It may be but a slim wedge of North Africa’s vast horizontal expanse, but Tunisia has enough history and diverse natural beauty to pack a country many times its size. With a balmy, sand-fringed Mediterranean coast, scented with jasmine and sea breezes, and where the fish on your plate is always fresh, Tunisia is prime territory for a straightforward sun-sand-and-sea holiday. But beyond the beaches, it’s a thrilling, underrated destination where distinct cultures and incredible extremes of landscape – forested coastlines along the coast, Saharan sand seas in the south – can be explored in just a few days.Tunisian sights
The walls of the mighty Roman amphitheatre of El Djem dwarf the surrounding modern town. This incredibly well preserved Roman relic is one of the best examples of amphitheatre architecture left standing in the world, reminding of Rome's once grand grip across North Africa. You can still walk the corridors under the arena, just like the gladiators did. Or, climb up to the top seating tiers and sit staring across the arena imagining the battles that took place below.
If you're looking for the picture-perfect beach escape, then the island of Djerba checks all the right boxes. The main island town of Houmt Souk has an old town district that's a muddle of whitewashed houses. It is an attraction in itself, with plenty of shopping opportunities for those who want to get off the beach. But it's those sandy strips of shoreline out of town that are the island's most popular highlight. Pristine and trimmed by date palms, the beaches are relaxing, get-away-from-it-all settings where summer daydreams are made.
Impossibly cute, Sidi Bou Said is a cliff-top village with petite dimensions that seem to have fallen off an artist's canvas. Unsurprisingly, artists have feted this little hamlet for decades. The whitewashed alleyways, wrought iron window frames and colourful blue doors are Tunisian village architecture at their finest, while the Mediterranean backdrop is the cherry on top.
Once Rome's major rival, Carthage was the city of the seafaring Phoenicians forever memorialised in history books about the Punic Wars. The atmospheric ruins of this ancient town now sit beside the sea amid the suburbs of Tunis, a warning that even the greatest cities can be reduced to rubble.
Hammamet is all about the beach. It is Tunisia's top resort, a dreamy place dotted with pristine white buildings set beside a bright blue sea. The relaxing charms of this town woo all who come to sunbath on the white sand, or stroll in the restored old town souks. It's a no-stress kind of place that sums up the pleasures of Tunisia in one pretty package.
This charming city in the South West of Tunisia is based around a large Oasis famous for its Palm trees and production of dates, which are exported around the world. The city is a good place to glimpse the Sahara from and take in traditional Tunisian culture including a wide range of architectural styles.
Even non-museum fans can't fail to be impressed at the haul of beautiful mosaics in The Bardo. This is one of North Africa's top museums and it houses one of the world's most important mosaic collections. It's a showcase of ancient world artistry that isn't to be missed in Tunis.