Tunisia has an enormous amount to offer the traveller: a Mediterranean coastline, the dunes of the Sahara, beautifully preserved Roman towns, countless labyrinthine medinas, magnificent Islamic architecture, vestiges of a French colonial past and extraordinarily friendly people. It is also a relatively small country, so you can enjoy all of the above in the space of a week or so.
Historically Tunisia gives insights into a unique combination of cultures: the ancient Berbers provide continuity, the mighty Phoenicians, who dominated the western Mediterranean for centuries but were finally obliterated by the vengeful Romans, the early Christians, notably St Augustine, the ebb and flow of the Arab invasions, the Turks, the Ottomans, the corsairs, French colonists...and so it goes on.
The tour below takes in the main sites, which are located in the north and centre of the country. With an extra couple of days you could head to a desert oasis and spend a night sleeping under the stars in the Sahara. More time still would allow for a few days on the Mediterranean coast.
Day 1 Arrive in Tunis.
Day 2 Visit the Bardo Museum, which contains the world’s largest collection of Roman mosaics. In the afternoon discover what is left of Carthage in the suburbs of Tunis.
Day 3 Drive east and explore the underground Roman villas at Bulla Regia and spend the afternoon in the astounding ruined hilltop town of Dougga. Stay in El Kef, a pretty white-washed hill-town.
Day 4 Head south to the holy Islamic town of Kairouan, visiting the ruins of Roman Maktharis and Sbeitla on the way.
Day 5 Spend the day in Kairouan, visiting the Grand Mosque and exploring the medina. Kairouan is both the fourth holiest city in Islam and the carpet capital of Tunisia.
Day 6 Head north to the Cap Bon peninsula, taking in the massive Roman amphitheatre in El-Jem and the nearby museum on the way. Stay in the seaside town of Kelibia.
Day 7 Visit the ruins at Kerkouane, the only extensive archaeological evidence of the Phoenician civilisation. Spend the afternoon on the beach.