Tunisia's capital, Tunis, is ripe for tourists to return
It's been over three years since the terror attacks and it's now safe to explore Tunis on an intriguing city break. From eating to museums to shopping, Chris Leadbeater dishes on what to do
Tunisia's capital is far less well known than its beach resorts but its mild climate, Roman ruins and Arab heritage make it an intriguing option for a break. Tunisia is back on the map for tourists. Its security situation is far more settled - it is more than three years since the terror attacks, and one since the UK's Foreign Office rescinded its advice against visiting.
Dar El Medina is a boutique hideaway whose courtyard offers genteel respite from the evocative din of the old town. Doubles from 68 dinar (R340), room only.
A stately four-star in the former British embassy, the Hotel Royal Victoria on Place de la Victoire has doubles from £80 (R1,480), room only.
An east-to-west stroll along Avenue Habib Bourguiba gives an overview of recent history. Place du 14 Janvier 2011, home to a latticework clock tower, salutes the date President Ben Ali's government fell in the Tunisian Revolution.
Further on, the Cathedral of St Vincent de Paul, finished in 1897, is a legacy of French colonial rule (1881-1956). Avenue de France is another Gallic relic, a tree-lined miniature Champs-Elysées.
Arabic Tunis asserts itself if you turn on to Rue Charles de Gaulle and amble south to the Municipal Market, a giant hive of dates, figs and olives. Continue west on Rue d'Espagne and into the labyrinthine medina, whose many souks may detain you for hours. Souk El Berka deals in fine jewellery.
Don't miss the Ez-Zitouna Mosque. It dominates the medina as the oldest mosque in Tunisia, dating to the 7th century. Its 47m minaret, built in 1894, is a solid point of reference as you wander the souks.
Another grand shard of the French yesteryear, the Théâtre Municipal, opened in 1902 and stages opera, ballet and classical concerts.
Nightlife is limited but hotel El Hana International on Avenue Habib Bourguiba has Bar Jamaica, with its 10th-floor views and beer.
Dar El Jeld is the culinary gem of the medina: an 18th-century gilded mansion whose elegant interior now houses a hotel and a restaurant. Dishes include couscous with lamb or seafood, from 39 dinar (about R200).
OFF THE MAP
One of Africa's greatest archaeological treasure troves, the National Bardo Museum contains mosaics from Tunisia's Roman period and statues from Carthage, Tunis's ancient predecessor. The ruins lie 16km to the northeast. Viator sells a day trip from Tunis, from £69 (R1,280) a head. - The Daily Telegraph