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Tunisia’s tempting treats

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WHETHER YOU long for relaxing walks along miles of sparkling beaches, exploring ancient sites and legendary cities, a game of golf or just a long lazy day by the pool, Tunisia has it all.

Despite being the smallest country in North Africa, Tunisia offers a dazzling array of attractions, ranging from Mediterranean beaches to the Sahara desert, from ancient souks to Star Wars film sets. This Arab-Berber nation is one of the most liberal in the Islamic world; alcohol is freely available and women need not feel intimidated.

With over 1,200 kilometres of coast, it’s no surprise that tourism tends to centre around the seaside resort areas, such as Sousse, Monastir, Hammamet, Nabeul, Djerba, Tabarka and Mahdia. These all offer long sandy beaches and crystal clear water, along with a wide variety of waterfront hotels, usually with fantastic pool areas and all kinds of in house sports on offer, including windsurfing, sailing, fishing and boat rides.

Tunisia’s clear waters, coral beds and diverse sea life also make it a popular destination for scuba diving. Tabarka Yachting Club and the International Diving Centre at Port el Kantaoui are prime venues. Away from the sea, if golf is your game you’ll find excellent courses at Port el Kantaoui, Monastir, Tabarka, Carthage at Tunis, Tozeur and Djerba Hammamet.

Beach hot spots

Perhaps the most well-known beach destination in Tunisia is Sousse on the east coast. Over the centuries, Phoenicians, Romans, Byzantines and Arabs have settled in this lovely city, each leaving their imprint and heritage.

Away from the long sandy beach, there is a Medina (market) with tiny shops bustling with activity under the towering walls of the ribat. Sousse stretches along miles of sparkling clean sea to the cosmopolitan Port El Kantaoui resort, which is set in a traditional village-like setting.

Hammamet, known as the Tunisian Saint Tropez, is relaxed, friendly and full of contrasts, from the fishermen in brightly painted boats setting out at dawn and the bustling medina, to the fashionable boutiques, where traditional tunics and caftans rival designer labels.

Sun worshippers will fall in love with the miles of fine sandy beaches that ring Djerba Island. Inland you’ll find luxury hotels, Roman sites, a pirate’s castle, the ancient synagogue of the Griba and several mosques. Food lovers will appreciate the island’s seafood restaurants, famed for their fresh fish and traditional dishes.

Tabarka has been famous for its coral fishing since ancient times and is now home to the Montazah-Tabarka resort. Finally, Mahdia is one of Tunisia’s newest tourist towns and has been expanding rapidly since the creation of a tourist zone, five kilometres west of the town centre.

Desert oasis

There’s so much more to Tunisia than just sun, sea and sand. Away from the resorts, culture lovers can explore a host of ancient Roman, Arab, Berber and Phoenician sites.

Highlights include the Roman-era hot springs at Hamman Mellegue, the famous Roman ruins of Carthage and El Djem, where there is an amazing amphitheatre, which was the third largest in the Roman Empire and resembles the Coliseum in Rome. The city remains at Dougga are some of the most impressive Roman ruins in North Africa and make for a fascinating insight into the past.

Also worth a visit is Kairouan, once a military base founded for the Arab Cavalry, today it is recognised for its Great Mosque, the oldest place of prayer in North Africa.

A must for movie buffs is a trip to Tozeur, which has featured in numerous films, most notably  The English Patient and Star Wars. An increasing number of tour operators now offer desert safaris to the locations where these famous blockbuster movies were shot.

It is also worth stopping in to Tunis, a modern capital that is rich in history. Be sure to take a stroll through the bustling trading street of Rue Djamaa Ez-Zitouna, or practise your haggling skills in the 13th century Souk el Attarine (the perfume-makers’ market), which still sells scents and oils.

The Zitouna Mosque dominates the city and is accessible to non-Muslems. The Bardo Museum is also a major tourist attraction, housing one of the world’s greatest collections of Roman mosaics. Situated in a former palace belonging to the Husaynid beys, who ruled Tunisia in the 18th and 19th centuries, the museum includes archaeological treasures from the Carthaginian, Roman, early Christian and Islamic eras. Another popular museum – the National Museum of Carthage – is located on the outskirts of the city near the airport.

Natural wonders

Tunisia also has six national parks, including Lac Ichkeul – one of only two UNESCO protected Biosphere Reserves in the world. If you are feeling energetic, the view from the near-deserted village of Takrouna over the mountainous north is stunning. Alternatively, visit a central desert oasis like Zaafrane, Tozeur or Kebili with its hot pools or Chott El Jerid, one of a series of large salt lakes full during the winter to create inland seas.

A holiday to Tunisia is an excellent choice of destination, providing the ideal escape for both those who like to take things easy and the more adventurous. Sit on the back of a camel in the Sahara, watch the sun rise over the salt lake plains, swim in clear blue seas or simply wander around the atmospheric ancient ruins.

When you tire of exploring this unique country’s culture, history and nature, simply lie on the beach and relax at some point along the stunning Mediterranean coastline.

Hotel accommodation

From cost effective villa rentals to luxury hotel accommodation, PDM offers a wide range of options in the Tunisian resorts mentioned in this article, so call us for more information.


Tunisia’s climate offers a season for everyone’s taste. Sailing, surfing, diving, golfing, exploring archaeological sites, deserts and oasis is a pleasure when the average temperature ranges from 12 to 28C from October to May.

March through to May brings spectacular displays of wild flowers throughout the countryside and October to December offer warm seas and plenty of sunshine. Expect warm weather from June through to September, while August brings the peak of the summer heat. However, temperatures can drop off sharply during the evening time at the start and end of the summer.