Most people only think of the beach and the desert when they picture travel in Tunisia, but honestly this couldn’t be further from the truth.
And that’s because there’s such a wealth of amazing things to do in this country that go well beyond these 2 stereotypical landscapes most people think of.
And I feel pretty passionate about sharing this too!
For Tunisia really is an underrated gem in North Africa in my opinion, a country wildly overlooked in favour of nearby Egypt and Morocco, and without good reason.
Because the diversity of things to do here really is astounding!
So if you feel like getting off the beaten track a little in North Africa and seeing a different historical site to the pyramids, or a different mountain range to The Atlas, then Tunisia is your place.
Oh and spoiler alert, it’s wonderfully cheap too!
Let’s me show the best bits with these top 21 things to do in Tunisia…
My trip to Tunisia was sponsored by the Authentic Tunisia campaign but, as always, all views are my own.
This page contains affiliate links meaning Big World Small Pockets may receive a small commission on any purchases at no extra cost to you.
#1 Wander Sidi Bou Said
Kicking off this list of the best things to do in Tunisia, we have a personal favourite of mine and an absolute gem of a hotspot!
Yes the ancient, coastal and cliff-perched town of Sidi Bou Said is a must visit during your time in Tunisia and located super close to the main airport in the country, it’s the perfect place to kick things off!
Adorned with whitewashed walls and historic blue doorways, this colour-coordinated town dates back hundreds of years and is set to become a UNESCO treasure very soon!
Get therefore before the crowds do and enjoy amazing coastal rooftop views from a traditional Dar guesthouse.
Learn more in this full Sidi Bou Said travel guide.
#2 Cycle the Carthage Ruins
And very close to Sidi Bou Said, which is actually within the Carthage region, are an amazing set of ruins, museums and monuments, that are still testimony to the huge capital city this once was.
An incredibly affluent trading port under the time of the Roman Empire, Carthage was once the capital of the whole African province of this civilisation, and the fantastic UNESCO-listed remains are a great way to learn more about this.
#3 Explore the Tamerza Oasis
And in at number 3 on this list of top things to do in Tunisia, we now travel to the south of the country and the great Saharan landscape that covers most of it.
Travelling the length and breadth of Tunisia will allow you to glimpse how diverse this country really is and at Tamerza, in the far west of the country (right by the Algeria border), you’ll see just how true that is.
This is the largest mountain oasis in Tunisia and has a stunning canyon and abandoned town, as well as a waterfall you can swim in.
The Chebika Oasis with its natural springs and Tunisian Salt Lakes are 2 other top places to visit in Tunisia and you can easily explore them at the same time.
#4 Kayak in Al Huwariyah
But from the southeast of Tunisia to the other side of the country, we now head to the beautiful Cap Bon region, which sits in the northwest of the country.
This remote but stunning area is very special and I highly recommend it as one of the top places to visit in Tunisia.
I spent 3 days in the region, basing myself in town of Al Huwariyah, at the very tip of the peninsula.
You can read more about my time there in this complete travel guide, but one of my highlights was kayaking from the beach here to nearby caves and hidden coves.
Don’t miss this fantastic way to explore the beautiful coastal of this rural area – an absolute must do thing in this country.
#5 Enjoy a Coffee at Kelibia Fort
And also in the Cap Bon area is the port town of Kelibia.
A popular vacation spot for local Tunis residents in the summer, outside of this, this town is quiet, calm and boasts a lovely Byzantine Fort you can wander round.
With gorgeous coastal views from its elevated position, I nevertheless think the highlight is the café here!
Traditional in every sense of the word, the Café du Fort gives incredible views over the town and if you want to relish a classic Tunisian café, which you should FYI, there’s few better places in my opinion than this!
#6 Learn How to Make Harissa
And the Cap Bon region is also a foodie heaven, which if you travel Tunisia, is something you’re going to learn about very quickly!
Honestly, the Tunisians love to eat like nothing else I’ve ever seen!
