A wild solo week in Tunisia rounded off 2018 as my first mental year of travel and extreme sports. Tunisia is a mixed bag when it comes to safety and adventure, but when done right there are some great memories to be made. Here are the best things to do in Tunisia.
A gorgeous 5* all-inclusive hotel, almost all to myself:
I got a full body massage with facial, foam bath, and tea at the spa. Buuut, I didn’t wear anything under the dressing gown. So the masseuse got a bit of a shock, and I learned something the awkward way.
Sahara 2-Day Trip
The Roman amphitheatre of El Djem in Tunisia is the 3rd largest arena in the world, after Rome’s Colosseum and the ruined theatre of Capua.
Matmata is a small Berber-speaking town in southern Tunisia. Some local Berber residents live in traditional underground “troglodyte” structures. There are only 20 structures left though, and one of the families served me bread and honey.
Of course, no visit to the Sahara is complete without a camel ride!
Remember, this was a 2-day trip through the desert, so the night was spent at a lonely desert 4* hotel. It felt surreal being surrounded by hundreds of miles of sand, but the lounge had shisha pipes which quickly relaxed the senses.
The next day, there were the ruins of a village on a hillside, with an actual oasis in the desert. A waterfall poured naturally warm water into a pool beside palm trees. Definitely the most beautiful place I’ve ever been.
Mos Espa – Star Wars Set
Even though they lifted the travel ban in 2017, the danger level is still severe and my desert hotel was in Douz which is in the ‘don’t travel unless absolutely necessary’ zone. After venturing dangerously close (7km) to the border of Algeria where they smuggle fuel, I got to walk through the Star Wars set of Mos Espa! It’s the set from the Phantom Menace where Liam Neeson, Natalie Portman etc. worked. There are camels lounging around in the heat.
Be careful to stick with your group at the Mos Esposa Star Wars set. Since filming ceased, it’s fallen into the hands of the locals as a makeshift museum. They follow you around and try to charge you for using your own phone to take photos.
Tunis & Sidi Bou Said (the White & Blue City)
After a trip to the capital Tunis, the ancient Roman city of Carthage, I saw the white and blue city, Sidi Bou Said. It lives up to the name, with panoramic shots of the nearby ocean and cities, and delicious mint tea.
Sidi Bou Said is definitely the most beautiful city in the country and one of the best things to do in Tunisia.
Finally, back at the original hotel, I had my first shisha on the beach where a camel walked past. Then I quad-biked through rows of cacti.
On a serious note, this felt like the most dangerous place I’ve been, and I do not recommend going. Aside from the treks, I didn’t feel safe leaving the hotel, got ripped off at every turn, received many odd looks, and was followed. Not the best people – just my advice!
Bonus: When I’d just arrived and didn’t realise how much the natives try to rip people off, I met a man carrying a basket of fruit on the beach. He fed me foreign fruits off the end of a machete (red flag?) and let me stroke his pet tortoise.
He then asked for money, and followed me back to my hotel with the machete & harassed me (and abandoned his tortoise to chase me…?
Hope this gives you ideas of things to do in Tunisia – here are my other solo travel posts.