This decidedly chilled (as in atmosphere, not climate!) corner of North Africa serves up an intriguingly eclectic mix of influences to enjoy on holidays to Tunisia, from French Colonial to Roman, Ottoman, Phoenician and Middle Eastern, but there are certain aspects of the country’s culture which remain distinctly Tunisian. We’ve put together this checklist of experiences and sights to squeeze in on your next Tunisia trip…
Landscapes around Djerba
Tunisia holds a good chunk of the Saharan Desert, with the goat-herding Berber way of life still very much a living tradition. Lunar landscapes, dotted with quirky troglodyte dwellings and low domes seemingly carved from the endless sands gives the desert a distinctly other-wordly air. No wonder that George Lucas chose the area around Djerba as the setting for Luke Skywalker’s home planet of Tatooine (which even takes its name from a real town in the south) in the Star Wars films.
Tunisian food & drink
The Tunisian larder reflects the hotchpotch of cultural influences it has absorbed over the centuries. Sweet, refreshing mint tea, rich couscous and some of the world’s most deliciously moorish dates can be enjoyed in abundance here of course, but other, lesser-known delicacies include rustic stews liberally spiced with harissa, Lablabi, a heavily garlic-infused chickpea soup, and Brik, fried dough parcels filled with tuna or egg. Despite being a largely Muslim country, Tunisia also produces some excellent wines, along with a lemon liqueur called Cedratine. Try Tunis and Hammamet for both lavish dining experiences and low-cost, Ottoman-inspired cafés.
Roman heritage at Carthage and Dougga
The 3,000 year-old city of Carthage, where Hannibal held fast against the Romans, needs little introduction, of course. The ancient Roman city of Dougga and its accompanying Bardo Museum comprises what are widely considered to be some of Africa’s best preserved Roman ruins. Here you can explore Roman baths, temples and markets which are remarkably well-maintained, giving you a glimpse into this fascinating ancient civilisation.
Sidi Bou Said: greens, pinks, whites & blues
There’s way more to Tunisia’s landscape than sandblasted desert and glitzy beach resorts. In the north of the country the terrain is surprisingly green and lush, with many lakes mobbed by flocks of pink flamingos. The ubiquitous whitewashed buildings with their distinctive blue shutters in Sidi Bou Said, a northern town 20km from the capital Tunis, have long been a big tourist attraction. The town is also famous for its intricate bird cages, for its thriving artist community and was once the home of Swiss expressionist painter Paul Klee.
From frenetic souks to the desolate Sahara, Tunisia has an incredible variety of experiences for the curious traveller. Take a look at some of our resorts on the Holiday Hypermarket main site to find a base for your Tunisia holidays.