Skanes is a modern beach resort on the coast of Tunisia, a sprawling extension of the historic town of Monastir. It’s a popular choice for a beach holiday, with a sunny climate and lovely coastline. There are lots of good quality hotels to choose from, offering great value holidays that appeal to families and couples looking to relax.
Despite development, the old heart of Monastir remains picturesque, giving a taste of Arabic charm, while the Sahara desert nearby offers a chance of adventure for anyone wanting to see more. Any golf fans will be happy here too, there’s a new course at Skanes, and more choice ten minutes away.
Getting there/around Skanes
Getting to Skanes is easy – there are plenty of great value package holidays on offer and charter flights fly to Monastir airport, just 3km from the resort, so transfers are quick.
Skanes is small and easy to walk around, but to venture out there are plenty of cheap taxis or local buses and trains to neighbouring Sousse and beyond. To explore further car hire can be arranged from hotels, or you can join an organised excursion
The beaches are the main reason that holidaymakers flock here. Miles of soft, golden stand stretch from Monastir all the way along the coast past Skanes and neighbouring resorts like Sousse to the west. Most hotels have their own section of the beach with sunloungers and umbrellas and a selection of water sports.
The sand slopes gently into the calm waters and there are lifeguards constantly on the lookout, so it’s a safe choice for families.
For anyone wanting more than the beach, there are plenty of sightseeing opportunities – the area is rich in history. Monastir itself is dominated by the walled old town with its ancient fort. Check out the presidential palace and mausoleum of the late president Habib Bourguiba – at night its particularly striking, with the golden domes and minarets lit up against the night sky. The Museum of Islamic Arts is worth a browse too.
There’s another old medina to explore at nearby Sousse and a little further afield Kairouan, the capital of the Aghlabid dynasty, is famous for its spectacular mosque. El Djem isn’t far away either with its gigantic World Heritage-listed Roman amphitheatre.
Skanes family attractions
Most families spend their days on the soft, sandy beaches – they’re great for children and there are plenty of water sports to keep older kids busy. Larger hotels usually have children’s clubs of some sort, organising activities from sandcastle building to treasure hunts. Then there’s horse-riding and camel rides along the beach too.
Outside the resort, Carthageland theme park is a relatively new attraction. Rides take visitors back in time through the history of Tunisia, from the Carthaginians, Romans and Berbers to the Muslim present. It’s not as sophisticated as its European counterparts, but still fun. Another unusual option on a beach break is the Blue Ice complex at Yasmine Hammamet, home to Tunisia’s first ever ice rink.
Skanes day trips
There’s lots of choice for day trips from Skanes. For history and an insight into the real Tunisia visit Tunis with its old souqs and winding lanes, and the ruins of the ancient city of Carthage nearby. Sidi Bou Said offers something else again – with cobbled streets and blue and white painted buildings, its bohemian ambience has long attracted artists.
For real adventure take a two or three day safari into the Sahara desert, exploring villages and Roman ruins on the way. This is where Star Wars and The English Patient were filmed – it’s romantic, remote and something you’ll never forget.
Tunisian food is about far more than kebabs. The national dish is couscous – a yummy mix of semolina with spices, vegetables and meat or fish. They’re big on lamb too, from soup to stews and there’s lots of local fish on menus. The French influence is seen in Tunisia’s cuisine, adding a twist to many dishes.
Most holidaymakers tend to eat in their hotels – often buffet-style – but there are a few cafés and restaurants in Skanes. Monastir has much more choice. The marina is a nice place to dine on the terrace of a restaurant overlooking the water.
At some point try a Bedouin feast – maybe in your hotel or on an excursion into the desert – with entertainment from traditional musicians, bellydancers and magicians.
Skanes is not the place to come for wild nightlife. Entertainment tends to be hotel-based – there are often dance shows and discos – but there’s little in the resort itself beyond the hotels. Head into Monastir instead for more choice, or along the coast to Sousse or Hammamet where there are lively bars, restaurants and cafés.
Most hotels have a shop or two selling souvenirs and holiday basics like sun-cream and swimwear, but Monastir has much more to offer. There are lots of little shops and traditional souks selling things like pottery, rugs and locally made jewellery. Remember to haggle – it’s part of the culture and can be fun too.