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Situated on the eastern coast of Tunisia around 140 kilometres south of Tunis, the Mediterranean city of Sousse lies on the Gulf of Hammamet. With a colourful history influenced by the Phoenicians, the Byzantines, the Arabs and, more recently, the Spanish, the city is a history-lover's paradise. Whilst the old city offers visitors a wealth of fascinating architecture and museums to explore, Sousse has much more than history to tempt tourists thanks to its coastal location.
The city has become a magnet for sun-seekers and the many fine sandy beaches, modern nightlife and vibrant restaurant scene have all contributed to the city's popularity with visitors. Olive-growing remains an important component of the city's economy and a trip into the lush greenery of the olive groves makes an interesting and enjoyable excursion from the coast. Visitors of all ages will find plenty to interest them in this charming city.
As with much of coastal Tunisia, Sousse enjoys an excellent year round climate with hot, dry summers and mild winters. The majority of tourists visit in the summer months from May to September when the average daily temperature ranges from 23 to 33 degrees Celsius and the beaches and bars can become quite busy with local and international holidaymakers. Most visitors will spend at least a day or two of their visit on the beach and with such beautiful sandy stretches upon which to relax, this is a great way to get in the holiday mood. The area around the northern beach is becoming increasingly developed with modern hotels and bars lining the road. This is a popular area for accommodation if you want to spend most of your time by the sea although if you prefer a more secluded beach then head a little further south down the coast.
If you are interested in water sports or just fancy a fun way to cool down, the beach area offers lots of water-based activities for all levels. Wind surfing and water skiing are both great fun and lessons are available from a number of operators. The clear Mediterranean water makes Sousse a good spot for scuba diving and qualified divers can enjoy some excellent dive sites. Beginners, too, are catered for with taster sessions on offer to let you explore the magical world beneath the waves and try out the gear before committing to a full course.
If you enjoy a bit of retail therapy on holiday then Sousse will certainly appeal to you but even for those that usually loathe the thought of shopping as a recreational activity will enjoy a leisurely stroll through the narrow, intertwining alleyways of the old medina in the medieval heart of the city. Here you can explore the warren of independent stores selling everything from carpets to jewellery. Although haggling will be necessary in many of the medina shops, it is becoming increasingly common for shopkeepers to set fixed prices at a reasonable rate to make the shopping process more comfortable for international visitors. When you see something you like, decide in advance how much you are prepared to pay for it and stick to it. There is also a large, modern shopping mall right outside the medina where you will find a wide selection of goods from across northern Africa with no haggling required.
Dining out is a pleasure in Sousse with a wide choice of restaurants and cuisine from which to choose, all offering reasonable prices and good service. Be sure to try some local dishes during your visits, particularly those containing the ubiquitous cous cous. For the budget traveller there are lots of good quality low-cost options, such as pizzerias and hot food stalls along the main streets.
For a night on the town, some of the best bars and clubs are found in the main tourist complexes and a number of venues offer live, local music. Visitors should be aware that Sousse contains a number of less salubrious night spots where the primarily male customers experience rather more adult entertainment. It is usually obvious what type of place you are looking at but if in doubt don't be afraid to check with the doormen as to what sort of entertainment you can expect inside.
Sousse shares an airport with Monastir, which is located 15 kilometres to the south east of the city. A local train will transport you quickly from the front of the airport to Sousse harbour. An electric train is in operation along the beach front linking the city with the nearby resort of Port El Kantaoui and there are plenty of taxis available to transport you around the city.
The city enjoys excellent overland links with the rest of Tunisia and the central bus station offers regular departures to Tunis, Sfax and Kairouan, as well as most other major cities. If you prefer to explore off the beaten path then renting a car for part of your visit might be good option and there are several rental companies based in the city, so shop around for a good price.
Whatever your interests and no matter how active or relaxing you want your holiday to be, the diverse and culturally-rich city of Sousse is sure to provide a memorable and enjoyable beach side holiday destination.