Tunisia is home to ancient ruins, beautiful beaches, and a diverse culture that will leave even the most seasoned tourist reeling.
3,000 years ago, Sousse was just a Phoenician colony, but it's almost impossible to tell looking at the modern, upscale resort town it's become. Home to some incredible hotels and views, Sousse can also boast a mosque from the 9th century, and its medina as a whole is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Surprisingly, though Sbeitla is one of the most well-preserved ruin sites in Tunisia, its history is difficult to pin down. The first urban settlement seems to be Roman, but it was probably previously inhabited by nomadic tribes. The ruin complex includes three temples, three churches, the remains of a forum and its gateway, Roman public fountains and baths, and a theater, just to name a few.
Many of the residents in this village live underground in cave homes to escape the harsh desert climate, and have done so for thousands of years. The subterranean homes have made the village a popular tourist attraction, and much of the population makes a living largely from farming and tourism. The cave-dwelling locals went largely unnoticed by the outside world until 1967, and since then the village has caught the eye of Hollywood as well as tourists. George Lucas used it to bring the fictional world of Tatooine in Star Wars Episode IV.
El Kef hugs the side of a cliff, looking out over the rolling plateaus of the Atlas Mountains. Here, artifacts from civilizations and eras past and present are scattered throughout the old town: the ruins of Roman baths, churches, and a synagogue. The delicate, white domes of Sidi Bou Makhlouf are a popular tourist attraction, and the mausoleum is the burial chamber of the town's patron saint.
The remains of yet another Roman town sit on top of a hill peering out at the surrounding valleys. Olive trees blanket the landscape around the archaeological site of Dougga, and the ruins here are so well-preserved that even the streets are authentic. Evidence of the myriad other civilizations and groups to inhabit the city can be found throughout the ruins, including a Punic-Libyan mausoleum and Numidian tombs.