The once Roman settlement of Ruspina, and now the popular resort of Monastir, attracts tourists with an inexpensive vacation, combined with fairly high-quality beaches, a cozy medina with a lot of historical sights, thalasso centers and golf courses, as well as proximity to the noisy youth Sousse. The tourist zone of Skanes, taken out of the city, has allowed to preserve the authentic atmosphere of the city, where life flows in the same way as during the time of the first president of Tunisia, Habib Bourguiba. The head of state was born in Monastir and chose to rest here – as evidenced by the extravagant mausoleum, one of the most visited monuments of the city. Check bridgat for other cities and countries as well as climate and weather in Africa.
How to get to Monastir
Air traffic at Monastir International Airport named after Habib Bourguiba has decreased significantly with the opening of a new airport in Enfid, but direct charters from Russia still land here. The Tunisian carrier Nouvelair operates several flights a week during the season from Moscow Domodedovo and other cities of our vast country. If you landed in Enfid or the capital’s Tunis-Carthage airport, you can fly to Monastir on a domestic flight of the local airline Sevenair, which operates at least one flight a day between Tunis and Monastir. Travel time – 1 hour.
Monastir Airport is located directly in the tourist area of Skanes, 9 km from the city center. Some hotels are literally within walking distance; a taxi ride to the most remote will not take more than 5 minutes.
Flying up to Monastir, be sure to enjoy the view of multi-colored reservoirs for evaporating salt and, in winter, flocks of pink flamingos.
Inside the country, Monastir can be reached by minibus, “luage”, intercity bus or train. There are two railway lines here – a large one connects Monastir with large remote cities, a small one, the so-called “metro du Sahel” – with Sousse and Mahdia, as well as a mass of villages on the way along the coast.
The main transport hub of the region is the city of Sousse, where “long-distance” buses, minibuses and trains stop. In this case, it is easy to get from Sousse to Monastir by taxi – 20 minutes and about 15 TND or a local “luage” with a payment of 1.2 TND.
Transport in the city
The historical center of the city – the medina, the ribat, the Bourguiba mausoleum and the yacht port can be explored on foot. If you are less hardy or just do not like to move on your own two, yellow taxis with a luminous number plate on the roof are waiting for you. Payment by meter; in general, within Monastir, a trip will cost no more than 3 TND, and you can drive to the hotels of the Skanes resort area for 5-10 TND.
Also at the service of vacationers are steam locomotives plying from Monastir to Sousse via Skanes, tuk-tuks and horse-drawn carts. The cost is discussed with the driver before boarding, in general they ask about 5-15 TND.
The number of rooms in the urban part of Monastir is for the most part not the newest multi-storey “three” with some interspersed with “fours”, standing across the road from the sea. There is also a small number of absolutely urban “triples” and “twos” – very budgetary, but also with an appropriate set of services.
In Skanes, the picture is much more fun – family “three-star” hotels, a large selection of high-quality “fours” with very decent service, and several excellent “five”s with magnificent thalassotherapy centers.
A distinctive feature of Skanes hotels is the lack of entertainment within walking distance: tourists have to be content with either hotel animation or take a taxi to Sousse. But fans of a relaxing holiday here is the most expanse.
Sea and sun
The beaches of Monastir cannot be called outstanding – especially against the background of the more successful in terms of “sand nature” Hammamet, Mahdia or the island of Djerba. Accumulations of algae are not uncommon here, and the northern orientation of the coast of Skanes is expressed in frequent unrest in the water surface. So it is better for those who seek the perfect sea to pay attention to other resorts in the country. But budget travelers without any special claims to the transparency of the water and the gentle descent into the water should like it here.
The beaches of Skanes hotels are protected more or less carefully, but the local population willingly and successfully penetrates the beaches of hotels in the city. Public beaches in the season (for example, opposite the Ribat) are overcrowded to the envy of the Crimean resorts. However, if you come to Ribata beach early in the morning, you can enjoy a rare feeling – you emerge, and right in front of you rises a 12-century-old hulk.
5 things to do in Monastir
- Climb to the Ribat observation deck and view the surroundings of the city almost from a bird’s eye view.
- See what is the right approach to the transition to another world, in the mausoleum of the first president of Tunisia, Habib Bourguiba.
- Have lunch at one of the fish restaurants in the cozy yacht port.
