Tunisia is fast becoming a popular year-round alternative to the traditional European holiday, and with UNESCO World Heritage Sites, endless desert and over 700 miles of coastline it isn’t hard to understand why. Tourism is one of the principal economies of the country, and millions of people visit each year to check out the stunning sights and experiences on offer.
History is deeply embedded in the country, with fascinating Roman, Arabic and French influences around every corner. To experience life in an old medieval town, or medina as it is called in Tunisia, there’s no better place to visit than Sousse, which is easily accessible from popular coastal resorts such as Monastir, Hammamet and Port El Kantaoui. Here you will be transported back in time as you wander the quaint little alleyways, chat to locals in traditional clothing and be dazzled by the colourful array of souvenirs in the souks. If you want a good view, climb to the top of the fortress and admire this UNESCO site from above. There are plenty of family-run cafes and restaurants where tourists can sample local flavours, from aromatic tagines to traditional mint tea. Perfect for cooling off during a hot afternoon.
Also not to be missed is El Jem, one of the world’s best preserved Roman amphitheatres, almost rivalling its sister in Rome for size and famed for being the filming location for Gladiator. Try to visit during the morning before it gets too crowded, and avoid the afternoon sun as it gets very hot out of the shade.
Of course you can’t travel to Tunisia without stopping off at Matmata, the home of Star Wars, where tourists can experience troglodyte caves and eat inside one of the old film sets. A must even for those who aren’t die-hard fans.
If your family prefer adventure you can head down to Douz, the Gateway to the Sahara, and play at being Lawrence of Arabia. Camel rides range from an hour to a few nights where you can lay beside the fire and enjoy magical desert tales recounted by your guide. There is truly nothing more romantic than falling asleep under the stars, listening to the distant beating desert drums with your loved ones.
For something coastal the up and coming island of Djerba with its whitewashed villages and sandy beaches won’t remain a secret for long. Once you’ve had your fill of water-sports and topped up your Star Wars fix, you’ll discover the island isn’t short of culture either, with a medieval fortress and the world’s oldest Torah to admire.
Nature at its best
One of Tunisia’s most spectacular sights is Chott el Jerid, a vast salt lake stretching as far as the eye can see and an unforgettable place to witness the sunrise. Have you ever seen anything so beautiful?
Whilst you’re in this agricultural area, stop off in Tozeur to visit the palm oasis and stock up on world-renowned high quality dates. It’s these dates that end up in our supermarkets at home, so you may have already tried them!
If you visit during the October harvest you might even see the brave locals shimmying up the palms to pick the fruits, not a job for the faint-hearted.
Tunisia is a whole new world just 3 hours away from the UK, full of inspiring cultural, natural and historical wonders for all the family. So what are you waiting for?
I think we often forget that this part of North Africa was a linchpin of the Roman world. I’ve heard stories that the country has incredible archaeological wealth.
We didn’t really appreciate the Roman significance until we went, but I have to say El Djem was every bit as good as the Colosseum in Rome!
Tunisia is totally on my bucket list! I’d love to stroll through the medina, and I know my husband would love a glimpse into troglodyte life!