Tourist Guide To El Kef in Tunisia

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Nestled in the northwest of Tunisia, the picturesque province of El Kef is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered. With its stunning mountain landscapes, rich history and culture, and welcoming local community, El Kef is the perfect destination for travellers seeking a unique and authentic travel experience. Whether you're a history buff, an outdoor enthusiast, or just looking for a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of city life, El Kef has something for everyone.

Let’s discover El Kef together!

1- The Citadel of El Kef

The citadel was built in the 5th century and has been modified and expanded over the centuries to meet the changing needs of its inhabitants. It was used as a defensive structure in times of conflict, and as a residence and administrative centre in times of peace.

The citadel offers sweeping views of the surrounding countryside and the nearby town, making it an ideal spot for visitors to get a sense of the region's history and geography.

El Kef's Casbah by Alexandre Moreau

El Kef's Casbah © By Alexandre Moreau

 

2- The Great Mosque of El Kef

The Great Mosque is located in the heart of the old city of El Kef, near the citadel, and is considered one of the most important cultural and religious landmarks in the region. This mosque dates back to the 8th century, making it one of the oldest mosques in the country and one of the oldest in the Maghreb region.

The mosque is known for its unique architecture and historical significance, and is considered a prime example of early Islamic architecture in Tunisia. It features a large central courtyard surrounded by arches, a minaret, and a prayer hall. The interior is decorated with intricate carvings, calligraphy, and intricate geometric patterns, making it a visual feast for visitors.

El Kef Roman Baths, Mosque and Casbah by Alexandre Moreau

El Kef Roman Baths, Mosque and Casbah © By Alexandre Moreau

 

3- La Medina

Since you’re already in the heart of El Kef city, near the Citadel and the Great Mosque, you probably don’t want to miss this historic neighbourhood. It is a popular destination for visitors looking to experience the traditional culture of the region. Visitors can explore the narrow streets, admire the traditional architecture, and shop for unique souvenirs from the Souks.

El Kef Sidi Boumakhlouf by Tunisie Guide 360

El Kef Sidi Boumakhlouf  © By Tunisie Guide 360

 

4- The Souks

The souks, or marketplaces, are also a popular destination for visitors looking to immerse in the traditional culture by interacting with locals and participating in local customs and traditions. This is a great way to experience and understand the cultural heritage of a place. Visitors can shop for unique and handmade goods, experience the bustling atmosphere of the souks and even buy traditional clothes.

Image from The Souk of Tunisia © By Yassine Khalfalli (Unsplash)

Tunisian Koffa © By Yassine Khalfalli

 

5- Nature

The high city of El Kef”.

That’s how Tunisians call it. If you have already visited the Citadel and took a look from there to the surrounding area, you will certainly notice that the city stands out from its neighbouring coastal cities, offering a unique landscape dotted with towering mountains, providing not only breathtaking views but also a diverse array of outdoor activities for those seeking an adventure.

One of the popular natural attractions in El Kef is Jugurtha’s Table. It is a large, flat-topped and natural rock formation that rises from the ground. According to local legend, the table was used as a meeting place by King Jugurtha of Numidia in the second century BC. The rock formation is located in a scenic area surrounded by hills, and it offers a stunning view of the surrounding landscape.

Ichkeul National Park

Picturesque landscape from Tunisia © By Marwen Shili

 

6- Food

El Kef is famous for its diverse cuisine. One of the most famous dishes ever in the region is Borzgane. You won’t find this dish anywhere else in Tunisia. It's made with tender cuts of lamb meat, couscous, dates, roasted almonds, roasted pistachios, roasted cashews, and roasted pine nuts. The meat is seasoned with spices such as black pepper and cumin and cooked with butter, milk, and sugar for a savoury and sweet flavour. The couscous is prepared separately and placed on top of the meat mixture in the pot to cook until tender. The dish is garnished with roasted nuts and served hot. This delicious and aromatic dish is a staple in Middle Eastern cuisine and is sure to be a hit with anyone who loves rich, flavorful food. 

 

7- Restaurants

So where to have a good Borzgane dish and enjoy the authentic Kefi cuisine ? There are many good restaurants in El Kef. But let’s pick two great restaurants to check out if you're looking for delicious food. The first is "Restaurant Chef Fatma," owned by the talented and passionate Chef Fatma. She is dedicated to showcasing the rich history and culture of El Kef through her cooking and is happy to help visitors learn more about the area. The second is "Le Petit Bateau," a charming restaurant with not only delicious food but also a beautiful interior design. Both restaurants are highly recommended for those looking for a taste of traditional tunisian cuisine and a memorable dining experience.

