Officially known as the Tunisian Republic, Tunisia can be found in Northern Africa. Its Mediterranean Sea coastline is right in the center of Mediterranean Africa, thus making Tunisia be very close to Malta and the south of Italy. The country’s neighbors are Algeria, to the west, and Libya, to the south-east.
Clearly, one of the main attractions of Tunisia consists of the mesmerizing beaches that can be found on the coastline. You can either choose to spend your holiday in the north, by the sea, or in the sound, in which case you’ll be closer to Tunisia’s borders with Libya and Algeria – where caution is advised.
When it comes to climate, it is a temperate one in the north, which also has mild and rainy winters and hot and dry summers. Characteristic to the south is the desert. According to various recommendations that we found online, it is recommended that you visit Tunisia in late autumn or in late spring – as during these times the weather conditions are not that harsh and the country’s sights can be properly enjoyed.
In case you are a fan of some elevation, the highest point you can find in Tunisia is Jebel ech Chambi, standing as high as 1,544 m. However, if you really don’t want to go any higher than 10 m in the air, then we would recommend the country’s lowest point, which is Shatt al Gharsah, at -17 m.
As you might have guessed so far, the country is split into three regions – northern, central, and Saharan. Northern Tunisia is where the entire north coast and its mountains can be found, as well as a significant number of popular beach resorts.
Central Coastal Tunisia is home to the Sfax and Gabes cities, where a large number of beach resorts can be found. Saharan Tunisia shelters the Saharan hinterland, which is built from dunes and rocky plains. The main touristic activities would be trekking through the desert and visiting the major archeological sites that can be found here.
We’ve got the basics out of the way, but there’s a lot more to discuss. Our goal today is to show you how safe Tunisia is for tourists and how can you get yourself protected against the common dangers that can be found in this country.
We’ll be analyzing every single aspect of Tunisia, from crime to natural disasters, and compile all of the information we can find into this Tunisia safety guide that you’ll find right in the following lines – let’s begin!
Highest Risks You Expose Yourself to When Visiting Tunisia
Overall Risks in Tunisia: MEDIUM to HIGH
Most of the coastal and inland parts of Tunisia are safe to visit and only require travel advice before traveling inside them. Naturally, issues arise as one gets closer to the borders with Algeria in Libya, countries in which terrorist attacks are quite common nowadays.
According to this map, it is advised that you avoid all travel to any areas that are within 30 km of the borders with the two aforementioned countries. In the past few years, terrorist attacks and activities have been happening in and around Tunisia as well.
This is not to be treated lightly, as a State of Emergency is in place in Tunisia since the month of November 2015. Out of the two neighboring countries, Libya is the one that experiences pretty high levels of terrorism and, therefore, is affected by lack of security.
Moreover, because the borders have thin lines, meaning that you don’t usually have a hard time getting from one country into another, there is a high chance that certain terrorist activities could get inside Tunisia.
As a tourist, increased caution should be in place, as on the 31st of March, this year, two tourists have been injured as a result of a knife attack that took place in El Kef. Furthermore, on the 8th of July, six Tunisian security guards that were stationed in Ghardimaou, near the Algerian border, have been killed by militants.
Pickpocketing and Theft Risks in Tunisia: MEDIUM to HIGH
Violent and petty crime rates in Tunisia are as high as in any other African countries. There are no stereotypes involves when making this statement – there have been reports of tourists that were harassed by locals, most of them being women. As a result, you can expect robbery and pickpocketing to be quite common here.
If you let your guard down, you might find yourself missing a bag or a wallet. However, all petty crime can be countered if you take the required safety precautions.
- How to avoid pickpocketing and theft in Tunisia?
First of all, it is recommended that you carry all of your valuables – gadgets, smartphones, documents, money, etc. – in the same bag. You could have a smaller, tight-sealed bag inside your backpack, for example, so that you won’t need to scramble through all of your important possessions when trying to find something less valuable.
