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It might be located centrally, but unless you know Tunisia very well there’s a chance that you may never have even heard of Sfax.

sfax tunisia

Despite it’s relatively unknown-status to tourists, it’s actually the second largest city of Tunisia, with only Tunis coming ahead of it. It also happens to be the second economic center of the country and considering the fact that Tunis is located over 270km away, it would be fair to say that it carries a lot of importance for the nation.

Boasting around 450,000 inhabitants, the main sectors of Sfax include fishing, service and manufacturing. The three of these have an equal market share in the city, and total about 75% of its work. To throw some additional numbers into the mix, its understand that fishery products result in 24,000 tons being export every year, while oil is equivalent to 1.18m tons. Clearly, the fact that Sfax is a port city means that these trades are crucial to its economy.

Of course, there is plenty more to Sfax than work, and we will now take a look at some of the city’s history, culture and exactly what is on offer for tourists.


What is the history of Sfax?

If we turn back the clock, Sfax is based on Berber origin. Some of its historic features still exist. For example, in the 9th century the Aghlabids built ramparts, and to this day they are still standing on both the east and west side.

Sfax is a city which has been at the center of war a lot over history as well. For example, in 1864 there was a revolt of Ali Ben Ghdaham, while a similar revolt occurred against the French in 1881.

During the Second World War it came under fire as well. This time, it was the Allies that were the enemy.


What sort of culture is within Sfax?

The bulk of this guide has shown how Sfax prospers so much from a business perspective. However, away from this there is a lot of culture to take in.

There’s no doubt that the bombings which were outlined in the previous section have taken their toll on some areas of culture. For example, for nearly forty years between 1903 and 1942 the city had a municipal theater. Unfortunately, this was victim to the bombs which were initially directed towards the commercial port in the city.

Fortunately, areas of Sfax have recovered. Both a Medina and Thyna are based there, with both of these attracting hordes of visitors every single year. A lot of people find that a lot of the sites are very much spread out, with Sfax spanning an area of around 220km2. This is much bigger than Tunis – even though there are a lot fewer people who reside in Sfax.


What are the main tourism areas in Sfax?

sfax medina tunisia

While it’s true that Sfax doesn’t have as many tourism opportunities as other cities in Tunisia, it still has some that should be taken advantage of. As we have already alluded to, the Medina is very much worth a visit – particularly as it is impeccably preserved and is surrounded by ramparts.

The olive industry is large in Sfax (it’s the capital of olive oil in Tunisia) and this can be seen through the huge olive groves which are based in the South of the city.

In terms of where to eat, the city has an abundance of high-quality restaurants. Baghdad, The Coral, Masmoudi Pastry and Mermaid are all recommended and like a lot of things in relation to Sfax, there’s plenty of variety. Of course, there does tend to be a little more emphasis on fish-based food due to its industry, but in general there is something for everyone.

Bearing the above in mind, it won’t come as a surprise to read that hotels are very easily accessible in Sfax as well, with the establishments varying between budget and premium. In other words, there’s plenty of variety again.

About Olivia Marsh

Olivia Marsh - Author - Professional chef and Travel enthusiast.
Culinary Institute of America (CIA) graduate. Chef Marsh has traveled the globe from France, Italy, Germany to China, Thailand, India, Tunisia and more.
Olivia lived in Tunisia for almost 10 years now.
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