 

8- Accommodations

El Kef offers a variety of unique and charming accommodations for travellers looking for a taste of the traditional culture and architecture of the region. Here are three highly recommended Guest houses. Dar Alyssa, Dar Bou Makhlouf, and Dar Chennoufi. Dar Alyssa and Dar Bou Makhlouf are two guest houses located near the most important spots in El Kef city such as Al Kasbah, the Museum of Popular Arts and Traditional and the city centre. Both offer excellent services and delicious food. Dar Bou Makhlouf is located just in front of Al Kasbah which gives the visitors a stunushing view especially with its unique traditional architecture. Lastly, Dar Chennoufi is a renovated old country house from the French colonial period decorated with vintage materials and furniture. If you want to take a break from the city bustle and stay in a calm and charming place, Dar Chennoufi is the best choice for you. Visit their website for more details http://www.dar.chennoufi.com

All three places provide a cosy and comfortable stay with welcoming halls and all three are highly recommended.

Jr Harris M9yus Unsplash

An old traditional room in Tunisia © Unknown

 

9- Archeological sites

  • Altiburus: is an archaeological site located in the city of Dahmani. The site is a ruined ancient Numidian city that fell under Carthaginian control in the late third century BC. The city reached its height of prosperity during the Roman period between the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD. From the 4th to the 7th century, the city became the headquarters of the Christian bishops. Some of the most important remaining artefacts in the city include the Roman theatre and forum, the Arch of Triumph, as well as a collection of temples and tombs.
  • Henshir Zenfor is an archaeological site located near the city of Sers. The city was founded in the 2nd century BCE as a Nomeidic settlement. Later, it came under Roman rule in 46 BCE. The city reached its peak of prosperity during the Roman period and continued to exist until the Byzantine period in the 8th century CE. Some of the main remaining artefacts of the city include the Arch of Triumph, temples, theatres, and public buildings.
  • Basilica of Saint Peter is an ancient Byzantine church. It dates back to the 5th century AD.

Some old ruins from El Kef © by Noormen

The Ruins of El Kef © By Noormen

 

10- Can’t afford to miss

  • Bou Makhlouf Festival of El Kef: Named after a famous local saint. It is held to celebrate the rich culture and heritage of the El Kef region. The festival typically features live music, traditional dance performances, and a wide range of cultural activities, such as craft fairs and food markets. The festival takes place at the beginning of August each year.
  • Museum of Popular Arts and Traditions of El Kef: The Museum is a must-visit for those interested in local culture and heritage. The museum showcases the rich and diverse art and traditions of the El Kef region through its exhibits of traditional crafts, such as pottery, weaving, and woodworking. The stunning architecture of the museum building, which dates back to the 18th century, adds to the overall experience and provides visitors with a glimpse into the region's rich history. A visit to this museum offers a unique and immersive opportunity to discover and appreciate the local arts and traditions of El Kef.

Tunisian traditional clothes © By Seif Eddin Khayat (Unsplash)

Tunisian traditional attire © By Seif Eddin Khayat

 

Transit

To visit El Kef province from Tunis capital, you can take either a bus or a train.

If you choose to take a bus, you can take one of the regular buses that operate between the two cities. The journey takes around 4 hours, depending on traffic conditions. The buses depart from the main bus station in Tunis, which is located near the city center.

If you prefer to take the train, you can take a regional train from Tunis Central Station to the station in El Kef. The journey takes around 4 hours, and trains run several times a day. The trains are operated by the national railway company, Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer Tunisiens (SNCFT), and offer comfortable seating and scenic views of the countryside along the way.

Both options are reasonably priced, but the train may be a little more expensive. You can check the latest schedules and prices for both the buses and trains on the websites of the relevant companies, or at the stations themselves.

If you're traveling to El Kef from another province, you can take either a bus or a Louage.


El Kef is a wonderful destination for visitors looking to explore Tunisia's rich history, natural beauty, and unique cultural heritage. Whether you're interested in history, nature, or traditional culture, you're sure to find something to suit your interests in El Kef.

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