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Tunis Medina: The Ultimate Way To Explore The Souk In Tunis Medina!

Tunis Medina Souk, with its narrow alleyways and vibrant market stalls, is a bustling microcosm of Tunisian culture and a must-visit on any Tunisia itinerary.

Navigating the lively streets of the Tunis Medina and the souk, and embracing its authentic charm is a great experience for travellers to Tunis seeking a genuine taste of everyday Tunisian life.

Not only that, Tunis Medina souk is a great place to shop for some souvenirs, enjoy some delicious Tunisian tea, get some gorgeous Tunisia photos and enjoy panoramic views of the city from the rooftops!

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Visiting the Tunis Medina Souq can be a bit overwhelming at first, but this detailed guide will help you navigate through the chaotic charm of the souk, providing a detailed itinerary and insights into the best things to see, eat, and experience when you are there!

Visiting Tunis Medina 

The souk in Tunis Medina is located in the Old City of Tunis. The Medina (which means ‘Old Town’ in Arabic) is a walled quarter, founded in the 7th Century, and is often regarded as one of the most impressive medieval medinas in North Africa.

At one time, the whole city was contained within the medina walls and it was the beating heart of Tunis. But after the French came in the 19th Century many people moved out of the Medina and into the downtown European area Ville Nouvelle.

Walled cities like this are common within many Arabic and Middle-Eastern countries and they can sometimes feel a bit overwhelming or chaotic to visit if you’re not familiar with them. Lots of sounds, smells and people everywhere, and a myriad of small streets and alleys.

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Enter the Tunis Medina through the Bab el Bahr Gate, also known as the Porte De France (‘gate of France’) at the end of Avenue De France. This is the historic gateway to the medina.

You’ll see a few tourists in the Tunis Medina – it’s mostly locals here and you’ll definitely feel like you’ve stepped back in time as you dive into the heart of the walled city and really explore the local life.

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Inside the Medina there are lots of narrow winding alleyways and you can easily spend a morning or afternoon here wandering the streets, taking photographs of the colourfully painted residential doors, stopping at the coffee shops and browsing the stalls in the souk (bazaar).

You’ll almost definitely get lost within the Medina as it is very easy to lose your sense of direction as you wander through the winding streets here – it’s like a maze!

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Tunis Medina Souq

Inside Tunis Medina there are actually many souqs where you’ll find lots of market stalls close together. You’ll find lots of fruit stalls, rug shops, ceramic shops, spice stalls, perfume stalls and unique Tunisian products that make for interesting photographs and gifts.

Enjoy strolling around and taking in the vibrant atmosphere. The stall owners are polite and shouldn’t make you feel pressure to buy anything.

This is a lovely contrast to some other Arabic souqs I’ve visited, such as the one in Casablanca, Morocco where the stall owners were very pushy and made you fell very unwelcome if you didn’t buy anything.

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Buying Items In Tunis Medina Souq

If you see anything you would like to buy at the souq, always barter. While in many Western cultures, bartering is not seen as polite, for Tunisians it is completely normal – and to be expected!

They will always start with a high price, so tell them at least half the price they are asking, and you should generally settle somewhere in the middle.

If you are fluent in Arabic, Italian or French then speak it here in the market as opposed to English. Most Tunisians are fluent in French, as well as Italian (due to it’s close proximity to Sicily) and of course Arabic. If they think you can only speak English they will try to rip you off.

It’s best to always carry Tunisian Dinar with you, although Euros can be accepted if you don’t have any local currency – you just won’t get a good exchange rate.

Other Things To Do In Tunis Medina 

Tunis Medina isn’t just about the market stalls though – you’ll find lots of mosques, mausoleums, fountains and palaces and it has been awarded UNESCO World Heritage Status. 

Here are some other things you can do in the Tunis Medina:

Zaytouna Mosque

The Zaytouna Mosque (Zaytouna meaning ‘olive tree’) is a stunning architectural gem dating back to the 8th century and is a must-visit when in the Tunis Medina.

The historic mosque has some really intricate architectural details. Non worshippers can only enter the courtyard, but it is so serene and an absolutely beautiful place to photograph.

The mosque looks especially impressive when it gets lit up at sunset, and you can see it from many of the rooftop bars in Tunis Medina.

tunis medina rooftop view

Where To Go For Food And Coffee In Tunis Medina

There are so many coffee shops here in the Medina where you can get cheap and tasty Tunisian tea (similar to Moroccan mint tea).

Lots have seating areas out on the street that are interesting to photograph, and some even offer views looking down into the bustling streets below.

weekend in Tunis coffee shop Medina

When you stop for food at local eateries, enjoy Tunisian specialties such as brik (a savoury pastry) and couscous. And if you’re after an upmarket but traditional restaurant with authentic Tunisian cuisine, head to Dar El Jeld.

