From broad sweeps of beach overlooked by a tumble of sugar-cube houses, to grand ancient ruins and the vast, rolling dunes of the Sahara, Tunisia encapsulates everything that’s enticing about North Africa.
Lose yourself in the maze of medina alleyways in Tunis, explore the Maghreban mosques of Kairouan and stand on the shimmering salt flats of Chott El Jerid. Tuck into freshly baked brik at a bustling street market, pretend to be a Roman gladiator at El Jem’s impressive amphitheatre and hoist yourself onto a camel for a trip into the desert.
Traditionally, sun-seeking tourists came to Tunisia for its beaches – lining the Mediterranean, the long, rambling coastline is impressive. But while modern resorts are perfect for an easy escape, more adventurous travellers can explore tiny coastal villages, where fishermen haul in the day’s catch on quiet beaches and cobblestone streets are lined with blooming bougainvillea.
But Tunisia is so much more than a seaside destination. You’ll realise as much sitting down at a café after the last notes of the call to prayer have faded. Or puffing on apple-scented shisha as you watch old men play dominos. Otherwise, get scrubbed and steamed on a marble slab under the tiled domes of a hammam. Or haggle in the souks, sipping glasses of mint tea while you barter for the best price. Suffice to say the age-old traditions of Tunisian life are still alive and well.
Regarded as one of North Africa’s most politically moderate countries, Tunisia balances traditional Islamic culture with modern influences. Beyond the ancient medina, the cities are full of restaurants, cafes and bars, many of which have a European air about them.
Though tourism took a hit during the Arab Spring, travellers are returning to the country in increasing numbers. The appeal of Tunisia endures.