Something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue… One of the oldest cities in Tunisia, as well as one of the liveliest, Sousse is a bustling amalgamation of history, massive shopping centres, azure waters and hordes of tourists. Travellers descend upon Sousse’s medina, the city’s medieval fortressed shopping nucleus that is, fittingly, a sort of modern-day battleground.
For something more traditional, explore the ancient Sousse catacombs – an eerie, lantern-lit maze of tunnels that were once home to over 15,000 graves. If you’ve still got room in your luggage after the medina, shop for carpets, porcelain, leather, jewellery and spices in bulk at the Souq er-Ribba. By now you should be yearning so hard for the smooth sands of Boujaffar Beach that you won’t even care about getting sand all through your brand-new shoes.
Sousse’s Top 10
10. Soula Centre Great bargains to be found here, folks. Everything from fashion to electronics.
5. Sousse Archaeological Museum Features stunning mosaics and other historical titbits.
9. The Esplanade Join the crowds of Tunisian youths and hit up the clubs. When it all gets too much, go outside and watch the crashing waves.
4. Port el Kantaoui South of the city is this stunning seaside area, replete with warm weather and fresh seafood.
8. Zaouia Zakkak This minaret is one of the finest examples of Ottoman architecture in the city.
3. Ribat This monastic fortress dates back to the ninth century. With walls this thick, it’s no wonder it’s still standing!
7. Kalaout el Koubba Discover Tunisian culture with a guided tour.
2. Great Mosque Lives up to its name, both in beauty and in sheer size.
6. Dar Essid This intimate house-cum-museum showcases upper-class treasures.
1. Medina The World Heritage-listed, labyrinthine city centre is well worth getting lost in – repeatedly.
- Ribat – Built in the 8th century, this is the oldest monument in the Medina.
- Great Mosque – This mosque was built by a freed slave named Mudam in the year 851 in Sousse.
- Sousse Archaeological Museum – Contains several excellent exhibits such as the Triump of Bacchus and funerary objects from the Punic grave under the museum.
- Catacombs – Approximately 5.5 kilometres of tunnels that are filled with the graves of 15,000 Christians from the 4th and 5th centuries.
- Kasbah – Built into the city wall in the 11th century, this area also encompasses the Khalef tower, which was actually built in 859 AD.
Sousse Art & Culture
- Museum Dar Essid – A private museum furnished in the style of a 19th-century Sousse official.
- Medinat Alzahra Parc – A castle featuring traditional music, dancers and a show that requires audience participation.
- Dar Am Taieb – An art museum in Sousse featuring statues and sculptures made by local artists out of unique materials.
- Bardo Museum – Located in nearby Tunis, this museum contains Roman mosaics.
- El Jem Festival – A yearly music festival held in the summer and featuring performances of the classics at the Roman Amphitheatre.
- Souq er-Ribba – Resembling a medieval bazaar, you can purchase a variety of unique local items.
- Sousse Medina – A place that contains a large variety of shops selling souvenirs, religious and historical items.
- Sousse Market – A weekly market that opens on Sunday in Sousse, you can purchase everything from livestock to handcrafts.
- Soula Shopping Centre – This centre sits at the Medina’s entrance and contains four stories of shops.
- Magasin General – Purchase local Tunisian wine to enjoy on your trip or send home as souvenirs.
Sousse Gay & Lesbian
- The Palace Cafe – A gay-friendly bar. Homosexuality is outlawed in Tunisia, so you must be discreet.
- Clarageis – A gay-friendly bar.
- Eurobar – A gay bar located in Hammamet.
- Panorama – A fashionable coffee shop where many gay men hang out.
- Avenue Bourguiba – Another hangout spot for LGBT to socialize in Sousse.
- Boujaffar Beach – One of the city’s landmarks, this beach in Sousse contains a playground, a place for picnicking and plenty of space for sunbathing.
- Port El Kantaoui – Sail around the harbour in a catamaran. Sunbathe or cool off with a swim mid-tour.
- Aqua Palace – An outdoor pool where you can cool off with the family.
- Dotto Train – A novelty train that runs from Sousse to El Kantaoui and back.
- Red Lizard Train – This train was used in the third Indiana Jones movie, The Last Crusade. Enjoy the ride while travelling through Metlaoui, Redayef and the desert.
- Watch a soccer game at the Parc des Princes.
- Go horseback riding on Boujaafarr Beach.
- Harness up and go parasailing at Hammamet Beach.
- Play golf at the Citrus golf course in Hammamet.
- Go water skiing or diving at Boujaafarr Beach in Sousse.
Soak up the hot sun with open-air concerts, food markets and the famous boat race on the turquoise harbour at July’s Port el Kantaoui Festival.
The Sousse International Festival runs through July and August and is the biggest in the country. Mountains of food and monstrous floats are the main draws.
Despite the chances of torrential rain, the Mediterranean Olive Tree Festival is a show that must go on. Held every December, this olive-fest features a mammoth market selling the best in oily treats.
When To Go
- For sunny days and balmy nights, head to Sousse between June and September when the average summer temperature sits around 30°C (86ºF).
- January, September and December bring rain, rain and more rain.
- Sousse’s winters are mild, with average daytime temperatures of 12°C (54ºF).
- Sousse taxi drivers are notoriously shifty. Agree on a price before you get in and (politely) demand that they turn on the meter.
- Louages (big shared taxis) are a great alternative. They fit around 10 people and are relatively cheap.
- Hiring a car is not the best idea. Sousse’s streets are mega-complicated and littered with countless dead ends.
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