What to know about holidays in Tunisia, Zarsis

Zarzis Resort in Tunisia

Zarzis resort is small, here you will rarely see Russian tourists, although the rest here has its undeniable advantages, however, and the drawbacks missing. We will tell in detail about Zarzis as a resort and as a city, the economy of which specializes not at all in tourism.

Prices and other information in this article updated in March 2020.

Geographic location

Map of Tunisia with labels of resorts

Zarzis is located in southern Tunisia – it is the southernmost resort in the country. See a map of Tunisian resorts on the right, click on the map to enlarge. The city is located in the southern part of the peninsula, which is also called – Zarzis.

Details of the location on the map of all Tunisian resorts we have described in the article “Map of Tunisia with Resorts”.

The island of Djerba is situated 20 kilometers to the north, which leads to the “Roman Road” (now it’s an embankment, which passes through the highway and the pipeline). Zarzis is in the province of Medenin, the city of Medenin (capital) is located 60 kilometers to the west.

A little History

In various times, a port and a village existed in the area of today’s Zarzis. In the famous Byzantine maritime description “Stadiasm, or the Periplous of the Great Sea” it says: “Here is a fort standing over the ruins and guarding the port”. At that time the place was called “Gergis” (“Gergis”).

The town emerged in this place from a fishing village during the French protectorate. The French liked the place and Zarzis became popular as a resting place for soldiers and officers of the French Army, where units were sent to be re-formed and resupplied, the so-called R&R. Zarzis became the southernmost point of presence of French colonists in Tunisia, as it made no sense for them to move further south into the desert.

The French in the early 20th century began to develop agriculture in the surrounding area, they planted around the city huge plantations of olive trees and date palms. The fruits of their labor are already used by modern Tunisians, which will be discussed later in the section on the economy of the city. The French built the first guest houses and small hotels, but with the departure of the French resort development stopped for decades, and again became a real resort Zarzis only in the late 20th century.

Facts and figures

Population – 75,000 people, area – 340 square kilometers. The latter figure is simply gigantic, given the small population. Some large cities in Russia have about the same area: Rostov-on-Don, Krasnodar, Krasnoyarsk or Vladivostok.

View of Zarzis from the port

The city is large in area, but here all the houses are up to 2 stories high, there is a lot of unoccupied building space, there are even farms and olive plantations within the city. Hence such a large nominal area. See the city of Zarzis in the photo on the left, click on the photo to enlarge.

Life in Zarzis is quiet and unhurried, there are almost no discos, bars and other nightlife. As the sun goes down, the stores, benches, and cafes close and life on the streets dies down. However, even in the daytime and Zarzai people are not very active, the life here “boils” only on Monday and Friday – in the market days.

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What residents do – Zarzis economy

Tourism is not the main specialization of the economy Zarzis. The number one occupation for the population of the city is agriculture.

The numbers are staggering! 700,000 olive trees, 110,000 date palms. The olive harvest back in the noughties reached 60,000 tons, which is 12,000 tons of oil. The oil is crushed in local factories. Tunisians use the same plantations planted by French colonists in the early 20th century.

Zarzis harvest olives

The photo to the right shows the harvest of these olive plantations, click on the photo to enlarge.

The second important sector of the economy is trade. The port here has existed since the days of ancient Carthage. The port is large by North African standards – 28 hectares of land, 9,000 square meters of hangars, a 610 meter long loading dock that can accommodate ships up to 25,000 tons of displacement. The port facilities employ about 5,000 people in the city. Zarzis is the main “cargo gateway” of southern Tunisia.

The port of Zarzis has declared a special economic zone “Zarzis Park of Economic Activities”, formerly called “Zarzis Free Zone”. This free economic zone was founded in 1993. Great expectations were pinned on it, but it did not create any economic boom in the region.

Fishing, a traditional livelihood of the Zarzis, is still flourishing in the 21st century. On market days (Mondays and Fridays), you can see the entire range of local fish in the city’s markets and taste the tastiest fish dishes in the city’s many restaurants.

