Most people visit Tunisia for the sandy Mediterranean beaches, but there's so much more to experience here. Tunisia was a key part of the Roman Empire, and its location on the coast brought riches and culture matched by few other cities at the time. There are plenty of ruins to explore here as well as coastal towns, forts, and desert dunes. Tunisia is for adventure seekers who want to learn more about ancient history, photographers looking to capture that once in a lifetime shot, or anyone who enjoys relaxing by the water.
The Medina is the historical center of Tunis, the capital city of Tunisia, and considered a world heritage site. Wander around this medieval maze of streets and alleyways, browsing the wares of local artisans and grabbing a bite to eat in numerous cafes. In the centuries since the Medina was originally constructed, the space was expanded by vaults and rooms built above the streets, giving it a subterranean feel in parts. Be sure to bring your camera along to capture the gorgeous tile work, carved stucco, marble columns, and painted doorways.
Located in northwestern Tunisia, Dougga is home to ancient Roman remains and was named a world heritage site in 1997. Dougga sits on a hillside of olive groves with a gorgeous view of grain fields and rolling forests. If you've ever wondered how the ancient Romans lived, this is one of the best places to visit. Many of the original buildings are still standing, including a theatre, marketplace, temples, and baths.
Carthage sits on the coast of the Gulf of Tunisia along the north coast. Founded in the 9th century BCE, it served as an important port for trade and across the Mediterranean and later became a Roman territory in 146 BCE. There is a lot of history here, including the Punic Port and canal, which brought trade ships to the city and the Carthage Amphitheater that was rebuilt under the reign of Julius Caesar. Be sure to climb Byrsa Hill for an amazing panoramic view similar to what the people who lived there would have seen thousands of years ago.
Ksar Ouled Soltane may look familiar to Star Wars fans - it was featured as the home of young Anakin Skywalker in The Phantom Menace. In reality, Ksar Ouled Soltane is a well-preserved grain storehouse built entirely of dry mud and brick that was originally constructed in the 15th century. Built on a hilltop to protect it from raiders, each compartment was originally assigned to a single family. Though it was restored in 1997 using cement, this is still an awe-inspiring sight and a great place for photographers.
La Goulette is a stunning port town on the coast and the perfect place to visit if you're looking to spend a day at the seaside. Soak in the sun on the white sandy beaches or take a stroll to check out the Spanish fort. Le Goutelle is considered a suburb of Tunis and was once home to large Jewish and Sicilian populations near the capital city. This is a place to slow down and spend some time on or near the water.
There are many Roman ruins to see in Tunisia, but the Bulla Regia in the northwest of the country is a must-see, particularly for travelers interested in the ancient history of the country. Tunisian summers are harsh. To cope with this, Romans built expansive villas underground, most of which are still intact today. If you're curious about how the Romans lived, this is one of the only places in the world where you can walk through a Roman home that's still intact.
There aren't many Roman ruins that are as breathtaking as El Djem Amphitheater. At one time, this amphitheater held up to 35,000 people making it the largest in North Africa. It's one of the best examples of Roman architecture and imperialism left in the world, shockingly well-preserved since its original construction in the 3rd century. You can still see the hallways that the gladiators used to enter the arena.
A lot of the interesting sights in Tunisia lie along the coast, but no trip to the region would be complete without a visit to the Saharan desert. One of the best places to experience its vastness is the Grand Erg Oriental. This beautiful stretch of rolling sand dunes is breathtaking in its own right, particularly at sunset. If you're feeling more adventurous, though, explore the area on a dune buggy or go for a camel ride.
The Parc du Belvédère or Belvedere Park is located on the northern shore and is one of the best places to visit if you want to see some greenery. A lot of people come here to relax and get away from the city and tourists. Follow the walking trails through the olive, palm, and fig trees or hike to the top of the park for an amazing view.
One of the most photographic places to visit in Tunisia is Sidi Bou Said, a clifftop village on the Gulf of Tunis. Walk along the whitewashed alleys of the village where colorful blue doors and wrought-iron window frames transport you to another time. Shop the local artisans' stalls while you take in the stunning view of the Mediterranean. If you want to mix it up a bit, there are also bike tours that go from Tunis to Sidi Bou Said, a 15-mile journey along a picturesque coastal road, and a unique way to experience the region.
Down the coast from Tunis is the Monastir Ribat, one of the most well-known places in Tunisia. This well-preserved fort was built in 796 as an Islamic defense. Today, it's one of the most photographed buildings in the country and has even been in a few popular movies. At one time, this was one of several forts along the coastline but, thanks to its solid construction and thick walls, it's one of the few left standing.
The beautiful island of Djerba is an awesome place to go if what you really want is a beach getaway. Beautiful beaches are frames with date palms and provide the perfect place to relax and soak up the sun. Be sure to visit the nearby town of Houmt Souk, particularly the old town district, to catch a glimpse of the traditional whitewashed houses. Browse the wares of the local vendors and take home a handmade souvenir to remember this relaxing beach.