Djerba is one of the most popular destinations within Tunisia. It’s impossible not to unwind in this small and tranquil hideaway, about the size of the Finnish Kimito Island, with its palm trees, fragrant orange trees and perfect white sandy beaches. According to a recent report, Djerba Island is the fourth fastest growing tourist destination in the world. So the time to visit is now – before the crowds arrive.
The pleasant warm winds and the women dressed in traditional Berber clothing are a reminder of the island’s proximity to the Sahara desert. Many visitors choose to go on overnight camel treks in the desert, sleeping in tents under the stars.
Djerba is a familiar name to those who are fond of Greek mythology – in the Odyssey this was the seductive “Island of Lotus Eaters” where Ulysses and his crew were tempted by beautiful sirens. Still today, travelers find Djerba hard to leave with its many luxurious resorts, sunny weather and relaxed atmosphere
Top 5 things to do in Djerba
Standing face-to-face with 400 crocodiles is an experience that is both unforgettable and a little terrifying. Luckily, the bridges and fences are very effective at Parc Djerba Explore, where one of the highlights is watching the hungry crocodiles fight for slabs of meat at the daily feeding. In the summer, visitors can marvel at cute baby crocodiles hatching from eggs. The park also features a traditional village with a museum of Tunisian art, restaurants and cafés.
Shopping in Houmt Souk
Haggling is mandatory in the souk of the island’s charming main town, Houmt Souk. The shopping streets are divided into sections – on one street you will find all the jewellery sellers, on the next all the pottery. This makes it easier for shoppers to scope out the good deals. Houmt Souk has been a centre of commerce since ancient times, and the town is known for its ‘funduqs’ – old camel caravan inns that have been converted into hostels for modern travellers.
Visit the island of flamingos
From Houmt Souk, take a boat trip to Ras Rmel, known as the Flamingo Island and marvel at the flocks of spectacular pink birds. The island is also perfect for snorkelling and sunbathing.
Exploring Jewish history
The population on Djerba is diverse, with Berbers, Christians and Jews living peacefully side by side. The island is home to one of the largest Jewish communities in the Arab world, and the El Ghriba synagogue is well worth a visit. It is the oldest synagogue in North Africa, its history tracing as far back as the 5th century BC.
Most of the beautiful plates, bowls and jugs for sale in every souk in Tunisia is produced in the small Djerban village of Guellala. This makes the town a must-visit for those who are in love with the colourful hand-painted Tunisian pottery. Go into one of the workshops – the potter will be happy to show you how the ceramics are made. Likely he will also offer you a fantastic deal on his handmade crafts.
Boutique hotels in Djerba
Djerba is famous for its dars – luxurious traditional boutique hotels that are attractions in themselves. Dar Dhiafa in the small village Erriadh is a collection of 600-year-old village houses tastefully restored and converted into a charming hotel with antique furniture, hidden alcoves and tranquil bougainvillea-filled patios.
Dar Bibine is a guest house located in the heart of the preserved medina of Erriadh. The white walls and blue doors give this small 4-bedroom hotel a distinct Tunisian feel. The Belgian owners are happy to organise activities like bike tours and Tunisian cooking classes. Finish the day with a cup of mint tea on the rooftop terrace or a dip in the small indoor pool.
Djerba in brief
Size: 514 km2
Biggest cities: Houmt Souk and Midoun
Climate: Sunny and pleasant year-round with average highs around 32 in July and 17 in December.
Activities: Camel tours, windsurfing, diving, golfing, wellness, horseback riding