Furthermore, you should avoid walking alone, especially during the night, of course. This is a matter of common sense, after all – get yourself a guide or be a part of a tourist group that knows its way of staying protected.
And, of course, don’t stray into shady or remote areas and avoid the outskirts and the slums of the cities you are staying in; try your best to stick to the locations that are recommended for tourists.
Scam Risk in Tunisia: MEDIUM
The locals of Tunisia are aware of how many tourists come to visit their country every month, and that why they take some not so legal measures in order to increase their profit. For example, you should check the price of an item or food/ beverage before you touch or try it.
Reportedly, the prices of the aforementioned items are a bit extra, and the sellers will often resort to various intimidation techniques to get what they want – yes, even if you only touch something.
While it is not necessarily a scam – but it sure behaves like one -, most shop owners will do anything to get you to buy one of their products. This so-called haggling hassle means that they will be offering you three prices one after another in order to find out if you are going to fall for any of them.
Naturally, you will be told the highest price first, which is not close at all to the item’s actual price. Then, they will slowly drop the price until they see that little spark in your eye that marks them hitting the jackpot. What do you do in such a case? Just smile, shake your head, and keep walking.
- How to avoid getting scammed in Tunisia?
As with any other scam out there, if it sounds too good to be true, then it's probably fake - with this in mind, make sure to be careful when buying things or when you are approached by strangers/ locals that try to offer you either their services or products. As mentioned before, just smile and be on your way - it is better if you do not start a conversation or agree with them, as this will make them try even harder to get you to buy a product or such.
Kidnapping Risk in Tunisia: MEDIUM
First of all, you don’t have to worry too much – there have been no reports of locals kidnapping any tourists. Instead, the threat comes from the various terrorist groups that activate inside and outside the borders of Tunisia.
You’ll have to ensure and increase your protection if you plan on traveling in the country’s remote desert areas – which you shouldn’t, there’s a lot of sightseeing that can be done in many other places.
According to UK’s FCO (Foreign and Commonwealth Office), these terrorist groups have kidnapped government officials, civilians, and even tourists in order to benefit from political leverage and financial gain.
- How to avoid getting kidnapped in Tunisia?
It is recommended that you avoid any remote areas of the country, and further protect yourself by staying away from large crowds of people and not traveling alone, of course. If you keep an eye out for trouble at all times, you shouldn’t have any problems while visiting Tunisia.
Terrorism Risk: MEDIUM to HIGH
Next, on our Tunisia safety guide, we’ll talk about terrorism, which seems to pose a great threat to the safety of the Tourists that travel into Tunisia. The State of Emergency we mentioned earlier was issued due to a suicide attack, on 24th of November 2015, on Avenue Mohammed V, which targeted a police bus.
Libya-based extremists that have a link with Daesh and Al Qaeda are the main terrorist groups that threatened the safety of this country. As we’ve said before in this article, the borders with the neighboring countries are not that safe. Because of this, terrorist groups have targeted Tunisian security forces, most of which were stationed in border areas – mainly in the Chaambi Mountains.
Besides the two attacks we have already mentioned, there have been several other reports of attacks that might be linked to a terrorist group. On the 1st of November, 2017, an individual armed with a knife attacked two traffic police officers that were stationed in the Bardo area, central Tunis. Unfortunately, one of the officers died because of the stab wounds; but the suspect was eventually detained.
Other reports tell of suicide bombings, armed clashes between groups of terrorist and security forces, a terrorist attack in Ben Guerdane – with over 60 fatalities, most of which were terrorists.
Two of the most disastrous attacks took place in 2015, a few months before the State of Emergency was issued – one in Port El Kantaoui, in which 38 foreign tourists lost their lives, and one at the Bardo Museum, in which 21 tourists were killed.
- How to avoid terrorism in Tunisia?
You should already know this by now, but it is essential to stay away from official buildings, churches, large crowds of people, shops, and malls – as there are locations that are most likely to be targeted by terrorists.
