Let us reacquaint you with this culture spot that’s ideally placed for a mind-nourishing mini break, welcome to Tunis…
A magnetic combination of souks and aromatic spices, desert dunes and historic sites, Tunisia tells a gripping tale. This year marks a shift in perspective, with tourist numbers on the rise, and capital city Tunis being crowned the Arab Region’s Capital of Islamic Culture by the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
To gain a better understanding of the destination’s old-world charm, we must first rewind to the 12th-16th century when Tunis was one of the greatest and wealthiest cities in the Islamic world. Its special status gave rise to a wave of monuments that are a testament to the past. Within the Medina of Tunis, a UNESCO World Heritage site, there are around 700 scattered across the old city, including palaces, mosques, mausoleums, madrasas and fountains.
The modern district has a different appeal, with many of the old buildings transformed into museums and cultural centres, tea rooms and restaurants. In the fashionable Les Berges du Lac quarter, head to Patisserie Masmoudi (@patisseriemasmoudi) to taste a traditional pastry, such as the sticky-sweet makroudh, with a cup of green mint tea. To view east meets west contemporary art, pop into Musk and Amber Gallery (@musk_and_amber), which is a showcase for Tunisian-heritage-inspired pieces by local artisans.
Adventure seekers will find plenty to keep them on their toes, with year-round activities including golf, quad biking in the desert and watersports (the beaches of Borj Cedria and Ezzahra are just 20km from the city centre). When planning a trip, bear in mind that April to October is best for sea and sun, while autumn and spring provide the ideal weather conditions for boat trips and more active excursions.
In terms of where to stay, the beachside The Residence Tunis is home to chic yet comfortable rooms and suites, an 18-hole golf course, and a luxurious spa famous for its thalasso spa treatments. Villa Didon in Carthage places you smack bang in the historical district, while Concorde Les Berges Du Lac Hotel has a scenic setting on the shore of Lake Tunis.
DON’T LEAVE WITHOUT…
… discovering Sidi Bou Said. Just 20km from Tunis, this clifftop town overlooks the sparkling Mediterranean and is thought to have inspired famous artists and writers.
… making the 60-minute car journey to the Dahmani commune to view the ‘cultural cave’ brimming with locally produced modern art.
… embarking on a guided, film lovers tour of the Tunisian desert, the birthplace of the original Star Wars saga.
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