A picturesque spot
Just off the coast of Tunisia is said to be North Africa’s largest island, and, with coast aplenty and sea views to die for, it’s a haven for sun worshippers and, bizarrely, Star Wars fanatics. Famed in mythology as the island of the lotus eaters, it’s now more likely to be remembered as the island of cocktail drinkers. Cheers!
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The name of Djerba’s capital, Houmt Souk, means ‘market area’, which gives an inkling of the great arts and crafts shopping to be discovered here in the souks that lines the streets. It’s a town of whitewashed Moorish buildings, picturesque, flower-draped cobbled squares and winding lanes, which are filled with craft and antique shops packed by artefacts, rugs, ceramics and jewellery, many of which are produced according to the local Berber traditions. Head to the Marché Central to explore the town’s spice market and fruit and vegetable market. The Libyan market (Rue Taïeb Mehiri) takes place every week, selling cheap clothes and other western goods.
Food & Drink
Tunisian food has a host of flavours that resonate with historic influences, including those of the Phoenician, Roman, Arab, Turkish and French invaders, as well as the native Berbers. Couscous is the main accompaniment, and many dishes use chilli, olive oil, celery, red peppers, onions and garlic. Harissa is a fiery chilli condiment that is added to many dishes. On Djerba you can eat well, with restaurants ranging from the sophisticated Restaurant de L'Ile (Rue de Bizerte), with excellent seafood, and the upmarket Ristorante Haroun (Port de Pêche La Marsa), housed in a boat on the edge of the marina, to cheap-and-cheerful hole-in-the-wall snack eateries.
On this international Jewish holiday, thousands of pilgrims from all over the world converge on Djerba’s El Ghriba Synagogue, the oldest synagogue in Africa.
Festival International des Sports de Djerba
This festival of sports includes a half marathon as well as other sports such as beach volleyball.
This festival begins with a colourful dance celebration to enact and commemorate the legend of Ulysses and his arrival to the island, and features international folk dance troupes as well as Arab and Tunisian artists.
Festival of Pottery
Aiming to raise awareness of the pottery industry and of local expertise, this festival celebrates the local ceramic arts and facilitates an exchange of skills, as well as displays of artistry and chances to buy.
Pop In Djerba
A six-day cultural and music festival featuring pop, rock, electro, punk and poetry, with gigs by local and international artists on two stages, one of which is on the beach. One-day or three-day tickets are available, but afternoon events are free.
According to legend, this was the land of the lotus eaters visited by Odysseus, and the island’s enduringly idyllic setting contributes to the relaxing atmosphere of some luxurious hotels. Top-notch places include Radisson Blu Resort & Thalasso (Zone touristique BP 712) and Park Inn by Radisson Ulysse Resort & Thalasso (Route Touristique BP 239), both sleekly fabulous five-stars on private beaches. There are also far less expensive balmy beachside options on Djerba, such as the whitewashed Hôtel Les Sirènes Beach (Zone Touristique BP 387) or appealing B&Bs like Dar El Kébir (Route Touristique, Midoun).