Sousse Holidays – A city full of character
Fought over by the Phoenicians, Romans and Muslims, Sousse is a lively town that manages to strike the right note between cosmopolitan and laid back. At 64 kms (40miles) south of Hammamet on the coast, its array of cafes and shops ensure a buzzy street life, particularly around the Avenue Habib Bourguiba whilst the beach and sea front promenade draws visitors and locals alike for some down time. The Great Mosque, the 8th century ribat, and sizable Medina (a UNESCO world heritage site) are the main events of Sousse’s numerous cultural attractions, whilst lesser known ones include the Museum Dar Essid, a private museum located in a grand, traditional home (or dar). Sousse-Nord is a purpose-built leisure complex complete with marina and golf course, holiday apartments and hotels provides that denote a laid-back Mediterranean ambiance.
Sousse is an ideal base from which to explore other parts of Tunisia via train, either up the coast to Tunis or south to Monastir and Mahdia and as far as Gabes, a desert town with a remarkable oasis.
Like most beach destinations, Sousse is busiest (and in terms of accommodation, most expensive) in July-August, when daytime temperatures are plus 30 degrees and rarely drop below the low 20s in the evening, though sea-breezes cool down the high humidity. April, May and June are the most enjoyable times, and although great package holiday deals can be found at Easter, the water is generally too chilly for bathing. Being a popular destination with the French, school holidays can get busy but no more so than other holiday destinations in Europe.
Most major providers provide flight and accommodation package holidays to Tunisia and Sousse is a popular destination. Holiday portals do have Sousse hotels, though not as many as other resorts such as Hammamet and there are some self-catering possibilities. Fly and hotel package holidays can often work out to be cheaper and less troublesome for Sousse, and will include transfers (taxis in Sousse have a reputation for being dishonest) and often meals (though Sousse does have a good reputation for restaurants!).
Monastir – Habib Bourguiba International Airport is only 15kms from Sousse, from where you can catch a taxi (30 TND) to the city centre, but many airlines from the UK fly to the newer Enfidha-Hammamet airport in the north from where you can catch a louage or bus.
Facilities at Enfidha-Hammamet include duty free, money exchange facilities and car rental services. Avis is the only international car hire operator in the airport should you choose to drive. Some travel forums have good reports on driving in Tunisia (except for the capital Tunis) and roads between the major resorts tend to be acceptable. Plenty of motor scooter traffic, lack of traffic lights, (roundabouts are used instead) and pedestrians crossing roads at any point are the main pitfalls.
Sousse’s Boujaffar Beach is a long stretch of sand backed by high-rise hotels and dotted with cafes and restaurants. It’s the city’s main pleasure ground, where families picnic, couples stroll, kids run wild and (mainly foreigners) take to the water, which is warm and benign. Some beaches in front of the hotels have facilities such as sun beds and umbrellas, which you will need to pay for if you are not a guest. Water sports equipment is also for hire and do watch your belongings as some travel forums have reported theft.
The main beach in Sousse is wide, sandy and runs alongside the town’s central promenade. The glorious climate here makes the beach a magnet for lovers of water activities such as scuba diving, paragliding and snorkelling.
Sousse has one of the finest old city shopping centres in Tunisia, traditionally known as the Medina. Featuring a warren of covered alleyways situated underneath the town’s fort, you can buy carpets, leather goods and antiques. You can also visit the 9th century Great Mosque for a real trip back in time. Make sure you never accept the first price as haggling is expected and welcomed. It all adds to the experience of Tunisia.
If you are a culture vulture there is no end to the historical sights and monuments here. Make sure to visit the complex of Christian catacombs that date back to the 3rd century AD. Take a trip to the Kasbah and tour the archaeology museum and the garden courtyard of the Kasbah.
A traditional Tunisian bathhouse known as the Hammam is a must try experience. You can sit in the steam rooms and feel your pores open and become cleansed, and even have a haircut and massage.
You are spoiled for choice by the restaurants on a Sousse holiday. Dishes range from French, Tunisian, International, Lebanese and some of the freshest seafood dishes available. Combine the great food with live music and dining al fresco and you have the perfect way to spend an evening.
Ths resort is nothing if not lively, and it boasts some of the best bars, nightclubs and live music establishments in Tunisia. You can also try your hand at one of the biggest casinos in Tunisia; the Casino Caraibe.
Sousse boasts a range of sports for all tastes; both land and water based. You can test your golf swing at the nearby 36-hole champion course at Port El Kantaoui, take professional diving lessons or spot dolphins from the deck of a hired boat. Head to the Acqua Palace at Port El Kantaoui for a day of splashing around on the chutes, whirlpools and slides.