What to see in Tunisia: attractions and travel information
Carthage today is a prestigious suburb of the capital of the country, here is the summer residence of the president. Thousands of years ago this city was one of the most powerful and wealthy. Founded 60 years before Rome, Carthage was almost completely destroyed.
The Colosseum in El Jam
One of the most visited attractions in Tunisia, the Roman amphitheater in the city of El Djem boasts a steady interest of tourists for three reasons. Firstly, it is a real colosseum, the grandeur of which could compete with the Roman counterpart.
The Fortress of Gazi Mustafa
The Citadel of Gazi Mustafa is the most monumental landmark of Djerba and is situated on the seafront of the capital of the island, the town of Houmt Souk. Its long and glorious war history goes back to the 9th century, when the Arab conquerors of North Africa erected a fortified citadel on the coast to protect it against pirates.
Tunis City Medina
Chattering, bright and a little brash, the Arab city of Tunis is nestled just beyond the massive medieval Sea Gate. It’s the number one place to soak up the original color of Tunisian life and, of course, to buy souvenirs.
The small, ancient and charming Hammamet Medina is where, until the end of the 19th century, the city itself, with its 300 inhabitants, was located. Back then there were no rows of hotels, restaurants or discotheques and the only foreign visitors were the French.
The main museum of Tunisia, and perhaps the whole country, the National Museum Bardo is the world’s largest collection of magnificent Roman mosaics and a considerable collection of artifacts from the three thousand years of civilization in Tunisia.
The New Medina in Yasmine-Hammamet
The new medina of Yasmine Hammamet, or Mediterranean medina, is an absolute must for tourists vacationing in the resort and Hammamet itself. It is a recreated with exemplary care an ancient Arab city behind the fortress wall.
The Sahara Desert in Tunisia
Sahara Desert in Tunisia is the main southern sightseeing attraction, where tours from any resort in Tunisia are a must. Unused to hot exotics northern tourist Sahara amazes by endless dunes of all shades of yellow, reaching far beyond the horizon.
La Griba Synagogue
Tunisia’s “main” synagogue and one of the oldest in North Africa, La Griba, which means “amazing” in Arabic, is located in a small village called Hara Segira, whose population has been Jewish since the 6th century BC.
Hammamet Fort, the core of its old medina and an observation point for spectacular views of the bay and the tourist coast. One of the few historical monuments in the city, the fort is the mainstay of local sightseeing.
Nabela Archaeological Museum
The “small but proud” archaeological museum in Nabele offers the curious tourist a brief and interesting excursion into the city’s more than 2,500-year-old history. The collection is housed in a typical Tunisian one-story building with a spacious glass-roofed courtyard.
Sousse Archaeological Museum
The Sousse Archaeological Museum is considered one of the best in Tunisia, and for good reason: its extensive and valuable collection of Roman mosaics is housed in the historic part of the medieval fortress kasba – so the interiors are no less interesting than the exhibits.
Grand Mosque of Kairouan
The Great Mosque is the main landmark of Kairouan and the pivot of city life. It is the jewel of Islamic architecture, the center of attraction for pilgrims, the meeting place of the citizens and the main object of tourist interest in this big, yellow and hot city in the center of the country.
The Great Mosque of Sousse
The Great Mosque of Sousse is the city’s main religious edifice and one of Tunisia’s most revered mosques. The Great Mosque occupies the central square of the medina and with its powerful structure seems to set the rhythm for the surrounding buildings – the massive ribat, the old squat houses and the fortress walls.
Baron Erlanger’s Villa Shining Star
“The German millionaire Baron Rodolphe Erlanger gave his brainchild, the magnificent estate on a picturesque hillside in Sidi Bou Said, a romantic name. Like all the buildings in the town, the “Shining Star” villa is painted in a uniform white and blue color scheme.
Star Wars scenery in Tunisia
The setting for George Lucas’ iconic “Star Wars” saga is one of the must-stops on the itinerary of a two-day tour of the Sahara. Although since the filming of the epic’s first film, “Episode IV. A New Hope,” for which they were built, almost 40 years have passed.
