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  • Overview

    The captivating North African country of Tunisia sitsat the heart of the Mediterran, straddling the old and the new, theexotic and the traditional. Caught in a cleft between Algeria andLibya, it offers travellers sumptuous modern seaside resorts setside by side with a treasure-trove of ancient Roman, Arab, Berber,and Phoenician sites.

    Just a few miles north of the capital, Tunis, lie theremains of the legendary ancient city of Carthage, founded in the8th century BC. By contrast, Tunis is a bustling modern metropoliswhere steel, glass, and palm trees form the backdrop to streetsfilled with fast-moving yellow taxis.

    The centuries slip away in the medieval Medina foundin the heart of this pristine city. It serves as a haven forsouvenir hunters, boasting hundreds of narrow streets crammed withvendors of antiques, jewellery, pottery, carpets, perfumes, driedfruit, books, spices, and other delights. Also, no tourist to thecity should miss a visit to the Bardo Museum, for the joy ofviewing one of the world's greatest collections of Romanmosaics.

    Tunisia has a thousand miles of coastline to thenorth, where luxurious resorts like Hammamet and Nabeul nestle amidcitrus orchards. Vacationers relish the sandy beaches andcrystalline waters along the waterfront, where the only alternativeto lazy bronzing is to indulge in a round of golf or take theplunge with some watersports.

    Those intrepid enough to venture into the south, onthe threshold of the Sahara desert, will be rewarded with someinteresting geographical features like the 'forest in the desert'at Ramada, the dry salt lake at Chott el Jerid, or the remote oasisat Ksar Ghilane.

    The cherry on the top for visitors to this affordableand exotic holiday destination is the warmth and genuinefriendliness of the Tunisian people. This is evident in even thesmallest of villages, where if you happen to pass through duringone of the numerous summer festivals you will be welcomed and urgedto join.

    Although recent political upheaval has kept Tunisiaon the front page rather than in the travel section, the countryhas made the transition to democracy smoothly and is once againwelcoming tourists and cruise ships to its shores.

    A popular holiday resort destination for tourists,Tunisia has more to see and do than just beautiful beachesscattered along its Mediterranean coastline, and luxurious resortslike Hammamet and Nabeul. There are countless attractions to meetjust about every sightseer's needs.

    Start off in the capital of Tunis, a fast-pacedmodern metropolis juxtaposed by a medieval Medina. Spend a fewhours here taking in the history and hunting for bargains andsouvenirs in the countless tiny streets lined with vendors toutingantiques, pottery, jewellery, and other delights.

    Head to the Bardo Museum to marvel at some of theworld's greatest Roman mosaics, while just a few miles north ofTunis lie the remains of the legendary ancient city of Carthage,which dates back to the 8th century BC.

    Heading south towards the Sahara affords visitorsplenty of fascinating geographical features like the 'forest in thedesert' at Ramada, as well as the dry salt lake at Chott el Jerid,and the remote oasis at Ksar Ghilane.

    Zitouna Mosque

    The largest mosque in Tunisia, the Zitouna Mosquedates back to the 8th century; the 160 columns of the mosque werebrought from the ruins of Carthage. Set in the heart of Tunis, themosque was improved upon almost continually until the 19th century,when the minaret was added. Zitouna (or Al-Zaytuna) was the centreof learning and intellectual pursuits in Tunisia, and is consideredthe first Islamic university. Visitors to the Zitouna Mosque mustdress modestly, and non-Muslim guests may only enter the courtyard.The mosque is surrounded by bustling souks on three sides.

    Zitouna Zitouna Marcus
    Belvedere Park

    Tunis' largest parks, Belvedere Park covers 270 acres(110 ha) just north of the city. Known as the 'Lungs of Tunis' dueto the scarcity of green spaces in the city, Belvedere Park has anumber of family-friendly attractions to enjoy on fine days inTunis. Children will love the Tunis Zoo, a pleasant facility withmonkeys, bears, deer, peacocks, and elephants; while adults willmarvel at the intricately-decorated high domed ceilings of theTurkish Pavilion. Belvedere Park has an art gallery featuring localcontemporary works near the entrance gate, and when the weather ishot visitors can cool off in the shade of trees overlooking LakeTunis on Place Pasteur.

    Belvedere Park Belvedere Park Conrado Plano
    Carthage

    Carthage was the base of a powerful trading empireduring the Phoenician and Punic periods, ruled by the infamousconqueror Hannibal. Destroyed by the Romans in the 2nd century BC,the site was redeveloped a century later and became a Romancapital. Located in an affluent suburb roughly nine miles (15km)north of Tunis, the remaining ruins of ancient Carthage weredeclared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991. Visitors can buy aticket for just a few dinars that allows access to up to 10different archaeological sites, including the Antonin Baths,Amphitheatre, Water Cisterns, Basilica of Saint-Cyprien, PunicTophet, and the Carthage Museum. Also on-site in the museum complexis the Acropolium (St Louis Cathedral), a stunning cathedral builtin the late 19th century.

