Southern Tunisia, Tunisie

The 9 essential things to do in Southern Tunisia

Last update : 26/05/2024 15:38

A journey through southern Tunisia promises a captivating adventure into the heart of the desert and oases, where rich cultural heritage intertwines with spectacular landscapes. In Tozeur, the initial stop on this expedition, the picturesque medina and the Dar Cherait museum immerse visitors in local history. A carriage ride through Tozeur's palm groves provides a tranquil immersion into these lush oases. The journey continues with an excursion into the Sahara Desert, where a night spent bivouacking under the stars allows for an authentic connection with nature.

In Douz, known as the "gateway to the desert," the vibrant market and the Sahara Festival provide a deep dive into nomadic culture. The expedition moves on to Tataouine, where the ksars of Chenini and Ksar Ouled Soltane reveal fascinating Berber architecture. The roads then lead to Gabes, where the medina, central market, and Guellala pottery enrich the cultural experience. Gabes' beach offers a moment of relaxation before concluding this journey, which is abundant with discoveries. Between the enchanting desert, traditional villages, and human encounters, southern Tunisia unveils a unique and memorable facet of this country.

1 - Djerba

Djerba, Southern Tunisia, Tunisia

Djerba, an enchanting island nestled in the southeast of Tunisia, beckons visitors with its rich tapestry of culture, history, and coastal landscapes. Begin your exploration in the heart of Houmt Souk, the island's main town. Roam through the bustling markets of its medina, where the vibrant colors of local crafts and the historical El Ghriba Synagogue create a captivating ambiance. Dive into the cultural heritage of Djerba by visiting the Guellala Museum, a showcase of traditional craftsmanship, particularly pottery. As the day unfolds, unwind on the golden shores of Sidi Mahrez Beach, basking in the warmth of the Mediterranean sun.

For a day of leisure and history, meander through the quaint village of Guellala, renowned for its skilled pottery artisans. The following morning, soak up the sun on Djerba's inviting beaches, such as Djerba Explore Park Beach or La Playa. In the afternoon, venture into Guellala, known for its authentic pottery workshops, where you can purchase local ceramics as keepsakes. As dusk falls, wander through the narrow alleys of Houmt Souk's medina, marveling at traditional architecture and immersing yourself in the lively atmosphere.

To infuse your journey with a blend of nature and culture, set out towards the eastern part of the island to explore the oasis of Ksar Ghilane. Traverse the sandy dunes, take a dip in the warm springs, and savor the serene ambiance of the desert. Journey to Midoun, a village with traditional architecture and local markets, including the noteworthy Fadhloun Mosque and its surrounding gardens. Conclude your Djerba sojourn by indulging in an evening of traditional dance or savoring local delicacies in an authentic restaurant, wrapping your visit with the perfect blend of relaxation, history, and Tunisian traditions.

2 - Excursion dans le désert du Sahara

Excursion dans le désert du Sahara, Southern Tunisia, Tunisia

Embarking on a Sahara Desert excursion in Tunisia promises an extraordinary adventure into vast and captivating desert landscapes. Departing from key points such as Ksar Ghilane, Douz, or Tozeur, travelers can immerse themselves in breathtaking scenery. Camel rides through the sand dunes offer an authentic experience, allowing for an appreciation of the silent majesty of the desert. Nights spent camping under the starry sky add a magical dimension to this journey, providing a unique closeness to nature.

Exploring oases like Chebika, Tamerza, and Mides unveils verdant gems amidst the arid surroundings. Hiking through the dunes presents spectacular panoramas, and encounters with local nomadic communities offer a rewarding immersion into Saharan life. Planning for appropriate clothing, staying hydrated, and engaging a knowledgeable local guide are crucial aspects for a successful experience.

Travelers should also be mindful of the desert's ecology, respecting its delicate balance. Planning the excursion based on weather conditions helps maximize safety and enjoyment of this unforgettable adventure in the Tunisian Sahara.

3 - Tozeur

Tozeur, Southern Tunisia, Tunisia

Tozeur, located at the heart of the Tunisian oasis, offers a multitude of interesting places to visit. Here are some must-visit places in Tozeur:

  1. Tozeur Medina: Lose yourself in the narrow streets of the medina, where traditional Tunisian architecture meets the hustle and bustle of local markets. Explore the souks and discover local craftsmanship.

  2. Tozeur Oasis: Explore the palm groves of Tozeur, among the largest in the country. Enjoy a camel ride or a stroll through the green oases, where irrigation canals wind through date palm trees.

  3. Dar Cheraït Museum: This museum provides a fascinating insight into the history, culture, and craftsmanship of the region. Exhibits showcase Saharan traditions, local costumes, and traditional crafts.

  4. Nefta Medina: Nefta, a nearby town, also has a charming medina to explore. Admire the traditional architecture and soak in the peaceful atmosphere of this town.

