Looking for a holiday with a different flavour but without the exhorbitant expenses usually associated with the exotic? It’s time to check out Tunisia.
Flying into Edfidha a small town in north eastern Tunisia with mild, rainy winters and dry hot summers, visitors have access to the busiest holiday resorts of Sousse and Hammamet as well as the less touristy areas further south. Flights are regular and relatively quick and affordable from the UK. You’re likely to find yourself with two main options: should we explore? Or should we relax in the warm waters and pristine beaches.
Tunisia is best visited in late spring or autumn, although these can be the busiest times and booking in advance is recommended. Tourism is pretty well developed in Tunisia, although not on par with other countries like Egypt and perhaps even Morocco. Outside of the main resorts, hotel star ratings are not quite the same as
European and US standards – a 4 star hotel is the equivalent of a 3 star, but accommodation is affordable and the further out you travel, the more authentic and affordable your experience becomes; there are still many almost undiscovered parts for the adventurous traveller.
If you’re looking for something other than sea-side tanning, Carthage is a must see (many resorts offer trips to these attractions and can be booked during your stay.) The remains of Carthage depict the a great city of the Pheonician and Punic periods from the 6th century BC. The area is rich in history and a guided tour is well worth the investment.
Tunisia also offers some of the most accessible Saharan desert scenery. Star Wars fans with recognise the village of Mamata, the young Luke Skywalker’s home of Tatooine. But for those will little film knowledge, the sheer scale of the desert is a sight to behold. A fantastic way to see the landscape is to take one of the beautifully restored luxury trains into the desert from Metlaoui.
No trip to Tunisia is complete without indulging in the food. The Northern African Maghreb tradition is rich here. Coucous and marqa stews are a highlight and are quite similar to Moroccan tajines – however, don’t ask for a tajine in Tunisia. Tunisian tajines are nothing like the Moroccan variety. Distinguishing characteristics are the fiery harissa chili sauce and the heavy use of tiny olives which are abundant in the country.
The concept of vegetarianism is fairly uncommon, there are plenty of options for vegetarian adventurers. One of Tunisia’s most famous dishes, the spicy salade mechouia, is vegetarian, as is salade tunisienne – a blend of cucumbers, tomatoes, and onions. But adventurous is what you will have to be. Tunisia has a very underdeveloped restaurant culture. There are the local restaurants inhabited by Tunisians serving very cheap food and the tourist restaurants. One can occasionally eat tasty couscous (a dish I absolutely love!) or “coucha” stew in some low-priced restaurants. One’s best hope for good eating in Tunisia is to be invited as a guest in someone’s home – an absolute treat – but be sure to explain that you don’t eat meat so as to not be offensive.
Tunisia is a fantastic option if you’re looking for something a little different to the British exodus to Spain with equal measures of sun and adventure available.