Moreover, you can’t really know when something is going to happen. Everything can come and go in a blink of an eye. That’s why it is important that you keep an eye out on your surroundings at all times and, if you notice anything suspicious, it is better to flee the area and go to the local authorities and give them a full report of what you have seen.
But, is Tunisia safe to visit in regards to terrorism and terrorist attacks? Well, at the moment, the situation seems to have calmed down in the country; however, the neighboring countries still pose the greatest threat when it comes to such matters. In the end, you can never be too sure of what’s going to happen – and it is better to be prepared, just in case.
Risks for Women Traveling Alone in Tunisia: MEDIUM to HIGH
As we have mentioned it earlier, there have been cases of locals harassing women travelers. Even though it is told that personal attacks occur rarely, we have still decided to label this risk as a medium to high, so that you don’t fall asleep on one ear and think that the answer to the question is Tunisia safe for solo women travelers is a big yes.
Reportedly, the situations of harassment can even go up to uninvited physical contact, which is why you should dress appropriately when visiting Tunisia. You don’t have to do much – just act and dress like you would in your home country. After all, harassers can be found anywhere around the globe.
- How to avoid crime as a solo woman traveler in Tunisia?
Therefore, it is recommended that you travel in a group, or find yourself a trusty guide via your travel agency. Of course, avoid any poor lit, remote, or shady areas of the city you are staying in – all of this and of the above and you should have no problems.
Rape Risk: LOW
There have been no reports of tourists experiencing any unpleasant situations while visiting Tunisia – even though there have been some local cases, even one in which two police officers were convicted for conducting such actions against a Tunisian woman.
- How to avoid getting raped in Tunisia?
However, it is recommended that you always come prepared and expect anything to happen if you want to keep yourself as safe as possible. One of our Tunisia safety travel tips is to never walk alone on the streets, especially if you plan on going deep inside the city, far away from your accommodation.
Moreover, as a woman, you should also dress appropriately, so that you don’t violate any unwritten local rules and, of course, don’t passively instigate so this kind of actions. But, the threat is generally low, so you shouldn’t have any problems if you keep your common sense on.
Risks for People Traveling With Children in Tunisia: LOW to MEDIUM
Now, we’ll look into how safe is Tunisia for tourists and for their children. So far, there have been no statements telling of children being kidnapped or even lost in Tunisia.
Of course, the safety of your children depends entirely on you. If you visit Tunisia in the times of the year we mentioned at the beginning of this article, do expect the presence of a lot of tourists – this only increases the chances of your children getting lost in the crowds.
- How to avoid unwanted scenarios?
Therefore, you should keep an eye on them at all times and make sure that they don’t go too far away from you. Actually, they should not leave your side at all if you are in a crowded area.
Our Tunisia safety guide recommends that you consider your children’s security and safety as important as when they were just babies – meaning that they require non-stop tracking and protection.
Natural Disaster Risks in Tunisia: MEDIUM
The most common natural disaster that can happen in Tunisia is flooding, especially in the northern part of the country. This is because mountains and rives can be found here – this means melting snow and river overflow during the rainy seasons.
When it comes to flood, this natural disaster has a 63.1% mortality rate and is being followed by fire, with a 29% rate, then by snowstorms, with a 4% rate.
Your trusty list of Tunisia safety travel tips has got you covered – we advise you to check the local news and the weather reports before leaving your accommodation, and also inform yourself of the certain times of the year in which a natural disaster as the ones mentioned above could occur.
Transportation Risks in Tunisia: MEDIUM
As a foreigner, if you want to drive in Tunisia, you need a valid International Driving Permit. However, due to the reportedly erratic driving standards there, you might have second thoughts when it comes to driving. Lane discipline is close to nonexistent and, usually, drivers are confused about the right of way, mostly at roundabouts.
