Where else can you get lost in a twisted Medina, wander the sprawling ruins of ancient Carthage, sip strawberry juice by the sea in a whitewashed suburb that wouldn’t be out of place on a Greek island, and eat a cuisine flavored heartily with the hot pepper paste harissa? For a city of just over a million people, there is a lot tantalizing textures to explore.
Your first stop in Tunis should be its old city Medina, a neighborhood of knotted streets and curlicue alleyways. Wandering through the labyrintine Medina, it is easy and pleasent to feel completely untethered from the modern world. The chatter and cry of men selling small vials of perfume or heavy olive wood cutting boards reverberate through the narrow streets, combining the local dialect of Tunisian Arabic with French, and occasionally Italian or English or Spanish. Haggling is expected, so don’t be afraid to drive a hard bargain for that perfect souvenir. Built in the 8th. century, Zaytouna Mosque is the oldest mosque in Tunis.
You can spend a day or even two exploring Tunis’ northeast suburbs. Sidi Bou Said is easily accessible by cab or local train but feels like a different world. Perched on the hillsabove a turquoise sea, the buildings here are blinding white and trimmed with cerulean shutters.
Near Sidi Bou Said lie the Phoenician and Roman ruins of Carthage. Sprawling out over a wide space, it is easy to spend a day completely immersing yourself in the vastness of this ancient city. The modern city of Tunis is a distant memory surrounded by the peaceful quite of Carthage. Make sure to stop by the Carthage National Museum, which contains excavated material from the site, including statues and amphorae. (Skylife)