Or you can visit the famous Dar Bel Haj restaurant, known for its ornate Moorish tiles.

Rooftop Cafes In Tunis Medina

Make sure to visit a rooftop cafe when you’re in Tunis Medina to admire the panoramic views of the city.

tunis medina rooftop view

The two coffee shops with the best views and big outdoor rooftop terraces offering panoramic views over the city are Terrace El Bey and Cafe Panorama Medina.

They both offer stunning views over the Zaytouna Mosque and courtyard and both have a lovely laid-back atmosphere.

It can be a little difficult to find the entrance to both coffee shops as they are both unassuming doorways, so just ask a local to guide you – they’ll all know the way.

Terrace El Bey is accessed by going through the shop Le Groupement Artisanal, 58 Soul El Leffa.

tunis medina rooftop view

Both coffee shops are very close to each other (a 2 minute walk!) so you can always check out both. Here is their location on Google maps. You’ll also see just how close Zaytouna Mosque is, so it’s great to visit them after visiting the mosque.

How Much Time Should You Spend At The Tunis Medina?

About a half a day is a good amount of time to explore the Tunis Medina souq.

What Else To Do In Tunis If You Have More Time:

Other places that are of interest are Tourbet El Bey mausoleum and Dar Ben Abdallah Palace – a fine example of how rich people used to live in the Medina. The historic Kasbah Square, known for its lively ambiance and historic landmarks, is also definitely worth a visit.

If you have spare time after visiting the Tunis Medina, here are a few more great places to check out in the city:

Ville Nouvelle

The iconic Bab al Bhar gate abruptly marks the separation between Tunis Medina and the more modern European style city.

Just outside of the walled Medina on Avenue de France and Avenue Habib Bourguiba you’ll find Ville Nouvelle – the ‘new city’ which is the European Quarter in Tunis, where the French settled in the 19th Century.

Here you’ll see European influenced architecture styles such as the impressive Cathedral, and European style facades, balconies and porticoes, that at times you’ll feel like you’re in Europe. It’s a lovely area to walk around and explore.

Bardo National Museum

Head to the Bardo National Museum, where you can discover Tunisia’s rich history through an impressive collection of artifacts.

It is located 5 kilometres from downtown Tunis, and is the best museum in Tunis, featuring one of the world’s largest collections of Roman mosaics.

The museum is open 9-5 daily (closed Mondays) and entrance fee is 11 dinar (£3).

Carthage & Sidi Bou Said

When in Tunis you must take a day trip to nearby Carthage and Sidi Bou Said. They are both such picturesque towns – there are so many historic things to see in Carthage, and Sidi Bou Said is a seaside town painted white and blue, reminiscent of Santorini or Chefchauoen.

Where To Stay In Tunis Medina

A few of the medina’s historic buildings have been converted into charming boutique hotels which make for a great place to stay if you’d like to be based inside the medina.

Dar El Jeld, Palais Bayram and Dar Ben Gacem are lovely places to stay.

Safety In Tunis Medina

While the streets in Tunis Medina are relatively safe in the day, remember to use common sense and to always keep your valuables secure to avoid pickpocketing.

When I was in Tunis, many locals told me never to walk the streets of Tunis Medina after dark. After dark all the shops are boarded up, and the narrow alleyways in the Medina are deserted, except for opportunists.

So for your own safety make sure you are out of the Medina by the time it gets dark. There are several gates to the Medina where you can exit.

Petty crime (bag/phone snatching etc) becomes very common after dark in the Medina. Often 2 or 3 guys will be working together and so if something happens to you, even if you chase them it will be impossible to catch them.

They know these labyrinth of alleyways like the back of their hand and will always out run you, so don’t run the risk and don’t put yourself in that position.

Female Solo Travel in Tunisia

Tunisia is relatively safe Arabic country for female solo travellers to visit, providing you dress respectfully and don’t walk on the street alone after dark.

Whilst in many parts of the world it is ok to walk on the street by yourself in the evening as a woman, in Tunisia and many Muslim countries a woman seen walking alone at night can be deemed a prostitute/easy pickings.

I know this sounds hard to believe to many people who aren’t used to this kind of culture, but this is how things are here. Don’t risk something happening and don’t put yourself in a situation that could easily be avoided.

If you need to go somewhere after dark always get a taxi. Taxis are very cheap in Tunisia so there is not excuse. Safety first.

What To Wear In Tunisia

Tunisia is a Muslim county and women especially should dress conservatively.

This means covering your arms and legs and wearing loose fitting clothes. I even recommend you to bring a scarf to cover yourself if necessary. 

Whilst it is completely not necessary to wear a headscarf in Tunisia, I often feel more comfortable in Muslim countries wearing a headscarf as it stops people from looking at me. 

The minute I wasn’t wearing a headscarf, I felt so many males looking at me that it just felt uncomfortable. Just do what’s best for you!