Explore Carthage, Tunisia – An Ideal Day Excursion from Tunis

Explore Carthage, Tunisia – An Ideal Day Excursion from Tunis

Carthage, once a thriving city in ancient times, is now a must-visit destination in Tunisia. Located just outside of Tunis, Carthage is home to a plethora of ancient ruins that allow visitors to experience the rich history of the region. When planning your trip to Tunisia, be sure to include a visit to Carthage for an unforgettable experience. This comprehensive guide will assist you in having a smooth and enjoyable trip to Carthage, while also providing valuable information on transportation, attractions, and more.

Carthage is situated on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, approximately 16 km from the center of Tunis. Founded by the Phoenicians from Tyre in the 9th century BC, Carthage reached its pinnacle of power and prosperity in the 3rd century BC. At its peak, the city was home to around half a million people and boasted impressive 32-kilometer-long city walls. However, after the Punic Wars with the Roman Empire, Carthage was destroyed in 146 BC and later became a provincial Roman colony. In 439 AD, the Vandals took control of Carthage, making it the capital of their territory in northern Africa. With the Arab conquest in the late 7th century, Carthage lost its significance and eventually fell into abandonment. Today, Carthage is a peaceful town filled with ancient remnants, serving as a wealthy suburb of Tunis.

Visiting Carthage is a worthwhile experience. Although the town has modern neighborhoods, there are numerous ancient sites that can easily be explored. Walking amidst these centuries-old ruins is like stepping back in time, allowing you to envision the grandeur of the city in its prime. All the Carthage attractions are truly remarkable, and visitors of all interests will appreciate the ancient remnants. In fact, the archeological site of Carthage was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1979. Additionally, the town itself is pleasant, providing a welcome change from the bustling capital. Easy accessibility is yet another reason to visit Carthage, as the suburban train connects central Tunis with Carthage, and organized tours are available for a hassle-free trip.

To reach Carthage from Tunis or Sidi Bou Said, the regional train (TGM line) is the best option. Departing from the Tunis Marine station near the Clock Tower, these trains run frequently and offer a one-way ticket for approximately 1 TND (about €0,30 or $0,33). There are six stations in Carthage, with Carthage Hannibal being the closest to the main attractions. For a scenic walk, visitors can disembark at Carthage Dermech and stroll along the coast to Antoninus Baths, the largest Roman bath outside of Rome. To return to Tunis or continue to Sidi Bou Said, simply board the TGM train from one of the stations (note that the ticket office may be located on a different platform from your departure).

For those who prefer guided tours or wish to visit Carthage from locations other than Tunis or Sidi Bou Said, several highly-rated tours are available. These tours often include other destinations along with Carthage, providing a comprehensive experience.

Carthage boasts a variety of ancient remnants scattered throughout the city. The most impressive attraction is the Baths of Antoninus, the largest Roman bath outside of Rome. Built in the 2nd century AD during the Roman Empire’s rule, these baths offer a glimpse into the grandeur of the past. Visitors can freely explore the area, which also includes remnants of old houses, a chapel, a Punic cemetery, and more. While exploring, be sure to admire the well-preserved mosaics that still adorn the site. Adjacent to the Antoninus Baths is the Roman Villas, another significant archeological site featuring remarkable mosaics and stunning views. Nearby, the Roman theater, though renovated, still evokes the grandeur it once possessed. With a seating capacity of over five thousand spectators, this theater played a vital role in ancient Carthage.

Byrsa Hill is another important complex in Carthage. Here, visitors can explore the Carthage National Museum, which houses numerous artifacts from ancient Carthage, spanning both the Punic and Roman periods. Additionally, Byrsa Hill offers more ancient ruins to discover, as well as the former Catholic Cathedral, known as Acropolium, built atop a Punic temple dedicated to Eshmun, the god of healing. Throughout the town, visitors may stumble upon columns, cisterns, or even an aqueduct. A Roman amphitheater from the 1st century AD is also worth a visit, surrounded by lush trees and rolling hills. On the coastal side of Carthage, remnants of the old Punic ports can be seen, reflecting their importance in the city’s history. While exploring this area, take a moment to relax and enjoy the beautiful views of the Gulf of Tunis. The town also boasts several ancient quarters that can be explored at leisure.

To enter most Carthage attractions, visitors must purchase a ticket. Fortunately, only one ticket is required, and it provides access to eight different sites throughout the town. When I visited Carthage, the multiticket cost 12 TND (approximately €3,50 / $3,80). This ticket includes entry to the Amphitheatre, Roman Villas, Roman Theater, Paleo-Christian Museum, Carthage Museum, Salammbo Tophet, Baths of Antoninus, and Quartier Magon. As visiting all these places in one day can be challenging, it is recommended to prioritize the most significant sites. If a guide is desired, individuals can often find guides available for hire at the entrance to the sites.

After exploring Carthage, a short train ride will take you to the neighboring town of Sidi Bou Said. Known for its charming white and blue buildings, Sidi Bou Said exudes a fairytale-like ambiance and is considered one of the most beautiful places to visit in Tunisia. Additionally, be sure to explore the capital city of Tunis, which offers numerous attractions, including the UNESCO-listed medina, the exceptional Bardo Museum, and a vibrant New Town. Tunisia as a whole has much to offer, so if you have more time to explore other incredible places, you may find my other articles on planning your trip to Tunisia helpful.

In conclusion, Carthage is a captivating destination in Tunisia that should not be missed. With its ancient ruins and rich history, it offers a unique experience for travelers. By following this guide, you can plan a smooth and enjoyable trip to Carthage, ensuring that you make the most of your visit. Whether you choose to explore the ancient remnants, wander through the town, or simply admire the stunning coastal views, Carthage promises to be a memorable destination.

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