What you wear in Tunisia will depend a lot on the time of year that you visit. It is very warm in summer months from June to September. However, as it’s a Mediterranean climate the winters (although mild) can be cold enough to pack jeans and jumper. You also need to be sensitive to the fact that Tunisia is a Muslim country and so certain things will offend, and you will need to dress conservatively. What you wear in Tunisia will also depend on where exactly in Tunisia you go to and whether it is more touristy or local.
Dress Conservatively in Tunisia
It is generally recommended to dress modestly when visiting Tunisia, especially when traveling to more rural or traditional areas. This means avoiding clothing that is too revealing or form-fitting, as it may be considered inappropriate or disrespectful. Sorry girls, tight toys, vest tops (especially spaghetti straps) and low cut tops are out!
Here is an example of a decent lightweight top that would be perfect for women to wear in Tunisia…
In general, it is best to cover your shoulders, upper arms, and legs, especially when visiting religious sites or areas where local customs and traditions are more strictly observed.
What to wear on the Beach in Tunisia
It’s more straight forward for men than women regarding what to wear on the beach in Tunisia – men can opt for swim shorts and have a T-shirt readily available for when they return to the beach.
For women, think carefully about whether you want to take a bikini and if you do, it is a good idea to have some other options available.
On the beaches of the touristy areas such as Hammamet, bikinis are acceptable as long as you have a cover up to get to and from the sea (such as a sarong). If you choose to wear a bikini in Tunisia you may attract unwanted attention from local men, because showing flesh is non within their local customs. A kaftan is a good thing to bring to cover yourself up when you get out of the water.
I would recommend that you go for a full swim suit rather than a bikini if possible. If you intend to go to more local than touristy areas (such as Cape Bon) then I would recommend a full swimsuit with legs and shoulders covered.
A swimsuit like this will be fine for Tunisia and you won’t need to worry about being self conscious when swimming with the locals in this…
Women should take a Headscarf
Women may want to consider having a headscarf available in Tunisia. It is not required that you wear a headscarf all of the time in Tunisia, but you will need on if you are visiting mosques in Tunisia or other religious sites.
I found the headscarf useful when visiting the Mosques such as the great mosque of Kairouan. I also ended up using my headscarf when visiting some of the Medinas and Souks in Tunisia, because it was less obvious that I was a tourist and I was targeted by touts and shop keepers much less! You can get some great headscarves online on Amazon, or just buy won’t from a souk when you get to Tunisia, but don’t forget to haggle!
A pashmina is perfect for Tunisia because it can double up as a head scarf and something to keep you warm in the cooler evenings. Something like this is ideal:
Remember to go for a plain coloured scarf or one with geometric patterns. You should particularly avoid headscarves with people or animals on the fabric as this is not suitable for mosques.
Footwear for Tunisia
Go for two pairs of footwear – a sturdy pair of walking boots for walking around the Roman Ruins of Carthage and El Jem and the desert. Then take a pair of sandals for beach wear and casual wear. I love my Karrimor walking boots as they are light and comfortable…
Avoid high heels as they won’t go down culturally or in combination with the cobbled streets! If you want to take a pair of shoes pack some comfortable cute flats.
What to Wear in Tunisia – Summer
While it is important to dress modestly, it is also important to consider the weather and the local climate when deciding what to wear in Tunisia. The country has a Mediterranean climate, with hot, dry summers and mild winters. During the summer months, lightweight, breathable fabrics such as cotton or linen are ideal.
What to wear in Tunisia for women
Women should consider long sleeved but light cotton tunics. I found my three quarter length polyester Tunics great for Tunisia. I took two of them and wore them often – they were also great when I travelled to Oman.
If you want to wear skirts they should no tie short as this will attract unwanted attention from men. I have even heard of girls and women getting pinched on the arse in Tunisia (especially in the Medinas and after dark). Whilst the men should be able to keep their hands to themselves, you want to minimise the risk. If you do want to wear short skirts then a good option is to wear a pair of black leggings underneath them.
