3 Days in Tunisia – How should I spend it?

3 days in Tunisia

OK, so you’ve only got 3 days to spend in Tunisia, right? It’s not a lot of time, and you need to be prepared to travel a lot if you want to cover some good ground! But actually, the country is quite small. It’s smaller than the UK in actual fact, and a lot of the desert areas are sparsely populated, as you can imagine. This means that you will be able to see some of the main sites in just 3 days.

When is the best time to visit Tunisia?

I recommend going in the shoulder seasons of May-June and end of September. In August the weather can be too hot and the beaches can be crowded with the UK tourists and their kids on school breaks. Consider whether you do a long weekend or weekdays – some main attractions can be closed on Mondays and so this will influence the days that you visit. Also consider that Friday-Saturday is the Tunisian weekend and some of the important sites can be closed at this time. For example, the Grand Mosque in Kairouan is often closed Saturday and Friday afternoon. This may prompt you to take a mid-week break in Tunisia rather than a weekend one. Also consider the timing of Ramadan.

What are the main sites to see in Tunisia in 3 days?

Even if you have just 3 days in Tunisia, it will be possible to see the following sites:

  • The Bardo Museum
  • Medina and Al-Zaytouna Mosque in Tunis
  • Cathedral of Saint Vincent de Paul in Tunis
  • Place du 14 Janvier · Kasbah Square · Place de L’Independance in Tunis
  • Roman ruins of Carthage
  • El Jem Roman Amphitheatre
  • The Grand Mosque of Kairouan
  • The Mosque, Tomb and Madrasa of Sidi Sahab

This is a lot to cover and so in order to comfortably fit in all of these sights then I would recommend hiring a private driver or joining some local day trips with a guide. Tunisia is well set up for tourists but be aware that there are some rip off taxi drivers, so it maybe better to book your tours and transfers in advance with reputable companies.

Is it worth visiting Tunisia for just 3 days?

Yes it absolutely is! You need to be prepared to be on the go solid for 3 days if you want to see the main sites of Tunis, Kairouan and El Jem. Alternatively, you could do a day trip to Tunis and Carthage, another day trip to Kairouan and El Jem and then have yourself a beach day in Hammamet to relax and re-cooperate before your flight home.

What should I pack for 3 days in Tunisia?

Pack light for 3 days in Tunisia. In fact, if you don’t mind packing really light (I’m talking a couple of pairs of trousers and T-shirts along with your gadgets) then you can actually travel hand luggage only. Easyjet fly direct to Hammamet from Manchester airport. Essentials that I would recommend are:

  • A headscarf (for ladies) – you won’t need to wear it all the time but it is good to have for the souks and mosques.
  • Comfortable walking trousers (not shorts) – you will be on the go all the time for this itinerary so you need trousers that are light and comfortable.
  • A couple of T shirts or linen tops (not low cut) – again be comfortable and conservative.
  • Gadgets and chargers – smartphone and laptop.
  • A good camera – There are some spectacular mosques and Roman ruins in Tunisia that you will want to capture.
  • Lonely Planet Tunisia – You can find out a lot of blogs but I always like to have a hard copy of the Lonely Planet with me in case my phone runs out. It has good maps and restaurant recommendations.
  • Dioralyte and Immodium – I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but many people (including myself!) get the shits and/or a bit of dehydration in Tunisia and so these are a must!

Where should I base myself for 3 days in Tunisia?

I would recommend that you actually base yourself in Hammamet rather than Tunis. Tunis is busy and dirty, and the Medina can be dangerous after dark. Although I enjoyed the sites of Tunis, I wouldn’t want to actually stay there! Another reason to stay in Hammemet is because of its Geographical proximity to some of the other main destinations that I am going to recommend – Kairouan and El Jem.

3 days in Tunisia Itinerary

The best hotels in Hammamet include:

  • Iberostar Averroes
  • Radisson Blu Resort & Thalasso
  • Phenicia Hotel

I wouldn’t bother with all inclusive for this itinerary as you will be out and about all of the time, and may not get to enjoy your hotel food. Also, a word of warning about going all-inclusive in Tunisia – food hygiene is not the best out there and they sometimes leave food out longer than it should be and so food poisoning can be a risk.

Recommended Itinerary for 3 days in Tunisia

If you are based in Tunis then the first two days will be easy for you, but you will have a long day of travel for your last day to see El Jem and Kairouan. If you base yourself in Tunis you will need to travel a little for the Tunis and Carthage days, but it will be less of a journey on your 3rd day to El Jem and Kairouan. prefer the latter because Hammamet is a more more pleasant place to stay, as I have mentioned (although a little touristy!).

