Tucked in amongst behemoths, Tunisia is the smallest country in North Africa at just over 63,000 square miles. What it lacks in size, however, is more than it makes up for in historical value, natural beauty, and diverse culture–making it one of the top destinations for tourism in North Africa.

Tunisia is right on the edge of the Mediterranean Sea, incredibly close to the European continent. On a very clear day, if you’re standing in the right place, you might actually be able to see Sicily’s coastline. Its long history has made it prone to being conquered and colonised by multiple European empires and nations. 

While Tunisia is now an independent democratic republic, deeply proud of its African and Arabic heritage, it also intertwines threads of its past as a Roman Empire settlement and French colony into the fabric of its culture. Everywhere you turn, you can see a different influence at work, making Tunisia the beautiful and unique country it is so proud to be today.

Let’s dig into some fascinating facts about Tunisia…

Natural Wonders

A view of the Sahara Desert in Tunisia with camels and their riders traversing the sand dunes under a clear blue sky.

1. Sahara Desert

The Tunisian Sahara occupies the entire southern half of the country, and this vast expanse of sun, sand, oases, and ruins is an explorer’s paradise. Whether you’re looking to photograph the beautifully craggy landscape or to get a close-up look at the old locations of the original Star Wars movie trilogy, there’s plenty to see and appreciate here. Ancient villages, salt lakes, lush oases, and more dot the sandy landscape, making it a feast for the eyes and soul.

2. Mediterranean Coastline

The coastline of Tunisia is lined entirely with the beautiful blue expanse of the Mediterranean Sea and the Gulf of Hammamet. Visitors can travel along the coast and spend a day visiting charming villages and stunning resort cities. Popular high points include Sousse, an exquisite Medina and thrilling nightlife; Hammamet, with some of the most beautiful beaches on the coast; and Sidi Bou Said, a charming artist’s paradise.

Whatever city or village you choose to visit, the white sand beaches along the coastline are well-maintained and equipped to service the needs of even the most particular sunbather. If you’re not one for the sun, museums and ruins are also ripe for exploration.   

3. Salt Lakes

Tucked away into the Tunisian Sahara is a series of saline lakes known as chotts. The best known is the Chott El Djerid, where piles of salt crystals glittering in the sunlight can cause visitors to see several intriguing mirages. Along the massive coastline of El Jerid, you’ll find villages, oases, and hot springs plenty to get lost in. And if you love birdwatching, you’ll be in heaven with many migratory and native species to be seen here.

Historical Significance

A scenic view of the historic ruins of Carthage, with ancient stone structures and a backdrop of blue skies and distant hills.

4. Ancient Carthage

In the days of antiquity, Carthage–home of the legendary general Hannibal–was a major and affluent shipping hub; its importance was so great that the Romans invaded, and the bitter Third Punic War was fought over the course of three years. The end result? Despite valiant Carthinagian efforts, the Romans took over, and the city was razed. Carthage was rebuilt multiple times by multiple civilizations but was never again as significant as it was during the Punic era.

Modern-day Carthage exists as a mid-size suburban municipality close to the capital city of Tunis. Much of Punic history was lost when the Romans conquered the area, and many of the ruins that can be explored there are structures that the Roman Empire erected over the ashes of Punic Carthage. Still, though, visitors can wander through the remains of Phoenician homes in the Byrsa Acropolis to get a sense of life in this lost age, and there is a National Museum that preserves items from Punic history and other periods in the long, turbulent existence of Carthage.

5. Roman Ruins

The sacking of Carthage left what we know as modern-day Tunisia open for further exploration by her conquerors. Most Punic settlements were built over by the Romans during their occupation, and while the Romans eventually left the country, many examples of their legendary architecture still remain. 

Visiting the archaeological site of Dougga (also known as Thugga) rewards explorers with an unusual sort of Roman ruin: a city where the Romans chose to integrate their style of architecture with the existing Numidian infrastructure to make the best use of the very hilly terrain. Some examples of incredibly well-preserved structures include temples to Saturn and Minerva, ancient baths with intricate mosaic decorations, and the prize gem of the lot: the Maison du Trifolium, to date the largest residence excavated in Dougga.

