Useful country information

Ferries to Tunisia:

 

Marseille-Tunis, Genoa-Tunis:  SNCM (French) & CTN (Tunisian):  www.sncm.fr.

Genoa-Tunis: Grandi Navi Veloci:  www.gnv.it.

 

 

Train operator in Tunisia:

Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer Tunisiens - www.sncft.com.tn.

Time:

GMT+1 all year round.

Currency:

£1 = approx 2.1 Dinars.   $1 = 1.3 Dinars.    Click here for a currency converter

Tourist information:

www.cometotunisia.co.uk.      Recommended guidebooks

Visas:

UK citizens do not need a visa to visit Tunisia.

Page last updated:

4 September 2013


Train travel in Tunisia

he Tunisian Railways (SNCFT) are easily the best way to travel between Tunis, Sousse, El Jem, Sfax and Gabès.  There is also a branch line from Sousse to Monastir and Mahdia, and several other routes.  Trains are comfortable, modern and air-conditioned.

  A Tunisian Railways air-conditioned express train from Tunis to Gabes, seen at Sfax

An air-conditioned rapide at Sfax.

On this page...

Tunis-Carthage-Marsa

Tunis-Sousse-Monastir-El Jem-Sfax-Gabès

Bizerte, Kalaâ Kasbah, Kairouan

Fares

Lézard Rouge tourist train

International links

On other pages...

London to Tunisia by train+ferry in just 48 hours

Sponsored links...

 

Tunis to Carthage & Marsa

There is a light railway (run by SMLT) linking Tunis centre, La Goulette (for the ferry terminal to Marseille and Genoa), Carthage (for the ancient ruins & Byrsa Hill) and Marsa Plage.  Departures are at frequent intervals from 04:00-00:50 and the fare about 0.7 dinars (UK £0.35).

Tunis to Sousse, Sfax, Gabès, Tozeur

Tunisian trains have 3 classes of accommodation:  2nd class, 1st class and 'Classe Confort', although new railcars delivered in 2008 have just one class, called 'Express'.  2nd class is perfectly adequate, 1st class very comfortable.  'Classe Confort' is very similar to 1st class, but with even more space.  The overnight trains have no sleeping berths, just seats.  You can double-check times at the official SNCFT website, www.sncft.com.tn (in French, as the English version is 'under construction' and has been for some years).

Tunis ► Sousse ► Sfax ► Gabès / Tozeur

Daily

Daily

Daily

Sunday

Daily

Daily

Daily

Daily

Mon-Sat

Daily

Daily

Daily

Daily

Classes:

2

C12

C12

C12

C12

C12

C12

E

C12

C12

E

C12

C12

Tunis

0600

0700

1000

1115

1200

1305

1345

1530

1430

1620

2045

2215

Sousse (Kalaâ Séghira)

 

|

0837

|

1248

|

1453

|

1727

1629

1802

|

|

Sousse (Ville) 

x

0810

0843

1210

|

1410

|

1525

1734

|

|

2250

0020

Monastir

x

|

 

1300

|

1508

|

|

|

|

|

Mahdia

x

|

 

1402

|

1610

|

|

|

|

|

El Jem

0907

 

 

1328

 

1544

1726

|

2347

0117

Sfax

1000

 

 

1405

 

1643

1814

1935

0040

0215

Gafsa

|

 

 

|

 

|

0347

|

Metlaoui

|

 

 

|

 

|

0424

|

Tozeur

|

 

 

|

 

|

0512

|

Gabès

1204

 

1843

 

2125

0413

Sousse Kalaâ Séghira station is 8km west of Sousse and is easily reached from the town centre by louage (shared taxi).

x =  regular electric trains link Sousse (Sousse Bab Jedid station, 500m from Sousse Ville) with Monastir & Mahdia every hour or so throughout the day.

C12 = 1st & 2nd class plus Classe Confort.  E = Express class in new fast railcar.

Gabès / Tozeur ► Sfax ► Sousse ► Tunis

Mon-Fri

Daily

 

Daily

Daily

Daily

Daily

Daily

Daily

Daily

Sunday

Daily

Daily

Classes:

C12

2

 

C12

E

E

C12

C12

C12

E

C12

C12

C12

Gabès

 

0500

0900

1115

 

0005

Tozeur

 

|

|

|

 

|

2030

Metlaoui

 

|

|

|

 

|

2121

Gafsa

 

|

|

|

 

|

2200

Sfax 

 

0530

0653

1110

1322

1535

 

0210

0115

El Jem

 

0620

|

1158

1413

1614

 

0258

0209

Mahdia

x

0425

|

|

|

|

|

2030

|

|

Monastir

x

0530

|

|

|

|

|

2135

|

|

Sousse (Ville)

0520

x

|

0730

|

0910

1304

|

1550

|

2225

0405

0315

Sousse (Kalaâ Séghira) 

0528

 

0604

|

0820

|

|

1501

|

1654

|

|

|

Tunis 

0730

0800

0930

1003

1043

1505

1652

1727

1821

0025

0601

0513

Tunis Bizerte

  Grand Confort class on a Tunisian train from Sfax & Sousse to Tunis
 

'Classe confort' seating on a Tunisian rapide.  I confess that the feet on the seat in front are mine...

