Traveling is more than just visiting new places; it’s about immersing oneself in the culture and creating memories. When I travel, I love searching for a souvenir that feels authentic – something that will be a tangible reminder of my adventure.
Since Tunisia is a melting pot of Berber, Phoenician, Roman, Byzantine, Arab, and French cultures, it’s no surprise the vibrant markets and ancient medinas across the country have a great diversity of local handicrafts. Here are our top 7 authentic Tunisia souvenirs that would serve as great keepsakes for your adventure.
Authentic Souvenir #1: Metalwork
Turkish style coffee in a zezwa, heated on a bed of sand by a gas burner.
Metalwork is a traditional handicraft in Tunisia that’s woven into the country’s history. As you navigate the lively souqs, the rhythmic clanging of metalworkers shaping daily-use items and decorations echoes through the air. Crafted in copper, brass, steel to tin, you’ll discover an array of both practical and ornamental items.
Consider acquiring a zezwa, a copper pot perfect for brewing Turkish-style coffee, or perhaps a set of tin cups for sharing refreshing beverages with friends. Artisans also craft brass tea sets designed for the robust flavors of traditional Arab teas, as well as brass mortar and pestles for grinding spices.
Authentic Souvenir #2: Rugs
Tunisia’s handcrafted carpets and rugs are perhaps the most authentic embodiment of the country’s artisanal heritage. There are styles and techniques used regionally, with rugs made of wool, cotton and silk.
Berber margoum and kilim rugs are popular among travelers because of their appealing colors and traditional designs. Made of wool, these rugs are also renowned for their durability.
Authentic Souvenir #3: Pottery
Craftsmen make pottery dishes by hand for cooking, serving, and home decor daily in many parts of Tunisia, as highlighted in part one of this series. These craftspeople have been using Tunisian clay and techniques for generations. Clay is formed into bowls, plates, vases, flower pots, and a number of other items. After firing, they’re hand painted in traditional patterns and colors. With careful packaging and handling, ceramics can travel well without damage.
Authentic Souvenir #4: Olive Wood Products
Olive trees have been cultivated in Tunisia since the Roman era, making handmade olive wood goods a great authentic souvenir. The annual pruning of the trees is a ritual that prepares them for the coming year’s growth. This gives craftsmen plenty of material to produce good quality, naturally antimicrobial cooking utensils, cutting boards, drinking vessels, and more.
Authentic Souvenir #5: Leather Goods
In Tunisia and across North Africa, tanning and leatherwork were integral parts of medieval society. The souq es sabbaghine, or tanners’ market, was a well-known feature of the Tunis medina. Today, skilled artisans transform the hides of cows, sheep, goats, and camels into beautifully crafted furniture, shoes, and bags.
Authentic Souvenir #6: Woven Goods
Tunisian artisans weave a myriad of lightweight items that make for perfect, authentic souvenirs. One popular item is the ‘fouta’, a versatile hammam towel that you can find in almost any color combination. With distinct woven patterns, Tunisians use foutas for the beach, or small ones as hand towels. As a souvenir, it could be a lightweight throw for a living room or to add some color to your decorating.
Authentic Souvenir #7: Tunisian Food Items
Tunisian olive oil is served with bread on a tray with olives
Traditional Tunisian food items can be easily carried home in checked luggage. You can enjoy them after your trip with family and friends as you share stories of your experiences. Harissa, a spicy red pepper paste, is used on everything from sandwiches to seasoning a variety of dishes. Slata michwya (grilled pepper salad) is another condiment that can travel well and spice up a dinner party or charcuterie board. Lastly, Tunisian olive oil is a fantastic souvenir for enjoying with your favorite bread, or simply to enhance your cooking.
Tunisia is a wonderful place to find all sorts of keepsakes to enjoy your trip long after you have returned home. We hope this list of 7 authentic Tunisia souvenirs will inspire and assist you as you plan and prepare for your travels!
Considering a trip to Tunisia? At Engaging Cultures Travel, we're passionate about introducing travelers to the country we love. Fill in our custom tour form and get a quote for a private Tunisia tour tailored to your interests and needs.
Living in Tunisia has taught Jonathan that each day has new lessons to be learned but the adventure is half of the fun. He enjoys helping other cultural adventurers take their travels to the next level as they continue to learn with each new experience.
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