If you’re looking for a sun-drenched vacation but want somewhere a little more exotic than Europe but a lot closer than the Caribbean, Tunisia could be your ‘just right’ option. A mere 3 hours away from the UK, Tunisia is considered to be the gateway to Africa. It boasts long ribbons of palm-fringed sands, warm cerulean Mediterranean waters, towns and villages speckled with souks, medinas and fascinating ruins from Tunisia’s Carthaginian past, not to mention the Sahara desert in the south of the country.
With Berber, Ottoman and French history evident at every turn, Tunisia is forward about its past, allowing discerning viewers to really get an insight into how centuries of influence have shaped the nation into a modern, tourist-friendly beacon. If you prefer, you could simply soak up some of the Mediterranean rays in coastal resorts like Hammamet, Mahdia and Skanes.
The south of Tunisia actually leads into the Sahara desert which doesn’t afford much for a sea breeze, but the north and east are where most head to, and this area offers a pleasant Mediterranean climate throughout the year. Expect it to be hot and dry in midsummer, with August usually the hottest month and the mercury sometimes rising above 30°C. Winters can be a little more unpredictable, but daytimes see a comfortable average of 12°C even in the coldest months, so Tunisia holidays are worth snapping up at any time of year and should certainly offer an improvement on the miserable January and February weather here in the UK.
Tunisia is a great place for watersports, with jet skiing and paragliding popular ways to pass the time. Choose Sousse if you’d like to absorb some history and knowledge, with museums in archaeology and Tunisian housing available. Capital city Tunis is worth a look too, with its mosques, medinas, cathedrals and the sandstone villages dotted around it.
Why not start your meal with a brik? This delicious pastry triangle is usually stuffed with egg, onion, tuna and herbs to create a light yet satisfying starter. Follow it up with a tasty merguez beef or mutton sausage, but be prepared for a spicy kick!
If you’re on a budget, a great way to eat like the locals is to enjoy some hearty Tunisian soups such as Lablabi, which is made from chickpeas and cumin. Some restaurants will jazz things up further with ingredients like cows’ and pigs’ trotters. If that sounds a little outside your comfort zone, you should at least be able to appreciate the desserts. Deep fried doughnuts soaked in orange or lemon juice make for a great way to round off your meal.
Port el Kantaoui, Hammamet and Sousse are among the best places to head for a memorable night out. With traditional Tunisian bars and clubs mixed with British pubs, those out after dark can party any way they please.
July to September are the most popular months to visit, but those who go from October to June can enjoy the country’s theatre season, and are likely to find that a play, dance or musical performance to suit their tastes is never far away.
Tunisia’s tourism industry is well-developed and many resorts have contemporary hotels, excellent facilities and an abundance of shops, restaurants and bars that you would expect from a modern holiday destination. Outside of these main resorts, you’ll find a rich culture and an engaging history that makes Tunisia more than just a sea-and-sand destination.