And on top of every meal seems to be the unofficial local, spicy dip of harissa – a must try while you are here.
And what better place to try it and see how it’s made than in Cap Bon where this spicy superfood originates.
An area with a strong fishing and farming heritage, rural Cap Bon is not only place a great place to experience harissa being made, but also to eat to your heart’s content – the perfect antidote to all the physical activity you can enjoy in this area.
After all, if you don’t come to Tunisia and eat your heart out, you’re definitely missing on of the top things to do here!
#7 Make a Pilgrimage to Star Wars Sites
But now back to the desert we go on this list of the best things to do in Tunisia, because of course, no catalogue of this country’s highlights would be complete without mentioning Star Wars.
From the Salt Lake of Chott el Djerid, to Matmata, Rub’ al Khali and beyond, you can travel a great number of sites in the south of the country where scenes from these famous movies were shot.
The best way to see them is to take a Star Wars tour, which will transport you in a jeep between locations and also book you into local accommodation in the form of traditional desert guesthouses.
If you want to get your George Lucas fix, southern Tunisia is certainly the place!
#8 See Kairouen’s Huge Mosque
A UNESCO World Heritage Site that dates back to 670 AD, Kairouen is another atmospheric place in Tunisia that, even if it hasn’t inspired a film yet, feels like it might do!
This ancient city is home to one of the most important, and huge, mosques in Tunisia and was previously a very important site for Islamic scholars.
The Grand Mosques, as it’s known, is located in the Medina and strolling up to and around this huge and significant religious site is highly memorable.
#9 Chill on the Beach at Hammamet
But from one extreme to another – if you want to go from mosques to coastal resorts, it’s hard to get more resort-y than Hammamet
Certainly not everyone’s cup of tea, if you like sand, sea, sun and cocktails however, Hammamet is probably the place!
The Carthageland amusement park is here too, and there’s a whole tourist medina as well where you can shop, eat, drink and hammam to your heart’s content.
It is a strange place, but if you want to explore less of Tunisia and feel more like you’re on a trad holiday where you don’t have to move or do too much, Hammamet is the place!
#10 Soak in Sousse
A great working city and a phenomenal beach destination in Tunisia, if you’re looking for some sun, sea and sand (and don’t want to brave resort-heavy Hammamet), Sousse is a bit lighter on the package holiday vibes.
I say a bit!
With beautiful, white sand beaches and lovely hotels to match, I like the fact that Sousse is at least a real city, which does make it feel slightly more authentic!
Regular trains run here from Tunis (taking under 2.5 hours) and this certainly makes it an easy place to get to.
It’s also a good base from which to delve deeper into the desert if that tickles your Tunisia fancy too.
Book your train, bus, private car or minivan transport to Sousse here.
#11 Join a Halfa Workshop in Hergla
And not far from Sousse is the cute coastal fishing village of Hergla.
A traditional sea spot with small harbour, cafes and fishing charm, one of the main industries here is the halfa industry.
A traditional craft, grass from the lowland mountains nearby is brought down to Hergla to soak and soften in seawater, before it’s weaved into all sorts of products, including baskets, lampshades and more.
It’s a beautiful art and there’s several shops in town that sells these unique products.
It’s possible to try weaving it yourself in a workshop with local woman.
And, if you visit Hergla, don’t miss a stay at the stunning Dar Khadijaa – you won’t regret it!
#12 Go Caving in Grotte ain Dhab
But now for something totally different on this list of the best things to do in Tunisia!
Located in the north of Tunisia is one of the most significant caves in North Africa and amazingly you can actually go caving in here!
This was my first caving experience and it was pretty unforgettable!
A great local start-up company called Domaine Essarj can sort you out with everything you need, including a guides, wetsuits, head lamps and wellies.
Contact them, then head to their base just outside the city of Siliana, and they’ll take you on this amazing adventure to a cave so deep it’s still being excavated.
Boasting some of the longest stalagmites ever recorded, speleologists are still trying to find the source of this giant underwater world, so you won’t be the only ones discovering it!