98km, journey 1 hour 35 minutes, 2nd class only.  Departures from Tunis at 05:55 (Mon-Fri only), 11:55, 14:30 (Fri & Sat only), 16:10 (daily except Fri & Sat), 18:25.  Departures from Bizerte at 05:40 (Mon-Fri only), 08:20, 14:15, 18:35.  See www.sncft.com.tn.

Tunis Kalaâ Kasbah

Trains leave Tunis at 06:02 and 14:15 arriving at Kalaâ Kasbah at 11:05 and 19:11 respectively.  Returning, trains leave Kalaâ Kasbah at 05:45 and 12:45 arriving Tunis at 10:32 & 17:35 respectively.  See www.sncft.com.tn.

Kairouan

There is no railway station at Kairouan, but regular SNTRI buses run from Sousse to Kairouan taking 1½ hours, and from Tunis to Kairouan every hour taking 2¼ hours.  There are also shared taxis ('louages') from Sousse to Kairouan about every 30 minutes throughout the day.

How to check Tunisian train times...

Tunisian railways has an official website at www.sncft.com.tn.  It's easy to book Tunisian rail tickets at the main station in central Tunis - bookings only open 3 days in advance, so don't worry about pre-booking before you get to Tunisia.

Fares

Approximate one-way fare:

Classe confort

1st class

2nd class

Tunis to Sousse

10.5 dinar (£5 or $10)

9.8 dinar (£4.70 or $9)

7.3 dinar (£3.50 or $7)

Tunis to Sfax

17 dinar (£8 or $16)

16 dinar (£7 or $12)

11.9 dinar (£5.50 or $9)

Tunis to Gabès

25 dinar (£12 or $24)

23.5 dinar (£11 or $22)

17.4 dinar (£8 or $16)

Tunis to Monastir

 -

 -

7 dinar (£3.50 or $7)

Children aged 0 to 3 travel free, children 4 to 9 travel at 75% of the adult fare, children 10 and over pay full fare.

10-day return tickets carry a discount of 15% over the cost of two one-way tickets.

Railpasses: Carte Bleue...

Tunisian Railways offer an excellent 'Carte Bleue' railpass for 7, 15 or 21 days for unlimited travel in 1st class, 2nd class or 'classe confort'.  Prices for a 7-day pass are around 30 dinars (£14) 2nd class, 42 dinar (£20) 1st class, 45 dinar (£21) classe confort.  Prices for a 15-day pass are twice the 7-day price, 21-day prices are three times the 7-day price.  Although the pass gives you unlimited travel, you still need to pay a small air-conditioning supplement for travel on any air-conditioned train, which means almost all the long-distance ones.  In 2nd class the supplement is 0.7 dinar for up to 100km, 0.9 dinar for 101-160km, 1.4 dinar for 161-300km and 1.8 dinar for over 300km.  Just pay this supplement at the ticket office before making each journey using the pass.

Carte Bleue railpasses can be bought at Tunisian railway stations.  Officially, you need a passport-sized photo to buy these railpasses, but reports suggest that a passport is sufficient as they then write your passport number over the photo square.  Feedback is always appreciated.  The pass covers all mainline SNCFT trains, but not the Tunis-Carthage light railway or the Tunis tram system.

Lézard Rouge tourist train...

A privately-run tourist train called the Lézard Rouge runs from Metlaoui to the Gorges de Selja, a 40 minute, 43 km ride through spectacular scenery.  It runs from 1 May to 30 September, daily except Saturdays, departing Metlaoui at 10:00 on Tues, Thurs & Sun or 10:30 on Mon, Wed & Fri, arriving at Gorges de Selja 40 minutes later, departing Gorges de Selja after a 20 minute stop and arriving Metlaoui 45 minutes later, total trip length around 1 hour 45 minutes.  The fare is 20 dinar for adults, 12.50 dinars for children under 10, children under 4 free.  You can confirm this information, but currently only in French, at www.sncft.com.tn - click 'Français' to select their French language version, then look for 'tourisme' then 'trains touristiques'.  More pictures of the Lézard Rouge train (Japanese website).

Note:  In October 2009, flooding destroyed the railway line through the Selja Gorge used by the Lézard Rouge. However, the Lézard Rouge is now up and running again.


International links

Ferries to Europe...

Comfortable ferry liners link Tunis with Marseille & Genoa (several weekly) and Sicily (once per week).  See the London to Tunisia page.

To Algeria & Morocco...