  5. Nefta Palm Grove: Near Tozeur, the Nefta palm grove offers similar landscapes to Tozeur, with vast stretches of date palm trees. It's an ideal place for a tranquil walk.

  6. Chott el-Jérid: A few kilometers from Tozeur, Chott el-Jérid is a vast salt lake surrounded by desert landscapes. The changing reflections of the sky on the lake's surface create breathtaking scenes, especially at sunrise or sunset.

  7. Chebika: This village, nicknamed the "Lost Paradise," is nestled amidst mountains. Explore its gorges, waterfalls, and exceptional panoramic views.

  8. Chak Wak Park: Located in Tozeur, this park offers a green respite with well-maintained gardens, fountains, and a relaxing atmosphere.

  9. Dar Hi: This contemporary hotel is also an example of innovative architecture. Even if you're not staying, you can visit its café to admire its unique design.

  10. Chak Wakti Eco-Museum: Discover Saharan culture and traditions through this eco-museum that highlights local lifestyle, agriculture, and craftsmanship.

By exploring these sites, you'll uncover the cultural, historical, and natural diversity of Tozeur, providing a comprehensive experience in the heart of the Saharan oasis.

4 - Chott El-Djerid

Chott El-Djerid, Southern Tunisia, Tunisia

The Chott el-Jérid, situated in southwestern Tunisia near the city of Tozeur, is a remarkable endorheic salt lake that spans approximately 5,000 square kilometers. It is Tunisia's largest salt lake, featuring an extraordinary landscape of sparkling white salt, a result of the rapid evaporation of water in this arid region. Its saline nature makes it a unique site, extensively utilized for salt extraction.

Surrounded by vegetation adapted to saline conditions, the Chott el-Jérid harbors a distinctive ecosystem where resilient species have evolved to thrive in this extreme environment. The lake's shores offer spectacular panoramas, with changing sky reflections creating visually stunning landscapes, especially remarkable at sunrise or sunset.

Tozeur, a nearby city, serves as an ideal starting point for exploring the Chott el-Jérid. Visitors can organize excursions to admire this natural wonder, exploring surrounding villages, observing local wildlife, and learning traditional salt extraction techniques. It is an iconic location that attests to the striking beauty of the Tunisian desert.

5 - Chenini and Ksar Ouled Soltane

Chenini and Ksar Ouled Soltane, Southern Tunisia, Tunisia

Chenini and Ksar Ouled Soltane are two exceptional historical and cultural sites located in the southern region of Tunisia. Here's an overview of each of these places:


Chenini is a Berber village perched on a hill in the mountainous Dahar region, near the town of Tataouine. Here are some highlights of Chenini:

  1. Troglodytic Architecture: Chenini is renowned for its troglodytic architecture, with houses built into the cliffs. These semi-troglodytic dwellings are characteristic of the region and offer a unique glimpse into traditional Berber life.

  2. Mosque and Fortress: The village is home to an old mosque that reflects the Islamic history of the area. There is also an ancient fortress that provides panoramic views of the surroundings.

  3. Local Crafts: Explore the alleys of Chenini to discover local crafts, including colorful Berber carpets and other traditional handicrafts.

Ksar Ouled Soltane:

Ksar Ouled Soltane is a ksar (fortified granary) located near the town of Tataouine. It is renowned for its tiered architecture and its role in the Star Wars saga. Here are some characteristic features of Ksar Ouled Soltane:

  1. Tiered Architecture: Ksar Ouled Soltane is known for its tiered granaries, called "ghorfas." These box-like structures were used for storing cereals and were constructed in a way to maximize space while allowing proper ventilation.

  2. Appearance in Star Wars: The site was used as a filming location for several scenes in the Star Wars saga, adding to its allure for cinema enthusiasts.

  3. Cultural Heritage: Ksar Ouled Soltane is an impressive example of the architectural and cultural heritage of the region. Visitors can explore the ghorfas and learn more about the lives of ancient farming communities.

These two sites offer a captivating dive into the history, culture, and architecture of southern Tunisia and are must-visit destinations for those looking to explore the rich heritage of the region.

6 - The oases of Chebika, Tamerza and Mides

The oases of Chebika, Tamerza and Mides, Southern Tunisia, Tunisia

The oases of Chebika, Tamerza, and Mides form an impressive ensemble in the southwest of Tunisia. Each of these oases offers a unique experience, combining spectacular natural landscapes with a rich cultural history. Here's an overview of these three oases:


  1. Green Oasis: Chebika is often referred to as the "oasis of the mountains." Nestled at the foot of the Atlas Mountains, it offers a striking contrast between the green of palm trees and the surrounding desert rock.

  2. Roman Ruins: Explore the Roman ruins of Chebika, including remnants of Roman baths that testify to the ancient occupation of the region.

