Tunisia things to see and do

Tourist offices

Tunisian National Tourist Office in the UK

77A Wigmore Street, London, W1U 1QF, United Kingdom
Tel: (020) 7224 5561.
Opening Hours: Mon-Fri 0900-1700.
www.cometotunisia.co.uk

Things to see and do

Cap Bon Peninsula

There's something for everyone on the Cap Bon Peninsula. Sun and sea seekers will love the resort amenities at Nabuel, culture vultures can explore Kelibia's fort, the old Punic/Roman quarry at Ghar el-Khabir and the old Punic ruins of Kerkouane, and everyone can enjoy El Haouaria's lovely strip of beach.

Bardo Museum

In the capital Tunis is this impressive museum which houses a superlative collection of mosaics, and exhibits a comprehensive range of finds from across Tunisia's ancient sites. A trip here is a must for anyone interested in the long list of conquerors that swept their way through Tunisia and shaped this land.

Bulla Regia Roman ruins

The semi-subterranean Roman ruin of Bulla Regia is one of Tunisia's most impressive archaeological sites. The Romans used underground architecture here to escape the brutal heat. It also preserved the city from eroding over time and the site offers a rare chance to explore complete Roman villas.

Chott El Jerid

Stretching for 5000 sq m (53,819 sq ft) the salt pan of Chott El Jerid has a mesmerising otherworldliness which was used to great effect in the Star Wars films. In summer, the dry salt crust blisters and shimmers in the heat but in winter sections of it flood and have to be traversed by boat. To visit the Chott El Jerid, most people stay in Tozeur.

Desert safaris

The dramatic sand dunes of the Grand Erg Oriental ripple out in waves across the horizon. This hypnotic landscape was used in the movie The English Patient and has since become one of the most famous corners of the Sahara. From the dusty desert outpost of Douz you can organise camel treks or 4WD trips to the dunes. Dune skiing and desert dune-buggy trips are also available.

Desert trekking

Go desert trekking from Douz, either by camel or in 4-wheel drive vehicles; trips can last from an hour to three weeks. You can also go dune skiing, desert go-karting or take a flight in a light aircraft over the dunes.

Djerba

The chilled out island of Djerba is a Mediterranean idyll; all whitewashed villages, shaded by palm trees, craft markets, and postage-stamp sized beaches. It's a wonderful place to hang out and do little more than browse the shops, eat leisurely-paced lunches of super-fresh seafood and relax on the sand.

Dougga

This UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of North Africa's best preserved ancient ruins. Although most of the surviving monuments here are from the Roman period, Dougga's history stretches right back to the 6th century BC. With its dramatic hilltop position and ample monumental buildings and temples, Dougga is one of Tunisia's most photogenic sites.

El-Jem

For many visitors the UNESCO World Heritage-listed El-Jem Colosseum is Tunisia's greatest historical highlight. Built in the 3rd century, this mammoth structure once held crowds of up to 35,000 and today towers over the modern surrounding town. The largest colosseum built in North Africa, El-Jem is considered by archaeologists to be one of the finest monuments of its type in the world.

Kairouan

The holiest city in North Africa has a skyline of minarets and is packed to the brim with beautiful examples of Islamic architecture. There's an intoxicating aura of the east amid the labyrinth medina and you can spend hours exploring (and getting lost) inside the maze of spindling alleyways backed by crumbling pastel-hued houses.

Lake Ichkeul

In the far north of the country, World Heritage-listed Lake Ichkeul is a haven for birdwatchers and nature lovers. The best time to visit is between the months of December and March when thousands of migratory birds - including flamingos, egrets and storks - descend on the wetlands to overwinter here.

Matmata

Due to a prominent role in the first Star Wars film, Matmata's subterranean dwellings, first dug out by the Berbers over 1000 years ago, attract hundreds of visitors each day. The main attraction here is Hotel Sidi Driss used as the cantina in A New Hope, and is still home to plenty of Star Wars paraphernalia. You can sleep here, troglodyte style, as well if you like.

Monastir

Famed for its impressive seafront rabat (fort), which was used in Monty Python's Life of Brian, and for the over-the-top sumptuous interior of Habib Bourguiba's mausoleum, Monastir now also attracts golf-tourism with championship courses Palm Links, El Kantaoui and the Flamingo Golf Course all in the vicinity.

Sahara

It seems a shame to come to Tunisia without getting a taste of the dramatic desolate horizons that make up the country’s southern half. A number of companies organise Sahara trips, which range from a couple of hours on a camel to a full-on voyage into the sands.

Sidi Bou Saïd

Gorgeously quaint and impossibly photogenic, Sidi Bou Saïd is a vision of white-and-blue buildings perched above the Mediterranean. Wander the cobblestone alleyways through the village, stop for syrupy Arabic coffee at a cliff side cafe, and then unwind on the charmingly old fashioned beach. It's an easy day trip from Tunis.

Sousse

Formerly one of the Phoenicians' great coastal cities, Sousse today is a vibrant seaside town. You can easily spend a day exploring the 8th century medina (old town) with its ribat (fort), Great Mosque, and museums. Most people come here though for Boujaffar Beach with its long stretch of white sand backed by a resort strip of hotels, cafes and nightlife.

Tabarka

Tabarka is Tunisia's top spot for snorkelling and diving. The town itself is a gentle-paced seaside resort which oozes old fashioned style, and it's a lovely stop off if you want to recharge your travel batteries. Not far from shore is the magical underwater world of the Galite Islands which are the main draw-card for scuba-fans.

Tunis

Shaped over the centuries by a mixture of Ottoman, Arabic and colonial influences, Tunisia's capital is a wonderful muddle of old and new. In the shady medina back alleys, old men puff on shisha and play backgammon whilst along the broad French-style avenues of the modern town, the cafes brim with bright young things toting laptops and chattering on their mobiles.

Turkish baths

Take a hammam (Turkish bath). There are baths all over Tunisia, where you can steam with the locals; many of the natural hot springs have been used for this purpose since Roman and Punic times. Sahib Hammam (Turkish bath) made famous for its starring location-role in the film Halfaouine, in central Tunis is a gloriously atmospheric place to partake in an authentic Tunisian soak and scrub. There are dozens of hammams in Tunis. Modern ones offer five-star spa experiences, while traditional hammams such as Sahib, Zitouni and El-Kachachine are dilapidated architectural gems.

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