ULTIMATE Tourist’s Guide to Tunis-Carthage International Airport (TUN) (2024)

ULTIMATE Tourist’s Guide to Tunis-Carthage International Airport (TUN) (1)

The Tunis-Carthage International Airport is the main gateway for visitors entering the country.

Like many aspects of Tunisia, it can be a little confusing, and it’s hard to find reliable information about it online.

My wife Abi and I have lived in Tunisia for years, and we have flown in and out of the airport dozens and dozens of times. So with this post we want give you a “first timer’s” guide that will help you to feel confident to navigate the Airport, even if you don’t speak the local language.

Tunis-Carthage International Airport (TUN) has an official website, but like many governmental websites, it doesn’t answer some of the most basic questions about what you’ll actually experience when you travel. For example:

Are the signs written in English? How exactly do I get transportation to my hotel? How’s the customer service when something goes wrong?

I want to give you the straight answer to all of these questions.

Furthermore, there are some important tasks you’ll likely have to take care of at the airport. You’ll want to get some Tunisian Dinars, get your phone working, and possibly rent a car. I’ll let you know what to expect when doing these chores. Happy traveling!

What Airlines Fly to TUN?

You can get direct flights to TUN from all over Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. You can also fly from a few places in Sub-Saharan Africa, and Tunisair now has a non-stop flight to Montreal.

There are over 25 airlines that have flights to TUN. According to FlightConnections, the airlines with the most destinations from TUN as of Summer 2020 are:

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The airlines TunisAir, Nouvelair, and TunisAir Express are all headquartered in Tunis.

If you’re flying from the UK, you will likely use Tunisair or Nouvelair. Nouvelair flies to Gatwick, and Tunisair flies to both Gatwick and Heathrow.

According to Flightradar24, the top 10 airports with the most flights from TUN are:

RankCodeDestinationFlights/Week
1MJITripoli, Libya51
2CDGParis, France45
3ORYParis, France40
4DJEDjerba, Tunisia27
5MRSMarseille, France23
6FCORome, Italy20
7LYSLyon, France17
8MRAMisrata, Libya15
9ISTIstanbul, Turkey15
10NCENice, France14

From Landing to Luggage

So, you land at the airport… what next?

Since Tunis-Carthage Airport is so small, it is really hard to get lost, especially on your way OUT of the building.

There is only one terminal that most passengers use. It’s big and round, and has a gates in different rooms branching off from a center room.

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Are The Signs Written in English?

Yes, a few of them are. However, all signs are written in Arabic and French, so when you put together the French and the little pictures, you can make out what it means.

You can just follow the crowd from your plane to the Passport Control area where you will get your Tourist Stamp or present your Visa.

Do I Need a Visa?

Chances are, you are living in a country that does NOT require a Visa to enter Tunisia. About half of the world’s countries, including all Anglophone countries and all countries in the European Union do not need a Visa.

This means that you don’t have to prepare any documentation or get any kind of permission before you arrive in Tunisia. You just buy your ticket and show up.

Just to be sure, though, you should verify your country’s Visa status with Tunisia. Search Google for: “[your country] Tunisia visa.” Better to be safe than sorry.

Instead of getting a Visa, you will get what’s called a Tourist Stamp in your Passport when you arrive.

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A Tourist Stamp is good for 90 or 120 days. The exact duration of a Tourist Stamp always changes. Different sources will confidently tell you that it’s 3 months or 4 months, but the only way to really know is to look at what your stamp actually says.

If your visit is going to last longer than 3 or 4 months and you don’t have a work or student Visa, you will have to leave the country and come back in order to get a new Tourist Stamp.

Getting Your Tourist Stamp

After a short walk from the terminal you’ll get to the Passport Control area with a long row of blue-green Passport Control booths.

You need to get a little white card to apply for your Tourist Stamp BEFORE you get in line!!! There are stacks of these little white cards around the pillars in this area.

Sometimes the flight attendants will pass these out on the plane, but usually they don’t. When you get to the Passport Control area, grab one of these little cards for now and a few more for later if there’s any chance you’ll enter Tunisia again.

The #1 Tip for saving time in this process is to BRING YOUR OWN PEN!

There are a limited number of pens in the area where people fill out their Tourist Stamps and people compete for them. You’ll save at least 10 minutes and possibly a half-hour if you just bring your own pen with you.

When you get to the Passport Control booth, show the person your Passport and be ready to say the purpose of your visit and possibly answer a few more basic questions. Then, you’re in!