The house-museum of Anastasia Shirinskaya in Bizerte
A corner of Russian culture in the hot lands of Africa, the house-museum of Anastasia Shirinskaya in Bizerte is a neat two-story mansion with a front garden not far from the Orthodox Church of Alexander Nevsky. The bustling heart of the city is a stone’s throw away.
Zoo “Frigia” is the most popular attraction in Tunisia for children, where it will be interesting to visit and adults. In this open-air wildlife park you can see not only the “signature” fauna of the African continent, but also their smaller brethren.
St. Vincent de Paul Cathedral
The architectural dominant feature of Habib Bourguiba Avenue, Saint Vincennes de Paul Cathedral is the spiritual center for Catholics living in Tunisia. It bears the name of St. Vincennes de Paul, a Christian preacher who was sold into slavery in Tunisia in the 17th century.
An honorary member of the UNESCO World Heritage List, the archaeological park of Kerkouan is unique for several reasons at once. Firstly, from a historical point of view: it is the only Phoenician town in North Africa and one of the very few in the world that is still intact.
The state of Tunisia (Republic of Tunisia) is one of the pearls of North Africa. Excellent beaches and chic diving, fantastic thalassotherapy for its healing properties, and a rich program of excursions attract travelers from around the world. Tunisia is located on the border of Arab and European cultures, which gives the walks through its attractions additional flavor.
The history of the region is conventionally divided into Punic, Christian and colonial periods. This is reflected in the museum testimonies of former times, in the exteriors and interiors of buildings and works of art. However, if we talk about the capital of the state, called Tunis, a very significant period for it can be called the colonial era. The French colonists did not treat the local culture with liberal understanding and respect, imposing their own rules. And since nostalgia for the “best of cities” had already got on their nerves, a Paris-like city grew up on the African continent. Until now, the building of the 19th century has not survived completely, but the colorful “Paris Arabs”, surrounded by more traditional buildings around the perimeter and preserved in the form of a small business quarter, still attracts tourists from around the world. Do not miss a chance to walk along the avenue Habib Bourguiba, visit the medina (the old city, founded in the 8th century), see the mosque Zitouna and the mausoleum Torbet el Bey, look at the palaces of Dar el Bey, Dar Ben Abdellai and the famous palace Bardo, which houses a very colorful mosaic museum.
Each small town of Tunisia conceals a lot of curious places in each of the streets, you just need to detach from vanity, smell, taste and listen – and a sea of unforgettable experience is guaranteed!
However, the main attraction of Tunisia is the ancient remains of the city of Carthage. As the older brother of Rome, it was the most prosperous city in the Arab world, until it seriously laid claim to world domination – and therefore even its location on a mountain top did not save it from destruction by the militant Romans. It was literally razed to the ground a couple of thousand years ago, but to this day the ruins of Carthage keep echoes of the magnificent architecture and its cultural heritage and everyday items, works of art decorate the collection of museums not only Tunisia, but also many world capitals. Amphitheater of Carthage, Birsa hill with St. Louis Cathedral, National Museum of Carthage, thermae of Emperor Antoninus Pius and the huge cisterns to collect water Maalga are must-see places.
One of the best preserved archaeological parks in Tunisia and much of Africa, the authentic Roman city of Dougga bears witness to the times when the local land was a province of Rome. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Dougga offers visitors an abundance of ancient ruins from all times: an amphitheater built in 199 AD which is still the site of an annual theater festival, a Punic mausoleum, a forum and the Winds’ Square, the Capitol, the Caracalla Baths, 21 temples from different periods and religions, and much more.
Sidi Bou Said, 17 km from the capital of Tunisia, is a small museum town on a hill overlooking the picturesque Gulf of Carthage. The landscape is beautifully complemented by contrasting local architecture: snow-white buildings with piercing blue shutters, casings on the windows and shaped bars on them. Since 1915 it is forbidden by law to change anything in the appearance of buildings, and that is why most houses of the old part of the town are ready museum exhibits. The Dar el-Annabi is particularly worth a visit, as is the Arab and Mediterranean Music Museum.
