10 things to do in Tunisia
Modern and comfortable hotels of Sousse, Hammamet and Monastir quietly coexist with the medieval quarters, where the buzz of traditional markets. Walking along the well-kept promenades of resort towns and admiring the rows of snow-white yachts, you can imagine being somewhere in Nice or Cannes.
1. Visit the legendary Carthage
“Carthage must be destroyed!” – with this phrase, which later became a winged phrase, ended his speeches in the Senate commander Marcus Porcius Cato. The mighty city, the rival of Rome, whose history began in the IX century BC, was eventually almost razed to the ground. In the following centuries, it was rebuilt as a Roman colony, and later it was the capital of the Vandal State and Carthage Exarchate. Today, the remains of Carthage are under UNESCO protection.
2. See Africa’s Colosseum
Thanks to the combination of the dry climate of the Sahara and the fresh breezes of the Mediterranean Sea, the ancient buildings of Tunisia are still standing. The amphitheater at El Djem looks almost like a couple of thousand years ago. It seems that brave gladiators are about to enter its arena, and the cruel Caesar will inevitably send them to their deaths with a wave of his hand. Ridley Scott filmed his famous Gladiator movie in this amphitheater.
3. Take a walk through the streets of blue and white paradise.
The picturesque town of Sidi Bou Said looks like a beautiful picture, born in the imagination of a romantic artist. The stone walls of the houses, balconies, windows, and roofs are covered in colors of white and blue. These tones provide a piercing contrast and are complemented by the azure sea and blue sky. The sight is unforgettable, especially when combined with the panoramic views from the upper streets of Sidi Bou Said.
4. Become a Berber for a while
What drove the indigenous people of North Africa centuries ago to build semi-underground dwellings? According to legends, they used such houses to flee from hostile tribes. The small town of Matmata is a rare monument of Berber architecture, consisting of earth houses and artificial caves dug around them. After the 1967 flood, many residents moved into above-ground houses, and the traditional dwellings have become a tourist attraction.
5. Fly to a distant planet
When director George Lucas began filming the legendary Star Wars saga, the desolate and rugged landscapes of the Sahara caught his attention. Thus appeared the lost planet of Tatooine, which became the birthplace of Luke Skywalker. The decorations are more than 40 years old, and they are still very popular among tourists and bring good income to the Tunisian treasury. In a small area are the houses of the inhabitants of Tatooine, models of starships and space weapons.
6. See the pink flamingos
The island of Djerba is one of the most popular resorts in Tunisia. This place is often called the kingdom of date palms and pink flamingos. These wonderful birds have long been fond of the lagoon in the northeast of Djerba. The greatest number of birds gather in the bay in winter. During this time the lagoon is covered with a carpet of all shades of pink. You must watch the birds very carefully – flamingos can easily be frightened away.
7. To get the stone flower
Salt Lake Chott el Jerid is an amazing natural attraction of Tunisia, located in the central part of the country. In the summer, its waters dry up, forming rippling mirages floating above the surface. Chemical processes of salt and sand create rose-like figures. Locals collect them, paint them in different colors, and sell them to tourists. Stone flower from the lake Chott el Jerid is one of the best souvenirs of this picturesque place.
8. Breathe deep in the Ishkel National Park
Much of Tunisia is covered by the sands of the Sahara, but there are large green areas where Mediterranean vegetation flourishes. Ishkol Park is formed around the lake and the mountain of the same name. It was once the hunting grounds of the Hafsid royal dynasty. Green meadows and hills, waterfalls, rich flora and fauna are carefully protected by the state and international organizations – the desert is inexorably coming.
9. “Bathe” in a sea of sand
The Sahara Desert as the main dominant nature of North Africa has always stirred the minds of travelers. The giant sea of sand, which stretches across Algeria, Tunisia and Libya, is called the Great Eastern Erg. It is a place where waves, diluted with rare oasis barchans, rise to the horizon, and the sand is as fluid and alive as water. There used to be fertile land here, but the desert has swallowed it all up over time.
10. Take care of health and beauty
Thalassotherapy is a complex of procedures using sea clay, mud, algae and other products of the sea. Tunisia is considered the unrivalled leader in this field. The country has a whole industry offering tourists various thalassotherapy programmes, as well as cosmetics based on natural components. There are spa centers at most major hotels. Many travelers go to Tunisia just for the health effects of thalassotherapy.
Sources of photos 3, 4, 6, 7, 8: flickr.com (Dennis Jarvis, veroyama, SarahTz), holidayislands.ru, commons.wikimedia.org