"Sidi Bou Said - Playground for Tunis' rich" Sidi Bou Said by maykal

Sidi Bou Said Travel Guide: 105 reviews and 315 photos

Anyone who looks at a brochure about Tunisia will no doubt see pictures of Sidi Bou Said, an impossibly picturesque clifftop village of whitewashed houses, blue doors and shutters, flowers blooming on cobbled stairways, Jebel Bou Qornine looming across the bay. anyone who comes to Tunis will end up in Sidi Bou Said, marvelling at just how picture perfect all the houses seem to be, sipping tea in one of the most pretentious cafes in the country, spending a fortune in the upmarket souvenir shops, oohing and ahhhing at the spectacular views over the Gulf of Tunis.

Sidi Bou Said is now a huge tourist trap. A picturesque one, a beautiful one, even an enjoyable one, but a tourist trap nonetheless. I saw more tourists here than I saw during the rest of the trip put together. The alleys and stairways between the postcard-like houses were thronging with tour groups from USA, Japan, Germany, Russia, France, Britain, Italy, probably Mexico and Burma too had I listened hard enough. The only shops in the village now cater for tourists, every corner reveals another stunning Tunisian doorway surrounded by people on their knees framing it in their lenses, waiters in the cafes speak a dozen languages or more. This is the sort of place I'd normally avoid like the plague, as it was almost unbearably touristy even in April, the very beginning of the season.

But Sidi Bou Said has somehow managed to retain some sort of character, despite the invasion of flip-flop wearing hordes. I took as many photos as anyone else did that day; ate the same piping hot doughnuts as all the other tourists, freshly made at a stall hidden among the souvenir boutiques; drank tea surrounded by Scandinavians and Chinese, served by a waiter conversant in German and French; bought postcards, gasped at the jaw-dropping views, and even found myself perusing the plaster-of-Paris miniature doorways for sale. And you know what? I kind of enjoyed it.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Looks exactly like it does in all the brochures
  • Cons:Everyone else who has seen those brochures will be there too
  • In a nutshell:A big big tourist trap, but a picturesque one
  • Last visit to Sidi Bou Said: Apr 2006
  • Intro Updated Jun 6, 2007
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maykal

“Motto? Motto?! What do I want a motto for?”

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