Baggage Claim

After you get through the Passport control booths, you’ll go through some sliding glass doors into the baggage area.

Baggage claim at TUN is one big room with one long row of baggage carousels. There are monitors hanging from the ceiling that match your flight info with the correct baggage carousel.

If You Lose Your Luggage

If you are so unfortunate as to lose your luggage at TUN, the good news is that TUN is a small airport, so if and when your luggage does arrive, there’s only so many places it can be.

The bad news is that getting reunited with your luggage is likely going to be a little painful.

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If your bags don’t come through, go to the desk to report your lost luggage. There are signs pointing to the right desk. Get as much information as you can about where your luggage is and what you need to do to retrieve it.

Make sure that you do not leave the Lost Luggage counter without documentation. You will want some documentation to help you get past security when you return to the Airport to retrieve your bag.

You should be able to get a tracking number for your specific bag from the Lost Luggage person.If for some reason you can’t get that, make sure you have at least some paper to show that you lost a bag.

Check the Lost Luggage tracking number online and remember to bring your documentation and passport with you when you go to pick it up at the Airport. As far as I know there is no service to deliver your lost bag to you.

When you return to the Airport get your luggage, be sure to have your Passport and your documentation with your luggage info on it. If you have a Tunisian friend, bring them with you.

How We Got Our Lost Luggage Back

Tunisia has a reputation for being chaotically disorganized while somehow at the same time being excessively bureaucratic. This stereotype is absolutely true of the Tunis-Carthage Airport.

When I flew into TUN one time and my bag didn’t make it, it was very easy for me to track my bag and to be at the Airport when it came in. (If I hadn’t been staying in the capital city, this would have been much more inconvenient.) The hard part, though, was getting into the area where I could retrieve it. I had to explain my problem to no less than 12 different Airport employees before getting my bag!

When I picked up my bag, they had me go into the storage room for Lost Luggage and pick out my bag. This storage room was a sight to behold. I was amazed to see that there were hundreds, maybe even thousands, of lost suitcases and other items back there. I don’t know if this is normal in other airports, but I went away thinking of all the poor souls who never saw their bags again!

My wife Abi’s experience was more positive. She hosted two ladies on a business trip one time, and both of their bags didn’t make their flight. The ladies got tracking numbers from the Lost Luggage desk. Abi came to the Airport when the bags got in, and she was able to get back into the Baggage Claim area without much hassle. She only had to show her Passport and her documentation.

Declare Items or Cash

If you bring in foreign currency that you’re going to exchange, you need to declare it with the officers in the Baggage Claim area before you exit. More about foreign currencies in the next section.

A guard may stop you before you leave the Baggage Claim area and search your baggage. This is normal.

Once you walk through the doors from the Baggage Claim room, you are outside of the security check. So don’t forget any of your belongings.

Get Money

The first thing you’ll want to do when leaving the Baggage Claim area is to get some Tunisian Dinars.

You probably will not be able to get by in Tunisia using only a credit or debit card. I wrote about that more in depth in these posts: Using Debit and Credit Cards in Tunisia and Can You Use Dollars, Pounds, and Euros in Tunisia?

There are two ways to get Tunisian Dinars (TND) at the Airport: exchange your home currency for TND, or use an ATM.

1. Exchange Your Cash at a Bank

You can bring your USD, British Pounds, or just about any open currency and exchange it at a bank in the Airport for Tunisian Dinars.

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There are several banks on the first floor of the Airport to choose from. I would peruse the exchange rates posted just to make sure that one bank isn’t giving a worse rate than another.

When exchanging your home currency to TND, remember this one rule: keep your receipt when exchange for Tunisian Dinars!!! Why? Tunisia is one of the roughly 25 countries in the world with a “closed currency”.

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You can Google to learn more about what a closed currency is, but for our purposes here, it means that if you have Tunisian Dinars, you cannot convert them back into your home currency without a receipt.

So, make sure that you don’t walk away from a bank without a receipt, even if the bank teller forgets to give you one.

2. Withdraw TND From an ATM

If you didn’t bring a bunch of cash with you from your home country, you can easily use ATM’s throughout the country

I’ll try to explain the whole “foreign ATM” concept for a newbie traveler:

When you put in your American or British or whatever Debit Card into the ATM in a foreign country, you can withdraw foreign currency. In this case, Tunisian Dinars. You don’t have to have a special kind of account to do this.

