A tiny country on the Mediterranean coast of North Africa, sandwiched between much bigger neighbours - Libya and Algeria - Tunisia is nonetheless a fascinating place with some of the finest beach resorts on the Mediterranean and some of the most important historical sites in Africa. Tunisia has always had something of a split personality: The north of the country is mountainous and enjoys a beautiful Mediterranean climate. The interior is covered in verdant forests and there are fields of olive and citrus trees. Heading south, the landscape becomes more barren as the forests give way to empty desert plains and the climate climbs. Culturally too, Tunisia looks in several different directions, with a colonial and European atmosphere very much in evidence in Tunis, a devout islamic aura around such holy cities as Kairouan and the traditional nomadic Berber influence being more in evidence in the south.
Visitors to Tunisia are generally attracted by the beautiful beach resorts like Hammamet and Monastir where miles and miles of silky white sands meet the warm blue waters of the Mediterranean. There are though, a great many impressive sightseeing destinations in Tunisia including the ancient Roman ruins of Carthage and the amphitheatre of El Jem as well as the historic Islamic cities like Kairouan and Sousse. Many of the elements that you might expect from Maghrebi cities are very much in evidence here. There are chaotic marketplaces selling everything you could want, ancient bath houses which are still in operation and a profusion of beautiful mosques with soaring minarets.
When: Tunisia's midsummer sun can be a bit too much for those looking to do anything much more than relax on the beach. If you're wanting to travel around a bit and do some sightseeing, try heading to Tunisia in the spring.
Where: Sousse is an excellent destination for the single traveller. Declared a world heritage site in its entirety it features a great many attractive sites like the Great Mosque, the Camel Market, the ancient Ribat and the mosaic museum.
Why: A trip to Monastir combines a fascinating historical experience with a relaxing beach holiday. It's also a short trip to get to other attractions like El Jem and Kairouan as well as the tourist resort of Monastir.
When: Why not head to Tunisia in the middle of summer. Temperatures in June and July regularly get above thirty degrees making it a great destination for a summertime beach holiday.
Where: Monastir is a great beach resort in Tunisia. Founded in Phoenician times, it also boasts a number of fascinating historic attractions and a - largely intact - walled medina.
Why: Monastir is a favourite stopping off point for luxury yachts and it boasts a pretty marina with some excellent bars and seafood restaurants. It's also a great base for going on camel safaris as well exploring the ancient site of Carthage.
When: When you go to Tunisia depends entirely on your heat tolerance levels. The midsummer sun is truly dazzling which might be just what you're looking for. On the other hand the spring months are also very pleasant.
Where: Hammamet is probably Tunisia's most attractive seaside town. It features a warren of narrow streets of white washed buildings spilling down towards a ten kilometre long stretch of pristine sandy beach. It is a great destination for a romantic holiday in the sun.
Why: Hammamet is a fascinating place with a rich history. Among its claims to fame is that it has the oldest mosque in North Africa. There are some fantastic bars and restaurants as well as some frenetic and vibrant market places.
When: Young children might find the midsummer months a bit unbearable. Tunisia can be a great destination for a holiday during the easter holidays or the Autumn half term when the weather is warm and dry.
Where: The small island of Djerba, located just off the north coast is a great destination for a family holiday. It is much more peaceful than the larger beach resorts of the mainland whilst at the same time offering excellent beaches and beautiful sea waters.
Why: Djerba is rich in flora and fauna that the kids are bound to be fascinated by. Be sure to visit the vast crocodile farm as well as the Ras Rmel flamingo reserve. Houmt Souk is a busy and exciting market place whilst Guellala is a beautiful village dating back to Roman times.
Tunisia's climate divides into a northern Mediterranean climate and a southern desert climate. Summer temperatures are regularly in the thirties celsius and even in autumn and spring, temperatures remain in the mid twenties. The arid Sahara plains of the south are separated from the coast by a mountain range and therefore do not even enjoy the benefit of a cooling sea breeze. If you're intending to make trips into the desert, you'd be well advised not to make the journey in summer as the heat will be overwhelming. Summers can be very nice in Tunisia if you're planning to restrict your movements to the coastal areas.
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What to expect
Tunisia is a fascinating and ancient country that traces a rich history back to the Roman times. The relics of this era, including Carthage and el Jem are well worth seeing. However, it is the middle ages and the Arab conquests that have most informed the country and the cities of Sousse, Kairouan, Monastir and Tunis display the spectacular achievements of this culture with ancient walled cities, towering mosques and imposing citadels. History aside, Tunisia boasts some of the finest beaches anywhere on the Mediterranean, there are gorgeous white sands and a fantastic selection of resorts offering a whole array of activities including diving, camel safaris and cruises around the coast. Tunisia makes a great holiday for the whole family.
Flight InformationFlights available from:
Birmingham, Bristol, Glasgow, London Gatwick, London Luton, London Stansted, ManchesterAirlines:
Germania, Jet2.com, Monarch, Thomas Cook, Thomson