Time to answer questions, this time they came from my friend Sabrina.
Moving around Tunisia is a delight, in many senses. You can drive in Italy, Delhi, or smaller towns, but Tunisia is just pleasant and fun. With 8 airports, of which 5 handle international flights, Tunisia has 19,232 km of roads. Given this information, I vividly suggest that you hire a car if what you look for is an independent travel experience. You’ll be able to reach almost every corner in complete freedom.
On our road trip in Tunisia, we drove through extraordinary landscapes – sand dunes, beautiful mountains, salt plains, sea side, oasis and palmeries. We passed remote homesteads with palm-frond roofs and stopped at troglodyte homes. In isolated villages you can still see turbaned men riding horses; smart-dressed elders, veiled women; souks selling spices, dates, fish, and pottery, and everywhere a smiling hospitality.
But before we dig into it, let’s have a general look on the basics:
Let’s start with the basic element. The roads. Tunisia has an extensive road network that connects all of the main towns and cities. Even the smaller villages have some form of public transport which makes getting around the country very easy 🙂 But the roads are the trick, my BestTravelBuddyEver insists that the quality of the roads is superb, way better then many roads of Europe (he said Italy actually.. Umbria, if we want to tell the whole truth, but it’s nicer to compare Tunisian roads quality with a whole continent 🙂 and it still makes a good point).
The smallest roads are tar-sealed and the main motorways are all in very good shape. Not a single hole on the ground.
They drive on the right side. But at some point, that doesn’t matter anymore. In case you find yourself in danger, you have to move quickly on either side, or wait patiently until danger moves away.
You’ll find three main motorways in Tunisia. Other major roads in Tunisia are usually designated with either a ‘P’ or ‘C’ and they connect the entire country, even the southern Sahara if you might.
The cities and resorts are very safe and easy to get around by car or taxi, and in Tunis you can also offering local electric train services and a tram network if you wish to move around with public transport.
Generally quite clear but in roundabouts we did
So, what makes driving around Tunisia so amusing?
People. Definitely 🙂
When you drive, you’ll find that special care should paid towards pedestrians. Tunisians have a thing for walking on the roads without much care of cars behind them.
You can be driving very slowly behind them and they won’t budge an inch unless: you honk the horn, or yell “Hey!”, or if you approach them so close that eventually they turn around and make a way for you.
About Women in Tunisia:
I found Tunisia generally very relaxed when it comes to women, in big cities like Tunis, Sidi Bou Said or the islands even, you’ll find women wearing varying degrees of western dress and some very tight jeans on the young, while others more conservative. My idea of traveling to these places is generally to blend in and try not to catch too much attention. Remember, they are Tunisians and you are not!
My advice is to dress conservatively – loose pants and tops, cover your legs and shoulders, and you should be fine. Above all this though, Tunisians are incredibly friendly and respectful. During my time there I haven’t found pushy sellers or anything like that at all. Also, Tunisians are very hospitable people, so you should enjoy your time there.
In Tunis you’ll find women driving, although not too often. And it’s true that you don’t see cars with women driving in the countryside, and no women in bars or restaurants except for some tourists.
It was two of us driving, but I cannot forget the staring looks of local men when they saw me driving with a man next to me. No rudeness or anything strange happened, just weird looks of people not used to that sight.
Below some safety tips to consider before starting your road trip in Tunisia:
– Pack yourself with sun cream and cooler filled with ice, beer, and water.
– Stay super alert as pedestrians love walking on roads, especially if there’s traffic. Don’t run towards them, just intimidate them with your car. At some point, they’ll move. And probably they’ll even smile at you, how nice 🙂
– Scooters. You can refer to the Pedestrians tip as they will trouble you almost the same way.
– Police. They’re everywhere, sometimes hidden behind bushes. They look intimidating but they seem to like tourists a lot. They stopped us often to check, but they never made us pull aside. Just smile along and you’ll be fine 🙂