Cafe in Hammamet, Tunisia
Cafe in Hammamet,

Hammamet is the main holiday destination in Tunisia, attracting 30% of all the country’s tourists. This makes it a very lively town, with all the amenities you could wish for, including discos, restaurants, good shopping and bars. It’s hardly surprising the town has developed as it has a perfect setting by the sea, with a long sandy beach and a bustling Medina. The houses are attractively whitewashed, and the town is in a fertile region of orange and lemon groves. It’s also about halfway between the country’s two main airports, and tours both north to Tunis and south towards the desert are equally convenient with Hammamet as your base.

There are unfortunately many wild cats around some of the hotels, which the authorities are doing their best to deal with by neutering them, with the help of the Society for the Protection of Animals. They may look appealing, but avoid handling them because of the risk of disease, bites or fleas.

The ancient Medina is the place to go, of course, for the shops and bazaars selling all manner of goods, from nougat and stuffed camels to leather goods and expensive carpets. The further south you go, the more traditional the Medina becomes. The Commercial Centre in the Centre Ville is one of the shopping areas where you’ll find lots of shops together, selling souvenirs, clothes, jewellery, antiques and not-so-antiques. The local food market is on Avenue de la République, and here you can buy herbs and spices to take home as well as watch the locals stocking up on fresh fish and meat, exotic fruit and veg.

*** The Medina. The focal point of any Tunisian town, and the one here dates back originally to the late 9th century, but was rebuilt in the 15th century.

*** The Kasbah. In one corner of the Medina is the Kasbah, or citadel, which has good views from the ramparts. It was first built in the 12th century, rebuilt in the 15th century with the Medina, and has been much restored since then.

** International Cultural Centre. This beautiful 1920s villa to the west of town was the home of millionaire George Sebastian, who invited many of his artistic friends here which started the modern development of Hammamet. The house and grounds are open to the public but check first as international conferences are often held here, when there is no public admittance.

* Pupput. The Roman name for Hammamet was Pupput, and this ruined village can be visited and has some fine mosaics.

There is no shortage of good beaches here, and the two main town beaches are both enjoyable. The one running north-west from the Medina is slightly more attractive and generally more sheltered than the one running north-east.

The Old Medina in Hammamet