    Address: Nine miles (15km) north of central Tunis
    Carthage Carthage Kirk K
    Kerkouane

    Approximately 50 miles (80km) east of Tunis liesKerkouane, a former city of the Phoenician and Punic periods. Thecity was abandoned around the 3rd century BC, which meant it waslargely ignored by the conquering Romans and is today the onlyremaining untouched Punic settlement. The city was declared aUNESCO World Heritage Site in the 1980s. The remains of Kerkouaneand its famous necropolis are not large, and can be explored inabout an hour. Visitors can look for the distinctive minimalistmosaics of the Punic god Tanit, and learn about the city'ssurprisingly modern town-planning. A small museum housinginteresting relics and artefacts gives further insight into thehistory of Kerkouane. Set along an attractive bit of Tunisiancoastline, visitors from Tunis will enjoy the peace of the site andlovely ocean views. The museum shop sells a few souvenirs andsnacks, but a picnic lunch is the best complement to an excursionto Kerkouane.

    Kerouane Kerouane Sek Keung Lo

    Phrase Book

    English Pronounciation

    Tunisia is a land of constant sunshine and warm water. Theheight of summer is a popular time to visit Tunisia, but manypeople prefer to visit between October and May when the temperatureis more comfortable, or in the spring (March to May) when visitorsmay find displays of wild flowers throughout the countryside.

    Tunis-Carthage International Airport
    Location: The airport is situated about four miles (6km) fromTunis.
    Time: Local time is GMT +1
    Transfer Between Terminals A shuttle bus links the terminals every 10 minutes.
    Getting to the city: The airport is well served by public buses and taxis. The bustrip to the city centre takes about 30 minutes.
    Car Rental: Car rental companies represented at the airport include Budget,Hertz, Avis, and Sixt.
    Airport Taxis: Taxis are available at the airport and cost roughly between TND5 and TND 15 to the city. Taxis should be metered and visitorsshould insist the meter is turned on. There are extra charges forluggage and travelling after 9pm.
    Fascilities: Facilities at the airport include a post office, bank, bureau dechange, ATM, restaurants, cafeterias, bars, VIP lounge, duty-freeshop, first aid, gift shop, travel agent, and tourist helpdesk.
    Parking Short and long-term parking is available at the airport.
    Monastir Habib Bourguiba InternationalAirport
    Location: 5 miles (8km) west of Monastir
    Time: GMT +1 (GMT +2 from the last Sunday in March tothe last Sunday in October).
    Getting to the city: There is a light rail located in front of the airport withservice to Monastir and Sousse every 30 minutes.
    Car Rental: Alamo, Avis, Europcar, Hertz and Sixt operate car hirefacilities at Monastir Airport.
    Airport Taxis: There are yellow taxis located outside the terminalbuilding.
    Fascilities: Ther terminal contains two restaurants, duty-free shopping,public phones, banks, currency exchange facilities, a touristinformation centre, baby-changing facilities, and a first aidstation.
    Parking There are parking facilities for cars and buses adjacent to theterminal.
    Money:

    The unit of currency is the Tunisian Dinar (TND), divided into1,000 millimes. Banks and some hotels provide foreign exchange.ATMs are found in most towns and at all the tourist resorts; almostall will accept Visa cards and many will also accept Maestro(Switch) cards. Visa, Maestro and MasterCard are accepted forpayment in many souvenir shops, upmarket hotels and restaurants,although Visa encounters the least problems. All Tunisian currencymust be exchanged before departure.

    Language:

    The overwhelming majority of people in Tunisia speakArabic and French. English is taught in all schools and isincreasingly spoken especially by younger people. Some German andItalian is also spoken.

    Electricity:

    Electrical current in Tunisia is 230 volts, 50Hz.Round European-style, two-pin plugs are used.

    Entry Requirements:

    US nationals must have a passport that is valid for six monthsafter the arrival date, and can stay visa-free for up to threemonths.

    British passports should be valid for the duration of the stay.British passport holders don't need a visa for visits of up tothree months.

    Passports must be valid for at least three months beyond theexpected departure date. Canadians do not require a visa to visitTunisia for three months.

    Australian nationals need a passport that is valid for at leastsix months from the departure date, but can stay visa-free for upto 90 days.

    South African nationals must have a passport that is valid forthe duration of their intended stay, but can enter visa-free for upto 90 days.

    Irish nationals require a visa. A passport that is valid for theduration of the stay is required. A visa is not requirement formaximum stays of three months.

    US nationals must have a passport that is valid for six monthsafter the arrival date, and can stay visa-free for up to threemonths.

