Carthage is a historic city located just 20km from Tunis. The ruins of previous civilizations are scattered around, but without preparations you will spend lot of time, money and efforts to get from one to another.
We have summarized the most attractive and important places of historical Carthage and wrote the plan to effectively visit them in half a day without overpaying taxi driver or melting on the sun. Let’s check what to do in Carthage, Tunisia.
Carthage was built as a Phoenician colony and quickly became the capital of Punic empire as well as the most developed and important city of the area. Carthage was ruling the mediterranean sea 1st millennium BC.
But because it was too big competition for the Roman empire, romans annihilated Carthage after 3 Punic wars in 146 BC. Romans rebuilt it after and it became important part of their empire in Africa.
Few centuries after came Vandals, after them again romans from Byzantine empire, Arabs, Normans, Ottomans and french.
The city was going through times of big glory, but nowadays you can find there only reasonably maintained ruins of previous civilizations and many of fancy expat villas and embassies of recent time.
How to get there
1. Carthage is conveniently accessible by local train from Tunis TGM station here. It cost only about 1 dinar per person and you should step out at the station of Carthage Hannibal. If you stay at Sidi Bou Said, you can take the same TGM train from there going opposite direction.
2. If you prefer taxi, the ride from Tunis to the Carthage shouldn’t be more than 15-20 dinars. From Sidi Bou Said maximum 3 dinars. Always make sure that the taximeter is running.
What to do in Carthage, Tunisia
The ruins of Carthage are scattered on a big area and together with tunisian sun it makes it very challenging to visit them without plan. We visited the most important sites in half a day, walked about 5km and took 1 short taxi ride. Let’s see how and what to do in Carthage, Tunisia.
1. Baths of Antonius
After you arrive to TGM Carthage Hannibal station, go down the hill, cross the main road and turn left to reach Baths of Antoninus. It’s a short walk. Here you can buy 1 day ticket to all sites for 12 dinars. They checked the ticket at all the sites.
The baths used to be huge complex built during roman Carthage. There is not much left anymore, but the ruins show how magnificent the complex once was. There are not many signs or boards explaining what you see though. If you look towards the sea, on the left side there is presidential palace. It is forbidden to take pictures of it.
Then we propose to take a short taxi ride to amphitheater here to overcome the biggest distance (2km) by car. We saw one taxi driver just next to the baths, but he claimed 10 dinars to take us to the amphitheater, so we let him wait for another tourists whom he will try to rip off. Instead we walked to the main road, stopped the taxi and it took us there for 1.5 dinar (0.5 euro).
The amphitheater is not very well preserved, but it’s worth a quick stop.
3. Saint Louis Cathedral
From here we walked 1km to the Acropolium, also known as Saint Louis Cathedral. Alternatively you can take another taxi, there will be plenty standing in front of amphitheater.
The cathedral is modest, but it’s a very peaceful inside.
You can find also museum next to it, but it is being restored (due to open in July 2019). The cathedral is on the hill and you can enjoy some views around from there and also to see the ruins of Punic quarter.
4. Modern amphitheater
After that you walk down the hill 1km towards another amphitheater here. This one is reconstructed in a modern way (but not very tasteful). If you are short on time, you can skip this one and not miss much.
5. Ruins of roman villas
Just next to the amphitheater (500m walk) there are ruins of roman villas. We totally recommend this place. It gives you the idea of the layout of a Roman city as well as the luxury of these residences overlooking the sea. Nearby the entrance there is also the place where they store mosaics from different eras of Carthage. There was a guide sitting next to it and he gave us interesting insight into the history of the place and mosaics.
For some extra dinar he will also take you inside of the best preserved villa – villa of the aviary. It is now being restored and will be open soon as museum.
After you enjoyed the ruins enough, you can walk back to the Hannibal station and go back to Tunis or visit nearby Sidi Bou Said city if you still have some time.
You can find few more sites around, but there is not so much to see there and it will not give you more information and impressions anymore. We didn’t put the port on the list, despite it was very impressive and futuristic structure of that time, but unfortunatelly there is really nothing to see there anymore.
Alternatively if you don’t want to explore the ruins on your own, you can hire a taxi driver from your hotel. He will take you to the all sites you choose and wait for you in the car. It will cost you about 50-100 dinars (15-30 euros) depending on the season and your location.
Where to stay in Carthage
1. We totally recommend to stay in nearby village Sidi Bou Said. It is lovely white and blue village on the coast. And the best accommodation is in Villa Kahina. We stayed there for 2 nights and wished we could stay longer. Luxurious villa is decorated in local style with magnificent views of the sea from terrace and pool. And the staff will do anything to make you happy.
2. If you really want to stay in Carthage, there is spacey 2 bedroom apartment sitting in beautiful gardens. Great place for a family, close to the sea, shops and ruins. And for very good price. You can book it here.
3. To stay in Tunis city, we have chosen Medina palace apartment. You will have a room in 2 room apartment with common kitchen and living room. It is spacey flat, location is just in city center and for very low price. Only the owner had little strange way of communication (very kind though), but all in all it was very nice stay. Book it here.
Carthage is a gem for every history lover, but it is very fascinating for every visitor. Unfortunately the ruins are not well maintained, there are almost no signs explaining anything and official information about the ruins are very limited. Still we believe it is totally worth to visit the sites. Due to the high amount of tourist and heat in the main season, we recommend to visit Tunisia March – May or September – October.