Tunisia Stories and Tips

Cafes or coffee shops?

This entry is to serve as advice to any weary travellers looking for refreshment in Tunis.

Cafes and coffee shops are very different. Cafes are essentially a male domain and in Tunis you can find cafes inside the medina and dotted around the New Town. These are easily the nearest thing you'll find to a British pub, although most we saw didn't sell alcohol. These places serve soft drinks and the ubiquitous highly sweetened (usually mint) tea. They are places for men to meet and discuss the days business. Some have TVs and often the men are watching football. The cafes are normally pretty open so you can look right in without much effort and decide whether you want to give it a go. Women are generally OK with a male escort, but I didn't see any Tunisian women in any of the cafes. If you do venture in you may or may not be approached by Tunisians wishing to chat. We found most drinkers to be fairly reserved and not particularly bothered by our presence. If invited to join in when the waiter brings down the pipe from behind the bar, give it a try. Contrary to belief, the tobacco is neither illegal nor mind-bending! Theer are various flavours of heavily scented tobacco - the most common being vanilla or fruit flavours.

Coffee shops, on the other hand, attract a mixed crowd of, mainly young, Tunisians and here the French influence really shows. These places can be found all over the New Town. A word of warning - there aren't many seats in these establishments. You stand at high counters around the outside of the room which is great to watch the world go by through the windows but not so fun if you've been plodding round the medina all day!

There are all kinds of flavoured coffees and the usual choices of espresso, latte, etc and an amazing array of pastries. These are usually laced with honey and strewn with almonds and pistachios - sadly, I'm allergic to nuts, but they looked delicious.

One or two places have outdoor tables, but the pavements are so narrow it's pretty perilous.

Whatever your tastes and depending on how adventurous you are there is something for every weary and thirsty visitor to Tunis.

Been to this destination?

Share Your Story or Tip