There are several ATM’s at the Airport. If you’re going to be using an ATM, you might as well do it here.

While there are ATM’s just about everywhere you go in Tunisia, many of them do not work or are “temporarily” out of cash. Many times, when I have attempted a “quick run to the ATM”, it turned into an hour-long quest.

No matter where you are in Tunisia using an ATM, be watchful for pickpockets and keep an eye on your cash and cards at every second.

Dealing with Fees

One important factor when using an ATM in Tunisia is fees. All ATM’s in Tunisia will charge you a fee for every withdrawal. They are usually 8-10 Tunisian Dinars. On top of that, your bank may also give you a fee of another few dollars.

And, still on top of that, many ATM’s have a very low withdrawal limit. It seems like the standard limit is 300 Dinars (About $110), while some banks have a 600 or 800 TND limit.

So, if you are going to do much spending with Tunisian Dinars, you’ll be making a lot of withdrawals. And, if you don’t have a travel-friendly Debit Card, you may end up paying a LOT in unnecessary ATM fees!

One way around this is to use a Debit Card that reimburses ATM fees. We currently use a Charles Schwab card, and it’s amazing. I’ve also used a Capital One 360 Checking account before, and it worked fine too.

If you don’t have a Debit Card that will reimburse your ATM fees and you don’t want to get one, you may be better off bringing in cash and exchanging it at a bank, rather than relying on ATMs.

Get Your Phone Working

When I first came to Tunisia, it was the first time I used my iPhone internationally or switched a SIM card.

I would have benefitted from a “Dummy’s Guide” explanation of how the whole phone thing works. If you’re in that situation, here you go:

You can use your current cell phone in Tunisia. You’ll be able to make calls, send texts, use 3G and 4G–and it’s not that expensive. The best way to do this is to use a Tunisian SIM card.

You might as well buy your SIM card at the Airport because it’s going to be the same price as anywhere else, and the Airport has the same small selection of companies to choose from as anywhere else in the country.

Choose Your Phone Company

There are 3 big cellular companies in Tunisia, but to my knowledge, one of these, Tunisia Telecom, requires you to have residency in the country in order to get a SIM card with them.

That leaves you 2 options: Orange and Ooredoo. I’ve used them both and didn’t notice any difference in service or price. Ooredoo is currently the largest operator in Tunisia.

Orange and Ooredoo have kiosks in the Airport. I believe Orange has one in the Baggage Claim area as well as outside Baggage Claim on the first floor.

The Orange and Ooredoo kiosks accept Credit and Debit Cards, but they do NOT accept foreign currency.

Sometimes the telecom companies give out free SIM cards. Another time, if I remember right, I paid about 20 TND. You will have to show your Passport, so that they can register who holds each SIM card.

Pre-Pay to Use Your Phone

Once you get your SIM card, you can now purchase minutes for phone calls, 3G / 4G data, and texting.

Pre-paid phone plans in Tunisia are not pricy. If in doubt, just put 10 or 20 TND on your phone. If you’re able to get on WIFI wherever you go, you may not use much 3G. However, I’ve noticed that hotels that say they have WIFI actually don’t have strong enough signal in your hotel room.

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If you’re new pre-paid phone plans, this is how it works. First, you purchase some credit that will be applied to your account, i.e. your phone number.

Buying credit is easy. You can buy the credit from an Orange or Ooredoo kiosk in the Airport, or one of their brick and mortar stores, or from any little convenience shop or grocery store in the country.

When I say “buy credit” I mean you buy a little slip of paper or a scratch off card that has a code on it. You enter the code in your phone or scan the QR code into Orange or Ooredoo’s app. If you buy credit at an Orange or Ooredoo store or kiosk, they can apply it to your account for you, so you don’t have to type in any codes.

Secondly, after the credit is loaded to your account, you can select which particular services you want to buy with that money: data, minutes of calling, or texts.

You go about selecting these plans on your phone. The easiest way to do it is to download the Orange or Ooredoo app from your app store. Both of the apps work the same and they both have an English language option. Once you’re in the app, you can shop for plans depending on what services you’ll need.

If you’re not techie and don’t know anything about cell phone plans, I feel your pain. The simple solution is to just have the person at the Orange or Ooredoo kiosk choose a plan for you. Tell them what you plan to do with your phone, and they’ll take care of you.

Transportation From the Airport

On the whole, the Tunis-Carthage Airport is very easy to access from anywhere in Tunis.

