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3 North African Beach Towns that Rival Santorini


Journals  |  Accommodations  |  3 North African Beach Towns that Rival Santorini

May 19, 2019
If you’re really about that luxe life, Santorini is likely on your travel bucket list. Every angle on this volcanic island (it’s active btw) is Instagram worthy and the water is something you’ll never forget. However, for all its buzz, Santorini isn’t the only girl at the dance.

For a jaw-dropping Santorini-like experience with a built-in humble brag opportunity head to one of North Africa’s idyllic beach towns.

Islamic, Berber, and French architecture sprawling over the Mediterranean Sea will leave you awestruck and richer than a jaunt to Europe.

Here are three places to don those Rayban’s and get in on some African beach vibes.

Sidi Bou Said Tunisia

An eclectic town of artists and makers, Sidi Bou Said’s (featured image at top) iconic blue and white make it the perfect retreat from the noise of Tunis, Tunisia’s sprawling capital.

Once the stomping grounds of Matisse and Fleet, it now plays home to wealthy moguls and adventurous jet setters who’ve gotten wind of its seductive charm.

Where to Stay

Hotel Dar Said

Once a private Arabic mansion, this place is nestled high above the Tunis Bay. You can sit on the roof and smell the jasmine which flows through the property alongside a mix of desert and sea breezes.

It’s right in the busiest area of town so it’s convenient to everything while offering enough of an oasis from the crowd so it’s not annoying.
Address: Rue Toumi Sidi Bou Said, Sidi Bou Said 2026, Tunisia.

Where to Eat

Dar Zarrouk

Overlooking both the Sidi Bou Said Marina and the Gulf of Tunis, Dar Zarrouk serves up gourmet fare against a stunning panorama.

If you’re celebrating a special event or just trying to be fancy with your friends, call ahead to reserve one of their terraces.
Address: Rue Hedi Zarrouk, 2026, Tunisia.

Cafe de Nattes

While Cafe de Delices is known for its spectacular view, the prices are steep for an everyday coffee or tea during your trip.

Get some shisha (hookah for some of you) and mint tea for less than a dollar. Be inspired by the view and your compatriots who are happy to be away from the crowds.

Address: Rue Sidi Bou Fares, Sidi Bou Said 2026, Tunisia.

What to do

Take photos! No seriously — this town is so picturesque you’ll likely find yourself wandering its gentle hills and seaside. You can windsurf, sail, and swim at the Mediterranean beaches below the town.

Don’t forget to make a stop at the souk and check out the handcrafted jewellery and other trinkets from local artisans. For nightlife, get a driver to take you into Tunis just 20km, be sure he stays the entire time to get you back home!

Hammamet, Tunisia

Hammamet is almost perfect. Its whitewashed buildings cascade towards the sea with windows just big enough for a modern-day Greta Garbo to peek out and feel the ocean breeze.

Often called the St. Tropez of Tunisia, it combines old-world vibes and contemporary scene with restaurants, nightclubs, and boutiques.

Where to Stay

La Badira Hotel

Infinity pool, oceanfront cabana, and ambience straight out of 007. You may not want to leave La Badira to do anything else.

The guest rooms are unique and stunning, and you may spot a few models at this fashionista's playground.
Address: Route Touristique Nord | BP 437, Hammamet 8050, Tunisia.

The Sinbad

A bit reminiscent of Miami during the ’70s this stunning boutique hotel takes you into another era. There are three restaurants each with its own vibe, our faves are the Beach bar where you can get fresh lobster and the catch of the day and Shiaz where Crepe Suzette is made to order right in front of you.

The infinity pool at this place looks unreal but is perfectly placed with the best beach in the city as it’s a backdrop.
Address: Avenue des Nations Unies, Hammamet 8050, Tunisia

Where to Eat

Le Barberousse Restaurant & Wine Bar

When you are this close to the sea, you must get some seafood and Le Barberousse does not disappoint. It’s right at the entrance to the medina and has an amazing view of the gulf (tip: call ahead to get a table with a view.)

It’s open kitchen ups the experience as does their extensive wine list, a plus in a place where some restaurants are dry.
Address: Kasbah, Hammamet City, Hammamet 8050, Tunisia.

Club Del Mar

More of a beach snack restaurant, Club Del Mar is perfect for a meal right after you get out of the water. Thatched umbrellas. fresh juices, and Tunisian snacks right on the water make this a great spot for a sundowner.

What to Do

Catch a show at the George Sebastian Villa. Party all night Calypso Nightclub or Latino. Take a day trip to the vineyards in the Nabeul countryside.

Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt

While lacking in the architecture so loved by visitors to the region, Sharm is an outside pick for people interested in this part of the world.

Located right on the Red Sea, “Sharm” is a favorite for people looking to spend lots of time in the water.

Equally known for its coral reefs and mega clubs, Sharm is one of the most-developed tourist destinations in the region.

Where to Stay

Oriental Rivoli

There are plenty of run of the mill “luxury” mega hotels in Sharm but Na’ama bay is finally seeing new breed of small, contemporary boutique hotels cropping up.

Our fave so far is the Oriental Rivoli.
Address: El Salam Rd., Naama Bay, Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt

Where to Eat

Farsha Café

At night this is probably the sexiest place to be and they have the most authentic Egyptian food you’ll find in Sharm.

Nestled a bit up the mountain you’ll feel like you’ve been invited into a Bedouin love nest.
Address: El-Bahr, Qesm Sharm Ash Sheikh, South Sinai Governorate, Egypt

What to Do

Book a 5 in 1 dessert extravaganza with Plaza Safari, a locally owned tour company who won’t rob you with resort pricing.

You’ll get to go Quad Biking, ride a camel, see the stars, and have a genuine Bedouin dinner during a full day in the desert.

At night — you must party. Many Ibiza-based nightclubs have outlets in Sharm. Less crowded but equally turned up — Pacha Sharm El Shekh is the best of the best. International DJ’s and the occasional foam party make this worth your while and then some.

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