Sfax city

10 reasons why you should travel to Sfax instead of Tunis

Punhan Shukurov Punhan Shukurov 22 September 2020
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Every year, millions of people worldwide travel to Tunisia. This Northern African country is a great tourist destination, thanks to its geographical proximity, unique culture, mysterious deserts, magnificent beaches, and extremely hot summer climate. The largest city and the capital of Tunisia is the city of Tunis. Another important city in Tunisia is Sfax. Many visitors travel from Tunis to Sfax after spending several days in the capital. Where is Sfax? Sfax is the second-largest city in Tunisia, located on the east coast of the country. Sfax weather is hot and dry during the summer and warm and wet during the winter. Sfax is also a famous tourist destination, where English and French are common and Tunisia language. As many travellers have limited budgets, they can spend time mainly in one city of Tunisia. Many tourists ask the question of which city is better: Tunis or Sfax? In this blog, we will discuss why Sfax is a better tourist destination than Tunis and why you should travel to Sfax instead of Tunis.

1. The perfect mixture of the old and the new

old architecture in Sfax

Sfax is home to magnificent old architecture that is well-preserved from the 13th century. You can observe the ancient Roman vibes from almost every historical site of the city. In the major distinct historical section of Sfax, namely Medina, the architecture of old buildings is inspired by Romans. Apart from the historical sections of the city, the urban parts of Sfax are also magnificent. Roads, business plazas, hotels, skyscrapers, universities, etc., are pretty modern.

All in all, the city of Sfax perfectly mixes old and new architecture. The government has centralized all the economic and industrial activities in the capital of Tunisia. Therefore, there are mainly new buildings in Tunis, and the old architecture is not well preserved. Many travellers do not like prevailing urban infrastructure, and they travel from Tunis to Sfax to explore the history of Tunisia.

2. Tunis is extremely overcrowded

Tunisia night

As the capital of Tunisia, Tunis is the country’s economic, political, industrial, educational, and business centre. Major universities, business centres, government buildings, etc., are located in Tunis. Therefore, Tunis is home to a huge population, close to three million. In Tunis, public transportation, restaurants, cafes, libraries, tourist places are often extremely overcrowded. Therefore, you would stumble upon many queues while shopping, entering museums, and visiting historical sites. However, the population of Sfax is three times less than Tunis. Sfax is not as urban as Tunis. Therefore city life is much less dynamic. You will enjoy your travel to Tunisia while wandering around the quiet streets, less crowded tourist attractions, and shopping malls. When you travel from Tunis to Sfax, you will leave all the hustle and bustle behind and enter the peaceful tourism heaven.

3. Getting around in Sfax is cheaper

sfax square

To get around in Tunisia, you need taxis, buses, and underground. Although the quality of public transit services is the same in Tunisia, the prices vary in various cities. As Tunis is a bigger city, the buses work with a more intense schedule and longer routes. Therefore, bus tickets are more expensive in Tunis. Taxis are very expensive in the capital city. Demand for taxi services is much higher in Tunis as hundreds of thousands of people use taxis for going to university, work, etc., every day. A large number of tourists is also a great opportunity for taxi drivers in Tunis to increase prices. However, Sfax is a smaller city with shorter travel routes and lines. Taxis are generally affordable as it does not take a lot of time to travel from one important destination to another. Also, tourist destinations in Sfax are close to each other. Therefore, tourists can get from one place to another by walking, saving a lot of money for those who travel on a budget.

4. Concept hotels near historical sites

exepnsive luxury hotel

The main tourist attraction of the city of Sfax is its historical sites. Tourists visit Sfax to see the unique Roman-style architecture. Local tourism companies have invested a lot to build concept accommodation near historic streets, buildings, and avenues. To attract more tourists and grab their attention, the exterior and interior of hotels, hostels, and some apartments resemble the ancient buildings of the medina area. The historical concept hotels are not far from the major tourist attractions, such as Borj El Guennouni, the Great Mosque of Sfax, Dar Jellouli Museum, and City Walls. The interior of concept hotels is decorated with historical ornaments, mixing ancient Romans and modern African Arabs. However, the Tunis hotels are mainly modern, and you can hardly find hotels decorated and designed with historical styles. Staying in modern hotels of Tunis will not feel any special. During your travel to Tunisia, you should feel the historical vibes by staying in Sfax’s concept accommodation spots. It is also worth noting that many Tunis hotels are far away from the major tourist attractions.

