El Kef (or Le Kef, Arabic الكاف) is a small city in northwest Tunisia. The city is built onto the southern face of the Jebel Dyr Mountain, which is part of the Tebersouk Mountains, the eastern end of the High Atlas Mountains. El Kef is a laid back town, offering an authentic taste of Tunisia. It has some excellent sites to see, and it's a practical point of departure for day trips to the surrounding area.
El Kef can be reached by car, bus, or louage (shared taxi), directly from Tunis (3½ hours). As anywhere else in Tunisia, louages can be hired directly or indirectly, to and from any city. The bus/louage station is about a ten-minute walk downhill from Place de l'Independence, the city center.
Additionally, there's limited passenger train service from Tunis with 1-2 departures every day.
- 1 El Kef railway station.
Once in El Kef, you have two options to get around -- walking and by taxi. Cabs are everywhere, and they are very cheap (a ride from the bus station to old town center should be less than 1 DT). However, given the city's small size, walking should be the best option and - depending on the day's heat - often the most convenient one.
- Byzantine kasbah. The main attraction in El Kef is easily noticeable from almost any part of the city. It lies near the top of the city, rising out of the old medina. It used to be a site of a series of fortresses dating back to the 5th century BCE. It displays Byzantine and Ottoman architecture. Admission is free, but a tip is expected by the gate keeper at the kasbah's entrance. The site's last military use was in the early 1950s, as a detention station for Habib Bourguiba, the first president of the Tunisian Republic.
- 1 Kasbah of Le Kef. A kasbah fortification constructed in 1600 during the Ottoman rule.
- 2 Sidi Bou Makhlouf Mausoleum. Contains the tomb of the founder of the Aissawa brotherhood, Sidi Bou Makhlouf. The brotherhood is a religious Islamic mystical brotherhood, part of the Sufi tradition.
- 3 St Pierre Basilica (Basilique Saint-Pierre du Kef). 5th century church. Also known as Dar El Kous
- 4 Museum of the Popular Arts and Traditions (متحف الفنون والتقاليد الشعبية بالكاف).
Small cafes dot the city; they are often filled with local men.
As for alcohol, there is only one licensed restaurant in El Kef. Restaurant Venus serves Tunisian beer and wines. A beer should cost around 4 DT.
The places to stay in the city are located around the Place de l'Independence.
Of note is Residence Venus, a small pension on Rue Mouldi Khamessi (phone 204-183). The place is very clean and run by a cheerful family. Almost all rooms have private washrooms (a few have semi-private washrooms) and breakfast, included in the room price. The price can be negotiated depending on the time of year and the length of your stay, but it usually runs between 20 and 25 DT. It's worth to check that your room has a working heater in wintertime.
- Travel 60 km south-west to climb Jugurtha's Table. This large mesa rises out of the landscape close to the Algerian border and has a lunar landscape atop as well as massive fissures to jump across. It's an interesting natural destination to visit. Head first to the village of Kalaat Es-Senan, then follow the road from the village center around the base of the mountain, before climbing the steps to the summit.
- Visit nearby Dougga, 50 km to the east, with its UNESCO World Heritage listed site of Roman ruins.
- Drive north to the hills to visit the 'Alpine' town of Ain Draham.