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Exploring Tunisia

The capital of Tunisia is steeped in history, Arabic and French culture colliding at every corner. There are the wide boulevards of the Ville Nouvelle with French café culture dominating the sunny pavements, where you can sip a coffee. In the Medina, the highly patterned mosques and networks of souqs offer Arab exoticism. Bathed by the Mediterranean Sea and surrounded by the arid, rose-tinted Atlas Mountains, Tunis also provides escapes from the city, whether it’s sun-drenched beaches or desert oases.

Sights nearby

The Medina is the most beguiling area of Tunis – it’s like a city within a city and at first, the crowded, narrow streets can seem like a maze of dizzying souqs and Islamic-pattern tiling, but a structure becomes apparent as you explore. Enter through the forbidding, stone Port de France, linking the Medina with the new town, and follow the Rue de la Kasbah to the souqs. The Zitouna Mosque provides a central landmark. Non-Muslims can only visit the outside and a small viewing gallery, but even with this limited access, it is an impressive sight. The Bardo Museum in the new town is well worth a visit as much for the grandeur of the cloistered, decorative hall as for the stunning mosaics and sculptures. History buffs will also want to take a trip out to the Roman city of Dougga, an extensive site with the remains of Pantheon-like temples.

Eating and drinking and shopping nearby

Tunisian food is a combination of Arabic, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and French influences. The dishes are deliciously spiced with aniseed, coriander, cumin, caraway, cinnamon or saffron and flavoured with mint, orange blossom or rose water. This destination is definitely a place you foodies will love. There are a number of souks in the city where you will be tempted to buy things from silk scarfes to beautiful ceramics to take home with you.

Public transport

International flights arrive into the Tunis-Carthage Airport, situated 8 kilometers northeast of the city center. The airport receives flights from major Western European destinations, including London, Frankfurt, and Paris; travelers coming from further afield should connect at one of these airports. There are plenty of taxis outside the airport, but it’s a rabble, with taxi drivers vying for your business. Be prepared to hold your ground – and hold onto your case – until you have negotiated the price. Driving into central Tunis, particularly if you are staying in the Medina, is not recommended, but is an easy option for the resorts.