More amazing Roman architecture can be found in El Jem, home of one of the most spectacularly well-kept examples of a Roman Colosseum still standing today. The El Djem Amphitheater is in fantastic condition thanks to its dry desert surroundings, with plenty of original nooks and crannies to explore. Each summer, symphonic music enthusiasts from around the globe flock here for the annual El Djem International Symphony Festival.

6. UNESCO World Heritage Sites

To have one historical site named to the UNESCO World Heritage list is an honor for any country; to have eight is nearly an embarrassment of riches! 

Tunisia’s impressive list of UNESCO World Heritage sites includes the above-mentioned Amphitheater of El Djem and the city ruins of Dougga. Additional sites include the Medinas of coastal Sousse and the nation’s capital, Tunis; the stunning Ichkeul National Park; and the city Kairouan, home of the beautiful Great Mosque, one of Islam’s oldest places of worship.

Cultural Richness

A panoramic view of the Medina in Tunisia, showcasing a dense array of traditional white buildings with flat roofs under a clear sky.

7. Berber Villages

The indigenous peoples of North Africa, the Berbers, are famous for their innovative architectural style. Whether tunneled into a mountainside or dug out of the ground, Berber homes have withstood the test of considerable time. They are a central attraction in many of the remaining Berber villages scattered throughout Tunisia. Hiking tours can be booked that can lead you through several of the villages over the course of several days.

Ancient Matmata is perhaps the most famous of the villages, with its troglodyte homes having featured heavily in the Star Wars films. Visitors, however, really shouldn’t miss out on exploring the sprawling expanse of Chenini and the stunning white-washed Mosque of the Seven Sleepers; also worth a visit is Guermessa, where some of the most imposing Berber homes are carved into the base of a large pyramid-shaped hill. 

8. Medina of Tunis

If you want to get lost in an entirely different world, head for the Medina of Tunis. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a warren of souks, mosques, monuments, and cafés with origins so long ago–698 AD!–that walking through the colorful streets and alleyways really will feel like a trip back in time. Because of its age, the Medina’s architecture spans a truly staggering number of eras and is a fantastic example of classic North-African Islamic architecture.

9. Traditional Music and Dance

Tunisia is a relatively small country, but it has a reputation for being a cultural powerhouse, particularly in dance and music. 

Of specific note is the Malouf genre of music, which was created after the Moors were expelled from Andalusia. A kind of classical music played by small orchestras, there’s a distinct flavour of Spain and Portugal to Malouf. However, it’s still a proudly and specifically North African style of music. Today’s Malouf is often played at weddings and other large ceremonies.

Tunisian traditional dance also has a rich history. It is at turns, theatrical, athletic, and utterly spell-binding. Props and costumes play integral roles in dance styles like the Raks Al-Juzur (Water Pot Dance) and Tunisian Belly Dance, making for a complete artistic package that’s a genuine treat.

10. Festivals

Music, wine, film, arts and culture… Tunisia is home to a remarkable array of annual festivals that help pull in a significant portion of the country’s millions of visitors annually. 

Some of the more notable festivals include the Tabarka Jazz Festival, which has featured major jazz names like Al Jarreau, Charles Mingus, and Diana Krall in its storied history; the International Festival of Carthage, a massive cultural festival that spans mid-July to mid-August and features musicians and musical stylings from around the world; and the prestigious Carthage Film Festival, created to celebrate and recognize Arab and sub-Saharan African cinema.

Major Cities and Landmarks

A street scene in Tunis with a blend of historical and modern buildings, people walking, and a man in traditional attire in the foreground.

11. Tunis

Tunisia’s capital city has lived many a life and seen many rulers in its long history. From the region once known as the great city of Carthage to the legendary Medina, from the glamorous modern part of the city to the multifaceted expanse of Belvédère Park, there is a region of Tunis to suit any traveller’s tastes, whether you’re there for history, architecture, museums, nightlife, or shopping.

