Old meets new
On the east coast of Tunisia, Sousse is a place where history and culture collide. This is the country’s second biggest city, with more than 3,000 years of history to its name. The first thing you’ll notice is the medina, a UNESCO-protected site that’s home to a holy mosque and a Medieval kasbah, or fortress. Fanning out from the medina is the new town, with the port to one side and long, modern avenues to the other. They’re filled with a stream of yellow taxi cabs and locals chatting in the street.
Boujaafar Beach has 10 kilometres of sugar-soft sand, curling around the Gulf of Hammamet all the way up to Port El Kantaoui, a purpose-built resort just north of Sousse. The Mediterranean Sea is shallow and calm, so it’s really safe, even for paddling. Come summer, a vibrant mix of locals and visitors recline under parasols on the sand. Plus, there’s parasailing, windsurfing and jet-skis up for grabs. The main section of the beach is backed by an esplanade where you’ll find a bite to eat.
The 1,200-year-old medina is a riot of colour and charm. There are chaotic souks packed with leather goods and Berber rugs, and a crumbling kasbah. It also has one of the holiest mosques in the Muslim world. And if you explore the quiet backstreets, you’ll get a sneak peek of family homes hidden behind ornate Moorish doorways.
Sousse is also a thriving North African city, with all the trappings you’d expect – sleek shopping centres, a prestigious university, and smart pavement cafés where groups of friends puff on shisha pipes. Plus, Port El Kantaoui’s smart marina and a handful of nightclubs are a 10-minute drive north.