Day 1

  • The Bardo Museum
  • Medina and Al-Zaytouna Mosque in Tunis
  • Cathedral of Saint Vincent de Paul in Tunis
  • Place du 14 Janvier · Kasbah Square · Place de L’Independance in Tunis

Head straight to the Bardo Museum for 9am, and you will need to spend around an hour and a half there admiring the building itself as well as the exhibitions. The Museum is home to one of the largest collections of Roman mosaics in the whole world.

Tunis Tours

Following your visit to the Bardo Museum head to the centre of Tunis (ask your driver to drop you near the Medina and Al-Zaytouna Mosque to explore the souks and main areas of the Old part of Tunis. Then you will walk through the Bab el Bhar gate to the more modern part of the city.

weekend in Tunis city gate

Visit the Cathedral of Saint Vincent de Paul in Tunis and explore the main squares of Tunis: Place du 14 Janvier · Kasbah Square · Place de L’Independance in Tunis, before heading back to your hotel.

Day 2

Some people visit Tunis AND Carthage AND Sidi Bou Said all in one day trip from Hammamet or Tunis. However, I believe that Carthage warrants a full day on its own. There is a lot to explore and this is one of the best sites to see Roman Ruins in Tunisia. It is possible to walk between these sites, but I would recommend getting a driver to cover more ground quickly and easily.

Roman Amphitheatre Carthage
Roman Amphitheatre – Carthage

It is also going to be a strain to do all that walking if it’s a particularly hot day. On your visit to Carthage you should visit:

  • Carthage Amphitheatre
  • Roman baths of Antoninus
  • Roman Tophet
  • Byrsa Hill and Museum
  • Punic Port
Roman Ruins Byrsa Hill
Roman Ruins – Byrsa Hill, Carthage

Day 3

On your 3rd day in Tunisia, it’s time to get further inland and further South! You are in for a treat including the biggest Mosque in Tunisia and the best preserved Roman Amphitheatre outside of Rome! Do this trip to El Jem and Kairouan as a day trip with a guided tour. This will help you to cover both sites in one day and also learn a bit about the history as well. I recommend booking through Get Your Guide – Book this tour from Tunis here. Most Hammamet hotels offer the same package from there. You will see:

  • El Jem Roman Amphitheatre
  • The Grand Mosque of Kairouan
  • The Mosque, Tomb and Madrasa of Sidi Sahab

El Jem Roman Amphitheatre

El Jem was my top thing to see in Tunisia – it felt like going back in time to the days of ‘Gladiatoring!’ In this Amphitheatre, you can actually see the prisons underneath where they kept prisoners and animals, as well as the drains which were for the water? Or maybe the blood! This is colossal and should not be missed. Be prepared to put your back through a security scanner and walk through a body scanner to get in – it’s a normal part of security there.

El Djem Amphitheatre Arches

There is not much else to see in El Jem other than the amphitheatre, so then it’s back on the bus to head towards Tunisia’s spiritual city of Islam – Kairouan.

The Grand Mosque of Kairouan

The Grand Mosque of Kairouan is the oldest Mosque in Tunisia and the fourth most important mosque in the Islamic faith. This mosque welcomes non-Muslim visitors inside the courtyard, where you will see the sundial and original irrigation systems. You can also look through the doors into the beautiful prayer hall lined with red carpets and adorned with chandeliers.

3 days in Tunisia Kairouan Great Mosque

The Mosque, Tomb and Madrasa of Sidi Sahab

Your final stop before heading back to the hotel is the Mosque, Tomb and Madrasa of Sidi Sahab. This is a place of pilgrimage in Islam as it houses the tomb of Sidi Sahab, a companion of the Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him). The Madrasa (Qur’anic School) was added at a later date and is a fine example of Islamic architecture decorated with geometrical mosaic patterns.

It’s then time to head back to your hotel to eat and relax ready for your flight home the next day. You will have discovered the capital city, two of Tunisia’s best sites for Roman ruins and a place of Pilgrimage for Tunisian Muslims. Congratulations, and I hope that you will have enjoyed your trip!

Further Reading on Tunisia

I hope that you found this article useful. If you followed my itinerary, I’d love to hear how you got on – please leave me a comment on my blog! If you are travelling to Tunisia then you might also like to read:

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