Tunis dates from at least the 4th Century BC when Berbers founded the town of Tunes. Tunis is close to Carthage and many visitors to Tunis visit the historic Carthaginian capital’s UNESCO world heritage site. Tunis though was destroyed by the romans at the same time as Carthage and has a lot of history to offer.
Rebuilt by the Romans under Augustus Tunis became an important town and has remained so ever since; parts from almost every stage of Tunis’ history are still here though the city is now a vast metropolis and primarily built during the last century.
What to see
The centre of the city is where most tourists head and home to most of the city’s many hotels. The old city area known as the Medina can be reached by bus from the airport outside the city but may be easier to reach by Taxi; once in the city you can get around on the suburban rail service as well as buses.
One of Tunis’ must see attractions is the Bardo Museum: partly for the collection and partly because it is located in a marvellous 13th Century Ottoman palace. The museum itself covers the entire history of Tunisia: that is a lot to take in so allow a full day. You may be tempted to only bother with the Carthaginian and Roman sections of the museum but this would be a mistake.
Another great attraction is the Zitouna Mosque, not only is it Tunisia’s largest, it dates from the 8th century. Although non-Muslims are not permitted into the Mosque you can visit the courtyard and take it much of the architecture including the distinctive minaret, a 19th century addition.
The Souk in Tunis feels a lot less touristy than those in some North African towns and cities; it is a vibrant place where people live and work. Because of this and because people are primarily interested in going about their business they will not bother you as a tourist. You may find some souvenirs here but the food is also well worth trying for genuine local fare at great prices
Food and Drink
As well as Tunisian food you will find food that is influenced by French cooking as well as French dishes. Restaurants selling Tunisian food may be cheaper than those specialising in international cuisines and you will also get much better value and good sized portions.
For day trips Carthage is nearby and along the coast there are resorts with great beaches, one thing that Tunis, despite being on the coast, is lacking.