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TOP-16 What to Bring from Tunisia


Page update - Jan 30, 2023

What can you take back from Tunisia? What are the prices of gifts and souvenirs? What is profitable to buy there? What unique things can you buy that you can't buy in Europe or the US? Read the answers and our rating of the TOP-16 best gifts from Tunisia.

The prices on this page were updated in January 2023.

Important to know!

First of all, we recommend reading our in-depth review "What you can and can't take out of Tunisia" in order to avoid unpleasant situations at the Tunisian customs.

We will give prices only in Tunisian dinars further on this page, as you will make purchases in dinars. To understand the prices in US dollars, UK pounds or Euros, see the current exchange rates on our page "Tunisian Dinar".




16th place. Tunisian darbuka

This is the name given to the cup-shaped drum, hence the name of such instruments, the "cup drums". Such drums are common in North Africa and the Middle East, and the shape of the drum differs slightly in each country.

The Tunisian darbuka has a rounded shape on the edges which makes it possible to produce sounds by snapping your fingers on the drum. The standard length of the instrument (a real one, not a souvenir) is 33 centimeters (13 inches) and the size of the membrane may vary.

Playing the darbuka is easy. The drum is placed flat on the leg, held with the elbow and played with the hands. See photo near, click on photo to enlarge to full screen.

Even difficult rhythms are easy to learn. You can watch instructional videos on YouTube. Search on YouTube with the word "Darbuka".

You can either buy a souvenir Darbuka, usually decorated with a picture of a camel, Tunisian flag, Bedouin or something else. You can play it, but don't expect any decent music.

Or buy a real darbuka. Usually this instrument has a membrane made of special polyester instead of leather. One can learn to play it professionally.

The price of a souvenir darbuka starts at 10 dinars. The price depends on the size. The best place to buy it is a souvenir shop.

The price for a professional one is from 100 dinars. The best place to buy is a musical instrument shop.




15th place. Robb - date syrup

Date syrup claims to be the best food product in the world by price/benefit ratio. People began making date syrup as far back as time immemorial and its beneficial properties have been proven over the centuries. In Tunisia and neighboring countries, date syrup is called "robb".

To produce date syrup, they use bad dates which have not gone on sale due to defects in shape or damage of skin. But these bad dates have not become less healthy. Hence the very low price of the syrup - from 2 dinars per 250 grams jar.

Date syrup reduces cholesterol levels, helps with anemia, and regulates blood pressure. It also helps with brittle nails, hair loss, tired eyes, cracked lips, and dry skin. This is not surprising, as dates contain more than half of the vitamins and minerals humans need.

In Tunisia, date syrup is eaten pure, spread on bread, added to tea instead of sugar, used in baking. You can eat it however you like, it will still be tasty and healthy.

The price starts at 2 dinars per 250 grams. But the inexpensive varieties are not always available in the shops. Get ready to pay 4-5 dinars for a 250 grams jar. The best place to buy it is in a large supermarket.




14th place. Tunisian wine

Although Tunisia is an Islamic country, it produces and consumes 40 million liters of wine per year. Half of it is consumed by All Inclusive tourists. About 80% of the grapes are grown on the Cap Bon peninsula, as it has the most suitable climate for grapes.

For red wines, two main grape varieties are grown in Tunisia. The first is Syrah, which is the grape that usually gives the word "Syrah" in the wine name. The second is the Carignan grape. Both of these varieties are not considered the best, and are often used for mass production of inexpensive wines. But they grow well in the Tunisian climate.

For white wines, Muscat and Chardonnay are grown in Tunisia, while Vermentino and Merlot are less common.

More than 65% of Tunisia's production is rose wine. Syrah + Merlot are considered the best grape blend.

All of these varieties are far from elite. And Tunisian wine is not considered elite in the world. However, it tastes good and the prices are good.

The best Tunisian wine brands are Magnifique, Selian, Didona, Magon. These are the brands that we recommend to taste and buy first.

The price of a 0,75l bottle of wine starts at 15 dinars. The best place to buy wine is a Magasin General supermarket.