Already in the late 90’s and early 00’s, tourism has become an important part of the economy of the city.

Tourism in Zarzis

For the construction of hotels was allocated a coastline of 8 kilometers in the north, 3 kilometers from the city limits (near the village of Soichel), this area is so called: “Zarzis Touristique Zone.

Beach on the coast to the north of the city

On the Internet and travel guides you can read the phrases “Important tourist center of Tunisia” or “Great Resort. Do not believe it, there is nothing like that here. The tourist area is built up densely, but most of the private sector.

There are only 9 hotels, of which 3 are classified as 3 stars and 6 as 4 stars. No “five” here is not and never has been. In addition to hotels, there is a large choice of apartments and rooms in guest houses, you can stay both in the tourist area and in the city limits.

The beaches are sandy and as good as those in Hammamet or Sousse. Within the city the most famous beaches are “Casino” and “Plage Sidi Kbir”. The only drawback is that the beaches are rarely cleaned, if you get some seaweed on the beach, don’t expect it to be cleaned soon.

Zarzis does not have its own airport, tourists arrive at Djerba-Zarzis International Airport on Djerba Island. Many tourists are encouraged by the name “Djerba-Zarzis”, believing that the airport is somewhere in the middle between the resorts, and the drive to the hotel will not take long. We will disappoint you, the airport is exactly on Djerba next to the town of Houmt Souk, where it is 60 kilometers away, about 1.5 hours by tourist bus.

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Beach season in Zarzis

Some descriptions call Zarzis a year-round resort. But is it so?

You can tell the weather by the clothes the fishermen wear

The question is debatable, in December and January, the air temperature during the day warms up to 17-18 degrees and water temperature – 16-18 degrees. In 2009 in December Zarzis was a climatic record, the daytime air temperature reached 29 degrees, but we should not seriously expect a repetition of such an event. If such temperatures do not scare you and you are used to winds up to 20 meters per hour, the answer is yes.

The photo to the right shows fishermen in Zarzis in January, click on the photo to enlarge. You can guess from their clothing the weather conditions at this time of year.

However, most tourists are not used to vacationing in such conditions, and local hotels are almost empty in winter. Russian tour operators have never sold tours to Zarzis in winter and do not sell them now (note: this article was updated in March 2020).

The beach season in Zarzis starts in mid-April and ends in late October, as in all Tunisian resorts. Read more in our article “The Season and Weather in Tunisia.”

Benefits of Zarzis Resort

We’ve already mentioned the quality sandy beaches, but the list of positives doesn’t end there.

Zarzis is located between the island of Djerba and the Sahara Desert. From here all the trips to Djerba are accessible: Crocodile Farm, El Griba Synagogue, Guellala Museum and others.

Zarzis is the closest resort to the Sahara Desert. From here it is most convenient to go on tours of the Sahara. Recall that there are dozens of itinerary options, as we talked about in detail in the article “Excursion to the Sahara.” From Zarzis, you can go on day tours to Ksar Gilan, Matmata, Douz, Tatawin, and Shenini.

The city is very beautiful and colorful, the houses are made in the traditional Tunisian style, no higher than 2 floors, white walls, blue doors and shutters on the windows.

What to see in Zarzis itself

The real attraction in the city is just one: the Zarzis Museum. The museum was founded in 2003, apparently the authorities realized they needed to create at least one attraction in the city.

Museum - Former Catholic Church

The building of the old Notre Dame de la Girde Catholic Church (pictured left), which was built by the French in the early 20th century (between 1920 and 1930), was chosen for the museum. The last service in the church was held in 1954, and the building has been empty since then.

All the archaeological finds from all over the Zarzis Peninsula have been collected here. There are some very curious exhibits in the museum – Punic pottery, stelae from the city of Zita. One part of the museum shows the life of the ancient inhabitants of the peninsula.

Entrance to the museum costs 8 Tunisian dinars. Opening hours are June 1 through September 15, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., and September 16 through May 31, from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. On Mondays the museum is closed.

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In addition to the museum, you can see several beautiful mosques.

