The Mediterranean is the trendiest place to be this summer now that every country that has a coastline straddling the basin has lifted all travel restrictions.
From Europe’s Southern swimming spots, which extend from Spain’s Westernmost Costa del Sol to Greece’s Easternmost islands, down to the Aegean coast of Türkiye and Western Asia, and finally, North Africa, the ancient sea is calling you.
However, if the prospect of yet another vacation in jam-packed Italy or overpriced Croatia no longer seems appealing enough, perhaps you should consider exploring an alternative yet just as beautiful Mediterranean hotspot instead.
How about lesser-known, increasingly popular Tunisia?
Tunisia Becomes A Major Mediterranean Destination
On the shores of North Africa, sandwiched between the other Maghreb nations of Algeria and Libya, and bounded to the South by vast swathes of the Saharan desert, Tunisia is currently a super trendy vacation, having soared in popularity in the post-pandemic scene.
Boasting a long Mediterranean coastline at 1,148 km, where pristine sandy crescents are interspersed with ancient cities, traditional fishermen settlements, and marine parks, it is currently one of the fastest-growing destinations in the region.
In the first five months of 2023 alone, tourism revenue has increased by a jaw-dropping 68.4% year-on-year, proving more tourists are flying to and spending their holiday money in Tunisia.
The data, shared by the Central Bank of Jordan (CBJ), revealed that revenues have already amounted to US$2.826 billion this year, easily placing Tunisia at the front of the Med’s tourism revival, in a region that was historically led by Spain, France, Italy, and the like.
Now more than ever, tourists are searching for alternatives to a crowded Southern Europe, and a growing number of them are realizing they do not need to spend their summers in Europe specifically to experience that laid-back Mediterranean lifestyle.
After all, this is a sea that crosses at least three continental borders.
You Don’t Need To Fly To Europe To Experience That Slow Mediterranean Living
Tunisia sits only 206 nautical miles South of Sardinia, 188 Southwest of Sicily, two of the largest Italian islands, and 314 nautical miles from the tiny sovereign state of Malta, all three incredibly popular European summer getaways.
Its shores lines the exact same sea that surrounds some of Europe’s most famous islands, yet Tunisia does not get half the recognition nor promotion Sicily or Malta get.
It is home to beautiful small towns within reach of the Mediterranean’s crashing waves and vibrant coastal cities with an extensive array of cultural attractions.
Whitewashed Coastal Towns
A symbol of Tunisia, Sidi Bou Said is a traditional town where the wooden windows and beautifully-carved doors of the whitewashed, Greek-style houses are painted an electric blue.
It is also a fast-developing resort zone, where new upscale hotels and luxury offers pop up by the minute.
In fact, it has a high concentration of five-star properties, with 23 in total listed on Booking.com, and believe it or not, overnight rates at luxurious spa resorts like the landmark Dar El Marsa can at times be as cheap as US$193, even though this is the highly sought-after Mediterranean sea.
You can find accommodation for much cheaper, even, with one-night stays at mid-range hotels ranging from US$27 to US$66, and seasonal AirBnB deals starting at just US$38 per night.
Up-And-Coming Resort Zones
Other popular Mediterranean hotspots in Tunisia include Sousse, a small yet highly-developed seaport known for its lush marine gardens, shopping scene, picturesque Old Town, which blends traditional Maghrebi and French colonial architecture, and bustling resort zone.
Hammamet is not to be missed, as well.
A lively beach town with miles on end of white-sand beaches, lapped by bright-blue waters, it is a favorite among beach-goers and water sports enthusiasts.
However, if it’s a recluse island retreat you’re looking for, you should consider basing yourself in Djerba instead.
The largest island off the coast of North Africa, it is a subtropical paradise with a rich ancient History and gorgeous natural vistas.
One Of The Most Beautiful Mediterranean Islands
In Antiquity, it was believed to be the island where Odysseus once got stranded on his epic voyage across the Mediterranean, and the cultural wealth in Djerba is so vast Tunisia has sought UNESCO World Heritage status for the island, though it is yet to be conceded.
Whether it’s ancient ruins and cultural immersions you’re after, or simply a carefree, all-inclusive vacation, Djerba can offer you a bit of both.
You should be prepared for some splurging, though, as prices in Djerba can be comparable to those in Greece or Italy.
There are as many 6 all-inclusives on the island, including the ultra-luxurious TUI MAGIC LIFE Penelope Beach resort, with summer rates starting at US$331 per night.
Though it is pricier, the resort is within walking distance of Houmt Souk, the island’s tourist zone, where all of the main attractions are centered.
A Vibrant Capital City With A Fascinating History To Match
Finally, there is Tunis, Tunisia’s capital and cultural center, and a modern metropolis with a historic UNESCO-protected medina that extends across a coastal plain.
Day and night, the narrow streets are busy with trade and activity, while the French-built Ville Nouvelle has a contrasting ‘Old World’ charm, what with its wide, tree-lined boulevards, European-style buildings, and higher-end shops.
Near Tunis, tourists will find the archaeological complex of Carthage, once one of the largest Mediterranean powers and now a ruined city lost to time.
Some of the most famous landmarks include the well-delineated layout of Carthage’s famous seaport, which survived later developments, the Ancient Theater, and other important civic buildings.
Fly To Tunisia From Europe Or Canada
Tunis-Carthage International, the main international airport serving Mediterranean Tunisia, hosts numerous low-cost flights from every major departure point in Europe, as well as nonstop service from Montreal-Trudeau in Canada, operated by flag-carrier Tunisair.
According to easyJet, one of the U.K.’s largest budget carriers, demand for travel to Tunisia has ‘risen the most out of any country’ on their website since 2019, confirming it as a major Mediterranean player.
Tunisia has no entry requirements whatsoever, and unlike other more restrictive African countries, it does not require a tourist visa from American or Canadian citizens.
All they need to present is a valid passport, and they will be issued an entry permit upon arrival when traveling as short-term tourists.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com