Are you planning a trip to Sfax, the “Southern capital” of Tunisia? Here is our selection of the best places to stay in Sfax!
Bordered to the east by the Mediterranean Sea and open to the Gulf of Gabes, Sfax is a port city located in eastern Tunisia, a few hours south of the capital, Tunis. The largest fishing port in Tunisia, Sfax is a major economic hub in the country, heavily relying on the export of fish and olive oil. A north African financial center, it is also a major tourist destination. With 272,801 inhabitants and nearly 600,000 people spread throughout the metropolitan area, Sfax has a concentric topography converging towards its historic city center and an extensive area of 220 km². You may have trouble finding an apartment to stay in Sfax, but there are many villas, hotels, and homestay options available. It will take 1,500 Tunisian dinars on average to stay in a villa, i.e., €500 per month: in other words, you won’t have to spend a fortune to stay in Sfax.
From the Medina to the Port of Sfax, from Pic Ville to Zitouna or the Cité des Martyrs or Cité des Jardins, the city exudes a different atmosphere from one quarter to another. Here is our selection of the best places to stay in Sfax.
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The Medina of Sfax
A historic part of the city, the medina of Sfax is one of the few medieval cities in North Africa to have preserved an authentic soul without undergoing urban modernization projects. The medina is a 600 by 400-meter quadrilateral surrounded by crenelated ramparts made of ashlar and rubble stones. The area houses several mosques, including the Great Mosque, and countless shops within around ten souks where you can treasure-hunt for souvenirs. Carpets, leathers, jewelry, clothing – alas imported -, trinkets, chechias, wool weaving, and traditional clothing, Eastern musical instruments, hookahs, etc. : indulge in the art of haggling!
The medina is the old town’s dynamic shopping hub, where the handicrafts of yesteryear are still sought after. The Sfax medina houses many cafés, restaurants, and hotels. Enjoy beautiful walks to admire the city’s national heritage, including the Great Mosque, the ramparts, the minarets. Thanks to its timeless charm appealing to visitors, the medina is a great place to stay in Sfax.
North of the Médina, Bab Jebli will be an ideal place to stay in Sfax for a night or two if you plan to take a bus to visit other cities in Tunisia. Centrally located, the area houses two bus terminals (buses number 12 and 7). The perfect place to embark on an excursion to explore the ancient ruins of Thyna, a few kilometers south of Sfax. Also, the fish and seafood market in the center of the district sells delicious local produce. The Jardin de la mère et de l’enfant (“the mother and child garden”) is offers relaxing shaded spots on hot summer days. This area is not as touristic as the medina so prices for food and accommodation will be lower. While the neighborhood is constrained to only a few streets officially, the Northern part is also often designated under the same moniker.
Bab Diwan (Bab el Bhar)
Located directly near the Port of Sfax, Bab Diwan district on the edge of the coast is a major tourist-trodden area. It is home to the unmissable Place de la Victoire – formerly named “Porte de France” during the French protectorate -, a famous triumphal arch adjoining the medina, and featured on all the souvenir photos of a trip to Tunisia. The port of Sfax is mostly industrial, Sfax having developed mainly based on its industry and chemical industry. However in recent years the municipality has tried to move past its dependency and chemical factories and has gone to great lengths to clean some of the more polluted sites.
A massive rehabilitation project, Project Taparura was launched in the 1980s to clean up swaths of land and beachfront property that were polluted by the phosphate industry and build a modern residential and commercial area. The project has been interrupted and is now stagnating despite considerable efforts, but one day perhaps it will be one of the most dynamic and attractive places in the city, given its prime location and the desirability of Sfax in general.
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