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When one opens the travel brochures for Tunisia, it would be fair to say that El Haouaria is one place that rarely shouts out at you. Instead, most of these brochures focus on the main touristic areas like Sousse and Monastir.

Well, let’s advise against this. Sure, the above destinations are well worthy of a visit, but when it comes to something a little different, few places will compete with El Haouaria.

Sat at the top of the Cap Bon, in its simplest terms this is a small town. It’s somewhat no-frills and while there are tourist attractions, it’s more authentic than the typical Tunisian resorts.

Following on from the above, let’s take a look at El Haouaria in a little more detail and highlight the main things you should be looking to do there if you decide to visit.


Let’s introduce El Haouaria

While we have already briefly introduced El Haouaria, much more can be said. The fact that it houses around 9,000 residents should highlight the type of place that it is, perhaps even more so when you start to consider that this is remotely located out in the sticks.

It is surrounded by white buildings, looking out to fields, and not just the Meditterean sea which a lot of tourists are used to when it comes to Tunisia.

If we hone in on its location a little more, Sicily is a stone’s throw (well, not quite) away to the east. It means that El Haouaria happens to be acutely positioned between Europe and Africa.

In terms of its history, the main trade that used to don El Haouaria was sandstone. This tended to be of the red and yellow sandstone, with most of this shipped to facilitate the construction of Carthage. Much of this sandstone came from underground, with many tunnels dug up to 100 feet long. Once it was obtained, a barge would ship the blocks to the relevant destinations.


What are the best things to do in Haouaria?

While some people might visit El Haouaria for the purposes of trekking around and taking in the history, there are of course still plenty of attractions to fill a day with. Sure, these attractions might not be as commercial or perhaps famous as some which other locations have, but they are still worthy of a visit if you find yourself in the town.

Let’s now take a look at some of the best few in-detail.


Djebel Sidi Abid

el haouaria Djebel Sidi Abid

For those of you who appreciate mountains, Djebel Sidi Abiod should be on your list without a shadow of a doubt. At 390m, it’s not overly testing, but still sufficient to give you a sweat for the summer months.

This mountain is located right on the tip of the Tunisian Dorsale, meaning that those who are successful in reaching the summit can bask in truly glorious views over the cleefs that hang over the ocean.

If you can time your hike with the sunset, the sights can be even more scintillating as well. This is the point in which the sun sinks into the sea, but right beside Zembra island which just presents some truly memorable photo opportunities.

Another point is birdwatching. This is regarded as one of the best in Tunisia, as it captures the point which sits between two continents.


Plage Menzel Salem

For those of you who want more of a peaceful retreat, El Haouaria also houses some splendid beaches. One of these comes in the form of Plage Menzel Salem.

Let’s put something out there from the start; this isn’t a traditional beach that stretches for miles and miles. Instead, it’s small, humble and is only going to attract tourists with an acquired taste.

If you happen to fall into this taste category, which includes the base of rocky cliffs, picturesque views onto an island full of wind turbines, you will be absolutely in your element as you take to Plage Menzel Salem.


Ras El Drek

el haouaria Ras El Drek

If we stay on the subject of beaches, let’s now move onto Ras Ed Drek. This is one beach which probably does cater for the masses a little more, as it’s long, white and sandy – the three attributes which tend to describe the best beaches in the world.

It’s not just tourists who are utterly taken with Ras Ed Drek either, it’s a big favorite amongst locals. For this reason, you’ll find plenty of resident’s homes and restaurants, which adds to the charm of the whole area.

For those of you who have children, or perhaps just an inquisitive mind, there are small coves that are dotted around the north side of the beach and this can be perfect for exploring, or just seeking shade in the peak of summer.


Les Grottes

el haouaria Les Grottes

The final member on our list comes in the form of Les Grottes. For anyone with at least a small grasp of foreign languages, it might become apparent that this focusses on grottos (or caves, to most of us).

The great thing about this attraction is that it’s not just about exploring the tiny holes of El Haouaria, although this is of course a big part of it. As well as this, there is actually a large historical element to Les Grottes. This all links to the sandstone history it has, with these caves being formed by the quarrying that the Romans did for all of their projects. This digging, said to have lasted for more than 1000 years, means that the caves stretching along the coast of El Haouaria are truly breathtaking.


The practicalities for El Haouaria

Now that we have explained all of the main information about El Haouaria, let’s move onto some of the practicalities.

In terms of getting there, it can be found by traveling along the C27 from Nabeul, or if you are coming from Tunis take the P1/C26.

For those of you looking to plan your trip around the climate, you should consider that the temperatures can reach as high as 32C during the dry months such as July and August. Winter is much milder and arguably more comfortable, particularly if you are looking to take on the mountains or caves we have spoken about.

About Olivia Marsh

Olivia Marsh - Author - Professional chef and Travel enthusiast.
Culinary Institute of America (CIA) graduate. Chef Marsh has traveled the globe from France, Italy, Germany to China, Thailand, India, Tunisia and more.
Olivia lived in Tunisia for almost 10 years now.
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