#13 Enjoy Colourful, Coastal Bizerte
Another lovely coastal town in the north of Tunisia, Bizerte is well worth visiting for a night or 2, and doing so is certainly one of the best things to do in Tunisia.
On warmer days. paddle boarding awaits you from the coast, or you can enjoy the beautiful beaches and caves near Cape Engela and Cape Hmem.
Afterwards you can enjoy amazing seafood by the Bizerte marina.
On windier or wetter days, why not head into the hammam, for a fantastic traditional bath experience.
There’s several important historical sites around here too, including the Old Port with its ancient medina, Ottoman fountain and Medieval fort, all of which combine to make Bizerte a must-visit spot on your Tunisia itinerary.
#14 Ascend to Kesra
A traditional Berber village, and the highest inhabited town in Tunisia, this ancient and traditional spot is filled with strong cultural heritage.
Famous for its fig and olive production in particular, Kesra is situated 1100m above sea level and renowned for its wooden stick houses.
You can wander the ancient streets here, take in the elevated views and swing past old barbers and food stores, as kids play along the cobbles and women in traditional dress amble by.
#15 Rock Climb in Djebel Zaghouan National Park
The first time I ever tried rock climbing (as opposed to bouldering). was in Tunisia, which came as a real surprise!
Before I came, I didn’t even know you could rock climb here!
But turns out Djebel National Park, near the town of Zaghouan, is the perfect place to try your hand at it.
I used the fantastic company Defouli who provide technical equipment and certified instructors to help give you a fantastic and safe experience.
And this lovely landscape is a great place to enjoy it too.
Learn more in this complete travel guide to Zaghouan I wrote.
#16 Visit El-Djem
The amphitheatre of El Djem is one of the most famous and notable ruins sites in Tunisia and simply cannot be missed off your list of top things to do here.
Built in the 3rd century, this was once the centre of an important trading town, known as Thysdrus, famous for its olive oil production.
The El Djem amphitheatre was used for gladiator shows and chariot races and, seating 35,000 spectators in its heyday, only the Colosseum in Rome and the ruined theatre of Capua are thought to be bigger!
Declared a UNESCO-listed heritage site in 1979, this is a site even the non-history buffs among you will struggle not to be wow-ed by.
#17 Discover Zriba El Alia
Outside the town of Zaghouan, you can find an abandoned Berber village that exists like a living museum even to this day.
Set on the edge of an arid landscape, the village provides amazing views and wandering the street of this forgotten town is really quite remarkable.
Climbing to the top of the old mosque, up the stone, twisting steps, to take in the view from the top is utterly remarkable and a great way to learn more about this community of people, how they lived and moved across North Africa.
Definitely one of the top things to do in Tunisia, there’s also a café where you can grab a traditional tea or coffee and enjoy the golden hour glow over this impressive, yellow stone town.
#18 Get Behind the Loom at a Wool Workshop
Back up in the region of Siliana, I got to enjoy a very special workshop in Tunisia, which was watching and copying the traditional wool weaving techniques of women here.
A hilly and cooler area, goats and sheep are popular domesticated animals still kept here for their meat, milk and of course, hair and fur.
And the latter of these has, for centuries, provided great comfort and warmth during the especially harsh winters.
Traditionally performed by women, the weaving work here remains largely unchanged, and getting to see the act of huge rugs, carpets and garments being made is certainly one of the top things to do in Tunisia.
Local grassroots tourism company Domaine Essarj can organise this for you and it’s a great way to bring sustainable tourism to women working in one of the most economically under-developed parts of Tunisia.
#19 Explore the Souk in Tunis
The capital of this country, Tunis, is not my favourite spot to be in Tunisia to be honest, and if you want to spend a few days in and around the capital, then I highly suggest basing yourself at nearby Sidi Bou Said instead.
However, one place you should check out in Tunis for at least a couple of hours, is the old Medina, complete with its traditional souk.
