Tunis is the capital city of Tunisia. It is Tunisia’s largest city with a population of around 2 million people. With that being said there are plenty of things to do in Tunis thanks to its fusion of cultures and its rich and diverse history. Having lived in Tunisia for the past couple of years I still learn about new things to do in Tunis each and every day. Below is a guide to what are some of the best things to do as you visit Tunis.
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Downtown Tunis at one point was a residential area for many wealthy individuals. As newer suburbs developed, they moved out to these up and coming areas. As a result, many areas in downtown Tunis have not had proper maintenance and care. However, there are a few areas that still remain as some of the best things to do in Tunis.
Avenue Habib Bourguiba
Avenue Habib Bourguiba is the historical heart of downtown Tunis. This long street was named after Tunisia’s first ruler, Habib Bourguiba, after the French occupation. This avenue is most notable for its protest during the Arab Spring. Before entering the Medina of Tunis, you will most likely walk down this bustling avenue lined with coffee shops, stores, and other historic buildings. There are several things to visit while on this street.
Cathedral Saint Vincent de Paul
This beautiful Catholic church opened on Christmas 1897. It is a reminiscence of french rule over Tunisia. It has a beautiful facade that many visitors stop by to take pictures of. You can go inside and take a look at the interior.
Statue of Ibn- Khaldoun
Located in Independence Square is the statue of Ibn-Khaldoun. The Independence Square commemorates Tunisia’s independence from the French on March 20, 1956. Before 1956, the square was known as Place de la Résidence. This named referred to the residence of the French Governor who was living there at the time.
Two french symbols frame the square: the first being the governor’s home, which today serves as the French embassy, and the second is the Cathedral Saint Vincent de Paul.
The statue in the middle of the square, Ibn-Khaldoun is considered to be the father of modern sociology and philosophy. The statue was originally designed by Zoubeir Turki and built by Amor Ben Mahmoud.
This clock at the beginning of Avenue Habib Bourguiba has quite the history of how it came to be where it is today. From 1899-1956 the statue of Jules Ferry the founder of the French protectorate stood where the clock presently stands today.
When Tunisia got its independence from France, the statue of Jules Ferry was replaced with an equestrian statue of the ruler Habib Bourguiba. When Tunisia’s ex-dictator came to power Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, he relocated Bourguiba’s statue to La Goulette and placed a clock, referred to many Tunisians as the “Alarm Clock”. In 2001, the square went through renovations and the “Alarm Clock” was replaced with the current modern clock that stands there today.
After the fall of the regime of Ben Alli, the statue of Habib Bourguiba was returned to its original place alongside the clock.
I love Tunis Sign
A large red sculpture of individual letters spelling out I LOVE TUNIS towards the end of Avenue Habib Bourguiba. A great photo spot to remember your visit to Tunis.
The Municipal Theater
The Municipal Theater is one of the few Art-Nouveau style theaters in the world. It was inaugurated on November 20, 1902. After its primary inauguration, it would go through two renovations. The first was in 1909 when the theater was enlarged and the second in 2001, which was a complete renovation of the building.
Medina of Tunis
At the end of Avenue Habib Bourguiba, you will find Bab el Bhar (Door of the Sea). It is one of the old doors to access the Medina. Medina means the old town. This door is your final stop before entering the souks. The souks are the traditional markets. The Medina of Tunis was founded in 698 around the Zitouna Mosque during the Arab occupation of Tunisia. The Tunisian souks and many other monuments are a must-visit in the Medina. Read more to find out how to spend your day in the Medina of Tunis.
Carthage is a residential neighborhood in the northern suburbs of Tunis. This neighborhood is one of the best things to do in Tunis. Legend has it Carthage was originally founded by the Phoenician Queen Dido in 813 BCE. The name Carthage came from the Romans who named the city as Carthago. Carthage eventually grew to be one of the most powerful cities in the Mediterranean before the rise of Rome. Carthage fell to the Romans after the three punic wars. Present-day Carthage houses various ruins, a punic port, that was eventually used by the Romans, and a Byzantine-Gothic cathedral built during the French colonialism. Here are a few highlights of what you should visit. If you would like to plan your visit to Carthage you can read my guide to “The Ruins of Carthage.”
There are ruins located in just about every corner. Many houses in Carthage even have ruins in or around their homes. The most notable ruins are:
Once served as an ancient citadel under the Phoenicians. As well as housing numerous governmental buildings for the Romans, you can see the ruins of the ancient punic city. There is also the Carthage National Museum as well as the Acropolium of Carthage on the hill.
Antonine Baths (Baths of Antoninus or Baths of Carthage)
These are the ruins of the largest Roman baths built in Africa and one of three of the largest baths built by the Roman Empire. This archaeological site sits right next to the presidential palace, and in front of the sea.
This archaeological site showcases what remains of a wealthy neighborhood in Roman Africa. Beautiful mosaics, sea views, and a reconstructed villa will give you insight into the beauty and comforts the wealthy class was enjoying during the Roman times.
There are two different amphitheaters to visit in Carthage. One of the amphitheaters is still used today to put on performances and concerts.
Although the ruins of the port remain unexcavated you can still see the original outline and traces of the port. Below the ground lies both ruins of the roman and punic port. There is a small museum in the port that you can visit that provides a model of each port.
Acropolium of Carthage (St. Louis Cathedral)
The Acropolium of Carthage is a monument from Tunisia’s French Colonial era. It was originally built by French architect Abbot Pougnet in 1830 in dedication to King Louis IX who died in Carthage during the 8th crusade. King Louis IX died while making his way to Jerusalem. The Acropolium flaunts its Byzantine and Gothic influences both externally and internally. It is the perfect blend of history and architecture that is both pleasing to the eyes and mind.
Sidi Bou Said
Sidi Bou Said is a charismatic neighborhood by the sea. It is one of the best things to visit in Tunis. Famous for its all white and blue villas and buildings, as well as its hefty but admirable doors. Synonymous with both art and creativity this neighborhood has hosted a handful of painters, writers, and architects throughout history. You can read my guide on Sidi Bou Said Tunis to find out more about how to spend your day there.
La Marsa is an upscale seaside neighborhood known for its old french colonial architecture and local beach.
Walk the Corniche
Walking along the Corniche of La Marsa you will take in cafes filled with locals watching the scenery and sipping their coffee, families sharing a laugh alongside a cone of ice cream, young kids frolicking around, all while enjoying a sublime scenery.
La Marsa has a lovely beach you can enjoy sunbathing or taking a swim in during the summer months.
La Marsa has plenty of small boutiques from local artisans that offer high-quality Tunisian goods. There is also a small shopping center “Zaphire” that offers a selection of shops.
Up the hill from La Marsa is Gammarth. Gammarth is lined with lavish seaside villas, resorts, and phenomenal views of the sea. This well-to-do seaside neighborhood offers upscale hotels, restaurants, spas, nightlife, and beaches. If you would like to experience the more luxurious side of Tunis, this is your best choice. Here are some spots to check out in Gammarth:
Hotel and Spa: The Residence
An upscale hotel on the water. It offers beautiful architecture, a magnificent pool, and a must-try spa.
The Ardjan Complex is a multi-bar compound with live music and stylish decor. You can check out many of their bars such as the Yuka, Habibi, Tawa…
Restaurant: Le Grand Bleu
An upscale Sea View restaurant with delicious seafood.
I hope this guide provides you with plenty of things to do in Tunis.