12. Sidi Bou Said

For history, charm, and culture by the boatload, look no further than the seaside town of Sidi Bou Said. It’s been renowned for decades as a dream destination for artists, and a quick stroll through the cobbled streets clarifies why. 

The sea views are absolutely unparalleled in their beauty, while the town’s white houses with bright blue trim make for a legendary backdrop in your Instagram grid photos. Sidi Bou Said is also known for its beautiful ceramics, so stop in one of the local shops and pick up some colorful and unique souvenirs.

13. Sousse

The lovely coastal city of Sousse is well-known for its architecture, its beautiful beaches, and its ancient Medina. 

But Sousse also has a reputation for thriving, exciting nightlife! With everything from tiny local bars to the circus-like atmosphere of Bora Bora, there’s a place for everyone in Sousse; you can lounge on the beach in the morning, rest in the afternoon, and then dance through the night. The next morning? Get out and explore all of the city’s historical riches. Sousse is truly a multifaceted gem of a destination.

14. Monastir

The beautiful resort city of Monastir is situated on a peninsula just 20 km south of Sousse. Its location, beaches, and wealth of medieval monuments make it ideal for a coastal Tunisian vacation.

In Monastir, visitors can marvel at the Ribat of Monastir, an Islamic defensive fortification built in the 8th century. This incredible complex of buildings includes two mosques, a museum, and a collection of priceless ancient artefacts. Few places on Earth can you find so much ancient history so well preserved in its original home.

Monastir is also the final resting place of Habib Bourguiba, the former president of Tunisia and the father of Tunisian independence from France. Bourguiba was born in Monastir and had his beautiful carved marble, crystal and gold mausoleum built in the 1960s and 1970s. Guests are permitted to pay their respect to Bourguiba and to examine a small collection of his personal belongings preserved in a sort of miniature museum there.

Cuisine and Gastronomy

A close-up of a traditional Tunisian dish in a wooden bowl, featuring a colorful mix of vegetables and bread.

15. Tunisian Cuisine

Tunisian cuisine has expanded into the Western world, with dishes such as couscous and the sublimely spicy condiment harissa becoming household names over the last decade. But visiting Tunisia is the only way to indulge your best foodie dreams and experience the full array of authentic Tunisian cuisine.

Tunisia’s version of shakshouka is ojja, a delicious one-pan stew of tomatoes, peppers, cheese and egg. Add some spicy sausage and you’ll have the popular merguez variant!  Generally served with thick, crusty bread, ojja is a hearty meal option full of flavor, perfect for any time of day.

Remember to snack on brik as often as possible; these deep-fried pastry pockets filled with egg, potatoes, and parsley are available at Tunisian restaurants in many forms and with many additional filling possibilities. 

16. Olive Oil Production

We all know about Greek, Italian, and Spanish olive oil, but real food enthusiasts know that African olive oils are where the real flavor is. It may be surprising to find out that Tunisia is actually one of the world’s leading producers of olive oil! And not just any olive oil–Tunisian olive oil is given consistently high marks from the International Olive Council for its impeccable flavor and quality, and often brings home many top awards.

17. Street Food

It’s said that the truest way to come to know a country is to dine on its street food–the easy-to-obtain, cheap and cheerful foodstuffs that are often the most delicious part of a country’s cuisine. This may be especially true in Tunisia, where heady spice and rich flavors are held in high esteem.

Perhaps the most popular street food is lablabi, which consists of a flavorful chickpea stew ladled over half of a torn-up baguette (which, in most cases, you’ll have shredded yourself–just a little bit of a fun DIY factor here). Especially hearty and welcome in the wintertime, this dish is the ultimate in Tunisian comfort food.

Get stuck into a crispy, sugary bambalouni, and you’ll be transported to foodie heaven. This Tunisian doughnut is especially popular in Sidi Bou Said, but you can find it in most cities. You might be offered different toppings or dips, or you can get it completely plain–it’s fried dough, and there’s no wrong way to eat it!

