Mahdia is the southernmost of the major mainland resorts in Tunisia and one of the youngest. It is not as popular as Monastir, Sousse or Hammamet, there is no noisy nightlife or giant shopping centers, but the rest of the tourist infrastructure is available. A couple of dozen attractions, no less – restaurants and hotels, among which there are real palaces with indispensable thalassotherapy centers.
But the most important thing is, of course, the beaches, here they are the best in all of Tunisia. Seafood in the resort is also the best, and the local fish market is beyond praise. In short, Mahdia is an ideal place for introverts, gourmets and family travelers who just need a plate of mussels or shrimp, a sun lounger for which you don’t have to fight with competitors, and lots and lots of oriental flavor.
The beaches in Mahdia are free, sandy and snow-white, the Mediterranean Sea is gentle and warm, and the entry into it is gentle. Conventionally, recreation areas are divided into three types – located in the city center, hotel and wild, which stretch to the village of Bakhdedi.
The central beaches are not particularly convenient – in addition to sand, there are boulders on the coast, so tourists prefer not to move away from hotels. The complexes provide guests with everything they need – from sun loungers and towels to simple entertainment like riding catamarans, boats, diving and snorkelling. The conditions here are excellent for observing underwater life – the water is clear, the marine flora and fauna are diverse. In addition, the resort’s cafes and restaurants are concentrated here.
Wild beaches are 3 km of the purest sand by the turquoise sea, which start right behind the Club Thapsus hotel and end in Monastir. There are no sun loungers and umbrellas, but there are few vacationers. All other charms like postcard views, hot sun and the feeling of heaven on earth are available.
Shopping and shops
For the whole of Tunisia, Mahdia is the center of silk weaving, and even the traditional outfit of a local bride consists only of this fabric: from a long white shirt with multi-colored tassels on the bottom to a headdress made of orange silk embroidered with gold. Products here are woven in the old fashioned way, on a primitive machine with a foot drive. Shawls and stoles, dresses, handbags are then made from the finished material, shoes are sheathed with them. Silk shops are located in the medina. The cost of a small one-color tippet is from 68 TND, there are also real woven masterpieces that cost several hundred.
On Fridays, a special bazaar opens in the Black Gate, where they sell wedding dresses. It is better to come in the morning, by noon everyone is already at odds.
From Mahdia, you can also bring products from the Zouila olive cooperative: from delicious olive oil (12-15 TND per liter) to soap based on it with moisturizing ingredients.
Cuisine and restaurants of Mahdia
The basis of Tunisian cuisine is the freshest seafood, generously seasoned with an unrealistic amount of pepper. Mahdia is no exception. Therefore, it is worth despising meat here (although you will not regret agreeing to lamb) and completely surrender to the absorption of shrimp, squid, cuttlefish, octopus, tuna, sea bass. Moreover, they will be caught just a few hours before serving, and in almost any restaurant they will cook with unsurpassed skill.
So that the cook does not go too far with spices, tell him “mish hara” – “not spicy” – or (what the hell is not joking?) “know spice”.
Taste in Mahdia is the traditional Tunisian soup “shorbu” made from fish or lamb, fish couscous – a local exclusive, an incredibly spicy appetizer “harissa” from red pepper with garlic and spices, as well as all kinds of olives. Wash it down with very sweet green tea with nuts or strong coffee.
You can choose almost any restaurant. Those that are further from the center will be cheaper, on average, a dinner for two with alcohol will cost from 160 TND. Anticipating the question of strong drinks: yes, Mahdia is the territory of Islam, but alcohol is sold to foreign tourists in hotels, bars, restaurants, and shops.
Entertainment and attractions
The picturesque embankment with numerous shops, cafes and restaurants is a favorite place for vacationers to walk. Also of interest is the local medina, which is a medieval quarter surrounded by a city wall. There are many fish restaurants, markets and souvenir shops.
The 40-meter Black Gate (Skifa el-Kahla) leads from the modern city through the fortress wall into the heart of the medina. On the right side of them is the Museum of Mahdia (Avenue Farhat Hached) with an interesting collection of national clothes of local residents, wedding wooden chests and a very impressive collection of traditional gold jewelry. From the last floor of the museum, you can climb the Scythian and enjoy a beautiful view of the old city and Cape Africa.
Check out the mosques of Mahdia – the colorful Mustafa Hamza and the imposing Grand Mosque, built in the style of fortresses from the first centuries of the Arab conquests of North Africa.
On Cape Africa rises Borj el-Kebir, a fortress of the Fatimid era, built when Mahdia was the capital of the empire. It is worth climbing one of the towers: the panorama is amazing. A little further away, at the extreme point of the cape, there is a lighthouse, and at its foot there is a cemetery – the place is by no means sinister, but, on the contrary, pacifying. At the water’s edge, you can see the remains of Fatimid fortifications.
The underwater flora and fauna of Mahdia is of particular interest to experienced divers, however, beginners can successfully learn scuba diving here (225 USD for 5 dives).
5 things to do in Mahdia
- Take a course of thalassotherapy in one of the largest centers on the coast of Thalasso
- Hang out at the bustling Black Gate Friday market.
- Buy hand-woven silk stole.
- Admire the view of the surroundings from the tower of the Borj fortress.
- Refresh with lemonade or pizza at the picturesque cafe on the rocks of Sidi Salem.
According to BRIDGAT, the weather in Mahdia is not much different from the weather in other Tunisian resorts. Only because of the slightly more southerly position compared to Sousse or Monastir, summer here lingers a week longer. The rest is a typical resort desert: dry air, hot in summer, cool in winter, little rain even in the winter months, differences between day and night temperatures reach 10 ° C.
The beach season lasts from late April to October, but swimming in the sea is better after mid-May. It is very hot in July-August, September is the velvet season. But October is considered the rainiest month in the resort.