Built like many of the other famous walled cities in north Africa, this is a maze of narrow streets lined with sellers of every description, so prepare to get lost!
If you’re looking for a traditional experience however, and perhaps a traditional lunch too, then this is definitely one of the best things to do in Tunisia.
Tea in traditional teahouse, Café du Souk, comes highly recommended as well.
#20 Marvel at Whitewashed Djerba
Did you know Tunisia is actually a country that boasts quite a few islands?
Well neither did I until I have travelled here!
And my pick of the bunch has to be the amazing Djerba – the largest north African island which is home to roughly 160,000 people.
Located in the south of the country, this fantastic island has a rich history and the main souk here – Souk Houmt – is a great place to begin exploring.
Historically, Phoenician and Roman communities settled on the island, but most notably now, Djerba is home to one of the last remaining Jewish communities in this part of the world and you can’t miss learning more about this fascinating slice of Tunisian life – especially during the famous pilgrimage soon, which is usually around May.
Finish off your time on Djerba at the stunning white sand beaches of Plage Sidi Mahrez and Plage de la Seguia.
It takes about 6 hours to drive from Tunis to Djerba, so book your private transfer here.
#21 Step Back in Time at Maktar
And finally on this list of top things to do in Tunisia, we have another historic gem.
Maktar in the north of the country is an ancient site filled with important archaeological ruins and a great, small museum.
Originally settled by Berber communities, it was later occupied by Punic refugees fleeing the capital Carthage, before the Romans took control around 146 AD.
Situated at 900m above sea level, the town has some fab scenic views, and strolling the ancient ruins here gives a great insight into why Maktar has been inhabited by humans for so long.
With a mild continental climate, fertile lands and good water supply, the town become a thriving farming and textile centre during the Roman era and the remains of temples, thermal baths and schools, not to mention ancient burial tombs and an amphitheatre, can still be visited today.
Top Travel Tips for Tunisia
Best Time to Visit Tunisia?
Spring and autumn months are the best times to visit Tunisia in my opinion.
With a Mediterranean climate, traveling to this country in either April, May, September or October will allow you to enjoy a pleasant climate perfect for outdoor activities and sightseeing.
Learn more about the best time to visit Tunisia.
How to Get There?
Flights to the country’s main international airport, Tunis-Carthage, arrive from cities across Europe and beyond.
As always, I use Skyscanner to find the best flight deals.
How to Get Around?
Trains, domestic flights and buses all allow you get around Tunisia.
However, as I recommend you visit many off the beaten track spots during your travels here, hiring a car really is the best way to get around the county.
Check out these great Tunisia rental car deals for more info.
Top Tunisia Tours
Alternatively, if you’d rather not travel Tunisia independently, these top Tunisia tours are another great way to experience the country.
5 Key Packing Items
Located in north Africa, Tunisia is a diverse country boasting coast, mountains, deserts and ancient cities.
Make sure you’re prepared with these top 5 packing items…Water To Go bottle Windproof Jacket Versatile Trainers Lightweight Day Pack Mirrorless Camera
Learn what else you should take in this complete Tunisia packing list,
Travel Insurance for Tunisia
World Nomads offers simple and flexible travel insurance. Buy at home or while travelling and claim online from anywhere in the world.
Alternatively, if you’re a long-term traveller, digital nomad or frequent remote worker seeking travel health cover, check out Safetywing’s Nomad Insurance policies.
Travel Money in Tunisia
The easy way to spend abroad with real exchange rates, no markups and no sneaky transaction fees, you can use your Wise card just like a debit card in Tunisia… and it links easily with Google and Apple pay. Get yours here.
PIN IT TO PINTEREST!
So there you have it, the top 21 things to do in Tunisia.
If you’re looking to get off the beaten track and explore the real side of this country, away from just the coastal resorts, then this list is for you!
Have any questions about travel in Tunisia still?
Then don’t hesitate to drop them into the comments box below and I’ll get back to you.