The Airport is located right in the middle of Tunis, so with good traffic conditions, you’re never that far away.

The only downside to the Airport’s menu of transportation options is that there areNOtrains or metrosthat can get you to the Airport.

Here are your options.

1. Use one of the Non-Metered Taxis waiting for passengers

The most common way to leave the airport is through a line of taxis waiting on passengers. The arrivals area will place you on the lower floor of the airport.

As soon as you start walking towards your exit, you will most likely be approached by taxi drivers attempting to get your business. They charge a flat rate which you will want to haggle for before entering the taxi.

On top of this rate they will also ask for a fee for suitcase. They will charge anywhere from 10 to 20 TND as a base rate, and another 5 to 10 TND for suitcases.

2. Find a Metered Taxi at the Arrivals Door

If you are wanting to save a few bucks, you can go to the second floor of the airport where the departures are located and grab a taxi from a passenger who is arriving. These taxis will be the normal metered taxi, although you will still want to give them an extra 5-10 TND tip for your suitcases.

As they are pulling out, check the meter to make sure it is on and running. It will start at approximately 0.500 TND and be counting up.

3. Arrange a Private Pickup

Many resorts and tourism companies can arrange a driver to pick you up from the airport. When you exit the baggage claim through customs, you will most likely find them off to your right holding a sign with your name or the company’s name.

4. Order a Taxi with Bolt

Bolt is an app with many hired taxi drivers that you can request a ride through their app system.

If you want to use Bolt, you will need to get a Tunisian Sim card in your phone. Then you can sign up for Bolt with your new Tunisian number and order your ride.

5. Take the City Bus

This is the least glamorous option available. There are two bus lines that leave from the airport. It is a little bit of a walk to get to the station. One line goes into many of the neighborhoods in Tunis. The other line goes to downtown station where you can get on the Metro lines and train station, that will take you to LaMarsaor many places all over Tunis.

6. Rent aCarat the Airport

Finally, there is the option of renting a car from the Airport and starting your driving adventure from the start.

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The car rental booths are on the bottom floor with the arrivals towards the left of the airport when coming out of baggage claim. You can make a reservation online or rent same day at the airport. There are some car rental places that will also do a meet-and-greet at the airport. When you reserve your car online, you will also provide your flight information and they will be waiting for you as you exit baggage claim.

Most rental cars are manual transmission, so if you need automatic transmission, it’s probably smarter to do an online reservation. You will need your driver’s license, passport, and credit card to rent a vehicle.

For more info about transportation options throughout Tunisia, see our in-depth post on the subject: How to Get Around in Tunisia.

Food and Drink

To Western tastes, the food options at the Tunis-Carthage Airport may be a little underwhelming. If you’re hungry enough for a full meal, my recommendation is to eat before you arrive or after you leave.

There are no big restaurant chains in TUN. And while the capital city has tons of great restaurants with traditional Tunisian food, none of them are present in the Airport.

That being said, there are several places in the Airport where you can get Tunisian-style snacks and drinks.

Outside Security, there are two big cafes on the ground floor of the airport. One is called Cappuccino Resto & Café, and the other is called L’Amicale. They both offer little sandwiches. I bought a sandwich at Cappuccino once and regretted it. Both of these cafes take a few types of foreign currencies, but they do not accept Credit or Debit cards.

Inside Security and in the main terminal, there is a snack and coffee bar where I believe you can buy pre-made sandwiches. However, the last time I went through here and tried to buy something, the guy behind the counter said that they only accept Euros!

Info for Airport Nerds

The IATA Code for the Airport is TUN, and the ICAO code is DTTA.

The Tunis-Carthage Airport is run by a governmental organization called The Office of Civil Aviation and Airports.

These companies are the ground or cargo handlers:

  • Tunisair Handling
  • Lufthansa Cargo
  • KARS International
  • STARTS Airlines Services

These companies supply fuel and oil for TUN:

  • Air BP
  • Air TOTAL
  • Eni Aviation
  • OilLibya Aviation

TUN has two runways. One is 2,840m and the other is 3,200m.

Conclusion

That just about sums up our guide to the Tunis-Carthage Airport. If you spend much time in Tunisia it will likely be the least memorable place you visit (or pass through).

We hope these tips help you navigate your way through Tunisia’s gateway. Have a great trip!

ULTIMATE Tourist’s Guide to Tunis-Carthage International Airport (TUN) (2024)
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