13th place. Bird cage from Sidi Bou Said

Sidi Bou Said was once the summer residence of the Tunisian society elite. The wealthy Tunisians loved birdsong and kept nightingales and canaries.

Sidi Bou Said was the birthplace of a unique craft, the making of beautiful bird cages. Nowadays, the cages are not much in demand among the Tunisians, but they are very popular as a souvenir.

The cages come in white and blue, just like the Sidi Bou Said. They are made of a wooden base and copper or brass bars. The shape is believed to be inspired by the Maghreb mosques. A bright feature of cages from Sidi Bou Said is the use of an 'S' shaped wire bend.

For a long time, the cages were created only by craftsmen from the Samud family, but now they no longer have a monopoly.

The price for a handmade cage ranges from 250 to 2,000 Tunisian dinars, depending primarily on the size. You don't need to go to Sidi Bou Said to buy one. Cages are sold in souvenir shops in all Tunisian resorts.

If you like the item but don't want a big cage, you can buy a small souvenir. A trinket or just a miniature costs from 2 dinars.




12th place. Jebba, chechia, kaftan

The jebba is a long shirt or rather a tunic. Its main bright features are wide sleeves and a long neckline on the chest. It is well suited for the Maghreb climate. The jebba is usually made of linen or wool, and the more expensive models are made of silk. It looks like this.

The chechia is a national Tunisian hat, similar to the Turkish fez or the Central Asian skullcap. Unlike the fez, the chechia is completely soft. The traditional color of the chechia is red and the traditional material is wool. It looks like this.

The kaftan in Tunisia is a women's outerwear, somewhat similar to a cape. The caftan is usually worn with a wide belt. The more ornate the caftan and the belt, the better. The caftan used to be worn over an underdress, nowadays it is worn over any clothing, even over jeans with a T-shirt. And in any case it looks very beautiful. See the photo near, click on the photo to enlarge to full screen.

The price for a jebba is from 100 dinars.

The price for a handmade chechia is from 80 dinars.

The price of a kaftan ranges from 150 dinars to infinity, depending mostly on the richness of the decor.

The best place to buy national dress is at markets or dress shops. The farther the market or shop is from the tourist spots, the cheaper it is.




11th place. Thibarine and Liqueur de dat

Tibarine is a famous Tunisian liqueur based on aromatic herbs, with a strength of around 40%. It is sometimes called date liqueur, but there are no dates in it. Be warned that Tibarine is very sweet, not everyone will like it.

Vendors say Tibarine was named after the Roman Emperor Tiberius, and it was allegedly invented by colonists from Ancient Rome. It is absolute nonsense, as strong alcoholic drinks did not exist at all during the era of Ancient Rome. Hard liquor appeared only in the 6th century with the invention of the distillation process by the Arabs.

The name "Tibarine" comes from the region of Tibar in northern Tunisia. The liquor was invented by missionary monks who settled in Tibar.

The price of a 0.7-litre bottle of Tibarine is around 85 Tunisian dinars. The best place to buy it is at the Magasin General shops.

All date-based liqueurs are called "Liqueur de Datte". The alcohol level of these liqueurs ranges from 20%. The price starts at 40 dinars per bottle.




10th place. Olive soap and cosmetics

Olive soap is very popular with tourists. It is most often sold in small square pieces. The soap has aromas of citron, orange, jasmine, and others. It smells great and is inexpensive. The average price is 2 dinars a piece.

An important tip is make sure the plastic wrap is intact. If it's damaged, the soap will run out of steam very fast, transmitting the scent to all the objects around. In shops, olive soap usually occupies an entire stand, see an example in the photo near, click on the photo to enlarge.

Cosmetics based on olive and argan oil are very diverse. It's hard to make any recommendations. Look and choose, the prices are reasonable.

The most expensive versions of cosmetics are soaps and creams made from a mixture of olive oil and goat (or sheep) milk. Such soap can cost as much as 10 dinars a piece, a tube of cream from 20 dinars. If argan oil is added, the price can be as much as 100 dinars for a bar of soap or a tube of cream.

It is easier and cheaper to buy the simple olive oil cosmetic products in supermarkets. A liquid olive soap (300ml) costs 6.5 dinars, a shampoo (400ml) costs 15 dinars, and a hair mask (300ml) costs 16 dinars.




