10 alternatives to the most overcrowded destinations


When it comes to our holidays, no track is more beaten than the short hop south to the sun-soaked Med. But it’s a lopsided migration – half of this storied sea remains largely ignored. 

Like its European counterpart, the African side of the Mediterranean offers golden sands, history-filled cities and exceptional food. But in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt, seaside crowds are few and far between. You can have whole stretches of coast to yourself, lie on beaches devoid of sun loungers, and enjoy secluded swimming spots unencumbered by queues for cliff jumps. The region’s ancient Roman, Egyptian and Greek sites – unlike those further north – are also scandalously undervisited. And the locals here are still excited to see new faces, not resentful – as can be the case in places that suffer from overtourism, such as Mallorca and Dubrovnik.

What’s more, prices in the North African Mediterranean remain reasonable. Luxurious all-inclusive resorts, design-focused boutique hotels and beachfront villas are all affordable options – and when compared with the likes of Italy and France, the general cost of living is low. It’s an obvious answer for holidaymakers looking to tighten their belts. 

Here are 10 enticing destinations on the lesser-heralded side of the Med that offer all the beauty, history and culture of the more celebrated half, with none of the drawbacks. 

Sidi Bou Said, Tunisia

With its stacked, stark white buildings and cobbled streets lined with bougainvillea, Sidi Bou Said could easily be mistaken for Santorini. This seaside town is just half an hour from downtown Tunis – making it a perfect option for those wanting to combine the city with the beach – and only 15 minutes from its international airport. Flights from the UK typically cost around £120 return, and a new direct route from Stansted has made the region even more accessible.  

When not topping up your tan, you can shop for Arabic artwork in hassle-free markets, sip rich coffee in beachfront cafés, or explore some of Africa’s finest ancient ruins. Among the great names of antiquity, Carthage, a stone’s throw from Sidi Bou Said, rivals Rome and Athens. There are six archaeological sites to visit, including the remnants of the baths and villas of the city’s elite.


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