HalalBooking guide to halal-friendly holidays in Tunisia
Tunisia is a wonderful country with a vibrant culture and heritage whose history is interwoven with the Carthaginians, Romans, the Berber kingdom and Islam. The spectacular vestiges of its rich Tunisian heritage stand out through the distinctive architecture as well as their little-known culinary specialities and their marvellous ruins which rival those of Rome.
When talking about the countries of North Africa, Tunisia, which is located at the northernmost point of the vast continent of Africa, is often overlooked compared to its distant cousin, Morocco. This predominantly Muslim country hides wonderful opportunities for Muslims to enjoy halal-friendly holidays.
HalalBooking highlights numerous alcohol-free, halal-friendly hotels, a lot of which also offer women-only pools and spas. A halal-friendly holiday in Tunisia can make your dreams and those of your family come true. Seize the opportunity to appreciate the rich, welcoming and remarkable qualities of Tunisia.
Mosques and prayer facilities in Tunisia
Most mosques in Tunisia allow access to their beautiful prayer rooms for Muslim tourists. So to fully enjoy these superb places of prayer as a Muslim tourist in Tunisia, it is recommended that you visit both the small hidden ones and the better-known mosques listed below.
Great Mosque of Kairouan (Uqba Mosque)
The Great Mosque of Kairouan, the largest mosque in North Africa, dominates the city. Its architecture became exemplary for the other mosques in the Maghreb region and is considered to be the first to have an overstepped arch. In the Middle Ages, the mosque housed the University of Kairouan which was a pre-eminent intellectual centre.
Great Mosque of Sousse
The Great Mosque of Sousse is an odd mosque with its lack of a minaret and its architecture is reminiscent of a military fort. You can, however, admire the voice of the muezzin which resonates in the inner courtyard. Although perhaps less elaborate than the other great mosques in Tunisia, the Sousse Mosque offers an acoustic experience and a breathtaking view of the harbour and the sea.
Al-Zitouna Mosque of Tunis
The al-Zitouna Mosque is the oldest place of prayer in the capital. It is framed by the labyrinth of the medina of Tunis. This shiny marble wonder is brimming with history, education, spirituality and poetic art. The Alumnis of the University of Zitouna have changed the world and left a true Islamic heritage behind.
Historical and Islamic heritage in Tunisia
The clear legacy of Tunisia is its Islamic heritage, waiting to be explored by today’s Muslim tourists in its busy streets, desert cities and coastal resorts.Its history is seen in the remnants of the previous ruling Muslim dynasties. Indeed, the teachings of Islam, which advocate tolerance of other religions and traditions, have made it possible for the rich history influenced by Roman, Turkish and Berber cultures to survive, which can be seen in Tunisia’s numerous historical places.
Sidi Bou Saïd
Sidi Bou Saïd is a village of resplendent beauty in blue and white, with breathtaking views and an artistic heritage that links Europe with the Arab world. Take a seat in a cafe or restaurant with a view of the Mediterranean and absorb this beautiful inspiring experience.
Bardo National Museum
The Bardo National Museum in Tunis, one of the most important museums in the Mediterranean world, tells the story of the civilizations of Hadrumète, Carthage, Dougga and Utica. The mosaic cave, marble statues, historic halls and lush domes will transport you to the past. The quality and rarity of the objects exhibited in the museum illuminates the forgotten history of Tunisia.
El Djem Amphitheatre
Compared with the Colosseum in Rome, the Amphitheatre of el Djem with a capacity of 35,000 spectators is better preserved and more complete. The architectural arrangement is more fluid and varied, and one can access every corner of the amphitheatre.
Ribat of Monastir
The Ribat of Monastir is a military, defensive structure and an opportunity to travel back in time. Completely preserved, the fort was built to protect Tunisia's trade routes. This location is often used by Hollywood for their historical and dystopian films. Its position on the coast and the completely intact walls will amaze you!
Tourist excursions and halal tourism in Tunisia
The 1,148-kilometre coastline offers a variety of family-friendly, halal-friendly beaches, where women can swim in modest swimwear without worry. The most popular beaches are based in Hammamet, Djerba and Sousse. However, if you are looking for a more secluded place, consider the beaches in Nabeul, Gabès and Zarzis.
Sahara - Grand Erg Oriental
Have you ever imagined sleeping under the stars, surrounded by sand dunes? There are many providers that organise hikes in the Grand Erg Oriental. The choices available include visits to Berber villages, desert tents, dream oases, canyons, streams and waterfalls.
Getting lost in the medinas is the perfect opportunity to meet locals, discover daily life and Tunisian symbols such as the varnished fish on house door fronts, which may “bring good luck”. The medinas are “capsules” that have preserved the past and the characteristic identity of Tunisia.
Halal food and restaurants in Tunisia
Halal restaurants in Tunisia can be found in every corner of the country. Tunisia's culinary identity is not very different from that of Algeria or Morocco. However, there are special surprises that are only known in Tunisia, as traditional Tunisian dishes cannot be found on international menus.
Here are some examples :
Kousksi (Couscous) - The Tunisian version of couscous that is served with a red sauce is different from the traditional Moroccan or Algerian version that is served with a white sauce. Tunisia, with its 1,148 kilometre coastline, offers us its famous royal couscous with fish.
Tajine - The Tunisian tagine will surprise you because it looks more like a gratin with a mixture of beaten eggs, spices and flavouring herbs. A similar recipe can be found with the Spanish and Italian frittata.
Lablabi - A soup made with chickpeas, garlic, cumin and egg, served on stale bread.
Makloub - A street food or fast food from Tunisia, Makloub is similar to a folded pizza with a selection of various fillings.
As Tunisians like it hot and spicy, harissa can accompany any dish. Do not leave without tasting Chakchouka, bricks, spicy merguez, chorbas and Tunisian pastries with a Turkish and Berber element.
The dishes and specialties vary by region:
Sfax is known for fish soups, salted fish and fast food.
On the Island of Djerba the cuisine is marked by Jewish heritage and kosher cuisine.
Hammamet offers snail specialities.
The Atlas Mountains offer dishes with quail, pigeons, partridges, rabbits and hares.
Shopping in Tunisia
When entering the souks of the medina you can imagine Ali Baba's treasure cave. Shopping in Tunisia can be a bit exhausting with endless choices of jalebas, silver jewelry, perfumes, oils, ancient and modern Tunisian style pottery and leather goods.
The town of Nabeul is known for its expertise in artisanal pottery. It is possible to find pieces for all occasions.
Carpets and rugs
After a visit to the Great Mosque of Kairouan, begin your search for rugs in the markets of Kairouan. The art of woven and knotted carpets was preserved in the city of Kairouan after the 16th century invasion by the Turks. It is easy to distinguish genuine works by the sealed certificate from the National Office of Tunisian Handicrafts.
Top quality goods
If you are looking for good quality merchandise, you can find a lot of it in Tunisia. The markets are overflowing with traditional and good quality clothing (Kaftans, Jelabas), silver jewellery, organic oils, leather bags and copper ornaments. If you wish to find top quality merchandise, you need to move away from souvenir shops. In the big cities of Tunis, Sfax and Sousse the best time for shopping is during the hours of Asr, Maghrib and Isha.
There are many modern shopping centres in Tunisia. Muslim women will find a good choice of modest clothing and the cafes and restaurants are welcoming and family-friendly. Visit the Costa Mall in Hammamet, the Ali Baba Shopping center in Sousse and the Azur City in Tunis.