Tunis – Tunisia
Ruins of Carthage Ruins of Carthage Just a 5 mile cab or coach tour ride up the coast from the port takes you to the fascinating Ruins of Carthage. The city was founded in the Phoenicians in the 9th century BC, and became a leading Mediterranean port. Because of rivalry between Carthage and Rome (it was Hannibal and the Carthage army who crossed the Alps with elephants), the city was sacked by the Romans in 146BC. See the extensive Antonine Baths, the large amphitheatre, the impressive La Malaga cisterns, and the Tophet, once a site of child sacrifice.
Sidi Bou Said Sidi Bou Said The picture-perfect village of Sidi Bou Said clings to a hill above the sparkling Mediterranean, so unsurprisingly it’s often called the Tunisian Santorini. The town’s whitewashed houses, dotted with colorful blue shutters and doors, cluster beside narrow cobblestone streets and alleys. Be sure to stop for a snack at one of the stunningly situated cafes at the top of the hill, which offer lovely views over the Gulf of Tunis. The town lies just past the ruins of Carthage, but note that the walk from the coach park to the village is a 15 minute uphill hike.
Tunis Medina doorstep attraction (easy walk or less than 5mile-8km taxi/bus ride from port) Tunis Medina The French destroyed the walls of Tunis Medina (Tunis’s Old Town) but the complicated maze of narrow streets and ancient buildings still remain. A popular attraction in the Medina is beautiful courtyard of the 9th century Ez Zitouna Mosque, or Mosque of the Olive Tree (Non-muslims are barred from the interior).
A UNESCO world heritage centre of breathtaking beauty
The added value of a vacation in Tunis with a cruise of the Mediterranean is that in a stretch of just a few kilometres one can admire beautiful sites dating from the pre-historical period to the present day.
An excursion from the berthing port – La Goulette – to the remains of the ancient Carthage, a UNESCO world heritage site since 1979, will take you to the heart of one of the most dynamic and important centres of the Mediterranean. In Carthage one can admire the Roman baths of Antonino, built in the 2nd century AD, the amphitheatre by the same name, which can host 5000 spectators and a small Punic necropolis. Not to miss during your cruise is also a visit to the Carthage National Museum, one of the two archaeological museums in Tunisia, from where one can enjoy a splendid view of the port of La Goulette.
Cruises excursions continue along the coast up to Sidi Bou Said, the “Portofino” of Tunisia, built by the Andalusian Arabs fleeing from Spain, which has become a holiday resort since the 18th century. The heights of the cliffs dominate over the Tunis Bay with its unique colours: the bright white of the walls, the intense blue of the doors and windows, the warm sand colour of the cobbled streets and the explosive fuchsia of the bougainvillea flowers. Another visit not to miss is to the Bard National Museum, hosted in the Hafsid palace built in the 13th century.
Allow yourself some time to walk around Tunis as an alternative to Sidi Bou Said before returning to your cruise ship: the central market, not too far from the Medina, the old own, is a souk typical of Middle Eastern cities, offering cruisers a variety of shops selling fabrics, clothing, spices and crafts. As in any market of this kind, a sale is made only after some haggling, may cruisers be warned!