Matmata, a small village located in the southern region of Tunisia, is renowned for its unique troglodyte homes and rich Amazigh heritage. Situated approximately 45 minutes inland from Gabès, Matmata's subterranean dwellings were carved into the soft sandstone centuries ago by the Amazigh (Amazigh) people, providing natural insulation against the harsh desert climate. This fascinating village gained international fame as a filming location for the original Star Wars movie, specifically as the home of Luke Skywalker.

 

How to Get to Matmata

 

matmata welcome signage

 

By Car

 

From Tunis, the drive to Matmata is approximately 5 hours. You will need to take the A1 highway south towards Gabès. From Gabès, follow the signs to Matmata, which is about a 45-minute drive inland. The road is well-paved and offers scenic views of the desert landscape.

 

From Sousse, the drive takes around 4 hours. Follow the A1 highway south to Gabès, and then follow the signs to Matmata. Ensure you have a full tank of gas before departing, as gas stations can be sparse in the more remote areas.

 

For navigation, Google Maps is very reliable and can guide you to Matmata with ease.

 

By Plane

 

The closest airport to Matmata is Gabès – Matmata International Airport (GAE). If you're flying into Tunisia from Europe, you can find flights to this airport from various European capitals, though direct flights may be seasonal.

 

From the airport, you can hire a taxi or rent a car to reach Matmata, which is about a 30-minute drive. Alternatively, you can fly into Tunis-Carthage International Airport (TUN) and then take a domestic flight to Gabès or drive directly from Tunis.

 

By Train

 

There is no direct train service to Matmata. The nearest major train station is in Gabès. You can take a train from Tunis or Sousse to Gabès. From Gabès, you can hire a taxi or rent a car to reach Matmata, which is about 45 minutes away by road.

 

By Louage

 

Louages are shared taxis that provide an economical and flexible way to travel across Tunisia. From Tunis, you can find a louage to Gabès at the Moncef Bey station. Once you reach Gabès, you can catch another louage to Matmata.

 

Louages do not have fixed schedules and depart once they are full, so it is advisable to arrive at the louage station early in the morning to increase your chances of finding a ride quickly.

 

By Bus

 

There is no direct bus service from Tunis to Matmata. However, you can take a bus to Gabès and then continue your journey by taxi or louage to Matmata. Buses in Tunisia are operated by the national company, SNTRI, and offer a comfortable and cost-effective way to travel between major cities.

 

bus transportation tunisia

 

Good to Know: 

 

- Always check the availability of gas stations on your route if you are driving.

- Domestic flights and louages are good options if you prefer not to drive long distances.

- Matmata is a remote area, so plan your trip carefully to ensure you have all necessary supplies and accommodations arranged in advance.

 

 

The Best Time to Visit Matmata in Tunisia

 

 

 

Think of the weather in Matmata as characteristic of a semi-arid desert region in North Africa. For the best visit, consider traveling during spring (March to May) or autumn (September to November). With temperatures ranging from 15°C to 25°C (59°F to 77°F), the weather is pleasantly warm and ideal for exploring the troglodyte homes and enjoying outdoor activities. Spring brings colorful wildflowers, while autumn offers a more relaxed atmosphere with fewer tourists.

 

matmata

 

Summer (June to August) sees fewer visitors due to the intense heat, with temperatures often rising above 35°C (95°F). If you do visit during this time, it's essential to stay hydrated and plan activities for the cooler parts of the day, such as early morning or late afternoon.

 

Winter (December to February) offers a quieter ambiance with daytime temperatures ranging from 10°C to 18°C (50°F to 64°F). While cooler, the weather is still comfortable for exploring, and the reduced number of visitors provides a more intimate experience.

 

The best time to visit the southern part of Tunisia is in winter, autumn and spring. Nevertheless, some travelers manage to explore the region in summer. 

 

Also Read: Best Time To Visit Tunisia - a Climate Guide Included

 

Things to Do in Matmata

 

Explore the Troglodyte Homes

 

The troglodyte homes of Matmata are an extraordinary sight, offering a unique glimpse into the traditional Amazigh way of life. Carved into the soft sandstone, these underground dwellings have provided shelter from the harsh desert climate for centuries. Walking through the maze-like structures, you will be transported back in time, witnessing how the locals have adapted to their environment with remarkable ingenuity.

 

amazigh homes in matmata

 

As you explore, you'll see the daily routines of the residents, the artisan workshops where traditional goods are crafted, and the warm hospitality that is characteristic of the Amazigh people. Engaging with the locals, you can learn about their customs and traditions, making your visit an immersive cultural experience.

 

Visit Hotel Sidi Driss

 

For Star Wars enthusiasts, Hotel Sidi Driss is a must-visit. This unique hotel was used as the filming location for Luke Skywalker's home in the original Star Wars movie.

 

sidi driss hotel matmata

 

 

Staying here offers fans a chance to walk in the footsteps of their favorite characters, while also experiencing traditional troglodyte architecture. The hotel's fascinating history and connection to the iconic film make it a highlight of any trip to Matmata.

