Tunisia has grown a lot in tourism in recent years, and when I visited it in 2006, the two major tourist areas were Hammamet in the north and the island of Djerba in the south. Hammamet is on the coast, halfway between Tunis and Sousse, where some of Tunisia’s best beaches are located.
Hammamet is then divided into two main tourist areas. The oldest, to the north, is between Hammamet and Nabeul, where I stayed, and the newest, to the south, is named Yasmine Hammamet and is about 10km from the city center.
These are fully equipped areas with excellent clean water beaches and police patrols. In the north zone, you can find a wide variety of hotels and restaurants and it is busier, with small bars and street vendors getting closer to the city.
Yasmina Hammamet maintains a higher standard, with most four and five-star hotels and the largest marina in Tunisia.
In the 2nd century, the Romans established a colony called Pupput, later inhabited by the Normans. It wasn’t until the 1920s that the place began to appear on the map when millionaire George Sebastian built a villa on the site thus showing the way for others to follow him, and today, Hammamet attracts over half a million visitors annually.
Riding a taxi is not expensive and is recommended for short trips such as going from the hotel area to the center. Don’t make the mistake I made when trying to walk this route in the intense summer heat when I thought it wouldn’t be far.
Visiting Hammamet becomes more pleasant in the late afternoon when the streets and cafes are full of people who appear after the afternoon nap. It’s well worth exploring the Medina built by the Hafcidas, which includes old baths and shops hidden in the narrow alleys.
The Great Mosque and Kasbah are strategically located at the main entrance to Medina. Enjoy the sunset for a tea near the Kasbah at the entrance to Medina, which is a very pleasant place to relax.
If you want to explore further, the main streets are Avenue Habib Bourguiba and Avenue de la République, which is where most shops, banks and some of the best restaurants are located and there is little need for a detailed map as it is easy to get into the rhythm of the narrow streets full of vendors.
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Bab el-Souk is the main entrance to the Medina. Surrounded by high walls, it was erected in 904 AD and rebuilt in the 13th century under the Hafcida dynasty. Right after the entrance, you will find the famous souvenir sellers in colorful stalls and small shops full of carpets, oriental mirrors, and ancient jewelry and imitations.
Sellers sometimes put a lot of pressure on tourists to enter their shops saying that it’s just to see and meet, but if you prefer not to do it, do it in a delicate way thanking them for the invitation but following their path, after all this is the daily life of traders. And remember to haggle over all the parts prices you want to buy. I managed to bring a good water pipe at a good price by also adding chicha and coal to the deal.
But be careful, make sure you have room in your luggage to bring back on your trip because at the time many people brought pipes, most of them just decorative, and had to pay extra luggage at the airport because they couldn’t fit in their bags and couldn’t bring in their hand because they already had other hand luggage.
Kasbah, the fort, built in the 15th century, stands next to the main entrance to the Medina. Access is by high stairs and the upper terrace has a magnificent view over the beach and the roofs of the old houses. It is worth a visit.
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Location of Hammamet, Tunisia
Google Maps Coordinates: 36.394067, 10.613151 | Hammamet on Google Maps
GPS Coordinates: 36°23’38.6″N 10°36’47.3″E