    New Zealand nationals require a passport that is valid for theduration of their stay. A visa is not required for stays of up to90 days.

    Passport/Visa Note:Visa:

    All visitors must hold documents and tickets for return oronward travel. Some nationals can obtain visas on arrival. It ishighly recommended that passports have at least six months validityremaining after your intended date of departure from your traveldestination. If the minor's father is a national of Tunisia,irrespective of minor's nationality: when departing Tunisia as anunaccompanied minor or accompanied only by mother, a PaternalAuthorization is required. For divorced couples, an official copyof the court decision awarding custody to the mother isrequired.

    Immigration officials often apply different rules to thosestated by travel agents and official sources.

    Travel Health:

    No vaccinations are recommended for Tunisia and no serioushealth risks exist, but all travellers are required to show ayellow fever certificate if coming from an infected area. Visitorstravelling outside the resorts should ensure they drink onlyboiled, purified water. All medical expenses must be paid forimmediately after treatment in Tunisia, and costs can be quitehigh. The availability of medication is limited. Visitors shouldbring adequate supplies of their own medication. Travel insuranceis a necessity.

    Tipping:

    Tipping is not a requirement in Tunisia but appreciated for goodservice in local establishments. Most people performing a usefulservice will wait to be tipped. Waiters in resort and hotelrestaurants expect a tip of around 10 percent.

    Safety Information:

    As a rule, travellers are advised to avoid the border areas withAlgeria, and be extra cautious if travelling alone in the southernand eastern border areas. In general, the northeastern coast regionfrom Tunis all the way down to Gabes, remains safe and touristfriendly, although in recent years, there have been isolatedincidences in the safer resort areas, such as Sousse and Port ElKantaoui on the east coast, where violent terrorist attacks havebeen especially aimed at large groups of foreign tourists.

    As a result, many resorts have dramatically increased securityto protect their visitors. For this reason, foreign travellers areadvised to pay close attention to travel warnings andrecommendations from official government sources before travel toTunisia and to cooperate with security officials and carry a copyof their passport at all times, while in the country.

    And although violent crimes are unlikely in larger touristcities and resorts, petty theft and pick pocketing does occur. Anincrease in bag snatching has been noted in tourist areas andvisitors are advised to keep bags close at all times.

    Note: A state of emergency is currently in effect in Tunisia,following a suicide bombing in 2015.

    Local Customs:

    Tunisia is a Muslim country and visitors should respect thelocal sensibilities, especially during the month of Ramadan.Visitors, and women in particular, should dress modestly outside ofthe beach resorts. Women should note that coffee houses are mainlypopulated by men and women are often ushered into the 'familysection' in restaurants. Homosexuality is illegal and although itis common to see Arab men greet each other with a kiss on the cheekand even hold hands in public, this is unacceptable for tourists.Despite being a Muslim country, alcohol is widely available.

    Business:

    Tunisians like to get to know the person with whom they will bedoing business and negotiations tend to be prolonged and verysociable occasions. As with other Arab countries, one is expectedto dress conservatively and formally in Tunisia.

    French is the common language of business and interpreters willbe necessary otherwise. A firm handshake is the accepted form ofgreeting and the Arabic 'salaam aleikum' works better than a simple'hello.' Business hours are generally 8am to 12pm and 3pm to 6pmMonday to Friday.

    Communications:

    The international dialling code for Tunisia is +216. City andarea codes are in use, e.g. (0)1 for Tunis. There is widespreadinternet coverage with wifi in most tourist resorts, hotels, andrestaurants.

    Duty Free:

    Travellers to Tunisia do not have to pay duty on the followingitems: 200 cigarettes, or 50 cigars, or 400g tobacco; 1 bottle ofalcohol; a reasonable amount of perfume; and gifts to the value of10 Tunisian dinars.

    Useful Contacts:

    Tunisian National Tourism Office (ONTT), Tunis:http://www.antor.com/members/tunisia.

    Tunisia Embassies:

    Embassy of Tunisia, Washington DC, United States: +1 202 8621850.

    Embassy of Tunisia, London, United Kingdom (also responsible forIreland): +44 20 7584 8117.

    Embassy of Tunisia, Ottawa, Canada: +1 613 237 0330.

    Embassy of Tunisia, Pretoria, South Africa: +27 12 342 6282.

    Embassy of Tunisia, Canberra, Australia: +61 2 6290 2061.

    Foreign Embassies in Tunisia :

    United States Embassy, Tunis: +216 71 107 000.

    British Embassy, Tunis: +216 (0)71 108 700.

    Canadian Embassy, Tunis (also responsible for Australia): +21670 010 200.

    Honorary Consul of Ireland, Tunis: +216 71 426 730.

    Tunisia Emergency Numbers : 190 (Medical Emergency); 197 (Police); 198(Fire).
    Tunisia