 

 

Savor Traditional Amazigh Cuisine

 

Exploring the culinary traditions of Matmata is an essential part of your visit. Traditional dishes such as couscous are staples of Amazigh cooking, offering a taste of the region's rich flavors. Another must-try dish is "Aich" from southern Tunisia, known for its unique preparation and local ingredients.

 

chakchouka amazigh dishes

 

Additionally, "Chakhchoukha," a flavorful dish often made with meat and vegetables, showcases the diverse and hearty nature of Amazigh cuisine. Dining in Matmata provides not only a delicious meal but also an opportunity to experience the warm hospitality of the Amazigh people.

 

Enjoy Panoramic Views and Unique Landscapes

 

The landscape around Matmata is as striking as its architecture. The rugged desert terrain offers stunning panoramic views and unique geological formations.

 

matmata landscape

 

 

Whether you're an avid photographer or simply enjoy scenic vistas, the natural beauty of the area is sure to captivate you. Hiking in the surrounding hills is a great way to explore the region and appreciate its stark, otherworldly beauty.

 

Visit Tamezret

 

Located just 10 kilometers from Matmata, Tamezret is a nearby village that offers a captivating experience for travelers. Known for its traditional stone houses and scenic views, Tamezret provides a quieter, more intimate look at Amazigh life. This village is less frequented by tourists, making it an ideal spot for those looking to immerse themselves in local culture.

 

tamazaret landscape near matmata

 

 

A visit to Tamezret allows you to interact with the friendly locals and explore their unique customs and traditions. The village's stunning views and traditional architecture offer plenty of photo opportunities. Additionally, the Museum of Tamezret provides deeper insights into the history and culture of the region, making your visit both educational and enriching.

 

Tamezret's close proximity to Matmata makes it an easy and worthwhile addition to your itinerary, offering a serene and authentic Amazigh experience.

 

 

Discover the Museum of Tamezret

 

The Museum of Tamezret is an essential stop for those interested in the history and culture of the region. Located in the nearby village of Tamezret, the museum's exhibits include traditional clothing, tools, and artifacts that tell the story of the Amazigh people. Through these displays, you can gain a deeper understanding of the rich heritage and daily life of the region's inhabitants. The museum provides valuable context to the unique architecture and customs you'll encounter throughout your visit.

 

Visit Nearby  Amazigh Villages

 

Exploring the villages surrounding Matmata adds depth to your travel experience, offering a glimpse into the region's diverse cultural heritage. Here are a few nearby villages worth visiting:

 

chenini landscape

 

Chenini: Located about 20 kilometers from Matmata, Chenini is a picturesque Amazigh village perched on a hilltop. Known for its ancient granaries and stunning views, Chenini offers a glimpse into the region's history and traditional architecture. The village is also home to a small museum that provides insights into Amazigh culture and customs.

 

 

Toujane: Situated about 30 kilometers from Matmata, Toujane is another picturesque Amazigh village. Nestled in the mountains, it offers stunning panoramic views and unique architecture. Toujane is also famous for its traditional weaving, and you can visit local workshops to see artisans at work and purchase handmade textiles.

 

toujane landscape

 

Douiret: Approximately 40 kilometers from Matmata, Douiret is an ancient Amazigh village with partially abandoned cave dwellings. Exploring Douiret gives you a sense of the region's history and how people adapted to the harsh environment. The village also has a restored mosque and a small museum showcasing local artifacts.

 

Trek to Tataouine, Matmata, and Ksar Ghilane

 

For those seeking adventure, consider embarking on a trek through some of the most remarkable landscapes in southern Tunisia. The route from Matmata to Tataouine and Ksar Ghilane offers an unforgettable experience, combining historical sites, natural beauty, and cultural immersion.

 

ksar tunisia south

 

Tataouine: Known for its ksour (fortified granaries), Tataouine offers a glimpse into the region's ancient history. The dramatic landscape and unique architecture make it a fascinating stop.

 

Ksar Ghilane: This desert oasis is famous for its hot springs and palm groves. It's an ideal place to relax after a day of trekking, offering a refreshing contrast to the surrounding desert.

 

Trekking through these areas allows you to experience the diverse environments of southern Tunisia, from rugged mountains to expansive deserts. It's a journey that combines physical challenge with cultural and historical discovery.

 

Shopping for Souvenirs

 

Matmata is an excellent place to buy unique souvenirs that reflect the region's rich cultural heritage. Handmade Amazigh crafts, such as pottery, textiles, and jewelry, are available in local shops and markets. These items make meaningful souvenirs and support local artisans.

 

Guided Tours

 

To fully appreciate Matmata and its surroundings, consider taking a guided tour. Local guides can offer in-depth knowledge about the history, culture, and hidden gems of the area. A guided tour can enrich your visit, providing context and insights that you might otherwise miss.

 

Stay in a Traditional Guesthouse

 

For an authentic experience, consider staying in one of Matmata's traditional guesthouses. These accommodations often feature troglodyte architecture and are run by local families. Staying in a guesthouse allows you to immerse yourself in the local culture and enjoy the hospitality of the Amazigh people.