5. Practice local language

language book

In the capital city, people mainly speak French and English, and very few speak in Tunisia’s local dialects. Suppose an English-speaking or French-speaking tourist visits Tunis. In that case, he/she will probably not learn many things about Tunisia’s local culture because almost all people speak international languages. In the city of Sfax, local people have preserved their Tunisia language, and they mainly speak local dialects in everyday life. While visiting the historical sites, hearing various dialects of the Tunisia language will make you feel the Arabic world’s real vibes. It would be better to learn a few basic words, phrases, and sentences in the Tunisia language before travelling to Sfax. Communicating with local Tunisians in the local dialects will give you a lot of information about its culture and lifestyle. Knowing the language will also help you read some historical writings on ancient monuments while visiting museums and sites.

6. Ferry trip to Kerkennah Islands

kerkennah islands

The city of Sfax is located near the Kerkennah Islands. A nice ferry will take you to the east, the ancient Kerkennah group of islands within the Gulf. The traditional fishing methods of ancient African tribes are still applied today in Kerkennah Islands. The local people of the islands have preserved many cultural traditions and lifestyle habits. They celebrate ancient holidays, go fishing together, and cook fish with groups of families. A trip to the Kerkennah Islands will allow you to learn more about the lifestyle and traditions of ancient African tribes. You can not travel to the Kerkennah Islands via ferry if you are in Tunis. The city of Tunis is far from Kerkennah Islands.    

7. Travel via coast road into Libya

 port de sfax

When you leave Sfax via boat or ferry, you can move along the coast freely. If you have a visa for entrance into Libya, you can travel there via the coast road. It would be an exciting experience to travel to a bordering country for a short time. However, if you are in Tunis, getting to Libya would take a lot of time. Many travellers strongly advise to travel to Libya and appreciate being in the city of Sfax. Also, Sfax weather would cause no problems for your ferry or boat trip. The weather is often calm on the shore of Sfax city.

8. Overnight stay at Star Wars film-set hotel

berber caves

A few hours’ rides to the south of Sfax will take you to the Star Wars film set. The unique and ancient underground houses of the Tunisian village were used to shoot the Star Wars scenes. Also, the landscape of the area is fascinating, resembling fairytales. An overnight stay at a Star Wars-themed hotel will be affordable as well as great fun for you. A trip to the Star Wars film set area is very famous among travellers who visit Tunisia

9. Visit Archaeological Museum

place de la republique

The Archaeological Museum is one of Tunisia's national treasures. Historical sites are the most significant tourist attractions in Sfax. The famous Archaeological Museum is home to a myriad of historical tools, weapons, books, carvings, traditional clothes, etc. Most of the monuments belonged to the 13th century when the Arabic political power was strong. However, some monuments and tools belong to several thousand years ago, namely when ancient Romans lived. The Archaeological Museum is located only in Sfax, and it is a must-visit tourist attraction during your time in Sfax.

10. UNESCO World Heritage Site

sfax city

Medina of Sfax has recently been a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Generally, Sfax is the Tunisian city with the most World Heritage Sites. Medina of Sfax is unique because its architecture mixes various cultures such as Arabic, Roman, and Ottoman. The streets, doors, rooms, and walls are filled with historical treasures such as ancient writings, carvings, etc. Also, there is a famous shop in the Medina where you can find culturally valuable jewels, traditional food, clothes with ancient ornaments, etc. Medina, the most important UNESCO World Heritage Site in Tunisia, is a must-visit destination.

A quick recap of this article

les oliviers palace

In this article, we answered the following questions: Where is Sfax? How is Sfax weather during the various times of the year? In the main part of the blog, we elaborated on why Sfax is a better travel destination than Tunis. After finding out where is Sfax and how to travel to Sfax, you can organize a tour of this beautiful ancient city that will be an unforgettable experience of a lifetime.

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Punhan Shukurov

Punhan was born in Baku, which is the scientific, cultural, and economic center of Azerbaijan. Since he started to study International Relations at university, Punhan has been fond of learning about new cultures and traditions of different nations. Punhan taught English to children in the summer camp in the Kyiv region of Ukraine. He also participated in a short-term youth cultural exchange program in Japan. During his studies and travels, Punhan has gained knowledge of comparing the lifestyles of various nations. He especially enjoys watching travel vlogs and reading culture blogs.

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