- Stock up on souvenirs for the home, for the family in the 4-storey Yasmina Center.
- Go early in the morning to the salt evaporation ponds and admire the pink flocks of flamingos.
Cuisine and restaurants of Monastir
The best restaurants of Monastir are concentrated in the port of pleasure yachts – a pretty little marina. Here you can try all kinds of fish and seafood dishes, get acquainted with the national cuisine in the form of salads, pies-briks, shorba soup, couscous and sweets, as well as refresh yourself with pan-European cooking like spaghetti, pizza and sandwiches.
Also, do not neglect the “folk” restaurants in the city center – the food here is often tastier than in tourist-oriented establishments, and the dishes cost mere pennies. Useful tip: focus on the number of local people at the tables: they certainly won’t dine in a bad place.
From Monastir it is convenient to go on all excursions – both Carthage and the Sahara are approximately the same distance, and the coliseum in El Jem is within easy reach.
Shopping and shops
Souvenirs from Monastir are no different from the general Tunisian ones: the same ceramics, leather and wooden products, pseudo-national clothes, cosmetic products based on olive oil and various trinkets, such as key chains, postcards and bonfires. All this can be bought at a fixed price in the largest souvenir supermarket – the four-story Yasmina Center, which is located in the medina of Monastir. Olive oil of the popular brand Ruspina is produced here – you should go to General, Monoprix and Carrefour supermarkets for it.
Entertainment and attractions of Monastir
In addition to the sights of the city of Monastir itself, vacationers at this resort have rich opportunities for visiting excursions, since the city is located almost at an equal distance from the sights of the capital and the sands of the Sahara, and the magnificent Roman amphitheater in El Jem is within easy reach.
In Monastir, first of all, it is worth visiting the medina – the old city. Its main architectural monuments are the Great Mosque (9th century), marble columns for the construction of which were taken from the ruins of the ancient Roman Ruspina, and fortress walls with historical gates: the western Bab el-Gharbi were built in 15th century by the Gafsid dynasty, the northeastern Bab- Tunisia saw the light at the end of the 18th century, and the southern Bab-Briksha – the creation of the Ottoman Turks at the end of the 17th century. Located near the eastern wall of the medina, the Museum of National Costume deserves a cursory inspection. The superbly preserved Ribat is an example of military Islamic architecture of the 8th-11th centuries. Once it was a haven for the Murabitin monks, who divided their lives between serving God and repelling the onslaught of enemies. Multiple reconstructions and additions have led to a very intricate structure of the corridors and halls of the Ribat.
A panoramic view of the city and the coast opens from the Ribat observation tower – do not be too lazy to overcome several dozen steep steps.
The Mausoleum of Habib Bourguiba is another architectural landmark of the city. A wide alley leads to the building with a golden dome and two minarets, and on both sides of it there is a city cemetery. Inside are marble sarcophagi of members of the Bourguiba family and a small museum displaying the personal belongings of the first president of Tunisia. The massive marble sarcophagus of Bourguiba itself with magnificent carvings and gold inlays is located in the central hall of the mausoleum, crowned with a dome. You can look at it from the inner balcony of the 2nd floor.
Bourguiba began to build his mausoleum long before his death – he accepted architectural projects, selected materials and planned the territory. This is what it means to be serious!
A distinctive feature of recreation in the Skanes area is the lack of entertainment within walking distance: tourists have to be content with either hotel animation or take a taxi to Sousse.
Golf, horseback riding and scuba diving are Monastir’s three main sports “chips”. There are 2 world class golf courses in Skanes – Flamingo Golf Course and Golf Club Palm Links, both 18 holes. Landscape – olive and palm groves, hills, sand “bunkers” and lakes. The clubs have golf academies and 9-hole driving ranges.
Diving in Monastir is not as luxurious as, say, in Tabarka, but there is something to see underwater. The coast is predominantly sandy with small rocky areas, depths are from 5 to 20 m. In the waters of several uninhabited islets near the coast, it is convenient to observe shallow-water fauna: here you can see reefs and grottoes, see starfish, sea urchins, sponges and various algae.
Horse riding fans are welcome at the Skanes ranch. At their service are several sandy arenas, greenery and training grounds. There is a riding school, and for those who know how to stay in the saddle, horseback riding is offered along the coast – to Monastir or Sousse.