9th place. Canned tuna

It is believed that the name of the country of Tunisia comes from the name of the fish tuna. Although this version is not exactly proven, it clearly shows what kind of fish Tunisians catch, cook, and export more than any other.

In Tunisia, they sell excellent tuna in cans in shops. The content of a can of tuna from Tunisia surpasses most anything sold in other countries. The fish is placed in a jar in high-quality olive oil. The jar is filled "to the brim". The pieces are large, filets without bones.

If you wish, you can find tuna at a price of 8 dinars for a jar of 400 grams, which is approximately one and a half times cheaper than in Europe. We recommend taking a pack of 3 or 5 cans, it will be cheaper. An example of such a package is shown in the photo near, click on the photo to enlarge to full screen.

It's very easy to distinguish a can of tuna from other canned goods on the shelf of a shop - look for the words "THON" and "D`OLIVE". Average price: 6 dinars for a 200-gram can.




8th place. Tunisian sweets

Oriental sweets are popular in any Arab country. Tunisia is primarily known for its excellent tahini halva.

The three most famous Tunisian brands are Papillon (French for "butterfly"), La Gazelle (French for "gazelle") and Shehrazad ("Sheherazade"). There's not much difference in taste, and the packaging is very similar. There is a feeling that they are made in the same factory on the same line, just packed in different packaging. Near is a photo of the counter in one of the shops in Yasmine Hammamet. The photo shows all three brands of halva, click on the photo to enlarge.

The average prices: 4.25 dinars for a jar of 185 grams, 6.5 dinars for a jar of 400 grams.

Tunisia has its own national biscuit, the Makroud, which we recommend first. They are made of semolina and filled with a mixture of almonds and fruit, usually dates or figs. After making the pastry, they are dipped in honey or sugar syrup. It is very tasty.

You can buy fresh makroud in bakeries but then be prepared that the biscuits will quickly become hard. The price for makroud in a good bakery is 25-35 dinars per kilo.

You can buy factory wrapped makroud in a supermarket. The taste is not as bright then, but the shelf life is better and the price is lower - 15-20 dinars per kilo.

Baklava and Turkish delight are available in Tunisia, but the Tunisian varieties are not known for their special taste. Taste them, you may like them.




7th place. Olive wood products

This is a very colorful gift. Olive wood has a unique texture and cannot be confused with anything else. It looks beautiful and unusual.

You can buy some trinkets such as statues, stands or something similar. But there are also quite practical gifts - plates, cups, spoons. For example, the stupa and pestle, pictured near (click to enlarge), cost 8 dinars.

The difference in price is striking. Even the simplest olivewood spoon will cost from 10 US dollars (or UK pounds, or Euros) and more in Europe or the US. In Tunisia, you can buy such a spoon for 3-4 dinars. Tunisia is a country of olive plantations and there is a lot of olive wood, which is used by artisans. The prices vary a lot, from resort to resort and shop to shop. Explore shops, take your pick, check out the prices.

The best present you can get is an olive chess set. But the price is usually high - from 150 dinars.

The price of an olive tree item ranges from 3 dinars for a simple spoon to almost infinity. The best place to buy them is in souvenir shops.




6th place. Harissa

This is the national Tunisian hot sauce. It is used in a huge number of local dishes such as couscous and merguez. Tunisians have a very popular combination of tuna and harissa in salads or as a filling for briquettes.

This sauce consists of tomato paste, olive oil, and hot chili peppers. In the past, chilies were not used in Tunisia as they had never been introduced to the country before. In those days, black cumin was added to harissa for spice. Old school Tunisians call this harissa "real" and harissa with chili is called "fake". Today, harissa with cumin is available, but it is very expensive and very rare.

Harissa is sold either dry or as a sauce in tins. We recommend cans. Traditionally they put 135 grams of the sauce in a can. Why 135? It seems to be the historic way.

Read more in our detailed review "Harissa".

The price of a 135 gram jar is 1-2 dinars. The best place to buy it is in a large supermarket.




