Are you planning a trip to Tunisia and wonder what’s culturally appropriate to wear and comfortable for the season? These are great questions to consider, especially if you’re planning to do any travel outside of the resorts! Read on to find out what to wear while traveling in Tunisia.
Why Think Through What to Wear When Traveling in Tunisia?
But first, why spend time thinking through what to wear? Travel is supposed to be fun and relaxing, right? Is it really worth taking the extra time and effort to think it through?
Since you’re reading this blog, you’re probably travel savvy and have some answers to those questions yourself. As someone who has lived in Tunisia for several years, here’s my take on why it’s important to think through what to wear when traveling in Tunisia:
- Stay comfortable while traveling: You want to have comfortable clothing and footwear for the right activity and weather.
- Build bridges with the culture: In an honor/shame society like Tunisia, what you wear has an impact on how people view you and relate to you. If you’re dressed in a respectable way (by local standards), there’s a higher likelihood you’ll have meaningful connections while you’re traveling. This is especially true if you’re exploring southern Tunisia, and smaller cities and villages.
- Help avoid ripoffs and pickpockets: Like any tourist destination, there are pickpocketers and people who are out there to make an easy buck off naive-looking tourists. Obviously wearing appropriate dress is not the only security precaution you should take. But when you dress appropriate for the context, you communicate confidence as a traveler – that’ll make even the meanest thief scurry away like a dog with his tail between his legs.
What Should Women Wear When Traveling in Tunisia?
First, it can be good to have some context on the local culture. For women, modesty is an important value throughout most of Tunisia. In the larger cities, women want to look fashionable, but without attracting too much attention. In smaller cities and throughout southern Tunisia, women think more about modesty and respectability – and not as much about fashion.
It’s good to know you’re not expected to dress like a Tunisian, so general guidelines are the most helpful.
Here are tips to help you in most situations in Tunisia.
Clothing Tips For Women Traveling in Tunisia – What Works Well:
- Jeans or slacks
- Long shorts/capris that cover the knee and most of the calf
- Skirts that come to the knee or lower
- Most shirts, including t-shirts
- Tunics work great in smaller cities and the south
- A hat or something to cover your head is useful in multiple situations (when you’re getting too much sun, when you feel like you’re getting too much attention in rural areas or visits to a souq, for visits to the mosque in Kairouan, etc.)
Clothing Tips For Women Traveling in Tunisia – What to Avoid:
- Avoid shirts and blouses that have a low neckline, or that reveal most of your shoulders.
- Tank tops
Good to know (For Women):
- You’re not expected to cover your head, even in towns where the majority of women do so.
- Most of the beaches you visit will have both Tunisians and tourists wearing a variety of swimwear.
What Should Men Wear When Traveling in Tunisia?
The most common outfit for a Tunisian man is probably jeans and a short-sleeve shirt. That may be an overgeneralization, but it tells you something about how relaxed the dress code is for men!
Tunisian men do not think as much about modesty, but more so about respectability. It’s important for them to look sharp and clean – and definitely not sloppy. They’re aware that how they dress impacts how others will interact with them.
You’re coming to relax and explore, so you don’t need to look super sharp. So what’s a good balance between comfort and culturally respectful?
Here are some tips to help you in most situations in Tunisia:
Clothing Tips For Men Traveling in Tunisia – What Works Well:
- Jeans or slacks
- Shorts that come down to the knee
- Long shorts/men’s capris
- Most shirts (t-shirt, polo shirts, button down, sweaters, etc.)
Clothing Tips For Men Traveling in Tunisia – What to Avoid:
- Short shorts (if you wear those, you’re probably not reading this blog anyway)
- Tank tops and muscle shirts
- Avoid walking around with a button-up shirt unbuttoned, if you don’t have an undershirt (ie, fellas, show that chest hair off at the beach, but not in public)
What to Wear When Traveling in Tunisia – General Advice For Both Men and Women
Think as pragmatically as possible when you plan what footwear to bring to Tunisia for your travels! You won’t break any cultural faux pas in this area. You’ll want to think about what the weather will be like, how much walking you’ll be doing (especially on unpaved roads), and if you’ll be doing any hiking.
There will be plenty of dirt, dust, and grime on the roads, even on city sidewalks. In general, you’ll want a good quality, closed-toe walking shoe during the cooler months, or good quality sandals during the summer. If you’re traveling in between seasons, you might want to bring one of each – a good walking shoe and a good pair of sandals. I would not recommend shoes with heels, or flip flops, as your main walking shoe.
Don’t Forget the Shades!
In Tunisia, the sun is bright throughout the year. It reflects off the white buildings, the blue Mediterranean sea, and the powdery sand of the Sahara. Because of this, you’ll want a good quality pair of sunglasses for your trip to Tunisia. Once you’re here, you won’t need a reminder to use them!
Some Perspective on Weather in Tunisia
You might be wondering how the weather affects what you’ll plan on wearing – in general, the weather in Tunisia is similar to southern Europe. The summers are hot and sunny. Winters are cool but usually not cold. During spring and fall, it’s pleasantly warm during the day and cool in the evenings. Knowing this basic information can help you decide what clothes to pack. To read more about weather in Tunisia and how it may impact your travel plans, click here.
Some Perspective on Local Culture and What to Wear in Tunisia
In terms of culture – Tunisia is a Muslim country, but it’s one of the most progressive societies in the Arab world. You’ll see a lot of variety in how Tunisians dress – from conservative to very Western.
Most Tunisians are used to seeing tourists and interacting with foreigners. Even if you wear something that is not totally culturally appropriate, most Tunisians will understand that you’re from another culture and have different customs. All this to say, take the advice in this blog as general guidelines, but don’t stress about it too much!
Pack Your Bags For Your Tunisia Trip!
Figuring out what to wear for your trip to Tunisia shouldn’t be stressful. Now you can pack your bags with calm and confidence! Happy travels!