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Just five kilometers off Tunisia’s southeastern coast, the Djerba peninsula is just the right place for anyone looking for a picture-perfect beach escape. Crystal clear waters lap its white sand shoreline, while date palms and three thousand-year old olive trees line the shore as far as the eye can see. With a beach season extending from mid-May to mid-October, Djerba is a great place to prolong the summer.
At 500 square kilometers, Djerba is the largest island in North Africa. Although most people come to relax and enjoy the sun, there are still a couple noteworthy activities on offer to spice up your holiday!
Here are six unmissable things to do in Djerba:
01| Explore gorgeous houses in Midoun
Midoun, the second largest city in Djerba, is worth visiting for its buzzing Friday market and beautiful Old Town. Take a stroll through the narrow lanes and watch out for white houses with gorgeous blue doors (typical Arabian architecture). If you feel confident to haggle, ceramics and spices are among the best presents to bring home. When I was there, I picked up a beautiful handmade wooden ladle for my kitchen.
Another reason to visit Midoun is the excellent restaurant and coffee scene. Spend an afternoon tasting cuisine inspired by a myriad of cultures, including Moroccan and Sudanese, or chill out in one of the excellent coffee shops.
I also loved the stalls selling fresh juices, such as strawberry, passion fruit and orange (depending on the season). They’re super yummy and a real bargain.
Address: Midoun, Djerba, Tunisia
02| Visit the Crocodile Farm
This unique farm with more than 400 crocodiles that were moved here from the Nile river and Madagascar is a great place to get a rush of adrenaline. You get to walk around a tropical zoo-like environment beautifully landscaped with exotic plants, ponds and papyrus trees.
You can get really close to these huge animals while visiting. It really got my heart beating! You can also get the chance to hold a baby crocodile. Another highlight is to watch feeding of the crocodiles; try to time your visit for this if possible. The Crocodile Farm is the best thing to do in Djerba when you are with kids, but it’s still interesting for adults; I have never seen so many crocodiles in all my life!
The Crocodile farm is situated in a complex called Djerba Explore, which also houses a museum and a small reconstructed village exhibiting traditional-style local homes. You can reach Djerba Explore by taking a small tourist train which passes some of the main hotels, by taxi, or on an excursion with a guide.
Entrance fee: 20 Dinars (includes access to the entire Djerba Explore complex)
Opening hours: 9am – 8pm
Address: Crocodile Farm, Midoun, Djerba, Tunisia
03| Enter North Africa’s oldest synagogue
Djerba is notable for being home to one of the last remaining Jewish communities in the Arab world. Perhaps the most prominent reminder of this Jewish history is El Ghriba synagogue. Dating back to the 583 BCE, it is recognized as the oldest synagogue in Tunisia.
Although nothing special from outside, El Ghriba synagogue makes for a big surprise for anyone who enters it. Its architectural elements are truly impressive, and the interior is a rich mix of blue tiles warmed by sunlight streaming in through stained glass windows. The Torah scrolls kept within the synagogue are among the most important and valuable in the world.
The synagogue is situated eight kilometes south of Houmt El Souk, the main town of Djerba. You can easily combine the synagogue and visit to Djerba’s capital into one trip.
Entrance fee: donation-based
Opening hours: 8-11:30am & 2:30-4:45pm Sun-Thu, to 3pm Fri
04| Enjoy the beach
Djerba is blessed with soft sandy beaches and turquoise-colored seas. Basking in the sun and going for a refreshing swim are definitely among the best things to do in Djerba. The beaches are incredibly long and photogenic.
Most resorts are situated on the northeast coast, allowing the mostly inland towns of Djerba to retain their original character. Booking a seaside hotel is a must. If you want to give a few beaches a try, Plage Sidi Mahrez and Plage de la Séguia are said to be the most beautiful ones.
Djerba offers the longest swimming season in all of Tunisia; you can enjoy the beach from mid-May to mid-October. It’s definitely one of the reasons to visit Tunisia.
05 | Give some water sports a try
Watersports are the perfect way to enjoy the sea and be active at the same time. There are various options to keep you entertained; just look for activities posted in your hotel or visit one of the watersport facilities on the coast.
Especially in spring, Djerba is extremely wind stable, which makes it the perfect place for kitesurfing, windsurfing, and sailing. You can easily hire equipment or book beginner’s lessons if you are just starting out.
If you aren’t too sporty, consider opting for a small trip by catamaran or even hire jet skis. Families usually go for the half-day pirate boat trip, departing daily from the Marina (Houmt-Souk’s port) in Djerba’s capital, sailing towards Ras Armel island, also known as the Flamingo Island.
06| Take a trip to the desert
The enchanting sands of the Sahara stretch over ten countries, including the south of Tunisia, and Djerba makes for one of the best starting points for a trip into the dessert. If you are looking for an adventurous trip to take from Djerba, a desert safari could be the perfect choice.
These trips typically include riding in the dunes, star gazing, sleeping in Bedouin camps, admiring the unique local wildlife, and much more. One interesting stop is Matmata, a small town known for its underground cave structures (called trylodytes) that local Berbers used to live in. No one inhabits them anymore, but it’s still possible to visit this architectonic wonder. The location was even featured in Star Wars.
The best time for organizing a Sahara trip is April and May, when the weather in this part of the Sahara is still very pleasant. I did a desert trip at this time, and it was interesting despite the long hours on the bus.
I hope this article will help you to plan your trip to Tunisia. If you have any questions about things to do in Djerba, feel free to ask in the comments below!
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