In Tunis, east meets west. It’s 2 capitals rolled into one. The new city, created by the French in the 19th century, with boulevards, cafés and patîsseries, is a tidy grid of streets. Adjoining it is the once-walled medina, founded by the Arabs in the 8th century, fulfilling all your expectations of the exotic east and packed with narrow, labyrinthine lanes. At its tangled centre is the great Zaytouna Mosque, a sudden oasis of space. Out in the western suburbs is the wonderful Bardo Museum, with the world’s finest collection of Roman mosaics - the art was developed to its dizziest heights by African artisans.
Beyond the city lie the remains of the civilisation of Carthage, where Queen Dido killed herself for love of Roman Aeneas (according to Virgil), Hannibal planned to cross the Alps with his elephants, and the Phoenicians ruled the Mediterranean until the Romans eventually triumphed after 3 bitter wars. The Romans then razed the city to the ground, before building their own in its place. Today, sights include a museum, excavated Punic houses, huge Roman baths, a Roman theatre and amphitheatre, Roman villas and the Punic ports. You can survey the site from its ancient heart on Byrsa Hill, with fabulous views along the vivid blue coast. Afterwards, check out the nearby village of Sidi Bou Saïd - an utterly charming jumble of whitewashed houses, cafés and shops.