A picturesque country, Tunis with its ancient Medina and overlooking the Mediterranean is surely breathtaking.
I had the chance to visit Tunis the capital for 5 days, and in the limited time that I was there, the charm of the city has captivated me. Another mix and match trip, Business turned to Leisure!
How to reach:
My flight was booked by the organizers of the workshop in which I was participating, through Tunsiair. One of the best airlines really, in matter of service, accuracy, airport check-in, luggage and Food! The trip is not too long, in around 3 hours we reached Carthage International airport.
The airport is similar somehow to Beirut’s, the duty-free is not bad with the selection it has, however pay attention for departures, the shops do not accept Tunisian Dinar (TND) so make sure to exchange before crossing security check.
Where to stay:
After reading many bad reviews about the hotel in which the organizers have booked, I would not recommend it to you, as I did not have the ability to change the first part of the stay it was Acropole Hotel.
But what I would TOTALLY recommend, the room that I booked through Airbnb, is located in the heart of the Medina: Dar 24 have melted my heart.
Isabelle and Salim, a couple who have restored two locations inside the old Medina, one is their actual house where they rent a studio apartment, and the other is my lovely Dar.
Since I saw it on Airbnb, it was love at first sight, I knew this is where I want to spend the extended two days. The hosts were attentive replying my emails, and till the day of my departure of the hotel toward them, Isabelle was all the time guiding the taxi to reach.
Just as I stepped inside the door (it was a struggle to go beyond my amazement at doors you know me*cough*) my inner child was expressing herself freely! I was so excited that I did not even sleep that night! Scroll through some of the photos to know what I mean!
If you are looking to experience the Medina life, then this is the address to be!
What to visit:
Between the research that I did and the assistance of Isabelle with her detailed map, here are the top places to visit when you have hardly one day!
Cotton cake café: After all that my first few days near Lac Du Tunis, were not as bad, in fact when I arrived, I took a stroll, which lead me to this beautiful discovery. A coffee shop, boutique and an art Gallery. Charming interiors and unique items on display such as the collection of Anissa Aida who is a Tunisian designer in New York.
Old Medina: even though many areas are undergoing renovation, the spirit of the place is left untouched, wander off its tiny streets, and watch the busy life of people passing by. As all the souks, you have different areas dedicated to each type of product: Gold and Silver souks, Spices, but what I loved the most was the Choucheya! I bought my red one from Am Raouf the sweetest ever who ornamented it with Fatima’s hand!
Fondouk El Attarine: It is the brother restaurant of Dar El Jeld, I was too stuffed from the delicious breakfast that Isabelle prepared me that I only strolled inside. Well not only it is a feast for the eye, but it also has a display of handmade jewelry and souvenirs in very affordable prices. Make sure to buy their perfumes with Arabian scents (Misk, Anbar, Oud…) or check the collection of rugs and vintage clothes.
Carthage: Alissar ran away from Tyre, after her brother killed her husband and settled building her own kingdom in Carthage. Enough history! To be honest with you, I realize every time I visit a new country that I am more tempted of discovering the streets, sites and things that are off the beaten track more than the touristic ones. However I opted to visit some of the famous sites in Carthage which were:
Museum: It gives you an idea of the main are of Carthage, looking over the sea, and near the Cathedral which unfortunately was closed when I visited. From there you can buy a pass for 10 TND which allows you to visit ten sites.
Thermes D’Antonin: More charming, I walked my way there from the Museum (10 min walk). It is near the presidential palace as well as many ambassadors’ residences so photos are not allowed around but you are free inside the site. It is very beautiful mixing between a park and ruins beside the sea.
Sidi Bou Said: grab a taxi from Carthage and within 15 minutes you are transported to a charming area. Hues of white and blue of a hill that overlooks the bay; it reminded me of Jounieh! You can buy and bargain souvenirs from the shops, and grab a cup of tea with the traditional sweets. And enjoy the stroll, you might be lucky to pass by a street band or an exhibition!
I grabbed a taxi back to the Dar and after a long day I was happy to have managed to see as many places as I wanted too.
Other recommended places that I did not have unfortunately time to visit were: Zaitunay Mosque and the Bardo museum.
Where to eat:
My first meal in a country, regardless for how many hours was my flight, is usually not super phenomenal! Yet I managed to grab a decent meal at Chili’s near the hotel. A filling salad served with a smile!
I would have loved to eat at Cotton cake café so make sure you do as everything is homey and even their cake selection is amazing. For two days I had to stuff my stomach with whatever was served at the Hotel as we I was attending a seminar.
We were equally invited to Restaurant Aquatic by the organizer. The location is just besides the Lac de Tunis, nice view, good service, yet it lacked of authenticity. It was more of an international cuisine. The dorade with veggies was good and so was the desserts served in trays.
I enjoyed my unique breakfast at Dar 24 catered with the lovely hands of Isabelle and Maya. I had the masfouf: which is the sweet couscous with dates, pomegranate seeds and fruits, the selection of jams especially the dates one, the yogurt sprinkled with dates sugar, as well as the coffee. It would have been awesome to have more time to eat at Fondouk el Attarine or visit El Ali café and Dar Zarrouk but I am counting on my next trip to do so!
I do not recommend Café El Alia, instead go to Café des délices which is equally called Kahwat Sidi Shebaan, for a breathtaking view over the sea.
- And finally, do not even think of leaving without trying Dar El Jeld, fine dining at its best. Make sure to reserve as it gets really packed. Open for dinner, prepare yourself for a feast that does not break the bank!
As I filled my bucket with memories, I left a country that has pleasantly surprised me with its beauty that not only in its streets and ruins but mainly in its people.
“What is most amazing is not how our senses span distance or cultures, but how they span time. Our senses connect us intimately to the past, connect us in ways that most of our cherished ideas never could.” Diane Ackerman
Until the next time,
- Acropole Hotel: Les Berges Du Lac Walkway, Tunis
- Dar 24: 24 Rue Sidi Brahim، Tunis
- Cotton Cake Café: 1 Rue du Lac Windemere, Tunis
- Chili’s : 1 Avenue principale, Tunis
- Restaurant Aquatic: Rue du Lac Biwa، Tunis
Fondouk El Attarine: 9 Bis Souk El Attarine, Tunis
- Dar El Jeld: 5 rue Dar El Jeld, Tunis
- Café des Délices: Impasse de la Corniche, Site archéologique de Carthage
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