Even though La Marsa is located relatively close to the capital Tunis, there’s no doubt that this place has a much different vibe than most areas in the vicinity. This is a destination that tends to be donned by affluent locals, or tourists who are looking to get something a little different from their Tunisian adventure.
The town is based on the coast and is actually the most northern seaside resort in the country. As the previous paragraph might have already suggested, this isn’t the typical seaside resort though. The beach is pristine to say the least, and is surrounded by expensive white residences that make this town something of a paradise. When we talk about expensive, it isn’t an exaggeration either. The fact that some view the French Riviera as better value for money should speak volumes, and means that a lot of the houses are located several kilometres away from the beach so they don’t attract quite as high price tags.
The practicalities of La Marsa
Before we get into the ins and outs of what is on offer in La Marsa, let’s talk about a few practicalities. Firstly, the most common way to get there is by train. As we have already alluded to, this is a town that is located relatively close to Tunis. It simply takes a 19km ride on the light rail line to get there, if you travel via La Goulette.
In terms of the climate, this isn’t too dissimilar to Tunis. During the summer months of July and August, temperatures can reach as high as 34° and rain is pretty much non-existent. With that being said, this is a coastal town, meaning that such high temperatures can be withstood a little more so than the urban areas of Tunisia.
What are the best attractions in La Marsa?
It would be fair to say that La Marsa isn’t inundated by attractions like a lot of Tunisian towns and cities are. Instead, a lot of people head here to take in the ambience, or just loiter around the premium beaches.
Nevertheless, there are some things which are worth doing if you make your way there. Let’s now take a look at some of these attractions in greater detail.
Few would disagree that Abdalliya Palace is the primary attraction in La Marsa. Once upon a time, history suggests that this used to be a fortified residence for Abu Abdallah Mohamed in the era of the sixteenth century.
Of course, it has adapted immensely since then. For example, in the nineteenth century it was used to house foreign visitors to the area, with Husayn Bey, Thomas Reade and Richard Wood being some of the most notable figures.
Nowadays, it’s a prime example of Muslim architecture. It has been preserved fantastically and whilst its design is relatively simple in nature, it is still looked upon favourably by Tunisians around the country. It incorporates elements from both the Merinid and Saadian period and the fact that a lot of parts of the palace have been replicated in others across the country speaks volumes about its reputation.
Axel D Restaurant
The inclusion of this next attraction isn’t necessarily for the food-element, but more so the history that is related to Axel D Restaurant.
Sure, it’s a restaurant nowadays, and a very good one at that. The food is regarded as some of the best in La Marsa, while the service compliments this fantastically well as well.
However, things become truly interesting when you start to delve into the history of Axel D Restaurant. This is something that was initially built by the Bey of Tunis, towards the end of the nineteenth century, which attempted to cater for females who were looking to bathe without being pestered by wandering eyes. The construction of the building obviously makes this possible, but this was enhanced further when holes were installed in the floor that allowed them to get in and out of the water at ease.
One might suggest that you shouldn’t venture away on vacation with the purpose of going to the cinema. When it comes to Cinema Alhambra this all changes though.
This is one of the most traditional and old-school cinemas that you will ever have the pleasure of frequenting. From the burnt popcorn to the old seating, this really is a way to roll back the years whilst still enjoying modern movies.
You will tend to find that a lot of locals head here to get their fix of movies, and it’s not just tourists who enjoy the surroundings.
Is there anything else to see in La Marsa?
As the previous section might have already suggested, La Marsa is small and doesn’t have an abundance of attractions.
However, this doesn’t detract away from the fact that tourists love to flock there. As well as the glorious beach and surroundings, another reason for this is probably because there are a wealth of other attractions nearby that aren’t directly located in La Marsa.
For example, nearby Tunis has countless things to do. Bardo Museum is one of the most popular things that fall into this category, with this happening to be the second largest of its kind in the whole of Africa. It has a sterling reputation and if you are desperate to see Tunisian history and culture (including some utterly wonderful mosaics), this is the place that you need to turn to.
On the subject of museums, Carthage Museum is another that is well worth a visit. This is actually located in Byrsa, and focuses more on the Roman and Punic eras of the country. Many tourists return from this museums having been fascinated by the marble and limestone carvings that are on offer there.
If we sway away from museums temporarily, Antonin Baths are another nearby site which should be on your to-see list. This is the largest group of thermal baths available to see in the whole of Africa, as well as being some of the biggest that the Romans ever made. Again, it’s based in Carthage, so just a short trip away from La Marsa.
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