Must see attractions in Northern Tunisia

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Sights in Lake Ichkeul

    Ichkeul National Park

    Lake Ichkeul has been a Unesco World Heritage site since 1980, but it's been managed as a hunting reserve at least as far back as the 13th century. The lake's surrounds – marsh, floodplain and forested hills – are home to wild boars, jackals, mongooses, porcupines, foxes and otters, but the real attraction is the wide variety of bird species. In winter, migratory waterbirds descend on the lake in their tens of thousands.

  • Sights in Bizerte

    Spanish Fort

    Built from 1570 to 1573 by Ulj Ali, the military ruler of Algiers, and named for a military victory over the Spanish, this fortress overlooks the medina from the north. All that remains are two long wall sections and one citadel. The views across the town, over the modern cement amphitheatre, are stupendous.

  • Sights in Tabarka

    Genoese Fort

    This fort is Tabarka's most instantly recognised landmark, sitting as it does on a wooded hill guarding the entrance to the harbour. It was built in the 16th century when Tabarka was a Genoese outpost surrounded by the Ottoman empire, and sat on an island until the French built a jetty to join it to the mainland. Only a small section is accessible as the rest is reserved for the Tunisian army. The views, of course, are spectacular.

  • Sights in Tabarka

    Les Aiguilles

    Across from Tabarka's old harbour bay (Ancien Port) from the peninsula, Les Aiguilles (pronounced layz ai- gwee) are a grouping of spiky pinnacles of rock. Together with the adjacent jetty, they're a popular place for swimming and jumping during the day, and the walk here makes for a pleasant evening stroll.

  • Sights in Tabarka

    Marina

    The heart of Tabarka is its marina, just northeast of the town centre. It’s a popular place to hang out, go for a drink or stroll.

  • Sights in Northern Tunisia

    Utica

    Utica, the first Phoenician city in North Africa, was founded in about 1100 BC, 300 years before Carthage. Situated at the mouth of Oued (River) Medjerda, it soon became a thriving port and remained important – and a rival of Carthage – for more than a thousand years. These days, the site occupies a low hill overlooking rich farmland. The site is small compared to other Roman sites in Tunisia, but it’s very atmospheric, with cypress trees and flowered surroundings.

  • Sights in Tabarka

    La Basilique

    La Basilique is a Roman cistern turned into a church by French missionaries at the end of the 19th century. Delicate and airy it’s not – inside you can see some massive square columns holding up some equally massive arches. The 1500-seat amphitheatre out front has played host to Tabarka’s famous music festivals, although the venue is scheduled to shift to a new, 6000-seat, purpose-built concrete amphitheatre up on a hill behind Les Aiguilles.

  • Sights in Béja

    Commonwealth War Cemetery

    This cemetery is a serene field of 396 graves, 87 of them unidentified; most perished between December 1942 and January 1943, when the Axis powers sent a force from Italy to counter the Allied landings in Algeria and Morocco.

  • Sights in Bizerte

    Ksibah

    This squat little fort, facing the kasbah, was modified by the Aghlabids in the 9th century, who added the attractive arched skifa (gate) and a courtyard with a set of cells – not for prisoners, but for silent study of the Quran. Also known as Fort Sidi Henni, it now has a pleasant cafe for people watching over the old port, and a rather dull aquarium.

  • Sights in Tabarka

    Montazah Beach

    This beach begins at the marina and stretches eastward around the bay, past the big hotels of the Zone Touristique. The further from the marina you go the cleaner it gets, but note that the mouth of the river on the edge of the town is hard to ford – use the bridge if the tide is in. Local kids also like to jump off the dyke and frolic around Les Aiguillles.

  • Sights in Tabarka

    Ras Rajel War Cemetery

    This neatly tended cemetery contains the graves of 500 Allied soldiers who died in the winter of 1942 following the Axis landings in Tunisia. Sixty of the buried remain unidentified. The cemetery, on the main road through Ras Rajel 14km east of Tabarka, is unlocked, but the visitors book is only available on weekday mornings when the caretaker is present.

  • Sights in Bizerte

    Remel Plage

    Remel Plage, a long stretch of sand with a backdrop of pine groves, is a popular beach with locals, and it even has its own dramatically wrecked ship in the shallows. It begins about 3km southeast of the centre of town, across the drawbridge over the canal. There are no facilities.

  • Sights in Béja

    Great Mosque

    The Great Mosque has a square minaret with terracotta tiles on the sides and candy-striped Moorish arches up top. About 150m northwest is the fish-scale dome of the Zaouia of Sidi Abdel Kader, with a tile panel over its green door. It's only open to Muslims, though non-Muslims might be able to peek into the tiled courtyard.

  • Sights in Bizerte

    Great Mosque

    Built in 1652, this mosque has an octagonal, stone-built minaret decorated with blue-and-white tiling. Non-Muslims are not permitted to enter, though at prayer times it might be possible to get a peek of the courtyard, with its slender marble columns and delicate stone arches.

  • Sights in Lake Ichkeul

    Ichkeul Ecomusée

    This small museum on a ridge with fine views has excellent presentations in French and Arabic on Lake Ichkeul, its wildlife, ecosystems and the history of its use (and abuse) by the human population.

  • Sights in Tabarka

    Statue of Habib Bourguiba

    This fine statue of Tunisia's first president in reflective pose commemorates the exile of Habib Bourguiba to Tabarka by the French in the early 1950s before his negotiation of Tunisian independence. Appropriately enough, the statue sits on a plinth of a roundabout in the centre of Tabarka on Ave Habib Bourguiba.

  • Sights in Bizerte

    Zaouia of Sidi Mokhtar

    The richly decorated, lavishly tiled Zaouia of Sidi Mokhtar, is home to the Association de Sauvegarde de la Medina de Bizerte, the group responsible for Medina conservation.

  • Sights in Bizerte

    Deconsecrated Cathedral

    The deconsecrated French-built cathedral, a grey concrete modernist structure with vertical stripes of stained glass, is now a cultural centre.