Where to shop

The Generale store is located on C109 at the intersection with Avenue 20 Mars. Recall that you can buy alcoholic beverages in Tunisia only in stores of this chain.

Carefour Express supermarket is located on road C117 at the intersection with Avenue Mohammed Ali Hammi. In the central square there is a grocery supermarket chain Monoprix.

Getting around the city

The easiest way to get around is by cab, because cabs are cheap in Tunisia. Rides around town do not cost more than 5 dinars. The drivers are well aware of the necessary places in the city, just say “muzeum” or “carrefour” or “monoprix,” the cab driver will immediately understand the destination.

Also good to know

– Zarzis is famous not only for olives and dates. They grow wonderful figs, bitter acal and chaari. Do not miss the chance to try, read our article “Fruit in Tunisia”;

– Exchanging euros and dollars for Tunisian dinars in Zarzis can be difficult, as there are exchange offices only in two hotels and a few more in the city center. To be prepared for this problem, read the tips in our article “Money Exchange in Tunisia”;

– In Zarzis do not expect any of the hotel staff to speak Russian. English is not fluent there, but everyone speaks French. Read our article “What language is spoken in Tunisia?

Have a nice vacation in Zarzis, and read other interesting reviews about Tunisia on our website (links below).

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There is only one liquor store in Zarzis, and it is not Generale, it is not marked in any way on Google maps. The code of this place in Google Maps is 8F5HC3XJ+J6 it is not on C109 but on the duplicate road, looks like a house yard with a drive in, inside is a store, hope this information will be useful. Cab there / back can cost from 40 to 60 dinars, so bargain, maybe even for 30 will get just show the place on the map. And in general there is inexpensive cars in rent for a day will turn out 80 dinars, plus gasoline 50 dinars will fill up and bypass Zarzis along and across. The most interesting places are the road along the sea, the port, the olive groves, the center can be looked at once, to the market you can go on market days. Gasoline is expensive there, a little more expensive than ours, somewhere around 50 rubles a liter. But the cab drivers all fill up with smuggled gasoline from Libya, among other things, so the cab must be cheap, but they do not always try to cash in on the tourists like everywhere else.

Zarzis – the southernmost and hottest resort in Tunisia

Zarzis Holiday

We’re talking about the southernmost resort of Tunisia – Zarzis! What’s that small town next to the Sahara doing for tourists? The most interesting things about Zarzis are the hotels to stay in, the best beaches to visit, and the best time to go. Tips for holidays with children.

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Zarzis reviews

Zarzis – moderately quiet, secluded and relatively inexpensive resort. Parents with children, romantic couples and older tourists like to come here. Most of the resort hotels are not in the town itself but in the tourist zone, which is located 7 km north of Zarzis. There is almost no entertainment outside the hotels, so it is important to choose a good hotel.

The resort on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea is famous for an excellent beach holiday. Even fastidious connoisseurs of beach pleasures put the beaches of Zarzis a solid five. In reviews, tourists wrote that were very pleased with the cleanliness of the sea, wide beaches and fine sand.

-Regina-1452: “The sea is excellent. Clean and warm, it pulled the whole vacation.”

JuliaMore: “The most favorable time to go is late August – early September, the sea is usually calm at this time, the weather is stable.

Zarzis Holiday Reviews

The beach in Zarziza. Photo: SQFP info / wikimedia.org / CC BY 2.0.

The best hotels in Zarziz.

There are only about two dozen hotels in and around the resort itself. Most of them are all-inclusive. There are no luxurious 5* hotels, look for 2-4* hotels on Travelate or OnlineTours.

The best hotels in Zarzis, according to tourist reviews:

Dar Nesma 3* is a cozy hotel with a garden. A room for two people costs from $56 per night.

Dar Mamina 3* – a popular bed and breakfast in Sidhi Al Shammayah, 15 km from Zarzis. A double room with breakfast costs from $99 – find tour.

Zephir Hôtel & Spa 4* is a comfortable all-inclusive spa hotel. There is a private beach. Room for two costs from $126 – find tour.

