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Introducing Tunis

Travel alert: Civil unrest has calmed in Tunisia, but keep in touch with the latest news and travel advisories.

Tunis is a good introduction to the opposing character of Tunisia’s Western and Eastern influences, though it’s by no means the country’s most interesting city. The tangled streets of the medina are crammed with people selling, buying and carting goods around, enveloped in the scent of spices and sweat. Its chaos is infectious and you may end up bargaining to the last dinar with a shopkeeper, before flopping onto a pavement café, savouring your purchase. The medina’s maze is contrasted by the straight lines of the Ville Nouvelle, centred on Ave Habib Bourguiba, a wide, tree-lined street where locals stroll in the evenings amid cafés that dot the sidewalks. Tunis’ best attractions are outside of town: the wonderful Bardo Museum and mysterious ruins of the ancient Carthage are Tunisia’s most comprehensive and fascinating archaeological and artistic sights. The evening hubbub is all strolling families and shy couples, while the younger and the hipper head out to the gorgeous Mediterranean suburb of Sidi Bou Saïdfor night-time fun. Tunis is best enjoyed in a day, after which you can move on to smaller and better things.