Cruise Port Atlas | Tunis (La Goulette), Tunisia Day Trips | Attractions

Tunis (La Goulette), Tunisia Day Trips | Attractions

With limited time in port, planning is the best way to make the most of your time. Should you strike out on your own? Should you hire a local guide? Or should you book a shore excursion offered by the cruise line or an international tour company? Below we have listed the attractions and activities that many other cruisers have enjoyed. This information should help you plan.

The advantage to cruise line tours is that they are timed for your visit and give you flexibility to change your mind after your trip begins. The advantage of using a large international firm is that tours are often less expensive than cruise sponsored tours. The advantage to using a local tour company or guide is that prices can be significantly lower or you may be able to get a customized trip just to see the attractions that interest you most.

Cruise lines that visit Tunis: Star Clippers, Voyages to Antiquity, Oceania, Silversea, Cunard, Holland America, Princess, Costa, MSC Cruises, Viking River Cruises

Key Attractions: Medina (Old Town), Bab El Bhar, Souk, Zitouna Mosque, Bardo Museum, Cathedral of St. Vincent de Paul, North Africa American Cemetery, Ancient Carthage, Sidi Bou Said, Gammarth Beach, La Marsa, Hammamet, Dougga, Kairouan, Great Mosque of Sidi-Uqba, Ichkeul Nature Park

Tunis' Medina (Old Town)

La Goulette Cruise Terminal to the Medina / Bab El Bhar - 12 KM, 14 minutes
Link to Full-Page Google Map

The Medina is a large maze of cobbled, narrow alleyways which both entice and repel the visitor. A tour is almost a necessity, but most organized tours will center on visits to your guide's cousin's carpet store. Complaints about these tours are rife on the web. In addition, despite the huge number of historic buildings in the area, few present themselves as more than photo opportunities. To enjoy the Medina you should limit your expectations to an experience of the sights, sounds, and smells. The shops offer colorful fabrics, ornate carpets, brass and copper items, spices, teas and myriad local products. The historic buildings are on display but mostly closed to non-local, non-Muslim visitors. Expect to be accosted by the sellers. If not interested in purchasing it is probably best not to engage them. Mosques, small palaces, and madrassas from past centuries border the alleys and small squares which offer photographers excellent bits of architectural beauty from rustic to ornate. The Zitouna Mosque from the 8th century was a center for Islamic scholarship and has a large elegant courtyard and a massive square minaret, but non-Muslims are not allowed inside. The Sidi Youssef Mosque built in the 17th century has an impressive octagonal minaret which towers over the old town. The main entrance to the Medina sits at the western end of the new city at Bab El Bhar.

        

   

Photo of Medina Souks by Tony Hisgett, Photo of Casbah Square by Kassus

Historic Tunis

La Goulette Cruise Terminal to Bardo Museum - 17 KM, 23 minutes
La Goulette Cruise Terminal to NOrth Africa American Cemetery - 10 KM, 16 minutes
La Goulette Cruise Terminal to Attraction - KM, minutes
Link to Full-Page Google Map

Besides the Medina, the city offers one of the finest archaeological museums in North Africa, the Bardo Musuem. Housed in an impressive 13th century palace, the Bardo Museum is most famous for its collection of Roman mosaics which are from a variety of sites and eras and were collected and gathered in one spot. In addition, the museum offers pre-historic artifacts, Carthagian remnants, and Arabic items in an impressive display of North African heritage and history. For those interested in more recent history, the North Africa American Cemetery honors the nearly 3,000 Americans killed in the first battles of World War II in which the US participated.

Note: Before the unrest of 2012, the Museum was in the process of being renovated. Before setting up a visit, check to see what is available for viewing.

        

   

Photo of Mosaic in the Bardo Museum by Dennis Jarvis, Photo of Museum by Bernard Gagnon

Ancient Carthage

La Goulette Cruise Terminal to Carthage - 7 KM, 10 minutes
Link to Full-Page Google Map

Established by the Phoenicians (Punic peoples), Carthage was a powerful city state long before the rise of Rome. The Punic wars of the third and second centuries BCE were a struggle for the dominance of the Mediterranean between Rome and Carthage, which led to the utter destruction of the proud North African city and the rise of the Roman Empire. Due to the rich agricultural land that surrounds the area, Carthage soon rose again as an important satellite to the Roman Empire. The UNESCO World Heritage site that remains is the remnant of the Roman city that arose from the Punic ruins. Over the centuries, large portions of the marble structures have been hauled away and used in other buildings including the Zitouna Mosque in Tunis' Median and the Sidi Uqba Mosque in Kairouan.

