Although it’s famous for its sprawling sand dunes, elegant spas and desert Star War sets, the smallest country in North Africa is not always synonymous with beauty, but of course beauty is subjective and vastly underrated Tunisia is home to many places easily worthy of the word.
From magical mountain oases to atmospheric holy cites, here is the most beautiful places to visit in Tunisia.
The most beautiful part of the country’s capital city is the old Arab walled town, otherwise known as the Medina. Expect fine examples of Arab architecture and lively souqs where everything from household goods to gold items can be bartered for. The atmosphere is intoxicating and gives you a taste of what life was like in the Arabian opulence era which reigned from the 12th to the 16th centuries.
Sidi Bou Said:
Perched on top of a steep cliff overlooking the Mediterranean is where you’ll find Tunisia’s prettiest town. Their gorgeous traditional houses have been whitewashed to perfection and beautifully accented with flashes of brilliant blue. It’s long been a bohemian enclave, but with a few trendy boutique hotels popping up it now attracts a more well- heeled crowd. Expect narrow cobbled streets lined with cafes, art shops and souvenir stalls framed by an abundance of fragrant, cascading flowers. The town also makes a great base to explore the nearby Roman ruins of Carthage.
Of course it’s all a matter of opinion, but arguably the most beautiful places to visit in Tunisia are away from the cities.
Chebika which lies at the foot of the mountains of the Djebel el Negueb is a perfect example. Here an Eden-like oasis of beautiful waterfalls, curious caverns and date palms surviving in rocky clefts is a dramatic sight – and unsurprisingly a popular tourist haunt.
Once a humble fishing village surrounded by lemon groves, Hammamet is now a thriving resort town lined with numerous hotels (Thomas Cook offers good prices on last minute holiday deals here). It is actually Tunisia’s first tourist destination due to its fine beaches and warm waters, which are perfect for water sports. Although it’s not all about all inclusive hotels, Hammamet has a beautiful historic centre crisscrossed with narrow alleyways and here you’ll find an attractive medina and a 12th century Kasbah.
Every visitor should include the world’s largest desert on their itinerary and the Sahara can be reached by tours arranged from most resort towns. The Eastern Sand Sea (Grand Erg Oriental) makes up a huge part of Southern Tunisia and it’s a magical place where scenes from Star Wars and the English Patient were once filmed. The area is best explored by jeep or by camel but to really up the romance stakes include an overnight stay in a traditional tent. Make sure you don’t miss Nefta, the most beautiful sand dunes in Tunisia and Chott el Jerid, a vast salt lake.
Matmata & the Ksour:
Movie fans would instantly recognise the intriguing troglodytic houses of Matmata – when director George Lucas visited here he was so taken with the area he used it as a set in his famous Star Wars films.
It’s a uniquely beautiful place, home to attractive honeycomb-esque granaries known as ghorfas. The curious architecture style stems from fortified Berber settlements and are so unusual they almost look other-worldly.
What other African countries would you like us to write about?