You should also be extremely careful if you are just a pedestrian as well - Tunisia comes with few pedestrian crossings and with traffic lights that are usually ignored by both drivers and pedestrians. Moreover, reports tell of pedestrians that simply walk on the roads within towns, so you might want to be on foot after getting inside a city.
When it comes to the condition of the roads, they are overall of a reasonable standards - however, keep an eye on pot-holes, especially after heavy rain. In case you encounter police or military security checks, approach them slowly and do as you are told - identification and such. Obviously, you should not cross boundaries if you do not have the permission to do so.
Night-Clubs, Pubs, and Bar Risks in Tunisia: LOW to MEDIUM
In terms of incidents that could happen inside a night-club, pub, or bar, you shouldn't be too worried - there have been no reports of incidents involving the use of spiked drinks in order to assault or rob foreigners. However, there have been reports of harassment towards foreign women, with cases of uninvited physical contact. In this respect, you should not be drinking too much so that you are able to still keep an eye out on your surroundings and leave the area if necessary.
Even though there have been no reports of people assaulted/ robbed via the use of spiked drinks, it is still recommended that you take the necessary precautions in order to avoid such incidents - make sure that you see your drink as it is being prepared and that you do not leave it unattended.
Also, be careful when leaving night-clubs, pubs, or bars as thieves/ criminals might wait for their drunk targets, so to speak, and follow them on the way to their accommodation. You should always return home in a taxi if it's dark outside, but make sure that the taxi you get in is licensed/ registered - it is safer if you call a taxi from a reputed company in such scenarios.
Health Risks in Tunisia
First of all, keep in mind that medical attention/ care might not be free for foreign nationals in Tunisia. Fees, medication, treatment, and hospitalization, usually in private clinics, have to be paid for on the spot and can be quite expensive.
Also, if you bring with you any prescription medicine, it is recommended that you also have a note with you that confirms that the medication has been prescribed for one of your existing conditions - in order to find out more about the types of medicine/ medication you can bring with you in Tunisia you can contact the Tunisian Embassy.
As always, make sure that you have proper travel health insurance and enough funds with you to cover any treatment or medicine that you might have to take. In case of a medical emergency, dial 190 and ask for an ambulance - it is also recommended that, if you are recommended to a medical facility, to contact your medical assistance/ insurance company as soon as possible.
List of Vaccines You Need in Tunisia
Before getting into the list of vaccines and immunizations you need before entering the country, there’s one important thing you should be aware of, namely, henna irritation.
In most of the market areas that you will probably be visiting, henna artists can be found. While some of them use good henna, let’s call it this way – most of them rely on black henna which has some really nasty irritations after a couple of weeks.
The trick with these artists is that they will tell you to do a quick test first, meaning that they would only make a dot on your skin, and urge you to come back the next day if there is no irritation on that spot. However, keep in mind that it can take up to three weeks for any issues to occur.
It is better just to say no – even if they show you a medical form that declares their henna safe, as it is probably fake.
Now, let’s move to the vaccines you need before visiting Tunisia:
- Routine Vaccines
- Hepatitis A and B
Most Dangerous Areas in Tunisia
- The borders with Algeria and Libya
- Chaambi Mountains National Park - designated military operations zone.
- Mount Salloum, Mount Mghiba, Mount Sammamma - designated military operations zones.
- Certain Tunis Neighborhoods - Altathamon, Fouchena, Ennour, Khlidiya, Mhamdeya.
Concluding Remarks: Is Tunisia Safe to Visit?
Well, we’ve now reached the bottom line, where all of the information is put into one single answer of one single question, that being if is Tunisia safe to visit. As you can see on the map you can find in this article, a big part of Tunisia is marked in green.
This means you can enjoy most of it without experiencing any trouble – but while still being careful about muggers and scammers. At this point, the biggest threat comes from outside of the country, from Algeria and Libya – therefore, stick to the inland regions, but visit the beaches on the eastern side as well; and, of course, enjoy your visit to Tunisia!