 

matmata traditional house

 

 

Where to Stay in Matmata, Tunisia

 

When visiting Matmata, staying in accommodations that reflect the unique cultural and historical aspects of the region can enhance your experience. Here are a few options:

 

Hotel Sidi Driss

 

Located in Matmata, Hotel Sidi Driss is famously known as the filming location for Luke Skywalker's home in the original Star Wars movie. This troglodyte hotel offers a glimpse into the traditional Amazigh way of life with rooms carved into the sandstone. It's a must-visit for Star Wars fans and those interested in experiencing traditional architecture. The hotel features traditional troglodyte rooms, Star Wars memorabilia, and an on-site restaurant, making it ideal for cultural enthusiasts.

 

sidi driss hotel matmata

 

Matmata Hotel

 

Situated in central Matmata, Matmata Hotel offers a comfortable stay with modern amenities while maintaining traditional Amazigh aesthetics. The hotel features a variety of rooms, a restaurant serving local cuisine, and a beautiful terrace with panoramic views of the desert landscape. It's a great choice for families, couples, and solo travelers seeking both comfort and cultural immersion.

 

Dar Ayed

 

Located in Tamezret, Dar Ayed is a charming guesthouse that offers an authentic experience with rooms designed in traditional Amazigh style. Guests can enjoy home-cooked meals, warm hospitality, and guided tours of the region. This guesthouse is perfect for cultural travelers, families, and small groups looking to immerse themselves in the local culture.

 

 

 

Upscale Your Visit to Matmata: Southern Tunisia Itineraries

 

 

To make the most of your visit to Matmata, consider these three itineraries that perfectly match different interests, from desert adventures to cultural explorations. Below, we conceived three itineraries that offer a comprehensive experience of southern Tunisia, allowing you to explore the unique attractions of Matmata while discovering other culturally and historically rich destinations.

 

Whether you're interested in desert adventures, historical sites, or beach relaxation, these itineraries provide the perfect match for your travel preferences.

 

 

Itinerary 1: Matmata, Douz, and Ksar Ghilane – Perfect for Desert Enthusiasts

 

For those who want to experience the vastness of the Sahara and relax in natural hot springs, this itinerary is ideal. Start your journey in Matmata, where you can explore the troglodyte homes and visit the iconic Hotel Sidi Driss. After soaking in the history and culture at the Museum of Tamezret and enjoying traditional Amazigh cuisine, drive to Douz, known as the gateway to the Sahara.

 

douz itinerary from matmata

 

In Douz, visit the Sahara Museum and experience a camel ride into the desert, culminating in a breathtaking sunset view over the dunes. Conclude your adventure with a trip to Ksar Ghilane, where you can relax in the natural hot springs and explore the nearby Roman fort ruins, enjoying the contrast between desert landscapes and refreshing waters.

 

 

Itinerary 2: Matmata, Tataouine, and Chenini – Ideal for History and Culture Buffs

 

 

This itinerary is perfect for travelers who are fascinated by history and the unique architecture of southern Tunisia. Begin in Matmata by exploring the troglodyte homes and visiting Hotel Sidi Driss, followed by a cultural deep dive at the Museum of Tamezret. From Matmata, drive to Tataouine, home to the region's impressive ksour (fortified granaries).

 

chenini trip

 

Visit the well-preserved Ksar Ouled Soltane and other historical sites that showcase the area's rich heritage. Then, head to the ancient Amazigh village of Chenini, perched on a hilltop. In Chenini, explore the village's unique architecture, visit the mosque, and enjoy panoramic views that offer a glimpse into the region's past.

 

Also Read: 21 Amazing Amazigh Ksours in the South of Tunisia

 

 

Itinerary 3: Matmata, Medenine, and Djerba – Perfect for Beach Lovers and Cultural Explorers

 

 

For those looking to combine cultural exploration with beach relaxation, this itinerary is the perfect match. Start in Matmata by visiting the troglodyte homes, Hotel Sidi Driss, and the Museum of Tamezret. Enjoy traditional Amazigh meals before heading to Medenine, where you can explore the ancient ghorfas (storage buildings) and visit the local museum to learn about the area's history.

 

djerba itinerary from matmata

 

Finally, travel to the island of Djerba, known for its beautiful beaches and rich cultural heritage. In Djerba, explore the historic town of Houmt Souk, visit the El Ghriba Synagogue, and relax on the island's stunning beaches, soaking up the laid-back atmosphere and enjoying the perfect blend of culture and leisure.

 

 

Explore the Rich Heritage of Matmata and Beyond

 

Matmata offers an unparalleled glimpse into the traditional Amazigh way of life, with its unique architecture, warm hospitality, and rich cultural heritage. From exploring the iconic troglodyte homes and visiting Hotel Sidi Driss to enjoying traditional Amazigh cuisine and discovering nearby villages, Matmata provides a comprehensive and immersive travel experience. Whether you choose to follow one of the suggested itineraries or create your own path, you will uncover the hidden treasures of southern Tunisia.