The smallest country in North Africa, Tunisia, has a wealth of attractions to offer its visitors. Here you can enjoy Mediterranean beaches and the delights of the Sahara Desert demonstrating that this is truly a country of contrasts. Although it is an Islamic country, it is one of the most liberal, so women visitors do not need to feel intimidated. There are six national parks in Tunisia and contains one of only two Unesco protected biospheres in the world. Visit deserted villages, the hot pools of desert oasis towns or relax at one of the resorts along the 1400 km. of coastline.

Attractions

No matter where you go in Tunisia, you will find the sights and sounds very interesting. Tourists often overlook the north of the country, but this area contains some of the most spectacular scenery in the country, lots of quiet beaches and fascinating towns.

Tunis

Tunis is the capital of the country, with beautiful tree-lined streets. The vibrant atmosphere of the vibrant of the medina has an arched gateway called Bab el Bahr (Port of France) and to the right of this structure you can see the British Embassy with its green and white fa├žade. There are many alleys with open air markets and usually each one of these deals with only one type of item. The Souk el Attrine (the perfume market) dates back to the 13th century and perfumes the air with the scents of the essential oils that it sells. The Great Mosque is the largest building in the city and if you happen to get lost, this is a great landmark to use. For non-Muslims, access to this mosque is limited to a small viewing enclosure. At the Bardo Museum, you will see one of the largest collections of Roman mosaics. It also houses artifacts from Roman, Carthagenian, Christian and Islamic eras.

Bizerte

This is the largest military base in Tunisia. The center of the town is the oldest part of the city and along with visiting the many shops and cafes, you will want to take pictures of the brightly colored fishing boats. The Kazbah dates back to the 17th century and the town itself consists of many narrow, winding alleys. One of the landmarks of Bizerte is the Monument of the Martyrs, commemorating a battle between French and Tunisian troops in 1961.

Travel to Tunisia

There are regular direct flights to Tunisia from major European cities and with five international airports in the country, you can choose which section of Tunisia you want to visit first. There are also seven major ports with ferry service between France and Italy.

Travel Within Tunisia

There are daily flights to the international and smaller airports within the country, so you won?t have any problem using domestic flights. There are also ferries between the various ports and there is quite an extensive network of roads in the country, if you want to rent a car. However, it is forbidden to drive in the Sahara area without first notifying the National Guard post in the nearest town and providing a copy of your itinerary.

Language

The official language is Arabic, but French and Italian are widely spoken, English and German are only spoken in the tourist areas.

Visa

Canadian, US and British tourists do not need to have a travel Visa to enter Tunisia. However, they and tourists from other countries do need to have a passport that is valid from six months after the return date listed on the ticket.

Safety

You need to present a certificate showing that you have a yellow fever vaccination when you arrive and is advisable to have immunization against typhoid. Bottled water is widely available and you should stick to this in order to avoid stomach upsets, which can ruin part of your holiday.

Food and Drink

The Tunisian food is delicious and is usually cooked with olive oil. You should sample the authentic lamb and bream couscous, the various fish dishes and brik a l?oeuf, which is and a tasty filling in an envelope of pastry. Alcohol is permitted even though this is an Islamic country and has an excellent selection of local wines. Boukha is a liqueur distilled from figs and is quite tasty.

Shopping

There are weekly markets in the various towns and cities, as well as shopping centers in the larger towns. Tourists like to buy copperware, articles made from scented olive wood as well as leather goods. The carpets from Tunisia are really valuable in woven or knotted pile. Stores are open from Monday to Saturday from 8 to noon and from 4 to 7 p.m. in the summer, but in the winter they are open from 8 a.m to 1 p.m. and from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Entertainment

There are several French and international production companies that put off shows in Tunis from October to June. You can also take in a concert in Tunis, Hammamet and Souse and there are many nightclubs in Tunis as well as the major tourist areas. Belly dancing is very popular at the cabarets and you can get a chance to hear the local bands.

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