  3. Panorama from the Belvedere: Climb up to the belvedere to enjoy a panoramic view of the oasis and the surrounding mountains. It's an ideal spot for capturing memorable photos.


  1. Largest Mountain Oasis: Tamerza is the largest mountain oasis in Tunisia. Its landscape is characterized by lush palm groves and natural waterfalls.

  2. Ancient Village and Waterfall: Explore the old village of Tamerza, partially destroyed by a flood in 1969. Don't miss Tamerza Waterfall, an impressive cascade in the heart of the oasis.

  3. Hiking in Mides Gorges: Tamerza serves as a starting point for hikes in the nearby Mides Gorges, where mountainous landscapes and rock formations are breathtaking.


  1. Mides Gorges: Mides is known for its impressive gorges. These deep and narrow canyons offer spectacular views, especially during sunrise and sunset.

  2. Ancient Rock Village: Explore the ancient rock village of Mides, built into the cliffs, with its troglodytic dwellings. It was a traditional living space for the locals.

  3. Riverbed Observation: Mides' riverbed (oued) offers unique panoramas. Take the time to sit and appreciate the serenity of this natural environment.

By visiting these oases, you'll discover a captivating facet of Tunisia, blending nature, history, and culture in an exceptional way.

7 - Ksar Ghilane

Ksar Ghilane, Southern Tunisia, Tunisia

Ksar Ghilane: A Desert Oasis Adventure

  1. Oasis in the Desert Heart: Ksar Ghilane is an isolated oasis nestled amidst endless sand dunes in the Tunisian Sahara. It stands out as one of the few oases accessible by road in the desert.

  2. Thermal Spring: The main attraction of Ksar Ghilane is its thermal spring, renowned for its therapeutic properties. Visitors can soak in warm water pools, creating a striking contrast with the surrounding desert.

  3. Desert Camps: The region offers the opportunity to stay in traditional camps amidst the dunes, providing an authentic experience for those who want to embrace nomadic life and enjoy the desert's starry skies.

  4. Exploration of the Ksar: The ksar itself, an ancient fort, adds a historical dimension to the location. Visitors can explore its ruins and envision its past role as a relay point for caravans.

  5. Adventure Activities: Adventure enthusiasts can enjoy 4x4 excursions, camel rides through the dunes, or even quad bike expeditions to explore the vast expanses of the desert.

  6. Sunset Watching: The oasis offers spectacular views of the sunset. The changing colors of the sand and sky create an impressive visual spectacle.

  7. Nature Reserve: The area around Ksar Ghilane is also a nature reserve, hosting a variety of fauna and flora adapted to desert conditions.

Ksar Ghilane offers a unique experience, combining the serenity of an oasis with the adventure of the desert, making it a must-visit for those seeking an authentic escape in southern Tunisia.

8 - Matmata

Matmata, Southern Tunisia, Tunisia

Matmata: Exploring Tunisia's Unique Landscape


  1. Troglodyte Dwellings: The main attraction in Matmata is its troglodyte houses. These dwellings, carved into the ground and rock walls, provide a welcome coolness in the arid desert climate.

  2. Journey Through Time: Exploring the troglodyte houses feels like a journey through time. Some have been inhabited for generations, offering a living representation of traditional lifestyles.

  3. Star Wars Filming Location: Matmata gained worldwide fame as a filming location for Star Wars. The troglodyte house of Berber Lars in Matmata served as the set for the Lars homestead on the planet Tatooine.

  4. Local Market: Visit Matmata's local market to discover local crafts, including carpets, pottery, and other unique handmade products.

  5. Panoramic Views from the Hills: Climb to the surrounding hills for a panoramic view of the desert landscape and scattered troglodyte houses.

  6. Interaction with Locals: Be open to interacting with the locals. Matmata's Berbers are known for their warm hospitality and may share interesting stories about their life in the desert.

Matmata offers a unique and memorable experience, blending history, culture, and a deep connection with the desert nature of southern Tunisia.

9 - Participate in local festivals

Participate in local festivals, Southern Tunisia, Tunisia

The southern region of Tunisia, characterized by its rich cultural heritage, hosts several festivals celebrating music, dance, crafts, and various aspects of local life. While the availability of festivals may vary from year to year, here are some of the festivals that have been organized in the region:

  1. International Festival of Douz: Also known as the "Festival of the Sahara," it takes place in Douz, often referred to as the "Gateway to the Desert." It highlights nomadic culture, Saharan music, and features activities such as camel races and equestrian demonstrations.

  2. Tozeur Festival: Tozeur, famous for its palm groves, hosts various cultural, artistic, and musical events. The festival showcases traditional Tunisian music and provides a platform for local artists.

