Family Holidays in Tunisia
Family fun in Tunisia
Its mix of child-friendly beaches, all inclusive family hotels and exotic sights and excursions makes Tunisia a great destination to visit with little travellers in tow. Children are also welcomed with open arms by the Tunisian people. The well-established coastal resort towns of Hammamet and Sousse, in particular, are well suited to family holidays. While Djerba is also popular with families for its peaceful atmosphere and beautiful beach, perfect for bucket-and-spade days.
There are plenty of family adventures to be had in Tunisia too. The country's small size means that many of its most interesting spots are easily accessed from the coastal resorts, and the country's capital, Tunis, is just a short drive from the seaside tourist hubs of the east. Day trips to the fantastical underground Berber dwellings at Matmata, which served as sets for the Star Wars movies, camel safaris into the Sahara or excursions to Tunisia's bustling souks or well-preserved ancient ruins are sure to captivate children and adults alike.
Sun, sand and sea
For a classic combination of sun, sea and sand, Tunisia's east coast resorts of Sousse, Port el Kantaoui, Hammamet and the island of Djerba are ideal. Holidays here can be as active or relaxing as you like. There's a wide range of water-based activities and cultural excursions on offer and plenty of family-friendly hotels providing playgrounds, children's clubs and activities to keep little ones happy. The towns also have a variety of restaurants and eateries, min markets, and attractions to keep the family amused and cater for your every need.
Sousse and Port el Kantaoui
Sitting on Tunisia's sand-lined eastern coast and lapped by the azure Mediterranean, Sousse, and its northern neighbour, Port el Kantaoui, have a good balance of child-friendly attractions, such as an amusement park and zoo, and cultural sights such as a UNESCO-listed medina, Roman catacombs and a 9th-century mosque.
Stroll through the colourful roofed souk and browse the curiosities on offer, take a horse-drawn carriage tour of its pretty streets, enjoy a slice of north African history at the town's excellent museum, and discover a clutch of great eateries happy to cater for picky youngsters.
Sweeping around the coastline, Sousse boasts more than 10km of golden beaches backed by a bevy of hotels to suit family travellers. Hotel Tour Khalef, for instance, is a beachfront all-inclusive family hotel with great facilities that include a kids' club and entertainment programme. The large and lively Hotel Marhaba Salem is another good all-inclusive option for families. On the beach, there are a good range of exciting aqua-based activities to entertain all the family – kayaking, sailing, snorkelling, banana boat rides and pedalos.
Nearby, Port el Kantaoui is one of north Africa's most well-appointed resort towns, built in the signature dazzling white Moorish style but catering almost exclusively to tourists. Constructed around an exclusive marina, the port is a popular calling-point for smart yachts, and the resort ticks all the boxes for family holidays too. What the resort lacks in history and authenticity, it makes up for in terms of facilities. Pizzerias, cafes and fish restaurants serve a range of delicious fare and tourist shops and mini markets ensure you can buy all you need during your stay. The mini amusement park and zoo offer plenty of entertainment for little ones if you can tear yourself away from the wide sandy beach that offers all manner of inflatables, banana boat rides and non-motorised water-sports.
Hammamet and Yasmine Hammamet
A former fishing village with oodles of charm and history, Hammamet was Tunisia's first tourist resort and has all the elements for a fantastic family holiday. With a wide arc of pale golden sand curving around the coast, most holidaymakers come here to enjoy the beach and water-sports available. The child-friendly beach is washed by clear, gentle waters, and there are tons of activities to try. The whole family can enjoy a camel or horse ride along the beach, take a catamaran cruise, or tread along the waves in a pedalo. For the big kids, water-skiing, wind-surfing, snorkelling and even diving are all on offer along the sands.
Away from the beach, Hammamet's scented streets are a joy to explore. The town is known as Tunisia's ‘garden resort' and is filled with citrus trees and olive groves as well as fragrant jasmine, which gave rise to the name of the town's purpose-built tourist resort of Yasmine Hammamet. The beach-front all-inclusive Holiday Village Manar is well suited to families wanting to stay in Hammamet, and there are also a range of excellent eateries happy to cater for children if you want to dine out in the evenings.
Slightly more low-key than Hammamet and Sousse, the little island of Djerba, just off Tunisia's south-eastern coast, is a peaceful beach haven for families looking for a relaxing holiday. Fringed by palm trees and white sands, the island is known as the ‘Polynesia of the Mediterranean' and the beaches are perfect for child-friendly pursuits such as shell-collecting, paddling, or building sand castles. The best beaches are on the north-east coast and many belong to the hotels that line the shore. Ideal for a relaxing and active family break, Club Med Djerba La Douce is a great accommodation option for travellers with kids. Right on the beach, the resort features clubs for up to 18 year olds and all-inclusive facilities and services.
Families who want to get more active can take camel or horse rides along the beach or try a range of aquatic activities here such as hiring a pedalo or taking a catamaran cruise. The offshore winds also make this an ideal destination for wind surfing or kite surfing. But if you prefer simply relaxing in the sun and listening to the sound of the waves then there are quieter stretches of beach between Aghir and el-Kantara.
Action and adventure
From camel trekking amid rolling Saharan dunes and exploring ancient man-made marvels to discovering the quirky troglodyte dwellings of Matmata or taking a vintage train through the fascinating landscape, there's no shortage of fantastic family adventures to be had in Tunisia. It's worth bearing in mind, though, that if you want to explore away from the coast, then its best to visit the country in spring or autumn. Family adventure trips tend not to operate in high summer when inland temperatures can be overbearing.
Taking the Red Lizard train through central Tunisia's rugged canyons and rocky desert tracts is one activity not-to-be-missed for families visiting this scenic country. The vintage train, dating from 1910, runs along old mining tracks through tunnels and the pink and red canyons of Tunisia's Atlas Mountains. Leaving from Metlaoui and finishing up at the green oasis town of Redeyef, a one-and-a-half-hour round trip makes for a wonderful sightseeing tour. Taking a camel safari out into the Saharan dunes is another exciting way for the whole family to appreciate the spectacular desert scenery. The southern oasis town of Douz is a popular departure point for desert tours.
For a fun history lesson, Tunisia's extensive Roman ruins are a great day out. The stunning amphitheatre of Thysdrus in El Djem, situated in the east of the country, is a must-see. Holding more than 35,000 spectators, it was the third largest of its kind in the entire Roman Empire. The director of blockbuster movie Gladiator thought it suitably striking too, as it was used as a backdrop to several scenes from the film. Climbing its steep tiers surrounding the giant arena, it's easy to imagine the gladiatorial battles and chariot races of days gone by.
Children will love the quirky underground dwellings of Matmata too. The houses are carved into the walls of deep circular pits that act as courtyards, with doors and windows facing into the pit and stairs leading to ground level. You can feel the temperature drop as you descend into these dwellings. As well as offering a unique place to stay, the Hotel Sidi Driss is popular with Star Wars fans as it was used as the set of Luke Skywalker's home.
Family holidays in Tunisia
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