarks, bustling streets, and a wide range of entertainment options, offering a memorable experience after dark.

Sousse is also known for its passion for sports, particularly football. The local club team, Étoile de Sousse, holds a significant place in the hearts of the residents. Consider buying the local club t-shirt and wear it proudly as you explore the city, connecting with the locals and showcasing your support for Étoile de Sousse Football Club.

Consider also taking a maritime tour on a boat, where you can dive into the Mediterranean, indulge in a delicious meal, and have the opportunity to interact with both locals and tourists. It's a fantastic way to enjoy the natural beauty of the coast and create lasting memories in Sousse.

Sousse Archaeological Museum, Tunisia © Albert Gubaydullin

Sousse Archaeological Museum, Tunisia © Albert Gubaydullin

Day 5: Kairouan - The Sacred City

Travelling by bus or train, venture to Kairouan, the esteemed holy city of the Maghreb in Tunisia. As you wander through its ancient streets, marvel at the grandeur of the Great Mosque, an architectural masterpiece adorned with intricate details and steeped in historical significance. Notably, the minaret of Okba Mosque holds the distinction of being the first of its kind in the world.

Explore the captivating Zaouïas, ornate mausoleums that pay homage to revered saints. Tunisia has a rich tradition of saints who resided in the country, and many cities starting with the word "Sidi" are named after these saints. Saints hold great importance in Tunisian culture.

Similar to other cities in Tunisia, taking a tour of the old town is a must in Kairouan. Immerse yourself in the enchanting ambiance of the old town, soaking in its unique atmosphere.

Make sure not to miss the opportunity to visit the captivating carpet museum, where the intricate artistry of Tunisian carpets takes centre stage.

Hint: One of the best times to experience the spiritual ambiance of Kairouan is on the 26th of Ramadan, especially during the night.

Mosque Okba, kairouan, Tunisia © Haythem Gataa

Mosque Okba, kairouan, Tunisia © Haythem Gataa

Day 6: Return to Tunis - A Farewell for Now

Bid adieu to the captivating cities of Sousse and Kairouan as you make your way back to Tunis. Reflect upon the myriad of experiences and memories accumulated throughout your journey, cherishing the beauty and richness of Tunisia's heritage.

Guest home in Tunisia © By Unknown

Guest home in Tunisia © By Unknown

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