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Stretched out across Cap Bon's southeastern coast like a lazy sunbather, laid-back Hammamet ("the baths" in Arabic) is Tunisia's original resort town. Early planning constraints dictated that hotels should not overreach the height of a tree, meaning that Hammamet's buildings sprawl horizontally, a far cry from the brutal high-rise developments that have scarred so many other Mediterranean coasts.

Hammamet is small-scale and suitably relaxed. The town's center is packed with restaurants and shops, overlooked by its towering fort and medina walls.

The metamorphosis from quiet fishing village began in the 1920s with the arrival of Romanian millionaire George Sebastian and the European fast set. Today, Hammamet is a full-blown resort town, and hundreds of hotels dot the coast for over a dozen miles (20km), from the walled-off bastions of Hammamet Nord to the wide, five-star-resort-lined boulevards of Yasmine Hammamet. Where the hotels stop, abruptly, the beach is once again wild and untouched.