Africa Destinations

Lost in the medina of Tunis

January 22, 2017
Travel guide Tunis

Tunisia – known for its beautiful beaches, desert back-country and ancient ruins has always been a popular tourist destination for Europeans. Way too many years ago I visited Tunisia during a class trip after my high school grad – you may guess it – as a bunch of teenagers our first priority was party, party, party and we hardly saw anything outside our resort fences… Too bad. Now my preferences have changed to more authentic experiences but Tunisia wasn’t on my radar until a couple of weeks ago, when my bf’s best buddy visited his home country and wanted us to see him and his home. Tunis – the capital – isn’t necessarily on the top of the list of Tunisian destinations and therefore I knew very little about that city. I should be positively surprised: Only two hours away by plane (from Vienna) we landed in a different continent but it felt like another world! We stayed at two different hotels in the Medina, the heart of Tunis, and immediately were transferred to the magic of 1001 nights.

Our first hotel (rather a B&B), Dar Traki, was tricky to find but a true gem…

The Medina of Tunis is a huge maze where even Google Maps fails. Nevermind! Just drift away through the narrow streets, dead-ends and traditional souks. Handicraft and trading are still the main functions of the Medina but soon you’ll notice, the real rulers of the hood are the street cats!

Tunis Medina Souk

Tunis Medina

Tunis Medina

There’s all kinds of stuff being sold at the Souks but if you’re looking for fresh products, you’re better off at the Municipal Market outside the Medina. Seafood and fish apparently were the most popular goods according to the volume and amount of people.

Tunis market Tunis market

Btw when you exit the Medina, the face of the city changes: That part clearly has a more European look with grand French-style buildings and street layout. The Avenue Habib Bourgiba has gained world wide attention as the place where the Arab spring has first started.

Unfortunately what also comes to one’s mind when thinking of Tunisia are the horrible attacks from 2015. One of them happened at Tunis’ most popular attraction, the Bardo National Museum. A humble memorial board at the reception pays tribute to the victims and it seemed that people were still avoiding it, because it was very quiet for a museum of such significance (it’s Africa’s second largest museum and contains one of the largest collections of Roman mosaics). Although I’m not very proficient in ancient history, the giant tile and mosaic works were very impressive to look at – clearly a must-visit!

Back to the Medina and our second hotel Dar Ben Gacem which was another architectural masterpiece with helpful and friendly staff ❤

Tunis Dar Ben Gacem Hotel

One view you’ll see at almost every postcard of Tunis was actually quite hard to find, but a friendly local guided us to a carpet shop (very suspicious!) and he wasn’t kidding: A rather unremarkable building from the outside had this gorgeous terrace on the rooftop! And we bought a really nice carpet for cheap btw too 😉 To find this place, head to coordinates 36°47’48.6″N 10°10’14.2″E (approximately) and look out for the shop with the photos of the terrace on display.

Tunis Medina

Tunis Medina

On our last evening we had a true Tunisian experience thanks to our buddy and guide, who took us to a street lablabi spot. Lablabi can be described as a hearty soup with chickpeas, poached egg and lots of bread cubes – a very satisfying meal but not very photogenic :/

Tunis street food

I can recommend you a visit to Tunis if you’re looking for a less-touristy Medina experience and an interesting mix of Western and Oriental influences. Did you ever get lost in a Medina?

Curious about the surroundings of Tunis? Head over to the following article:

Highlights of Northern Tunisia

Tunisia's capital has way more to offer than you'd think: Get lost in the maze of the Medina, the souks and Africa's second largest museum!

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  • Reply Nat Worldwild January 22, 2017 at 4:34 pm

    Tunis war bisher noch nicht auf meinem Reiseradar, offensichtlich zu Unrecht. Die Bilder erinnern mich an Marrakesch – wirklich schön! Marrakesch ist übrigens auch der Ort, an dem ich mich selbst schon in den Straßen der Medina verlaufen habe. Etwas besseres kann einem dort kaum passieren, irgendwann findet man den Weg zurück. Und bis dahin findet man eben ganz viele andere tolle Dinge. 🙂
    Liebe Grüße! Nat

    • Reply sileas January 26, 2017 at 12:01 pm

      Da kann ich dir nur recht geben! Ich war zwar leider noch nie in Marrakesch, aber ich bin auf den Geschmack der Medinas gekommen 🙂

  • Reply Jenny Stephens January 22, 2017 at 4:46 pm

    What an amazing looking place. The variety of cultures in the world continue to astound me!

