There’s something magical about the island of Djerba: a Mediterranean flavour with African scents, houses sunk in the sand with blue doors and round ceilings, endless beaches and an opening culture where artists and writers sourced for inspiration… That’s the reason why tourists from all over Europe have been enjoying this destination since the 70’s.
But there’s more to Djerba than just a nice beach and sun destination in the Mediterranean. Something that made the men of Ulysses (Odysseus) forget about their past and their families when they set foot there… and that has UNESCO start considering as a future world heritage site.
Here’s why you should add Djerba (Tunisia) to your travel wish list
Berbers and Traditions
Djerba was a desired land for Carthaginians, Romans, Spaniards, Pirates… but was never truly conquered because of the resistance and heroicity of the Berber people.
Known as the land of the hundred mosques, Djerba is among the rare areas of Tunisia where Berber language is spoken. A land where traditions and crafts are kept as a treasure while welcoming travelers from every corner in the world.
The island is also home to one of the most important Jewish communities in the world (the so-called last Arab Jewish), which dates back to the 6th Century b.C. and even earlier. And is home to the oldest synagogue in the world: La Ghriba, destination for a popular pilgrimage.
A great place to enjoy Tunisian food
If you haven’t tried Tunisian food before, the best way to describe it is: a great mix from the flavours of Southern Europe with the spices of Northern African countries.
What does it mean? Fresh fish and seafood, tasty cous cous, assorted fritters, lamb and harissa (chile paste). Spicy, but not too spicy, unless you add harissa, of course. For dessert: pastries, fresh fruit and dates.
And you will eat aall of these while looking at the Mediterranean and the forests of palm trees.
Mediterranean beaches and resorts
You and I, we might not come here looking for the all-inclusive sort of resort, but let’s face it, everyone likes to be treated like a queen (or king).
Swimming at the beach or maybe reading by the pool. Why not the spa? Djerba has some really nice resorts where you can do just that while still visiting the island and its cultural heritage.
And they say Djerba is also perfect for marine sports and sailing (haven’t tried, in case you wondered) and you can also set for a trip to the beach of Ras Rmel, also known as Flamingo Island (not really an island but full of Flamingos and a nice beach).
Close to the desert and the StarWars sites
When you think of Tunisia, one of the pictures that comes to mind is the desert. A trip to Djerba won’t be disappointing to that either. Close enough to Tataouine, a day trip will sure satisfy your needs of desert landscapes and Berber traditions.
For Star Wars fans, Tataouine will also prove great with scenery and inspiration. Check out StarWars official site for info on all the visitable locations (or wait for our post here, coming soon)
Security, security, security
If there’s something everybody has been asking me about from this trip to Tunisia is security. It is a major concern when traveling to this side of the world and not until last year have European countries started to lift their travel bans to this beautiful country.
While I found Tunisia safe and very welcoming in general, Djerba has proven a great place for those looking for an extra safeness (does the word exist?). Access to the island is controlled both by road and sea, there is a lot visible and invisible police and all the attention we got was positive (even though I was wearing my hair magenta, which certainly stands out from the crowd.)
I even found sellers from the Zouk (the market) not really too much of aggressive sellers which kind of shocked me after having been in Morocco and many other Mediterranean countries.
Some extra info
Djerba is a pretty big island, the size of Ibiza. While mostly flat, you will need a car to move around (or book some guided tours). You could also move around by taxi, which is inexpensive, but make sure you agree the price before boarding.
How to get there
By car: There are two main routes to access Djerba island, by ferry and by road. Depending on where you are going, the ferry access can be faster.
By plane: Djerba has its own airport (DJE), which connects with Tunis-Carthage (TUN) airport and other airports in Tunisia and Europe via Tunisair.