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If your clients are in search of sun-drenched days on the beach, yet also long to satisfy their cultural curiosity with historic sites and gorgeous desert landscapes, a wonderful combination awaits them in Tunisia.
Tunisia is located on the North African coast of the Mediterranean and enjoys a similar climate to its counterparts on the southern coasts of Spain, France etc. The following are some of the most acclaimed resorts in Tunisia, with remarkable attractions beyond the beach.
Hammamet is probably Tunisia’s best-known resort and is a popular destination for swimming and sports such as water skiing, windsurfing, and jet skiing. One claim to fame is that Sophia Loren, the Italian actress, has a house situated on the beach just outside the centre. There are numerous beaches to choose from, many of which are private hotel beaches. However, Hammamet offers a lot more than the beach. In the town, one discovers a maze of narrow and winding lanes in the town’s medina (typically a walled city within the city with narrow streets and old houses).
Just outside of Hammamet is Puppet, a Roman archaeological site consisting of aqueducts, cisterns and baths, and Nabeul, a colourful town known for its Friday crafts market and which is famous for its ceramics as the inhabitants have been potters since time immemorial. There is also an interesting archaeological museum. Another trip back in time here is Kerkouane, thought to have been settled by the Phoenicians in the 6th Century BC.
Djerba is an island just off the coast of Tunisia known as “the island of a thousand palm trees.” It has an excellent stretch of beach containing soft white sand, clear turquoise sea and a good choice of hotels, many of which have their own private beach. It is a fascinating place consisting of Muslim, Berber (a nomadic people) and Jewish communities peacefully coexisting on the island as they have done for centuries. After enjoying the resort aspects of Djerba, visit the Houmt Souk, the main market town on the island. Visit the medina for merchandise such as leather goods, colourful textiles, local ceramics, silver goods, and ornate jewellery. In the evening, sunset is a sight to behold.
Sousse is an excellent beach resort offering a large selection of hotels and vibrant nightlife. The beach stretches for 10 kilometres/6 miles. Most of it is public with some private hotel beaches. It is one of the older cities in Tunisia with an authentic 9th Century AD medina, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The medina’s impressive Great Mosque is a good example of early Islamic architecture, as is the 8th Century AD ribat (a fortress). From the watchtower, you can have great views of the port and coastline. Another attraction is the Catacombs of Sousse, believed to be a former hiding place for Christians during the time of persecution under the Romans.
Tunisia has many interesting archaeological sites stretching back millennia. Here are two of the more important ones your clients should visit.
Carthage is an ancient archaeological site located just outside the capital city of Tunis. Its history dates back to the time of the Phoenicians, an ancient civilization which built cities on the coastline of the Mediterranean from 1550 BC to 300 BC. It was the Roman Empire’s major city in North Africa at the time. The amphitheatre here was rebuilt by Julius Caesar and is used today for summer festivals.
The ancient amphitheatre of El Jem is the most impressive Roman monument in Africa. It can be reached easily from Sousse or Hammamet. It was the scene of gladiator displays, chariot races and lions versus humans, often cruel and bloody. It seated around 35, 000 spectators. Only the Colosseum in Rome could seat more.
The Sahara Desert is situated in the southern part of Tunisia and is the largest desert in the world occupying roughly 30% of the African continent. There are several tours which start from Hammamet, Djerba and Sousse and head to the gateway town of Douz in the desert. They can choose from a half-day into the Sahara or multi-day tours including overnight camping. There are two forms of transportation available on these – one is by jeep and the other by camel. If they choose to travel by camel, a 2 day, overnight tour would be best. On an overnight tour, they would see the immense sand dunes and the amazing night sky full of stars, sleep in a tent, and enjoy a meal prepared by a Bedouin chef.
It is a good idea to tack on a few days in Tunis, especially if wishing to visit Carthage. Tunis has one of the most impressive medieval medinas in North Africa with a sprawling maze of ancient streets and alleyways. The Bardo in Tunis is Tunisia’s top museum with its excellent collection of Roman mosaics depicting a fascinating portrait of ancient North African life. Nearby Sidi Bou Said is one of the prettiest places in the country with its blue and white houses, cobblestone streets and distinctive architecture, a mix of Ottoman and Spanish styles. It sits on top of a steep cliff overlooking the Mediterranean and offers dramatic views.
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