Must see attractions in Tunisia

  • Top ChoiceSights in Medina

    Medina

    This sprawling maze of ancient streets and alleyways is one of the most impressive medieval medinas in North Africa and one of Tunisia's great treasures. It's home to numerous covered souqs selling everything from shoes to shisha pipes, as well as bustling cafes, back streets full of artisans at work and residential areas punctuated by grand, brightly painted doorways. Historic palaces, hammams, mosques and madrassas (schools for study of the Quran) are scattered throughout, many lavishly decorated with tiles, carved stucco and marble columns.

  • Top ChoiceSights in El Jem

    El Jem Amphitheatre

    This Unesco World Heritage–listed colosseum was the second-largest in the Roman world (after Rome's); it was 149m long by 124m wide, with three tiers of seating 30m high. Its seating capacity has been estimated at up to 35,000 – considerably more than the population of the town itself. Built entirely of stone blocks, with no foundations, its facade comprises three levels of arcades. Inside, most of the supporting infrastructure for the tiered seating has been preserved.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Kairouan

    Medina

    Kairouan’s medina feels like it ebbs and flows to a different rhythm to modern Tunisia. Long protected by its monumental walls and babs (gates), most of it is given over to quiet residential streets that have changed little over the centuries, with modest houses sporting arches and shutters painted in bright blues and greens. Particularly atmospheric pockets include the small squares near the babs and the covered souq quarter just north of the main north–south pedestrian thoroughfare, Ave 7 Novembre.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Sousse

    Sousse Archaeological Museum

    Located inside the 11th-century kasbah, this museum showcases an extraordinary collection of 2nd- and 3rd-century Roman mosaics, one of the best in the country. Most of these embellished the buildings in ancient Byzacium (Sousse and surrounds) and depict scenes from daily life – the fishing scenes are particularly charming. Highlights include a richly coloured mosaic of Neptune standing in his chariot, drawn by two hippocamps, and another depicting Bacchus, the Roman god of wine, riding in a satyr-driven chariot pulled by tigers.

  • Top ChoiceSights in El Jem

    Archaeological Museum

    A 1km walk from the El Jem Amphitheatre (follow the signs), this museum showcases an exceptional collection of Roman mosaics. All are richly coloured, in excellent condition and sensitively displayed. Highlights include a gory array of scenes from the colosseum and multiple images of a drunken Dionysus. At the rear of the museum is the House of Africa, an AD 170 Roman villa from the heart of El Jem that was excavated in the 1990s and transferred here for display.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Tunis

    Bardo Museum

    The main draw at the Tunisia's top museum is its magnificent collection of Roman mosaics. These provide a vibrant and fascinating portrait of ancient North African life. Also here is some equally magnificent Hellenistic and Punic statuary. The massive collection is housed in an imposing palace complex built under the Hafsids (1228–1574), and fortified and extended by the Ottomans in the 18th century. The original palace buildings now connect with a dramatic contemporary annexe, which has doubled the exhibition space.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Central Tunisia

    Dougga

    Arguably the most magnificent Roman site in Africa, Dougga’s ancient remains – a Unesco World Heritage site since 1997 – are startlingly complete, giving a beguiling glimpse of how well-heeled Romans lived, flitting between bathhouses, the imposing Capitole, a 3500-seat theatre and various temples. The city was built on the site of an ancient Numidian settlement called Thugga, which explains why the streets are so uncharacteristically tangled. The 2nd-century-BC Libyco-Punic Mausoleum is the country’s finest pre-Roman monument.

  • Sights in Northern Tunisia

    Bulla Regia

    Famed for its extraordinary underground villas, the Roman city of Bulla Regia, 7km northwest of Jendouba, offers a rare opportunity to walk into complete, superbly preserved Roman rooms rather than having to extrapolate how things once looked from waist-high walls. To escape the summer heat, locals retreated below the surface, building elegant homes complete with colonnaded courtyards and internal plumbing. Many of their fine mosaics remain in situ, though some of the best are now in the Bardo Museum in Tunis.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Central Tunisia

    Uthina

    On the cultivated amber slopes of Mt Mekrima, the fascinating but little-visited ruins of ancient Uthina are the remains of one of the Roman Empire's oldest cities in Africa. Not much is known about Uthina, but the city had one of North Africa's largest Roman amphitheatres, enjoyed by its cosmopolitan residents in the city's 2nd-century heyday, and it's still the biggest draw for today's traveller.

