I’ll confess, I haven’t been to Tunisia, so this is not a first hand retelling of this mysterious country. It has, however, transcended from somewhere I had never seriously considered visiting, to the superior ranks of my infamously long travel bucket list, and I’m going to tell you why.
From its ancient ruins to its exquisite cuisine, the capital, Tunis, has many jewels to show off. The forgotten Mediterranean coastline of Tunisia sits a mere few hundred kilometres away from the sought after Sicilian and Maltese islands, yet it doesn’t receive nearly as much hype as a year round getaway destination. The Arab city is bursting with medinas and mosques, with the charming crumbling Medina transporting you back in time to 698CE. The underrated city of Tunis is also home to the ancient city of Carthage, the former Phoenician capital of the Carthaginian Empire, brutally burnt to the ground by the Romans.
Travel just 18km from Tunis to the clifftop town of Sidi Bou Said, where the whitewashed domed houses flaunting cobalt Juliette balconies, jewelled cobalt doors and decoratively screened windows (called moucharabiehs) can be positioned as the Santorini of North Africa. Sat high above the Bay of Tunis, the bohemian village of Sidi Bou Said glows bright in the daylight, with vines of bougainvillea offering pops of fuschia around every corner. Rest your head at Maison Dedine, a cosy yet chic villa on the sea, part of the renowned Small Luxury Hotels of The World collection.
Tunisia is steeped in outstanding natural beauty. The palm covered oasis of Chebika at the foot of the Djebel el Negueb mountains is just another reason to visit. Wear your gingham Solana Java Espadrilles when you visit this natural waterfall in the middle of the desert, slipping them off as you wet your feet, experiencing the harmony of this secluded utopia.
Tunisia’s relaxed mediterranean coastal towns sell themselves. From the former small fishing town of Hammamet, surrounded by citrus groves, to the preserved Islamic town of Sousse, there is no shortage of seafood and sea air. The breathtaking island of Djerba is known for its pristine shallows, blanched desert towns and hybrid of Arabian, Jewish and African influences.