5th place. Ceramics

Tunisian pottery is considered one of the best in the world. Tunisian pottery styles and techniques have absorbed the best from the Berbers, Phoenicians, Romans, Greeks, Byzantines, Arabs, Andalusians, Turks and French. It can be said that Tunisian ceramics in many ways reflect the country's long history.

The most popular items among tourists are tajine (the price is from 15 dinars), painted plates (the price is from 10 dinars), saucepans in the form of a star or amulet "The hand of Fatima" (the price is from 20 dinars). The last two are shown in the photo near, click on the photo to enlarge.

Pottery can be bought in any souvenir shop or when you stop by the pottery workshops on excursions. Where is better? The question is open. In a workshop, it will be more expensive, but the quality and handmade work is guaranteed. In shops, it is cheaper, but you can get a fake.

The prices range from 10 dinars to almost infinity. The best place to buy is at pottery workshops.




4th place. Boukha

Boukha is Tunisia's most famous strong drink, with a strength of 36-40 per cent. Some people call it brandy or liqueur. In reality, it is a sort of vodka made from figs.

The taste is bright, fruity and pleasant, though some may find it too sharp. In All Inclusive hotels, boukha is often used in juice cocktails and is rarely drunk in its pure form.

It is thought that boukha was first produced in the Jewish diaspora on the island of Djerba. During the French protectorate, the French liked it and started producing it all over the country. There are many versions.

The most famous brand of boukha is called "Bokobsa". There are ordinary boukha, a variation of "Oasis", black and silver brands. The difference in taste is insignificant, but the difference in price is substantial.

The price of a bottle is 70-90 dinars. The best place to buy it is at Magasin General.




3rd place. Fresh fruit

In Tunisia, fresh local fruits are on shop shelves all year round.

In late spring, delicious strawberries and apricots ripen. Summer is the season for plums, peaches, watermelons and melons. Grapes and pomegranates ripen in autumn. Winter is the season for delicious oranges and tangerines.

Tunisian fruit is world-famous for being organic. They still practice sparse planting of trees and use half as much inorganic fertilizer as in Europe or Turkey.

But most importantly, the prices! Strawberries for 6-7 dinars, apricots for 3-4 dinars, peaches for 4-5 dinars. And all the fruit is fresh, only a few days old, taken off the branch. What else is there to dream about?

So choose, buy, taste and take home fresh fruit. Just don't forget that in your suitcase the fruit might get squashed and sap, spoiling things in your luggage. So remember to use sturdy plastic bags.




2nd place. Dates

Another important export product of the Tunisian economy is dates.

The most widespread variety in Tunisia is called "Deglet Nour". Tunisians are leaders in the world in production and export of dates of this variety, they own half of the world market. They grow 300,000 tons of dates a year.

The fruits of this variety are oblong, of medium length 3-4 centimeters (1.2-1.5 inches) and vary in color from golden translucent to dark brown. The best are considered to be dates from the Kebili oasis, but they are rare. Dates are traditionally grown in the oasis town of Dooz. They are considered to be of excellent quality, you will not regret it.

The price per kilo is 10-15 dinars, depending on the size and appearance of the dates. The quality of dates in Tunisia is perfect. They keep the best ones for themselves, because a Tunisian will not buy a bad date.

Our first piece of advice: be sure to check the packing date. The harvest season is in November and December. Dates should be of the last crop.

Our second tip: buy dates on a branch, it is a guarantee that the fruit has not been on the ground.

The price is 10-15 dinars per kilo. The best place to buy them is a large supermarket.




1st place. Olive oil

Olive oil is the most popular Tunisian gift, bought home by 3/4 of tourists in Tunisia. The secret to the success of Tunisian olive oil is its high quality and low price. In Tunisia, olive oil costs 15-18 Tunisian dinars for a liter. It is twice as expensive in Europe.

The quality of Tunisian olive oil is superior to almost all varieties sold in supermarkets in most countries. The quality is high, similar to the oil from Greece, Italy, or Spain.

