Djerba, Tunisia: How to Get There, Where to Stay and What to Do
SOURCE: MANCHESTER EVENING NEWS
BY: EMMA BOFF-MEN
Known as the ‘island of the thousand palm trees’, Djerba, located off the Southern coast of Tunisia, is fringed by swaying palm trees, lapped by crystal clear waters and lined with perfect stretches of fine sandy beach.
A melting pot of Arabic, Muslim, Jewish and African influences, this multi-cultural island is known for its peaceful atmosphere, where people of different cultures and beliefs live side-by-side harmoniously.
Top Sees for a Fee:
Soak up the exotic sights, scents and sounds of the island’s capital, Houmt Souk. Visit the colourful, bustling, open-air markets where traders sell everything from carpets to caftans and jewellery to spices. Try local culinary delights in the town’s lively cafés and take a stroll along the picturesque streets, a maze of alleyways and whitewashed walls decorated with purple bougainvillea flowers.
Unearth the history and legend of the island on a trip to the ancient Borj El Kebir Fortress, in ancient times a stronghold of Dragut, the notorious Turkish pirate warrior. Known also as Ghazi Mustapha Tower, this huge square-shaped fort was built upon orders of the Hafsid Sultan of Tunisia in the 13th century. Cross the drawbridge over the moat before climbing the steps and walking along the castle walls to take in spectacular views overlooking the city, the Mediterranean sea and the port of Fatimid.
Tickets: 8 DT.
Visit Djerba’s Traditional Heritage Museum for an interesting insight into the island’s rich heritage and traditions. View themed exhibitions and costumes, local silver and gold artwork and discover the islanders’ practices of agriculture, fishing and pottery. Delve into the mysteries and legends surrounding the island’s title as the ‘Land of the Lotus-Eaters’ described in tales of Greek mythology.
Houmt Souk 4180
Tickets: 8 DT.
Take a trip to El Ghriba synagogue – Africa’s oldest synagogue – in the Jewish village of Hara Seghira. Believed to have been in use for over two millennia, it’s reputed to hold one of the oldest Torah scrolls in the world, with thousands making a pilgrimage to the sacred site each year.
See the central hall, stunning stained glass windows and beautiful blue-coloured tiles in the lavishly decorated interior.
Escape the hustle and bustle of the markets and take a trip to the historic Jewish village of Erriadh, to see the striking murals dotted around the streets. Marvel at the handiwork of hundreds of international artists who took part in ‘Djerbahood’ – a street art festival in 2014 – transforming traditional white walls of the medina into a canvas for over 100 colourful creations.
Relax and recline on one of the island’s many sun-kissed beaches. Famously known as ‘the island of the thousand palm trees’, Djerba’s picture-perfect landscape features palm tree-fringed shorelines, warm azure, shallow seas and white sandy shores.
Try Plage de la Séguia, for its peaceful atmosphere and beachside restaurants or Djerba’s main beach, Plage de Sidi Mahrez, for horse and camel rides.
Public buses and shared taxis – known as louages – can be found near the main bus station downtown, although generally, public transport around Djerba is limited. Hire a car to tour around the island effortlessly, or take a taxi – private cabs are available at reasonable prices. Alternatively, rent a bicycle or even a quad bike to explore the island’s picturesque countryside.
Sip on a cocktail or two in the island’s nightclubs, bars and karaoke lounges which can be found in high-class hotels mainly on the north-east of the island in the ‘Zone Touristique’ area.
Take a trip to Midoun’s vibrant market to sample the local cuisine or try some tasty treats in the area’s selection of restaurants. Midoun has an impressive fine dining scene influenced by a variety of cultures including Spanish, French, Moroccan and Sudanese. Try traditional dishes such as popular fragrant rice dish ‘Ris Djerbian’ or harissa, an aromatic, spicy starter made from roasted red pepper paste, olive oil and garlic. Dine beachside at Restaurant Lella Hadhri, popular for its freshly-caught seafood and spectacular seaview.
Set in a palm cove on the seashore, the five-star all-inclusive Hotel Royal Garden Palace In Djerba is a luxury, boutique hide-away within easy reach of Midoun. Top up the tan on the hotel’s sun deck or private beach or take a dip in the indoor or outdoor pools, steam bath or hot tub. Conveniently located next to Djerba golf club, facilities include kids’ club, playground, tennis court and nightclub.
Zone Touristique Sidi Akkour P.B.83, Djerba Island 04116
Phone: +216 75 745 777.
Surrounded by gardens filled with palm trees, flowers and olive trees, the peaceful, white-washed cottages of Les Jardins de Toumana are just 500m away from Mezraia Beach. With a poolside restaurant offering international cuisine and plenty of restaurants close-by, this family-friendly hotel features spacious rooms with kitchenette, living areas and private terrace.
Zone touristique Djerba Midoun, Midoun, Djerba Island 4116 Tunisia
Phone: +216 75 757 187.
Enjoy an enchanting stay in Maison Leila guesthouse, a Tunisian-style mansion bedecked in beautiful oriental-style décor, with arched doorways, whitewashed walls and romantic rooms. Relax in serene surroundings, on the sun terrace or in the interior courtyard or indulge in complimentary coffee and home-made cakes during the afternoon.
Route Houmt Souk Midoun En Face Moosquee Fadloune Midoun, 4810.
Phone: +216 98 816 330.
Currency: The Tunisian Dinar (TND), which can only be bought in Tunisia, is divided into 1,000 millimes (mills). £ = 3.59 DT
The Flight: MAN to Djerba–Zarzis International (DJE) Airport, indirect, from 8 hours 25 minutes.
Time zone: GMT+1.
Best time to visit: Sunseekers should visit between June and October, when the mercury rockets to as high as 30°C and above and the seawater is warm. The quieter months of December and January still sees sunshine and temperatures around 15°C as a minimum, often closer to 22°C.
Visas/Injections/Precautions: No visa required, Typhoid and Hepatitis A vaccinations are recommended. Avoid walking alone at night especially in unlit areas and on the beach, keeping jewellery, valuables and cameras off display.