Arts and Crafts

18. Handicrafts

Woven carpets, elaborately embroidered dresses, hammered metal jewelry, colorful pottery… Tunisia is justifiably proud of its multitudes of exquisite handicrafts. The history of handmade items, from utensils to tapestries in Tunisia, goes back centuries, and it seems as if almost every region has its own specialty

Visit Kairouan for the finest carpets, Mahdia for beautiful woven silk fabric, and Nabuel for straw mats and baskets. This will only scratch the surface of the wonderful handmade treasures you can bring home. Bringing an extra suitcase for your beautiful bounty might be a good idea.

19. Calligraphy

The centuries-old written art form of Arabic calligraphy is enjoying a lively renaissance these days, and it’s more than worth anyone’s time to seek out examples of it in museums, craft shops, and even Tunisian street art. There are as many styles of Arabic calligraphy as countries are championing its rebirth, making it an endlessly fascinating art form to study and appreciate.

Economy and Trade

A bustling beach scene in Tunisia with people swimming and sunbathing, and a backdrop of turquoise waters and a clear sky.

20. Phosphates

Phosphate, a mineral that is a significant ingredient in fertilizer production, has long been a keystone in the Tunisian economy. While there has been a dip in output and demand in recent years, new uses are constantly being found for phosphate, most notably in producing greener lithium phosphate batteries. Tunisia is now anticipating that phosphate production will double in the coming year.

21. Tourism

Another key resource in the Tunisian economy is that of tourism. Between the ancient ruins, the beautiful beaches, the natural wonders, and the custom of the movie industry, Tunisia has seen its tourism numbers climb to nearly 10 million visitors annually over the last few years. Visitors indulge in fine textiles, guided tours, and excellent cuisine, allowing the Tunisian economy to flourish.


A photograph of a person sitting in front of the Star Wars film set in the Tunisian desert, featuring iconic Tatooine architecture.
Source: Wikimedia Commons

22. Star Wars Filming Locations

Lovers of the Star Wars movies will already know that many of the planet Tattooine’s scenes were set in Tunisia, and some of the sets still exist today. Galaxy Tours is a popular operator that offers half and full-day tours of Star Wars and Indiana Jones locations, or you can pick and choose which ones to see and go out on your own. But if nothing else, if you’re a real Star Wars fan, you can’t pass up the chance to stay at the Hôtel Sidi Driss–also known as the Lars homestead, Luke Skywalker’s home on Tattooine.

23. Education and Literacy

As soon as Tunisia achieved independence, the incoming government emphasised the need for an educated citizenry. 

Tunisia’s government is dedicated to providing as many educational opportunities to its citizens as possible. Starting with making primary education free and compulsory for children ages 6-16 and continuing to bolster its secondary educational programs to provide students with choices in their career paths, over 20% of the government’s annual budget is allocated specifically for education–that’s how important the topic is.

Because of this focus on education and, subsequently, on literacy, Tunisia has a literacy rate of over 80%, and the number only increases yearly. 

24. Tunisia is one of the places in Africa where it snows!

A snowy path in Tunisia with trees and rocks covered in snow, and a person walking along the path.
Source: Flickr

Although snow in Tunisia is relatively rare, it falls in the northern and northwestern regions, particularly mountainous areas. The most notable places where it snows include:

Kef Governorate: This region, especially the town of Le Kef, often experiences snowfall during the winter months. It is located in northwestern Tunisia and has higher altitudes than other regions.

Jebel ech Chambi: The highest mountain in Tunisia, located in the central-western part of the country near Kasserine, occasionally sees snowfall in winter due to its elevation (1,544 meters or 5,066 feet).

Ain Draham: This town, located in the northwestern part of Tunisia near the Algerian border, is known for its higher elevations and can experience snowfall during the winter.

The snow season in Tunisia typically occurs from December to February, coinciding with the country’s winter months. The snowfall is not usually heavy or prolonged but can occasionally cover the ground, creating a picturesque winter landscape in these regions.


Tunisia’s true beauty is that it is a mosaic of countries and cultures packed into one tiny yet mighty nation. 

Here, you’ll find history, art, culture, nature, incredible food, and many more surprises than you can even guess. Whether you want to lounge on the world’s best beaches or fall through time in an ancient Roman ruin, your ideal getaway awaits you in Tunisia.