Sousse has been settled since at least the 9th century BC, when it was the site of an important Phoenician trading post. Also known as “the Pearl of the Sahel”, this region boasts stunning beaches and the most colourful markets. Where else would you want to spend your next holiday than the beaches of Sousse. Here are the 7 places to explore in Sousse.
For those who want to shop with the locals rather than in the tourist stores of the medina’s souk, the Sunday Market is held near the entrance to the Catacombs of the Good Shepherd. Stalls offer livestock, souvenirs, and handcrafts in a jumble of organized chaos, so whether you’re looking for a chicken or a nice set of ceramic tiles, you’re in luck.
Sousse Archaeological Museum
One of our favourite places to explore is the Sousse Archaeological Museum. This excellent museum contains the largest collection of antiquities in the country after Tunis’ Bardo Museum. Its main exhibits herald from the Punic, Roman, and early Christian periods. Give yourself a good couple of hours for a visit, as there are some exceptional pieces here. Room 3, with its sublime mosaics including the Triumph of Bacchus and Apollo and the Muses, is an obvious highlight, but also don’t miss Room 2’s Medusa mosaic (regarded as one of the collection’s finest pieces) and the Seasons and Months mosaic in Room 9 that was unearthed in El Djem.
If you’re in the mood for a spot of shopping and don’t mind some fun-filled haggling, the medina’s souk district is the place to go. Cute and colorful Rue el Aghalba runs past the Great Mosque to the medina’s west side. Off this street, on the left, is Rue d’Angleterre leading south to the beginning of the souk quarter. Partially covered, this quarter has all the bustling atmosphere of the Orient with metalworkers and woodworkers down narrow side alleyways. Typical tourist souvenirs take up the main souk streets. It’s the perfect place to poke around for an afternoon, trying to find some special treasure to take home.
Looking for little bit more? Well one of the great places to explore in Sousse is Takrouna. With its rather dramatic setting atop a fossilized rock hill and completely surrounded by flat countryside, the old Berber village of Takrouna (six kilometers west of Enfidha) holds on to a disappearing way of life. Only six Berber families still occupy the village, and visitors can enter some of the dwellings here to get a close-up look at traditional Berber architecture and interiors. In the center of the village is a small mosque and the tomb of local holy man Sidi Abd el Kader.
Enfidha itself is a market center and has an excellent local Sunday Market that is worthwhile seeing if you’re in the area. The town’s former church now houses a small museum, dedicated to finds from local excavations and containing early Christian mosaics from the Uppenna (five kilometers north) and Sidi Abich (three kilometers north) archaeological sites. There is also a collection of Roman and Byzantine pottery.
The 17th-century Zaouia Zakkak’s striking octagonal minaret has a style almost reminiscent of Renaissance architecture. The complex includes a mosque, madrassa (Islamic school of learning), and a mausoleum, and is regarded as the city’s finest surviving example of Ottoman-era architecture. As well as the complex’s beautiful minaret, with its tile detailing, another notable feature is the arcading of the inner courtyard, with the antique columns within the arcades recycled from older sites. Unfortunately, non-Muslims cannot enter the interior.
Port el Kantaoui
If you’re here for the beach, this will be your first call. This purpose-built resort complex is where many visitors stay on sun-and-sea holidays. Opened in 1979, the Moorish-style development was modeled on the cute blue-and-white village of Sidi Bou Said near Tunis. The resort is centered round a large marina with more than 300 moorings. It contains several luxury hotels and blocks of holiday apartments along the beachfront, as well as restaurants, cafés, a shopping center, and a wide range of sports facilities.
The little town of Hergla lies on a rocky stretch of coast speckled by sandy coves. It occupies the site of ancient Roman Horraca Caelia, which during the 2nd century AD lay directly on the boundary between the provinces of Byzacena and Zeugitana. Since this original settlement was completely destroyed during Arab invasions, there is nothing of interest from this period left to see. Hergla has a fine 18th-century mosque, with a dome constructed in the tube-vaulting technique found at Bulla Regia, and if you have your own transport, you’ll find the surrounding beaches wonderfully unspoilt.
While you’re ticking off from this bucket list, why not take a look at the 5 best things to see in Sousse.