With the blue and white hilltop buildings set against an azure ocean backdrop, it’s often said Sidi Bou Said is the Tunisian Santorini, but travel agent Liz Clarke thinks the North African destination could also give the Caribbean a run for its money.
Liz, an agent with Luxury Holidays and Honeymoons, visited Tunisia for the first time this spring, on a fam trip organised by the Tunisian National Tourist Office (TNTO), in partnership with Iberostar.
Liz says: “Our visit to Sidi Bou Said village was breathtaking. If you didn’t know where you were, you’d think you were in Santorini. We visited medieval fortresses, museums, marinas, an amphitheatre and little markets.
“I went to Jamaica at the beginning of this year and I can quite honestly say that the beaches in Tunisia were just as incredible, if not more.
“I’m going back next month and taking my children this time. We are going to visit the Sahara Desert for a day trip so I can experience even more of this beautiful country.”
Entry requirements to Tunisia started to ease at the end of February. Under 18s are exempt from any entry requirements; passenger locator forms are no longer needed and over 18s who are fully vaccinated are welcome. Those that aren’t fully vaccinated need to take a COVID test and enter five days self-isolation.
TNTO Trade Manager Sami Tounsi, who accompanied agents on the trip, told Travel Gossip he’s gearing up for more agent engagement including roadshows, incentives and educationals.
“Tunisia has always been popular among British people, particularly as a summer-sun destination and we’re doing all we can to assist our agent partners to get the message out there that Tunisia is open and ready to welcome tourists.”
Iberostar was able showcase the variety of accommodation it has in Tunisia, including overnight stays at the Iberostar Selection Diar El Andalous, Port El Kantaoui and Iberostar Selection Kuriat Palace and Liz said she’d have no hesitation in sending clients to any of the group’s properties.
Some of the places the fam trip visited include:
A lively and popular resort with great swimming and water sports, a medina (old city) Medieval fortress and markets selling local pottery and souvenirs made out of local jasmine.
Port El Kantaoui
A stylish resort built around a luxury marina, with cobbled streets, a long sandy beach, PGA-standard golf course and small markets.
Sousse has a promenade, a walled old city, the Museum Dar Essid, modern cafes and restaurants and a long stretch of white sandy beach.
The Amphitheatre of El Djem
A two-hour drive away from Sidi Bou Said, situated in El Djem, which was formerly Thysdrus in the Roman province of Africa. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site, one of the best-preserved Roman amphitheatres and the setting for scenes in the movie Gladiator.
Traditionally a fishing port, now a tourist attraction, it’s worth the long climb up to the Ribat Fortress Tower for stunning views.
Sidi Bou Said
A charming little town with cobbled streets and blue-and-white houses, al fresco cafes, art galleries and a marina.
A quiet fishing village, with a mosque, Sidi Bou Mendil.
For more information, go to: www.discovertunisia.uk