To wander through the streets of Tunisia’s most authentic medina, you must go to Kairouan, once the holy capital of Tunisia, which for Muslims is still considered the fourth most important after Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem. In addition, Kairouan, founded in the 7th century by Arabs at the crossroads of the most important trade routes of Africa, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Must-see sites include the main mosque and the ruins of the Ruler’s Palace, as well as authentic carpet workshops with wonderful knotted carpets.
Sousse is the most bustling youth resort of the coast, with an obligatory medina behind the fortress wall, a medieval fortress, picturesque architecture, as well as the noisiest discotheque of the coast – Bora Bora. Just next door is Port el Kantaoui, a tiny port garden that attracts tourists with luxury hotels, villas, and a fabulous yacht club.
But connoisseurs of silence, solitude and natural attractions should not pass by the excursion to Duz – the gateway to the silence of the largest Sahara Desert on the planet. In confirmation of this on the outskirts of the city, right in front of the Great Dune, there is a monument in the form of a key. Numerous excursions to the Sahara depart from here, but the city itself remains a part of it: one half of it looks like many other Tunisian cities with their medina, and the other half reminds us that it is a real oasis in the desert with a thicket of fiinic palms. Today it is a tourist center with all the necessary services.
However, this is only part of the variety of experiences, curious evidence of antiquity and modern colors that you will find in Tunisia. Each small town here hides a lot of curious places, in each of the streets, you need only disconnect from the vanity, to smell, taste and listen – and a sea of unforgettable experience is guaranteed!
Tunisia’s best sights and resorts: a guide for your journey
Tunisia’s best sights and resorts: a guide for your journey
Tunisia is definitely a southern country for us, although it is located in the north of Africa. And, as any warm country, it attracts us, first of all, by sea and sun. But Russian tourist, we want to believe, has outgrown the banal reclining on a deck chair in the surf, and craves new experiences. If this is about you, then Tunisia – is what you need for an inquisitive traveler, who at the same time has not abandoned the love of the sea.
And with the sights in Tunisia is very good, despite the fact that the country is not particularly large compared to its neighbors. However, perhaps because of its compactness Tunisia and managed to keep a lot of monuments of different ages. Let us remember: at different times here were the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, Byzantines, Ottomans … And almost everything they left behind, guests of Tunisia can contemplate, going on a tour or visit the historical sites on their own. We suggest to see what interesting places are located near the popular resorts of the country.
Many believe that the best place to start exploring the country is its capital. Tunisian city of the same name, Tunisia can not boast of excellent beaches, but the country’s largest airport and all the business life is concentrated here. Tourists will be interesting cultural attractions, the list of which heads the legendary Carthage. From the capital of Tunisia you do not need to go anywhere to see this attraction – today it is part of the city.
Despite the fact that “Carthage must be destroyed”, three thousand years of history is not easy to forget. In addition, the Phoenician city-state was reborn each time after the defeat of the Romans, and today there are many interesting things preserved here. In particular, you can see the villas of the Romans, thermae of Antoninus Pius, the ruins of the ancient city itself, the ancient theater, and the Cathedral of St. Cyprian. Not far from the cathedral works National Museum with interesting exhibits from different ages.
But besides Carthage there is much to see near Tunisia. Take the Bardo Museum, which presents no less than the world’s largest collection of Roman mosaics! And then there is the Museum of Folk Traditions and the Oceanographic Museum. And in terms of religious tolerance the capital of Tunisia beats all the states in the region: it coexists Olive Mosque (the oldest in the city), a mosque of Hamouda Pasha Ottoman dominion, the Catholic Cathedral of St. Vincent and the Russian Orthodox Church of the Resurrection of Christ!