Few tourists know how to choose olive oil, so let's explain the subject. The main indicator of oil quality is its "acidity". It can be specified as: "<3%", "<0.8%" or "<0.3%". An oil with a <3% index is considered technical and is not used by Tunisians who don't eat it and it is rarely sold in shops. The most common oil is <0,8%, which is already of good quality. The <0,3% is the best and most expensive.

The average price of <0.8% oil is around 15 dinars a liter.

The average price of <0,3% oil is around 30 dinars per liter.

The first place to go for oil is the nearest Carrefour supermarket.

The acidity is not always written on the packaging and can sometimes be difficult to find and you have to inspect the can thoroughly from all sides. Acidity is indicated by the word 'Acidity', which is the same word in English and French. See the photo near for a correct look, click on the photo to enlarge it. Our advice: if you don't find the acidity label on the packaging, don't take this oil.

Many websites and travel guides write the advice, "Buy Extra Virgin oil only". The truth is that you won't be able to buy any other kind of oil in Tunisian shops.

Think about it, if you squeeze a wet cloth, how much water will flow out during the first squeeze and how much during the second one? It's a similar situation with oil, the second squeeze produces very little oil. It is cheap and is brought up completely for the industry, it is not sold to the shops.

The shelf life of olive oil is 2 years. The production and expiry dates are written on the end of the jars. The photo below shows what this should look like, click on the photo to enlarge.

The olive harvest season is in October and November. So if you're holidaying in Tunisia in June, you will see olive oil from the previous year's harvest on the shelves, don't be surprised. Be sure to check the expiry date so as not to exceed one year.

We strongly recommend buying the oil in metal cans only, no glass. First of all, metal packaging is more reliable, there is less chance that it will break. Secondly, Tunisians themselves say that olive oil should not be exposed to the sun, it loses its useful properties.

Another important nuance. For instance, a friend asks you, "Bring me the oil from Djerba Island, they say it is the best". Of course, he/she means the olive oil produced in Djerba Island. The laws of Tunisia are such that the producer is not obliged to state the origin of the olives on the package. The oil might be pressed in Djerba but the olives might be from Sfax or Sousse. Yet another lottery.

One last point: the oil can be refined (odorless) or unrefined (smelly). The harsh smell of olive oil is not to everyone's liking, remember that.

The price of olive oil is 15-25 dinars a liter. The best place to buy them is a large supermarket.




Souvenirs

Most souvenirs in Tunisia come from China. Don't be fooled by the cunning Tunisian traders who guarantee "handmade".

The average prices: a magnet - 1 dinar, postcards - 1 dinar for 10 pieces, wallets and similar trinkets - 3-4 dinars, mosaic pictures - 10-15 dinars, colorful souvenir doors - 10 dinars, leather pictures - 8-15 dinars. See below for a gallery of Tunisian souvenirs.

Now, let's talk about how not to be disappointed while shopping in Tunisia.




What NOT to buy in Tunisia

Here's a brief list of things you shouldn't buy in Tunisia and why you shouldn't.

- Casual wear. It is imported from China in half of the cases, is of low quality and of the same price as in most countries.

- Spices. There is nothing special about them, you can buy the same saffron, turmeric, paprika in your home country. The prices in Tunisian shops are often even higher. The only exception is harissa, which we talked about earlier on this page.

- Leather goods and clothes. These are expensive items. You may buy something with a defect and find it in your home country. Where would you go to change it? Fly back to Tunisia? Of course, if you're an expert in leather, you might want to check it out.

- Carpets. If they are sold with a defect or fake you will not be able to change it back, there is nobody to make a claim against.

- Jewellery made of precious metals. Likewise, if they sell you a fake one, you may not be able to exchange it back.

- A desert rose. In fact, it has no value. Tunisians use it to prop up their doors. Think about it: if you buy a desert rose, what will you do with it in your home country? If you have an answer to this question, feel free to buy it, the price is 1 dinar.




Good to know

- To buy the gifts profitably, you will not only need to know the right price, you will also need to exchange currency at a good rate. Read our detailed review "How to exchange money in Tunisia";

- You can profitably buy many of the gifts at the Friday markets. Read about this in our review "Friday in Tunisia".

Good luck shopping in Tunisia, and read our informative and useful pages about the country for tourists (see the pages list below).

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