Tunisia

Usually considered to be a beach resort destination, the exotic North African country of Tunisia has so much more to offer for those that decide to explore its heady mix of ancient cultures, dramatic landscapes and eye opening beauty.

The beach resorts with their Mediterranean feel are popular for good reason though, glorious weather, sea breezes and picture perfect beaches provide the definitive backdrop to a sun soaked holiday, all with the dramatic Sahara behind them stretching deep into the mysterious lands; away from the beaches venture north to see forests and lakes with the unmistakeable aroma of citrus and olive groves, unexpected and beguiling in equal measures.

Head out into the desert to Matmata and sleep underground in one of the troglodyte dwellings that have been converted into the most basic but most unique of hotels, or extend the adventure even further by travelling further into the desert and camping in one of the hire tents that have been erected in the depths of the Sahara.

The less adventurous may choose to stay at one of the many beach resorts with their purpose built accommodation , these range from quite basic self catering apartments to luxurious and expensive hotels; there are many choices from family friendly to romantic getaways and are suited to all budgets ensuring that there really is something for everyone.

The cuisine of Tunisia is very much in the North African style but there is an increase in the level of heat as Tunisians love a little bit of fire in their food; hot harissa sauce is a favourite throughout the country as are the tiny olives that are grown in the many northern groves and enjoyed alongside a dish of the vibrant harissa.

There are a limited number of restaurants outside the main resorts as Tunisia does not have a particularly developed dining out culture, although there are, as you would expect, some great places to dine in the larger towns and cities. Café Culturel El Ali in Tunis is excellent for refreshing citrus and mint drinks and serves some excellent rustic slow cooked food, similar places exist throughout the developed areas and are best when recommended by word of mouth.

There is no disputing that Tunisia is the perfect place for a beach holiday, but for those that want something a little less tourist orientated there are still many great undiscovered beaches with pure white sands and crystal clear waters – the problem is of course that these beauty spots don’t stay undiscovered for long; making friends with the locals is the best way to get the insider information about the still hidden gems.Carthage although mainly destroyed dates back to the 6<sup>th</sup> century BC when it was the base for the great Pheonician empire that dominated most of the Mediterranean, although the remains there mostly date from the later settlement of the Romans they are most definitely worth visiting and should be on the route of any serious traveller.

Fans of the Star Wars films will recognise the landscape at Matmata immediately – the dwellings used as the landscape for Tatooine; the desert town of Tozeur is equally recognisable as the setting for many of the films scenes particularly those set in Mos Eisley, even those visitors that have little interest in the films will appreciate the glorious desert landscapes of these locations.

The north of the country is far more temperate than the south which has a desert climate, head north into the mountainous regions where winters are cool and rainy to see a completely different side to Tunisia than the accepted image of blisteringly hot desert.

Although perfect for a summer break Tunisia also has plenty to offer throughout the other seasons with beautiful cities and exciting archaeological finds just waiting to be explored.

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