  3. Tataouine Festival: This festival emphasizes local culture, showcasing music, dance, and artisanal traditions from the Tataouine region. It offers visitors an authentic experience of Tunisian heritage.

  4. Gabes Festival: Gabes organizes various festivals, including cultural events that celebrate music, dance, and local cuisine. Some festivals also highlight environmental and agricultural themes.

  5. Djerba Festival: Djerba hosts several festivals, some dedicated to traditional music, contemporary art, or water sports. These festivals reflect the cultural and artistic diversity of the island.

  6. Kebili Festival: Kebili organizes cultural, artistic, and sports events. These festivals often showcase local traditions, including desert music and traditional dances.

  7. Oases Festival of Tozeur: Focused on promoting sustainable tourism, this festival celebrates oases by highlighting the richness of oasis culture. It includes concerts, craft exhibitions, and educational activities.

Make sure to check specific dates and the availability of festivals at the time of your visit as they may vary from year to year. Participating in these festivals provides a unique opportunity to experience the rich culture and hospitality of southern Tunisia.

Southern Tunisia - Where to Stay?

To explore the southern region of Tunisia, it's recommended to choose accommodations that offer a blend of comfort, authenticity, and proximity to key attractions. Here are some suggestions for places to stay in different cities in southern Tunisia:

  1. Tozeur: Opt for a hotel or riad in the heart of Tozeur's medina for an immersive experience in the local atmosphere. Establishments near the palm groves often provide splendid views. Some hotels also offer traditional experiences like stargazing nights in the desert.

  2. Douz: As a starting point for desert excursions, choose a comfortable hotel in Douz. Establishments close to the market usually offer easy access to local activities, while lodges in the desert provide a unique experience.

  3. Tataouine: Stay in a hotel or guesthouse in Tataouine's old town for an authentic experience. Some accommodations offer guided tours of the ksars and surrounding regions.

  4. Gabes: Choose a hotel near Gabes' medina to explore markets and local life. Hotels along the coast often provide magnificent sea views.

  5. Ksar Ghilane: If you plan to visit the oasis of Ksar Ghilane, look for camps or lodges in this region for a unique desert experience, with the opportunity to bathe in hot springs.

  6. Chenini or Matmata: For a total immersion in ksars and troglodyte houses, consider staying in a hotel or guesthouse located in these Berber villages.

Make sure to book your accommodations in advance, taking into account your personal preferences, the type of experience you're seeking, and the proximity to the attractions you wish to visit.

Southern Tunisia - How to get around?

To travel and explore the southern region of Tunisia, you have several transportation options depending on your itinerary and preferences. Here are some commonly used means of transportation to visit this region:

  1. Car Rental: Renting a car provides maximum flexibility to explore the region at your own pace. The main roads are in good condition, but make sure to check road conditions and gather information about routes before your trip.

  2. Public Transportation: Intercity buses are available to connect major cities in the south, but their frequency may be limited, especially for more remote locations. Main bus stations are located in city centers.

  3. Taxis: Local taxis can be a convenient option for getting around within cities or between cities. Make sure to negotiate the price before departure or ask for the use of the meter.

  4. Organized Tours: If you prefer not to drive yourself, many travel agencies offer organized tours covering various attractions in southern Tunisia. These tours may include guides, transportation, and sometimes even accommodations.

  5. Internal Flights: If your itinerary includes remote destinations, consider internal flights to regional airports. Check flight availability and choose options that best fit your schedule.

  6. Off-Road Vehicle Rentals: For desert expeditions, you can opt for off-road vehicle rentals with a driver. This may be necessary to access more remote places or for specific experiences like desert safaris.

  7. Private Transfers: Some hotels and travel agencies provide private transfers between destinations. This can be a comfortable option, but check for associated costs.

When planning your trip, take into account the distance between attractions, road conditions, and the availability of transportation options. It may be beneficial to combine several transportation methods based on your itinerary.

Southern Tunisia - Best period

The best time to visit the southern part of Tunisia, especially the desert region, is during the fall and spring months. The months of September to November and March to May typically offer pleasant weather conditions, avoiding the extreme heat of summer.

  • Fall (September to November): Temperatures start to decrease after summer, making this period ideal for exploring the Sahara Desert. Days are still warm, but nights can be cool.

  • Spring (March to May): This period is also favorable with pleasant temperatures. Landscapes are often greener after winter rains, and conditions are suitable for desert excursions and visits to oases.

During the summer months (June to August), temperatures in southern Tunisia can become extremely high, often exceeding 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit). The conditions can be challenging for outdoor activities, especially in the desert, where the heat can be intense. It is, therefore, advisable to avoid this period if possible.

It's important to note that weather conditions can vary from year to year, and it's always recommended to check weather forecasts before planning your trip. Also, consider specific events you might want to experience, such as local festivals or seasonal blooms.

Last update : 26/05/2024 15:38

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