Vincci Safira Palms 4* is a resort hotel by the sea on the coast of Ras Marmour, 12 km from the center of Zarzis. During high season, a double room with breakfast and dinner costs from $184.

Odyssée Resort and Thalasso 4* – A comfortable all-inclusive hotel on the beach, 10 minutes from town. A room for two costs from $174.

Zarzis Beaches

Zarzis has 8 kilometers of spacious beaches. The fine sandy shore, gentle descent into the water, calm sea and sandy bottom are great for families with children. The sea water is clear, but after storms algae is thrown on the shore.

According to tourist reviews, the beaches of Zarzis are wide 30-50 meters, so there is enough space for everyone. The best are called Plage Sidi Kbir and Casino. There are cafes and bars in the area of beach hotels. At the equipped areas you can rent sun beds and equipment for water sports.

_T2045ZI: “Sangho Beach is not bad. There is seaweed, but it does not interfere with swimming.

Michael: “The beach at Zarzis is clean and neat. I have been on it 2 seasons in a row and have never seen garbage. People are usually not much, but even if the influx, there is enough room, especially if you come with kids.

Panorama of Sangho Beach

Zarzis sights

On a holiday in Zarzis, visit the local museum on Avenue de l’Eglise. Admire the tall mosque, the walls of which are lined with bright turquoise tiles. In addition to fishing boats, the resort’s harbor is docked with “pirate” ships that are made to entertain tourists. There is a picturesque oasis of date palms and olive trees on the outskirts of the city.

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According to reviews, excursions to authentic Berber villages are popular with vacationers in Zarzis. A trip there allows you to learn about the culture and traditions of the indigenous people of North Africa. We advise you to take a two-day tour of the Sahara and the Atlas Mountains!

From Zarzis it is only 20km to the popular tourist island of Djerba. Pink flamingos like to visit the picturesque shallow lagoon of Djerba. Take a trip to see the fortress of Gazi Mustafa and the ancient El-Griba synagogue.

In Zarzis you can visit the city center; there are several museums and a crocodile park on the neighboring island of Djerba. You can go to Sousse, where there is a beautiful old town, to Douz, where there is an old fortress and beautiful mosaic houses, or to the ancient city of Carthage, destroyed by the Romans.

What to see in Zarzis

Berber village. Photo: alkainel / wikimedia.org / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Holidays with kids

Comfortable beaches and inexpensive hotels attract parents with children to Zarzis. Besides swimming in the sea, there are no other activities at the resort. You should go to Djerba, where children will be interested in the amusement park Djerba Explore, a crocodile farm and the Museum of Folk Traditions. For a comfortable holiday with a child we advise to choose June or September.

klimoshka89: “We went with children. The beach is clean, there is some litter, but it is removed immediately. The sea – chic, I personally have what to compare. The entrance to the sea is ideal for children.

Holidays with kids in Zarzis

A crocodile farm on Djerba. Photo: wikimedia.ru / Ad Meskens.

When to go

The southeastern coast of Tunisia has a hot climate. Zarzis is on the border of the subtropics and tropics. The beach season starts in May and ends in late October. During this time, the coast is dry and sunny, and storms are rare.

July and August are very hot in Zarzis. The air temperature is +40°C and above, and the sea water is +27 … +29°C. If you can not stand the summer heat, come to the resort in May, June, September or October.

tnik0808: “In May there is a noticeable difference between day and night temperatures. This should be taken into account if you’re going on excursions and return late at night. Be sure to stock up on sunscreen and warm jackets. See when it’s better to rest in Tunisia.

Weather in Zarzis

The desert near Zarzis. Photo: alkainel / flickr.com / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Conclusions: is it worth a vacation in Zarzis

According to reviews, Zarzis is a wonderful place to relax by the sea in Tunisia, sunbathe, enjoy the silence and beautiful nature. Tourists from Western Europe love to vacation here, but not many Russians.

At the resort you can stay at a hotel with meals “all inclusive”, but the choice of hotels is small and no 5 * hotels. For attractions will have to go to other cities in Tunisia or the island of Djerba.

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