        

   

Photo of Antonius Baths in Carthage by BishkekRocks

Sidi Bou Said

La Goulette Cruise Terminal to Sidi Bou Said - 9 KM, 14 minutes
Link to Full-Page Google Map

The town of Sidi Bou Said is a wealthy enclave of artists and shops which attracts many cruisers because of its lovely views of the sea from the top of a cliff not far from Ancient Carthage and south of the beach resorts at Gammarth. Famous for the views and for the blue and white houses, visitors will enjoy the local crafts and paintings that are for sale in the shops that line the steep narrow alleys in the town.

           

   

Photo of Sidi Bou Said by Hajotthu

Beaches and Resort Areas

La Goulette Cruise Terminal to La Marsa - 11 KM, 15 minutes
La Goulette Cruise Terminal to Gammarth Beach - 16 KM, 19 minutes
La Goulette Cruise Terminal to Hammamet - 74 KM, 55 minutes
Link to Full-Page Google Map

Tunisia offers some of North Africa's nicest beach resort areas, several of which are accessible to cruise passengers. The closest is La Marsa, just a short distance northwest of Ancient Carthage and Sidi Bou Said and mainly frequented by Tunisians. A bit farther north is Gammarth Beach, offering top resorts including some which are 5-star. Some cruise lines offer tours of this area. To the south of Tunis is Hammamet, frequented by the rich and famous, including Paul Klee, Paul McCartney and Sophia Loren.

     

   

Photo of La Marsa by Asram, Photo of Hammamet by BishkekRocks

Dougga

La Goulette Cruise Terminal to Dougga - 120 KM, 1 hour 40 minutes
Link to Full-Page Google Map

In the hills west of Tunis is another of Tunisia's UNESCO World Heritage sites, Dougga (also Thugga), which is considered the finest example of a small Roman city found in North Africa. The ruin features several excellent stone structural remains including a theater, several baths, the Capital and temples honoring Saturn and Juno Caelestis. There are also earlier remnants of Berber and Punic civilizations, including an impressive mausoleum and later Byzantine structures.

           

   

Photo of Dougga Theater by Tony Hisgett, photo of Arch and Capital by Profburp

Kairouan and the Great Mosque of Sidi-Uqba

La Goulette Cruise Terminal to Kairouan - 168 KM, 2 hours
Link to Full-Page Google Map

The city of Kairouan, next to Tunis the most important Arab city in the country, was a center of scholarship during the medieval era when Islamic learning raced ahead of its Christian neighbors to the north. It is also another UNESCO World Heritage site most famous for the Great Mosque of Sidi-Uqba from the 9th century that is considered by some Muslims the fourth holiest in all Islam. The stunning building contains 414 columns (it was once forbidden to count them), many of which were made from marble taken from Carthage. Two other impressive mosques in the city, the Mosque of the Barber and the Mosque of the Three Gates, are major tourist attractions. The medina offers some excellent shopping with its souks.

           

   

Photos of Great Mosque of Sidi-Uqba by Douya (top) and Citizen59

Ichkeul Nature Park

La Goulette Cruise Terminal to Ichkeul Nature Park - 105 KM, 1 hour 15 minutes
Link to Full-Page Google Map

Ichkeul Lake and the surrounding National Nature Park provide nature lovers with an opportunity to see migrating water birds. Long on the UNESCO site list, it lost its status due to the impact of a dam which increased the salinity of the water, but was reinstated in 2006. It is the last remaining lake in what was once a string of watersheds along the coast of North Africa.

           

   

Photo of Lake Ichkeul by Sadok.gharbi

Interests Key:

Art Architecture Beach Children Wild Animals Local Cuisine Flora Gardens-Parks Geology

Diving UNESCO Views Wine Dance Music Shopping History Hiking

Walking & Wheelchair Accessibility:

No Walking Easy Walking Normal Walking Difficult Walking Accessible Limited Not Accessible