Perched atop a cliff overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, Sidi Bou Said is a charming suburb in the north-east of Tunis. It is named after the Tunisian Sufi scholar, Abu Said al-Baji, who was buried here in the 13th century and is famed for its ornate Islamic architecture painted blue and white.
Things to do in Sidi Bou Said
Wander through the cobblestone streets of Sidi Bou Said to admire its blue and white houses while learning about its popularity with artists, musicians and writers since the 19th century. There is a sandy beach where you can cool off in the warmer months and plenty of alfresco cafes nearby serving authentic Tunisian fare.
One of Sidi Bou Said’s most striking architectural landmarks is the Ennejma Ezzahra Palace, which was constructed by Baron Rodolphe d’Erlanger between 1912 and 1922. It’s considered an exceptional example of Islamic architecture and houses the Centre for Arabic and Mediterranean Music. In addition to an outstanding collection of musical instruments, books and recordings, it regularly hosts concerts promoting Tunisia’s musical heritage.
Another museum not to miss in Sidi Bou Said is Dar El Annabi, an elegant blue and white house built near the end of the 18th century. It showcases the traditional lifestyle of a Tunisian family, with wax figures illustrating day-to-day tasks and rituals. Wander between the bedrooms, prayer hall and Andalusian-style gardens, then soak up the city views from one of the surrounding terraces.
Sidi Bou Said is around 20 minutes’ drive from the centre of Tunis and the same distance from Tunis-Carthage International Airport, which has flights to destinations across Africa, Europe and the Middle East. Trains connect to Sidi Dhrif metro station and the Sidi Bou Said railway station.