    • Reply sileas January 26, 2017 at 12:02 pm

      Absolutely, me too!

  • Reply tattw January 22, 2017 at 5:26 pm

    Da geht es mir wie Nat, Tunis hatte ich bis jetzt auch absolut nicht auf meinem Reiseradar. Mich erinnern deine Bilder auch ein bißchen an Marrakesch, obwohl Tunis irgendwie heller & “luftiger” wirkt, finde ich… Das machen bestimmt die (zumindest auf deinen Bildern) ausschließlich weißen Häuserfassaden… Auf alle Fälle ein sehr schöner Post! 🙂

    LG, Julia

    • Reply sileas January 26, 2017 at 12:03 pm

      Vielen Dank! Ich bin froh, dass ich die Gelegenheit hatte, diese relativ unbekannte Stadt zu erkunden 🙂

  • Reply jewels January 23, 2017 at 3:39 am

    I would love to get there – looks stunning!! Love all the street cats!

    • Reply sileas January 26, 2017 at 12:04 pm

      I could spend hours just observing the cats! It’s so interesting 😀

  • Reply Hanna January 23, 2017 at 6:05 am

    Thank You for taking us to the tales from thousand and one nights! I cannot help myself admiring the pics, amazing.

    • Reply sileas January 26, 2017 at 12:06 pm

      Thank YOU Hanna, for your nice words 🙂

  • Reply Paleica January 23, 2017 at 7:55 am

    für deine bilder gibt es nur ein wort, das es für mich trifft: zauberhaft. ich finde es großartig, was du alles gesehen und entdeckt hast und beneide dich ein bisschen dafür. ich tu mir etwas schwer mit diesen engen labyrinthen und dieser sehr offensiven art, wie man angesprochen wird, wenn waren angepriesen werden und komme vor lauter abwehrhaltung nicht dazu, das schöne zu entdecken (so erlebt in tanger). ein ziemlicher jammer, wenn ich das hier so sehe.

    • Reply sileas January 26, 2017 at 12:14 pm

      Ohhh danke! Ja ich glaube, ich habe wirklich Glück, dass bei mir die Voraussetzungen so passen, so dass ich möglichst viel von der Welt sehen kann… Ich habe ähnliche Erfahrungen bei meinem ersten Tunesien-Besuch gemacht – da war der Markt nur auf Touristen ausgerichtet und dementsprechend wurden einem die Waren aufgedrängt… Ganz anders in Tunis, ich war eigentlich positiv überrascht, wie gelassen man dort ist. Man merkt eindeutig, dass der Markt hauptsächlich von Einheimischen besucht wird. Bei manchen Entdeckungen braucht man auch etwas Hilfe: Diese Terrasse hätten wir in dem Gewirr nie gefunden ohne dass uns jemand den Weg gezeigt hätte 😉

      • Reply Paleica January 26, 2017 at 3:07 pm

        ja, das kann natürlich gut sein. naja, wer weiß, vielleicht sammle ich da ja eines tages noch andere erfahrungen!

  • Reply SueT唐 梦 琇 January 23, 2017 at 9:57 am

    Just such beautiful photos Julia…I love the rooftop; I love the streets and love the doorways…actually love all your photos.

    • Reply sileas January 26, 2017 at 12:15 pm

      Thanks Sue, I’m really glad you liked them all 😉

  • Reply PinaySkattebasse January 23, 2017 at 1:19 pm

    I’ve heard many stories and read articles about Tunisia and would really love to visit this place one day. The architecture and the colors are just amazing! You captured several gems in your visit clearly. Your photos looked like you’ve been to many different places around Tunisia, there were too many beautiful details. I hope you enjoyed lablabi. 🙂 Share that carpet! We want to see it. 🙂

    • Reply sileas January 26, 2017 at 12:18 pm

      I agree, at every corner there was something to see! But the lablabi won’t make it to my favourite dishes though 😛 The carpet is now at my bf’s apt, but I’ll send you a pic when I get there 😉

  • Reply Blueberry Stories January 23, 2017 at 1:26 pm

    You always make me travel through your photos, Julia… I just get lost in them!