  • Sights in Northern Tunisia

    Chemtou

    The largest marble quarry in ancient North Africa, Chemtou was the source of an unusual, pink-veined yellow marble that was prized throughout the Roman world for its resemblance to gold. It’s daunting even to contemplate the work that went into carving out and transporting the huge blocks of stone. The site is fascinating and hosts a unexpectedly excellent museum documenting Chemtou’s history. Check travel advice before visiting Chemtou; the British Foreign Office currently advises against non-essential travel to the area.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Sfax

    Medina

    There's hardly a souvenir shop in sight within the monumental medieval walls of Sfax's Unesco-listed medina. The narrow thoroughfares are crowded with local shoppers stocking up on cheap clothing, shoes, household goods and other prosaic items on offer, and the market areas on the northern edge are noisy, colourful and aromatic places where locals come to buy fresh produce. Elsewhere, modest residences sport iron balconies and painted doors, and tiny ateliers are used by industrious traditional artisans.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Medina

    Souq des Chechias

    A medina highlight, this hugely atmospheric souq is filled with exquisitely decorated shops producing and selling c hechias, Tunisia's traditional blood-red felt caps. In the 17th century, when this souq was built, a million chechias were made annually by 15,000 craftsmen, sold locally and exported worldwide. Today, the 10 or so chaouachis working here produce the traditional Tunisian version as well as customised hats in a variety of colours and styles exported to North and West African countries.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Ksar Oued Soltane

    Ksar Oued Soltane

    The ghorfas (long, barrel-vaulted rooms built to store grain) of Ksar Ouled Soltane rise a dizzying four storeys around two courtyards and are one of southern Tunisia's architectural highlights. Scenes from Star Wars film The Phantom Menace were shot here, when they stood in for part of the slave quarters where Anakin Skywalker grew up. The site has been renovated to give visitors a sense of how it would have appeared when first built.

  • Sights in Ksar Oued Soltane

    Ksar Ezzahra

    This is a relatively little visited ksar (Berber fortified granary), which is a shame because it almost rivals Oued Soltane as the best in the region. It is almost uniformly four storeys of ghorfas (grain stores) in fine condition with two courtyards, many staircases and multilayered tiers. You'll almost certainly have the place to yourself, making it an extra treat to explore.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Centre Ville

    Marché Centrale

    Tunisian food markets offer a great introduction to local culture, and Tunis' Marché Centrale is particularly atmospheric. The original market building dates from 1891 and the halls behind are later additions. There are three distinct areas: an enormous fish hall where you can watch locally caught fish being theatrically weighed, gutted and scaled; a central hall where mounds of spicy harissa, tubs of plump olives and blocks of pungent cheese are sold; and a rear fruit and vegetable section.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Houmt Souk

    Djerba Traditional Heritage Museum

    Good things often come in small packages, and that is certainly the case at this modestly sized but extremely impressive museum. Occupying a curvaceous purpose-built structure next to the Zaouia of Sidi Zitouni about 200m from the town centre, it houses expertly curated and displayed exhibits on traditional Djerban life and culture. There are sections on costumes, the island's Jewish history, ceremonies, agriculture, the pottery industry, fishing and food. Labels in Arabic, French and English impart loads of fascinating facts and information.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Erriadh

    Djerbahood

    In 2014, 150 artists from 30 countries descended on Erriadh to collaborate on an ambitious street-art project. The result was 250 vividly coloured stencils, paintings and graffiti covering the walls of buildings in the village's traditional whitewashed medina. Though subsequent years have seen many of the works fade, a wander around this open-air museum is still an inspiring and hugely enjoyable experience. The website has a downloadable map that aids exploration.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Sbeitla

    Sufetula

    One of North Africa's best-preserved ancient Roman cities, Sufetula is awash with temples, monumental arches and bath complexes that speak of an ancient civilisation that knew how to live. Much is still unknown about this evocative site. Some of its Byzantine-era basilicas have beautifully mosaic-covered baptistries still in situ.

  • Sights in Central Tunisia

    Thuburbo Majus

    Surrounded by shimmering wheat fields and olive groves like those that made its fortune, Thuburbo Majus has a prosperous air even in its ruinous state. In the 2nd century, this Roman colony for war veterans had 10,000 inhabitants, the wealthiest of whom tried to outdo each other by donating public buildings and fine mosaics; many of the latter are now in Tunis' Bardo Museum. Its appealing Capitole, with four full-length fluted Corinthian columns, dominates the site.

  • Sights in Central Tunisia

    Ammaedara

    The remote border village of Haidra is the site of ancient Ammaedara, once a Roman legionary outpost. It’s a wonderfully evocative place, and the atmosphere is especially magical as the sun slowly sets behind the mountains of Algeria to the west, bathing the site in a rich orange glow. Ammaedara, still not fully excavated, is haphazardly strewn with stone blocks, and shepherds graze their sheep among the ruins.