el jem in tunisia amphitheatre

This is a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1979 and must be on your bucket list when visiting Tunisia.

Everything you need to know to plan your visit to El Jem:

How to get to El Jem in Tunisia

We took a day trip to El Jem from Monastir’s coastal city. We based ourselves here for a few days at Cap Marina Aparthotel

Our breezy two-storey apartment costs 68 TND per night ($24).

It’s located right on the picturesque marina, and we have a range of restaurants and cafes around us, and it’s an easy 10-15 min into the city and Old Town.

cap marina aparthotel monastir view
The views of the marina from our Aparthotel in Monastir

Check prices at Cap Marina Aparthotel, Monastir

A day trip to El Jem in Tunisia is also easy if you base yourself in Sousse. This is a popular option with travellers as Sousse is a good hub to explore this region of Tunisia.

My recommendation for good budget accommodation in Sousse is Hotel Paris. The hotel is located in Medina; it’s clean and comfortable and the prices are unbeatable.

If you need more comfort and have a bigger budget, then the Sousse Pearl Marriott Resort is your best option.

Take a louage from the station to get to El Jem in Tunisia

To get around in Tunisia, louage public transportation is very convenient, reliable and affordable.

For any trip to a new destination, you first need to get to the ‘louage station’. Once you arrive here, line up at the ticket booth and purchase a ticket for your destination.

You will receive a ticket/receipt with two pieces. Your ticket shows the price paid and also the number plate of the vehicle taking you there.

It’s easy to find the minivan for your destination as city signs are posted. The driver will take the small piece of the receipt, and you can get into the vehicle.

You need to wait until it fills up with more passengers, but it never takes too long. Many Tunisians move around the country by louage. 

el jem in tunisia louage transport
If you don’t have your own vehicle, the best way to reach El Jem in Tunisia is to take a louage.

The journey to El Jem

To get to El Jem from Monastir, we first had to take a louage to Sousse. We learned that Sousse is the hub to visit many other cities, hence why we had to go here first and change rides to continue to El Jem. 

The louage ticket from Monastir to Sousse was 2250 TND per person ($0.80 cents ). This is a 20-minute drive.

We purchased another ticket in Sousse station for El Jem 5900 TND each ($2.05 ) and caught a different vehicle. The journey time is 1 hour.

The town of El Jem is relatively small. The amphitheatre is close to the louage station. Louage is the public transportation (minivans) to get around in Tunisia.

This was our preferred means of transport used to get around the country. The train station is also nearby.

You can easily walk to the amphitheatre and the museum, and around town.

Price of a ticket to visit El Jem in Tunisia

You can purchase a ticket to the amphitheatre at the small booth just in front. The price is 12000 TND (USD 4.00). 

NOTE: Keep your entrance ticket as it will give you entry to the Archeological Museum afterwards (highly recommended).

More about the amphitheatre of El Jem

el jem in tunisia inside amphitheatre
The amphitheatre of El Jem in Tunisia is magnificent! One of our favourite places to visit in the country.

El Jem, in Tunisia, has to be one of the greatest examples of Roman architecture in Africa. The ancient cities of Sabratha and Leptis Magna we visited during our trip to Libya are on par.

It was built solely for bloody contests and sporting events and worked as a cistern to accumulate rainwater. The Romans were incredibly innovative in building architecture and structures with multiple uses.

It provided seating to accommodate more than 30,000 spectators. The amphitheatre was once the stage for gory battles between gladiators & criminals and wild animals.

The animals ( usually lions, tigers and wild boars) would be starved and beaten for several days before a show. The incredibly stressed and hungry wild animals would provide better entertainment for the spectators.

Underneath the amphitheatre, there are two intersecting underground passages. This is where the gladiators and wild animals entered the arena for battle.

It’s easy to imagine the passages being once lined with cells and enclosures where the animals and fighters would be held before the bloody games started.

El Jem in Tunisia is INCREDIBLE

Similar to the colosseum in Rome, there are three different levels. You can climb to the second and third levels and take some spectacular photos of the arena.

Each of the three levels had 30 arches originally. Surprisingly, there are still more than 60 that remain. 

el jem in tunisia three levels

And unlike visiting the colosseum in Rome, you won’t need to shuffle elbow to elbow with a thousand other visitors. El Jem in Tunisia doesn’t receive a staggering number of tourists at all.

In fact, during our visit in early December 2021, we saw just six other people here. 

For us as visitors, what a dream it is to have such an incredible place literally to ourselves, but more people need to experience this site. I’d love to see more travellers visiting El Jem in Tunisia and continue exploring the rest of the country.

The medina in Tunis, another UNESCO World Heritage site was another amazing experience, our top 5 things to do in the Medina in Tunis will keep you busy.

Don’t miss the Archeological Museum El Jem in Tunisia

When planning your visit to El Jem, ensure you allow enough time to go and visit the Archeological museum afterwards. It is AMAZING! It’s only a 10-minute walk from the amphitheatre. 

The museum entrance is included in your ticket from the amphitheatre, so be sure to keep it to show upon entry. 

el jem in tunisia archeological museum
The mosaics, in particular, are amazing in the archaeological museum in El Jem in Tunisia

The museum has an extraordinary selection of well-preserved Roman-era mosaics adorning the walls and floors in many sizes. 

There are countless Roman artefacts here, too. Seriously, this is an incredible museum. The mosaics and artefacts were found in El Jem and the surrounding area and brought to the museum for preservation.

TOP TIP: Make sure you venture through to the rear of the museum to visit the House of Africa.

This Roman villa from AD 170 was also excavated from the centre of El Jem in Tunisia transferred to the museum, and reconstructed for display.

There are some stunning mosaics on the ground that I absolutely love! The only countries where I’ve seen mosaics this impressive were when I visited Libya and Algeria.

el jem in tunisia museum marty
Marty is standing near just one of the many huge mosaics in the museum

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Where to Stay in El Jem

There are two good options for comfortable and affordable accommodation in El Jem.

Hotel Julius is your best option. It is located only 1km from the amphitheatre and has rooms with amazing views of the structure.

Dar Ammar is another recommended option, yet this hotel is approximately 3km from the Colosseum. Dar Amman is situated nearer to the beach.

It’s good that taxis are very affordable in Tunisia, so it will cost you no more than $1.50 to get to the amphitheatre if you don’t wish to walk.

El Jem in Tunisia the size

Practical Information about Travel in Tunisia

If you’re considering travelling to Tunisia, then our perfect 14-day itinerary for Tunisia has you covered. It covers essential information about prices of public transport, details of getting around and even some great suggestions on where to stay.

We recommend these 5 things to do in the Medina in Tunis and don’t miss trying these 8 delicious street eats in Tunisia.

And finally, we recommend you read our 10 Best Tips for independent travellers to Tunisia in the planning stages of your trip.

Our ULTIMATE Packing List for Africa has everything covered for what to take. This Africa Food Map – A Food Guide to 54 Countries in Africa is a must read!

For more travel advice, tips, and valuable websites we use to travel the world, head to our Travel Resources Page.