Although the French colonial government built a railway from Tunis through Algeria to Morocco, it no longer operates across the borders, only within each country.  Algeria is generally unsafe for western visitors and non-essential travel to Algeria is not advisable - see www.fco.gov.uk for travel advice.  The border between Algeria & Morocco is currently closed, so it's not possible to travel overland between Tunisia and Morocco.

To Libya & Egypt...

Although the border is open and there are bus services (but no trains) across Libya from the Tunisian border to the Egyptian border, the Libyan government does not grant visas to independent travellers, only to visitors on organised tours or whose travel is organised by a recognised Libyan tour agency.


 


Find hotels in ...

 

◄◄ Hotel search & price comparison.

www.hotelscombined.com checks all the main hotel booking sites at once to find the widest choice of hotels & the cheapest seller.  It was named as the World's Leading Hotel Comparison Site at the World Travel Awards 2013 and I highly recommend it, both to find hotels in even the smallest places and to check that another retailer isn't selling the same hotel for less!

www.booking.com is my favourite booking site, as it's really clear and you can usually book with free cancellation and so confirm your accommodation at no risk months before train booking opens.

   
  Majestic Hotel, Tunis

The Majestic Hotel, Tunis

Personal recommendation...

The Hôtel Majestic on the main Avenue de Paris in Tunis has the best French colonial facade in town and is a great place to stay, see www.booking.com/hotel/tn/majestic.en.html.  It was closed for refurbishment for a while, but has now reopened in 2011.  It's comfortable and central, and rooms with en suite facilities cost around £20 per night.

 

 

 

 

 


Guidebooks

Lonely Planet Tunisia - click to buy onlineRough Guide to Tunisia - click to buy onlineThomas Cook European Timetable - click to buy onlineYou should take a good guidebook.  For the independent traveller this means either the Lonely Planet or the Rough Guide.  I personally prefer the layout of the Lonely Planets, but others prefer the Rough Guides.  Both provide excellent practical information and historical background.  You won't regret buying one!

Click the images to buy online at Amazon.co.uk

The Thomas Cook European Timetable has train, bus and ferry times for every country in Europe, including European Turkey from Istanbul westwards.  It costs around £14.99 from the bureau de change section of any branch of Thomas Cook, or you can buy online at www.thomascookpublishing.com.  Alternatively, you can buy the twice-yearly  Independent Traveller's editions at Amazon.co.uk also with shipping worldwide.


Travel insurance & health card...

 

 

Columbus direct travel insurance

Get travel insurance, it's essential...

Never travel overseas without travel insurance from a reliable insurer, with at least £1m or preferably £5m medical cover.  It should also cover cancellation and loss of cash (up to a limit) and belongings.  An annual multi-trip policy is usually cheaper than several single-trip policies even for just 2 or 3 trips a year (I have an annual policy myself).  Here are some suggested insurers.  Seat61 gets a small commission if you buy through these links.

In the UK, try Columbus Direct or use Confused.com to compare prices & policies from many different insurers.

If you have a pre-existing medical condition or are over 65 (no age limit), see www.JustTravelCover.com.

        If you're resident in Australia, New Zealand, Ireland or the EU, try Columbus Direct's other websites.

  If you're resident in the USA try Travel Guard USA.

Get a spare credit card, designed for foreign travel with no currency exchange loading & low or no ATM fees...

It costs nothing to take out an extra credit card.  If you keep it in a different part of your luggage so you're not left stranded if your wallet gets stolen, this is a form of extra travel insurance in itself.  In addition, some credit cards are significantly better for overseas travel than others.  Martin Lewis's www.moneysavingexpert.com/travel/cheap-travel-money explains which UK credit cards have the lowest currency exchange commission loadings when you buy something overseas, and the lowest cash withdrawal fees when you use an ATM abroad.  Taking this advice can save you quite a lot on each trip compared to using your normal high-street bank credit card!

You can avoid ATM charges and expensive exchange rates with a Caxton FX euro currency Visa Card, or their multi-currency 'Global Traveller' Visa Card, see www.caxtonfx.com for info.

Get an international SIM card...

Mobile phones can cost a fortune to use abroad, and if you're not careful you can return home to find some huge bills waiting for you.  I've known people run up a £1,000 bill in data charges just by leaving their iPhone connected during a simple trip to Europe.  However, if you buy a global SIM card for your mobile phone from a company such as www.Go-Sim.com you can slash the cost by up to 85% and limit any damage to the amount you have pre-paid.  It cuts call costs in 175 countries worldwide, and you can receive incoming calls and texts for free in 75 countries.  It's pay-as-you-go, so no nasty bills when you get home.  It also works for laptop or PDA data access.  A Go-Sim account and any credit on it doesn't expire if it's not between trips, unlike some others, so a Go-Sim phone number becomes your 'global phone number' for life.

 


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