Tunisia Medium Medium

Christmas Markets in Europe and other countries are very popular at this time of the year, but I bet you’ve never thought of doing your Christmas shopping in Tunisia!

I visit Tunisia every year, and I always come back with a suitcase full of unusual presents, plus a sun tan!

You can find some marvellous bargains there, especially in the souks, once you’ve agreed on a price with the stallholder!

Sidi Bou Said is one of my favourite towns. All the houses are painted white with blue paintwork.

The car park is full of market stalls and there are shops up the hill on both sides.

If you visit the ancient ruins of Carthage, there are a few stalls outside, where I’ve bought some excellent bargains!

The modern suburb of Carthage has some very high-class mansions there, often surrounded by beautiful colourful shrubs. Over 21,000 residents live in the town, and the Carthage Palace (The Tunisian Presidential Palace) is there.

You can find a huge selection of shops, a lot of them with Designer labels for sale.

But if you decide to stay there, do make sure that your hotel is in a quiet area as the city never sleeps!

Sousse was made notorious when a crazed terrorist ran along the beach shooting tourists.

It upset the local economy badly, but things are returning to normal and it’s a lovely town to visit.

Loads of narrow lanes branch off in different directions, and it’s a shopper’s Paradise. You can buy everything there, from dishes to dresses, shoes to soap, pans to perfume.

There’s a large higher quality shopping mall by the road where all prices are fixed. It’s lovely to look round, and it has air conditioning, so it’s a relief to cool off there.

Further South, which can be reached from Tunisia Airport on a small plane, is the island of Djerba.

It’s a lovely place for a holiday. There’s a huge selection of restaurants and cafes, and huge 5-star hotels for very reasonable prices. And the ground’s all flat.

And my favourite part? Yes, you’ve guessed it. The souks are enormous. You can get lost in their twisty, windy alleys.

Some people are nervous about going off on their own as it’s a way of life that they’re not used to. But if you don’t, you’ll miss all the fun. The Tunisians have a great sense of humour and they all seem to enjoy their work.

They’ll quote you a ridiculous price at first, which they don’t expect you to agree to.

You must fix an amount in your head and stick to it, or be prepared to go slightly higher. And of course, if you buy several items, the price will drop easily. Don’t be embarrassed about bargaining. It’s expected. And some of the acting and drama is really entertaining. You might get, ‘I paid more than that when I bought it,’ or ‘Just take it. My wife and children will starve,’ or ‘If you think I’m stealing from you, take it for nothing!’

Once you’ve agreed on a price, the drama disappears. Your purchases will be carefully wrapped, and you’ll usually get a beaming smile.

And your family will be delighted with their unusual, hand-crafted presents!

French, Arabic and often English are spoken in Tunisia. The currency is the Dinar, which you can get at the airport.

Tunisair flies daily either from Heathrow Terminal 4 (Sundays, Tuesdays, Fridays & Saturdays) and from Gatwick South Terminal (Mondays, Wednesday & Thursdays)

Flight duration around 2h.45mn

Tunisian National Tourist Office UK & Ireland

3rd Floor, 111 Baker Street, London, W1U 6SG

Tél. : +44 20 7224 5598