Dresses are appropriate for summer in Tunisia, but they should be three quarter length or maxi dresses and not short. They should not be low cut and also should have sleeves if possible. If you really want to take a dress that is sleeveless then make sure it’s not too strappy and pack a cardigan, bolero or shawl to go with it. This kind of dress would be great…
Here’s a good list of what to wear for Tunisia in summer for women:
- Leggings (black)
- Cycling shorts (good for under long skirts or dresses).
- Long flowy skirts.
- A light three quarter sleeved cardigan.
- Tunics with three quarter sleeves – cotton, polyester or linen are perfect.
- A maxi dress or three quarter dress that is not low cut and has sleeves.
- High necked/long sleeved cotton or light tops.
- Several T-Shirts (avoid animals, people and religious or offensive slogans on them).
- A pair of comfortable walking trousers (ones with zip off bottoms that turn into shorts are great).
- Walking boots – lightweight and waterproof are most ideal.
- Sandals – I like Teva ones.
- Flip flops for the beach.
- Beach Bag.
- Full bathing suit and sarong.
- Sunglasses (or prescription sunnies or sun reactive glasses).
- Sun hat with a wide brim.
What to wear in Tunisia for Men
Men can pack an extra pair of shorts as well as swim shorts and take a baseball cap (preferably plain) to protect them from the sun. Men’s hiking trousers and long sleeved shirts are suitable for day wear. Also men should add a couple of smart shirts and trousers for the evening.
What to wear in Tunisia in Winter
Pack similar clothes to the summer, but while in the cooler months, it may be necessary to bring a light jacket or sweater. Add the following to your packing:
- A pair of jeans
- A comfortable long sleeved top or a even hoodie
- A fleece (zip all the way down is ideal)
- A rain jacket (weather can be changeable)
I love my Tog 24 fleece with a zip all the way down – I find the ones with a zip only at the top less versatile and a bit annoying to take own and off!
When choosing a rain proof jacket, go for something lightweight and breathable. Avoid one with velcro – I made this mistake and regretted it because it sticks to and pulls normal clothes and quite frankly, is just annoying! A waist length zip down jacket with zip pockets is perfect for Tunisia. Gortex is a great material. I recommend this breathable rain proof jacket from Berghaus….
Can women wear Make up in Tunisia?
Women can wear make up in Tunisia, but I would recommend against anything too heavy, firstly due to the sun and secondly due to potentially attracting unwanted attention from men. Opt for a tinted moisturiser rather than a heavy foundation that will crack or feel uncomfortable. I used this Estee Lauder Day wear which is a multi-protection anti-oxident sheer tint release with SPF 15 inbuilt.
I would also recommend wearing a good sun cream on any parts of your body that are going to catch the sun (arms and legs plus feet and top of ears!) Use at least factor 30 such as this one from Garnier Ambre Solaire or, if you have a healthier budget go for this Clinique factor 30 mineral sunscreen lotion.
A good soothing after sun is also a good idea in case you get burnt. This Garnier Ambre Solaire after sun is a good one and reasonably priced.
Washing your Clothes in Tunisia
It is cheap to get your laundry done in Tunisia and most hotels and hostels offer this service. When we were in Hammamet we came home with everything washed, dried and ironed! You can also hand wash underwear and T-shirts easily and they will dry quite quickly in the combination of the breeze and the sun.
What to Avoid wearing in Tunisia
Here is a list of what you should avoid wearing in Tunisia because it can be either uncomfortable or offensive…
- Skimpy bikinis.
- Vest tops or tops with Spaghetti straps.
- Anything low cut showing cleavage for women.
- Short skirts or any revealing dresses.
- T-shirts or clothing with swearing or offensive or political slogans on.
- T-shirts or clothing with religious symbols or slogans on.
- Head scarves with animals or people on them (not allowed in Mosques).
- Slippy sandals or mules – there is a lot of walking in Tunisia and these will be uncomfortable and cause either blisters or trips/falls.
Further Reading on Tunisia
If you found this article on what to wear in Tunisia helpful then you might also like to read about:
- Visiting the Mosques in Tunisia.
- How to spend 3 days in Tunisia.
- My holiday to Tunisia – The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
- 10 Amazing things to do in Tunisia.
- The Ultimate Tunisia itinerary