If you drive two hours south of Tunis, you’ll reach the “pearl of the Sahel,” otherwise known as the charming resort town of Sousse. Head to the east coast after your Tunisia flight for the mild climate and beautiful Mediterranean shore, enjoyed since the 9th century by Phoenicians, Byzantines, Arabs and Romans. Sousse is a favorite getaway spot for Tunisians, as well as Europeans, and offers modern resort hotels on a beautiful beachfront and one of the best medinas in the country. Hundreds of colorful shops are tucked away below the fort amidst a maze of narrow alleyways. You can shop for carpets, porcelain or leather goods or head to the modern shopping complex just outside the medina. For a taste of culture and history, head to the museum located in the old castle and explore its wonderful collection of statues, mosaics and other relics from the Roman era. For a bit of the macabre, wander through miles of well-preserved catacombs and marble tombs. With cheap flights to Tunisia, you’re just a step away from a relaxing seaside vacation in Sousse’s exotic North Africa.
Boujaffar Beach: Miles of sand stretch along the water and provide the one thing that all Sousse-goers crave: the ocean. Gorgeous high-rise hotels, cafes, and restaurants dot the span of lazy summer land, land marking the relaxation and luxury of Sousse. If you’re booking flights to Sousse for respite and sunbathing, head straight to Boujaffar Beach, where children, families, and calm waters meet. Areas owned by hotels aren’t roped off, but staff is present to ensure each hotel’s residents are safe and happy. If you opt to take part in water sports, just be careful with your belongings, because petty theft has been known to occur with tourists.
Catacombs: If you’re bored with the beach, and yearning for historical depth during your Sousse travel, head to the Catacombs, where reverence and past collide. Three miles of tunnels run under ground, holding more than 1500 graves of Christians from the 4th and 5th centuries. The only part that tourists can experience is the first few hundred feet. Known as “Catacombes de Bon Pasteur,” meaning shepherd of the catacombs, it was named so because of an engraving on one of the walls, which is hundreds of years old. In this section, you’ll be surrounded by the solemnity of graves with glass cases and skeletal remains. The significant monument is not to be missed.
Great Mosque: Strolling around the luxurious beaches of Sousse, it’s easy to get lost in the sand and forget about the historically significant parts of the land. If you’re booking flights to Sousse with architecture in mind, then the Great Mosque should certainly be one of your stops. Settled into the center of the Medina, you’ll see the Great Mosque, constructed in the early Arabic courtyard in 851 AD. A beautiful architectural feat, the mosque was built by a freed slave named Nudam, who adopted the style from an earlier fort. He added turrets and crenulated walls to make it look like a royal castle, and it still remains to be gazed at by locals and tourists alike. Be sure to stop by and see it in all its greatness, but you might be able to get as close as you’d like: Non-Muslims aren’t allowed beyond the court yard, but even from there, you are still able to see the prayer hall, which is arguably the most beautiful part.
Museum Dar Essid: For a quaint afternoon to add to your Sousse travel check-list, this old house-turned museum is a perfect way to learn about the people of Sousse in passed centuries. Small and privately owned, Museum Dar Essid is situated in the quiet part of the medina. A deep-rooted and long standing home, the elaborately decorated dwelling showcases 19th century furnishings of a wealthy family that lived there. A small plaque in the courtyard shows that the foundation of the extravagant home was built in 928 AD, making it one of the oldest in Sousse.