The Tunisian “Portofino”
The stunning remains of the ancient Carthage
The Bard National Museum

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Tunis/La Goulette

A UNESCO world heritage centre of breathtaking beauty

The added value of a vacation in Tunis with an MSC cruise of the Mediterranean is that in a stretch of just a few kilometres one can admire beautiful sites dating from the pre-historical period to the present day.

An excursion from the berthing port – La Goulette – to the remains of the ancient Carthage, a UNESCO world heritage site since 1979, will take you to the heart of one of the most dynamic and important centres of the Mediterranean. In Carthage one can admire the Roman baths of Antonino, built in the 2nd century AD, the amphitheatre by the same name, which can host 5000 spectators and a small Punic necropolis. Not to miss during your cruise is also a visit to the Carthage National Museum, one of the two archaeological museums in Tunisia, from where one can enjoy a splendid view of the port of La Goulette.

MSC cruise excursions continue along the coast up to Sidi Bou Said, the “Portofino” of Tunisia, built by the Andalusian Arabs fleeing from Spain, which has become a holiday resort since the 18th century. The heights of the cliffs dominate over the Tunis Bay with its unique colours: the bright white of the walls, the intense blue of the doors and windows, the warm sand colour of the cobbled streets and the explosive fuchsia of the bougainvillea flowers. Another visit not to miss is to the Bard National Museum, hosted in the Hafsid palace built in the 13th century.

Allow yourself some time to walk around Tunis as an alternative to Sidi Bou Said before returning to your cruise ship: the central market, not too far from the Medina, the old own, is a souk typical of Middle Eastern cities, offering cruisers a variety of shops selling fabrics, clothing, spices and crafts. As in any market of this kind, a sale is made only after some haggling, may cruisers be warned!

Must see places in Tunis

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    On the footsteps of the ancient Romans
    On the footsteps of the ancient Romans

    Tunisia has been attracting the interest of adventurers for millennia. Over time, the native Berbers have seen a cavalcade of civilizations and settlers.

    The Phoenicians built Carthage; the Romans razed and replaced it, bringing roads, temples, olive groves and a thoroughly impressive amphitheatre

    Later, the Arabs and Ottoman Turks brought Islam and Islamic architecture, and the French brought a new language and a colonial administration. 

    Today, sun-seeking European holidaymakers come and go all year round, drawn by Mediterranean beaches which remain just the right side of overdeveloped. 

    During your cruise to Tunisia, there are World-Heritage-listed Roman and Phoenician ruins to discover, beautiful mosques, tangled souks and intriguing architectural curiosities, such as ghorfas (multi-storey mud-built grain stores which look like hobbit-houses) and the underground refuges of the Berbers. 

    Some of these heritage sites are used as striking backdrops to annual music and theatre festivals. In the south, you can get a vivid taste of the Sahara, with camels trekking across curvaceous dunescapes and eager tour guides escorting movie nerds to the sandy remains of Star Wars sets. In fact, a holiday to Tunisia is perfect for film lovers: its desert landscapes and splendid coastal fortresses have also served as locations for The English PatientRaiders of the Lost Ark and Monty Python’s Life of Brian.