If you go away from the city, you can visit other noteworthy places. Such as the white-blue city of Sidi Bou Said, the spa resort of Gammarth, Bizerte, the largest port of Tunisia, the extinguished volcano, Lake Ishköl.
This is not the most popular of the resorts of Tunisia, but it is nevertheless very interesting. The very location in the foothills of the Lesser Atlas Mountains makes it such. And the cultural component is not limited to attractions – there are various international music festivals, from jazz, Latin and world music to color-music performances.
In close proximity to Tabarka are places worthy of a visit. This picturesque mountain village of Ain Draham, and the Roman thermae with mosaics in the ancient town of Bulla Regia, and the ancient town of Le Kef with the narrow streets, and Shemtu – citadel of the ancient civilization of the Numidov, and the “granary of Rome” Beja, and the Roman Dugga with the Capitol, the temple of Minerva, Juno and Jupiter. In addition, in the surrounding area you can go to Mactar, whose Roman thermae are the best preserved in Africa, and visit the ruins of the ancient city Syufetula with Byzantine fortresses.
This resort is now one of the most popular in Tunisia. But despite the popularity and fame place for tourists, the fort with its walls were built by the Arabs in the X century, and this in itself is already interesting. And of course the surrounding area is interesting – the neighboring towns breathe with history.
Nabeul, which is very close to Hammamet, in antiquity was called Neapolis, and kept a lot of interesting things from those times. And the fishing villages around, does not seem to have changed in a couple of thousand years. By the way, the best place to go falconry is here.
What else? The Byzantine fortress of Kelibia, Tuburbo Majous with the ruins of the largest capitol in Africa, the picturesque port of Korba, unearthed only in 1952, Kerkwan with its intact pre-Roman layout, the Berber village of Tekrouna with parts of the Roman aqueduct and much more.
Sousse, Monastir and Mahdia
Another popular tourist destinations – Sousse, Monastir and Mahdia – are also not without history. The first one is about three thousand years old, and to learn about these rich years is better in the Kasbah Citadel Museum. And of course you can not miss the five-kilometer-long catacombs of the first half of the first millennium, consisting of 240 galleries. Monastir was known even under the Phoenicians, and then the Romans, and was called Ruspenna. Well, Mahdia is an ancient port of the Punic Wars, which after the destruction of Carthage became the capital of Tunisia.
Not far from these tourist dominants is the famous El Djem, notable for its world-famous Roman amphitheater, the most impressive building of the Romans preserved in Africa. For lovers of religion, the town of Kairouan, one of the most important religious centers of Muslims and the main holy city of the Maghreb, is a must-see. And close to Sfax, interesting with its museums, the archipelago of Kerkenna stretches in the Mediterranean Sea, which gives you stunning fishing at sunset.
This is another island off the coast of Tunisia, and much more popular than Kerkenna, incidentally discovered by Odysseus himself. But the popularity is relative and there is not such an abundance of tourists that would spoil any destination. Therefore, you can safely go to the stunning beaches of Djerba, which, incidentally, are very suitable for children, and in between swimming and sunbathing to explore the villages and ancient fortresses of the island.
If you go away from Djerba to the mainland, you can take a ride on the different Berber settlements, see the caves of troglodytes and amazing oases, visit the filming sites of “Star Wars” and “Indiana Jones”. You can read more about all this in the article “Active recreation in the Sahara.
Also in this part of Tunisia is worth a visit to Gafsou with a preserved Roman pool, take a ride on the restored old train through the gorge Selja, touch religion in Nefta with its 24 mosques, check out the former slave market in Kebili, and in January and February you can see camel fights and sand hockey in the most “Saharan” of the oases – Duz, surrounded by dunes – you should agree, that such a set of impressions hardly can be found anywhere else, and it will be remembered for a lifetime!
In summary, it is hard to believe that we are talking about a relatively small country in northern Africa. However, it is true – Tunisia is much bigger, brighter and richer than it seems at first glance. And it is definitely worth a visit, and most likely more than one.