    • Reply sileas January 26, 2017 at 12:20 pm

      Thank you Ilenia, I’m happy to hear that 🙂

  • Reply The Wayfarer January 23, 2017 at 2:20 pm

    Tunis looks beautiful! I’m moving to the south of Spain next year so hopefully I’ll be able to visit!

    • Reply sileas January 26, 2017 at 12:24 pm

      Oh that sounds wonderful and exciting! From there it’s only a short hop away 😉

  • Reply Tay January 23, 2017 at 5:35 pm

    Oh my, these photos are ridiculously beautiful. I’m completely in love with the beautiful architecture! Your hotels look so cute and fun to stay in! I’m putting Tunisia on my list of places to visit!

    • Reply sileas January 26, 2017 at 12:27 pm

      Oh thanks Tay! I’m sure you’d enjoy it a lot too 😉

  • Reply Christina January 23, 2017 at 9:06 pm

    Tunisia hasn’t been on my travel list but you put it right there! It looks SO amazing, especially all the beautiful pictures with the colourful tiles. Everyone seems to be going to Morocco these days but there are so many other interesting and intriguing countries not too far from Europe that one should pay attention too as well. I had to laugh when I read that you bought a carpet, I guess that’s a must, right? 😀

    • Reply sileas January 26, 2017 at 12:33 pm

      You’re right, for a moment I felt like the whole blogger/Instagram community met in Marrakech 😛 But yes, I’m glad we have so many interesting countries within a short distance’s reach. Haha yes, there are tons of carpets. And they’re really nice and cheap, so we had to get one 😀

  • Reply Eden January 24, 2017 at 4:20 am

    Wow, these photos are incredible. I love the colorful tiles and old architecture. The market looks like somewhere I would love to explore. I enjoyed reading about your experience there! 🙂

    • Reply sileas January 26, 2017 at 1:41 pm

      Thanks a lot Eden! I agree, the tiles and the architecture are stunning!

  • Reply Miyang January 24, 2017 at 7:47 am

    Great pics and the place looks so amazing. 😍

    • Reply sileas January 26, 2017 at 1:57 pm

      Thanks Miyang 🙂

  • Reply annie lee January 24, 2017 at 9:14 am

    wait, are these photos from your phone? it’s amazing!!

    • Reply sileas January 26, 2017 at 2:26 pm

      Not of all of them, but yes – it’s hard to tell the difference, right? 😉

  • Reply markusjerko January 24, 2017 at 10:31 am

    Hallo Julia,
    faszinierende Bilder und eine spannende Geschichte!
    Das ist wirklich eine ganz andere Welt, und du zeigst sie uns in sehr schönen, intensiven Impressionen!
    Ciao Markus

    • Reply sileas January 26, 2017 at 2:27 pm

      Vielen Dank Markus, freut mich sehr, dass dir der Beitrag gefällt 🙂

  • Reply Anna January 30, 2017 at 11:29 am

    Oh, die Fotos sind wirklich wunderschön und machen direkt Fernweh. Am besten hat mir die schwarze Katze gefallen – sowas von flauschig. Hat sie sich anfassen lassen? 🙂


    • Reply sileas February 4, 2017 at 12:03 pm

      Vor allem die Augen von der Katze haben mich fasziniert! Aber sie war auch riesig, so dass ich mich nicht getraut habe sie anzufassen 😛

  • Reply Irhad Babic February 1, 2017 at 11:04 pm

    Wow. I hope you don’t get this the wrong way. I skipped all of your text and just looked at the images :D. Great stuff.

    • Reply sileas February 4, 2017 at 12:04 pm

      Haha, thanks for your honesty! I’m glad you liked the photos 😉

  • Reply wazwu February 4, 2017 at 12:01 am

    Wow, it really does look like it’s straight out of 1001 nights. The colors, textures, and intricate details are lovely! You always take us along with you to the best destinations. 🙂

    • Reply sileas February 4, 2017 at 12:06 pm

      I admit, I was fascinated too! They really have a good eye for beautiful details there!

  • Reply Always a Foreigner February 24, 2017 at 9:44 pm

    Amazingly beautiful pictures. Tunisia doesn’t seem to be a popular destination for Americans, but I’m definitely adding it to my list after reading this post and looking at the pictures.

    • Reply sileas March 1, 2017 at 1:33 pm

      Thank you! You’re right, I’ve never heard about an American going there. You might have to change that 😉

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