The bustling city of Tunis is an exotic mix of Arab, Roman and European culture. Visit historic ruins, hunt for bargains in souks or relax in beach resorts.
At the heart of this coastal city are the palaces, mosques and monuments of the medina, or old town. Savor the sights, sounds and smells of its souks. The narrow streets are lined with a variety of stalls and stores selling perfumes, fabrics, baked goods, spices and handicrafts. Haggle over souvenirs then stop at a café for some refreshing mint tea or strong coffee.
Amble along the Rue Jamaa Ezzitouna to the Great Mosque, which is more than a thousand years old. Non-Muslims can visit the courtyard and the viewing gallery near the entrance. Look for other architectural treasures in the medina, such as Dar El Bey (Government Palace) and the Tourbet Aziza-Othmana (Aziza-Othmana Mausoleum).
Outside the old town is Ville Nouvelle, the new town built by the French in the late 19th century. Explore the wide boulevards with their cafés, pâtisseries and colonial buildings, which are in stark contrast to the medina’s tangled streets.
In 146 B.C., the Romans destroyed Tunis and built their own city, which became one of the richest in the Roman Empire. Visit the northern suburb of Carthage to see the ruins of this ancient site and relics of temples, palaces and homes. Inside the Bardo National Museum is a vast collection of Roman-era mosaics. Study exhibits that chart Tunisia’s evolution from pre-historic times to the present day.
Less than half an hour’s drive from downtown Tunis is an expanse of Mediterranean beaches. Go water skiing, paragliding, scuba diving and surfing at Carthage Beach. Sunbathe, swim and ride on camels at La Marsa.
Reach Tunis by flying into Tunis-Carthage Airport, which is 5 miles (8 kilometers) from the city. Get around by rental car, cab, buses or the metro system. Tunis’ beautiful buildings, fascinating history and robust culture make it an enticing city of contrasts.