Must see attractions in Tunis

  • 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 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 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 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.

  • Sights in Carthage

    Antonine Baths

    The Romans chose a sublime seaside setting for this monumental terme (bath complex), a short walk downhill from the Roman villas. Begun under Hadrian and finished in the 2nd century AD under Antoninus, it was the largest terme outside Rome, supplied with water by the great Zaghouan aqueduct. Just the foundations remain, but they are awesome in scale. A plan of the baths above the main complex will help you imagine how the complex would have functioned in its heyday.

  • Sights in Medina

    Zitouna Mosque

    Located in the heart of Tunis' medina, this important mosque was founded in 734 and built on a site once occupied by a church. It was totally rebuilt in the 9th century and restored many times over the centuries, and its huge prayer hall incorporates more than 200 columns scrounged from Roman Carthage. Its Almohades-style minaret in the northwest corner is a medina landmark. Only Muslims may enter the mosque, though the courtyard can be viewed from the terrace of the Panorama Medina Cafe.

  • Sights in Medina

    Dar Lasram

    Once home to the Lasram family, who provided the beys with scribes, this magnificent building dates from the early 19th century and was one of the first historic mansions restored under the auspices of the Association de Sauvegarde de la Médina de Tunis, the offices of which are now based here. The interior features magnificent, richly tiled rooms and courtyards. A small collection of materials documenting the Association's work preserving the historic fabric of the medina is on display.

  • Sights in La Marsa

    La Marsa Beach

    Join the local crowds flocking to this urban beach to escape the summer heat with a dip in the clear waters of the Med. In colder months, the sand becomes a playground for fishermen, footballers and romantics taking afternoon strolls along the shoreline. It might not be the cleanest of beaches, but the view to Gammarth is charming, and there are a number of decent cafes nearby.

  • Sights in Sidi Bou Saïd

    Ghaya Gallery

    Head up the exterior staircase to visit this impressive commercial gallery close to the train station in Sidi Bou Saïd. It gives contemporary Tunisian artists the chance to show their work in individual and group shows, and has a curatorial approach sitting comfortably on the cutting edge.

  • Sights in Carthage

    La Malga Cisterns

    The restored and extremely impressive remnants of the huge 2nd-century-AD cisterns that housed Roman Carthage’s water supply are located at the foot of Byrsa Hill. The original complex was nearly 1km long and fed by a huge aqueduct carrying mountain spring water from Zaghouan.

  • Sights in La Marsa

    Galeri El Marsa

    Occupying a beautiful vaulted space behind a grand wooden door in the heart of La Marsa, this is one of Tunisia’s most respected and internationally focused commercial galleries, with a small but impressive stable of contemporary artists from the Arab world.

  • Sights in Medina

    Souq El Attarine

    Souq El Attarine (the Perfume Makers’ Souq) dates from the 13th century and is still home to shops selling fragrant oils and waters. Its location on one of the medina's major thoroughfares and next to the Zitouna Mosque ensures that it's always jam-packed.

  • Sights in Sidi Bou Saïd

    Dar Ennejma Ezzahra

    Built between 1912 and 1922 for French-born Baron Rodolphe d’Erlanger and his Italian-American wife Elizabetta, this palace residence is an exhilarating mix of Modernist architecture and traditional Maghrebi and Andalusian design, filled with virtuoso carved stucco and wooden inlay work, marble floors and columns, ornate furniture and an internationally renowned collection of traditional musical instruments. The magnificent entrance/reception hall with its fountain fed by a long marble water channel and the richly decorated music salon are the undoubted highlights.

  • Sights in Carthage

    Sanctuary of Tophet

    Originally dedicated to the deities Baal Hammon and Tanit, this Carthaginian sacrificial site and burial ground is dotted with stubby stelae engraved with simple geometric shapes and symbols. When the site was excavated by a French team of archaeologists in 1921, more than 20,000 urns, each containing the ashes of a child (mostly newborn, but also children up to age four), were found under the stelae. Wandering through the site is a haunting experience.

  • Sights in Carthage

    Byrsa Hill

    In Punic times, Byrsa Hill was occupied by a temple to the Carthaginian god Eschmoun. The Romans destroyed most of the Punic structures – all that remains is a small, well-preserved section of a residential quarter dating from the time of Hannibal (around the 3rd century BC). It's still possible to discern a street grid dotted with small, carefully planned domestic structures – some of which were once five storeys high – complete with subterranean cisterns and ground-floor shops.

  • Sights in Carthage

    Carthage Museum

    Sitting on the crest of Byrsa Hill and housed in an early-20th-century building that once functioned as a Catholic seminary, this museum is one of the major draws of the Carthage site, but was closed for a major renovation in early 2018 and no reopening date is yet available. When works are complete, it is likely that many of the long-term exhibits will be retained. These include two magnificent 4th-century-BC stone-carved sarcophagi depicting an extraordinarily lifelike priest and priestess.

  • Sights in Medina

    Tourbet El Bey

    This building has the green fish-scale domes typical of Ottoman mausoleums. Inside is an intricate mix of tiles and stucco built during Ali Pasha II’s reign (1758–82). Many subsequent Husseinite beys, princesses, ministers and trusted advisers ended up here. The mausoleum has been closed for restoration since the early years of the 21st century, but sadly, no progress seems to have been made.

  • Sights in Medina

    Dar Othman

    This building was constructed for Othman Dey in the late 16th century. His business – piracy – was obviously lucrative, and he also happened to be Governor of Tunis from 1593 until his death in 1610. The palace is an exhilarating meld of Ottoman, Andalusian and traditional Tunisian architectural styles, with an exuberantly busy facade. Sadly, visitors are unlikely to be given permission to enter and see the courtyards and unusual interior garden that was planted in 1936.

  • Sights in Medina

    Souq des Étoffes

    Running behind the Zitouna Mosque, the Souq des Étoffes (Fabric Souq) is the geographical heart of the medina's main mercantile enclave, leading to the Souq des Femmes (Women's Souq) and on to Rue Tourbet El Bey. Two other souqs – the Souq de la Laine (Wool Souq) and Souq El Leffa (aka Souq of the Djerbians) run off it. Together, they comprise one of the medina's most atmospheric pockets, full of traditional ateliers and always abustle with local shoppers.

  • Sights in Medina

    Dar Hussein

    Constructed in the late 18th century and rebuilt a century later, this handsome palace has functioned as a private residence, as the headquarters of the Tunis municipal council and as the base of the French army in Tunisia. It's now the headquarters of the Institut National du Patrimoine (National Heritage Institute). Ask the doorman if you can visit the internal courtyard to see its lavish tile and carved stucco decorations.