Sun, spice and a magical medina
Tunis has been spared the overcrowding of tourism which has hit other parts of Tunisia and remains an interesting and authentic city. Tunisia’s capital is divided into two areas: the gloriously chaotic Medina and the modern Ville Nouvelle. In the World Heritage listed medina the narrow alleys are crowded with people and the air is filled with scent and spices. Stalls and shops invite you to haggle for wares and cafés revive customers with delicious mint tea. Around the corner the stunning 8th century Zitouna Mosque is said to be the fifth most important mosque in the Muslim world. Through Sea Gate, Bab el Bahr, Ville Nouvelle’s wider tree-lined streets seem like a world away from the maze of the Medina. Though Tunis does not have a huge number of significant sights, there are two highly important attractions nearby: the striking archaeological site, Carthage, and the wonderful Bardo Museum with its fine collection of Roman mosaics.
Tunis’ medina is an intoxicating place with twisting narrow streets and heavily scented air. It’s also relatively hassle-free. The capital’s café culture is really enjoyable and whiling away the hours watching the crowds pass by is a very pleasant experience, as is exploring the other districts of Tunis.
When to Go?
Tunisia is hot and dry all year round. The best time to visit Tunis is during spring or autumn when the weather is warm and comfortable, and temperatures are around 20C. Visitors in the summer can expect temperatures to be around 25C, yet winters are mild and pleasant. Generally speaking, Tunis is a year-round destination.
How to get there?
There are direct flights to Tunis Carthage Airport (TUN) from London Heathrow and London Gatwick, and flights take 2 hours 30 minutes. It is also possible to fly to Monastir-Skanès airport on charter flights from across the UK and travel by bus in around 2-3 hours. Taxis are available at Tunis airport to take you into the city but be aware of meter-tampering. Alternatively book a taxi from the desk inside the terminal building for the fairest prices.
Visit the Dar Ben Abdallah Museum which is located in one of the medina’s finest former palaces. It’s a stunning building and well worth the visit. Take the TGM north to Sidi Bou Said and enjoy the exquisite hilltop village with its cobbled streets, whitewashed houses and bountiful bougainvillea. It has long been a favourite place of artists and intellectuals and in the evenings draws the young upmarket crowd. No trip to Tunisia would be complete without a hamman and the best place to find one is in the medina; relax and you’ll enjoy being scrubbed down and steamed clean.