Mahdia

Mahdia is a resort town in Tunisia located on North Africa’s Mediterranean coast. Nestled between Sfax and Sousse and south of Monastir, Mahdia was once the capital of Tunisia. Currently, it is the provincial capital of the Mahdia Governorate.

With a population of only about 37,000, it is rather difficult to believe that this small town was once the seat of power for all of Tunisia starting in 921. Mahdia was the site of many historical battles involving Europeans, Egyptians, Berbers and others.

Today, the town is known mainly for its fishing, and more recently as a site for many world class resort hotels and some of the best beaches in Tunisia.

Weather in Mahidia Tunisia

Sitting on the northeast coast of Tunisia at about 35° north latitude, the climate in Mahdia tends to be mild throughout the year. However, most tourists like to visit the village during the summer when facilities are running at full steam.

During the summer, temperatures can average more than 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 °C) during the months of July and August. In this region, the summer starts in about April and ends in October. UV radiation here is strong and sometimes when hot dry air is blown in from the Sahara, temperatures can run as high as 122°F (50°C). Note that things can really cool down during the night, so it is often good to prepare for comparatively chilly evenings even when it is hot during the day.

Winter weather in Mahdia is rather mild and it is a good place to escape cold temperatures in other climes.

Things to do in Mahdia

Most tourists come to Mahdia to enjoy its fine beaches and the Mediterranean Sea. Even on the hottest day, the waters off the coast offer a great way to cool down.

You could spend the whole time sunning on the beach and swimming in the ocean, or take up other water-related activities like snorkeling, diving, boating, sailing, surfing and fishing. On land, you have options like horseback riding, hiking along the beaches, and golfing. The hotels feature their own fitness centers and swimming pools with games and sporting events often organized for visitors.

Some of the attractions in the town include the Great Mosque, which was built back in the 10th century. Women should dress modestly when visiting this or any other of the religious sites in the area. Architecture in the Old Quarter has been well-preserved and is a good way to get a taste of the region’s history. The town also has its own archaeological museum with relics covering the Roman, Christian and Muslim periods.

The Skifa el-Kahla is an interesting neighborhood in Mahdia where tourists can see buildings dating back to the 16th century. The “Cape Africa” lighthouse and the old cemetery are also worth a visit.

At night, the beach stays opens with people strolling and purchasing food from vendors. A number of clubs and bars cater to tourists offering drinks, dancing and entertainment. The Melia El Mouradi Mahdia hotel, for example, usually spins blues music at its dance club.

Shoppers will not find big shopping centers or markets here although a small market is available. Most of the shopping will involve bargaining with small vendors and small store owners who offer some interesting goods. Bargaining is part of the culture, so do not hesitate in “making in a deal” on a particular trinket.

What to see around Mahdia

The Amphitheatre of El Jem is the largest Ancient Roman colosseum in North Africa and the third largest in any location. The amphitheatre can hold up to 35,000 spectators and is the site for the International Classic Music Festival.

Another nearby location is the Bordj el-Kebir, a medieval fortress built by the Ottomans over the ruins of earlier Roman, Sicilian and Spanish fortifications. At one time, the skulls of many defeated Spanish soldiers were displayed at the fort’s tower.

Day trips can be arranged to nearby Sousse, Sfax and Monastir. Sousse, for example, is a former Phoenician colony that has its own great beaches along with architecture dating back to the 7th century.

If you have a few days, you can even plan a side trip to Palermo in Italy!

Beach life at Mahdia

Visitors to Mahdia have two options – they can use the beaches and facilities provided by the big hotels or they can be more adventurous and mingle with the locals.

While the resort hotel beaches are immaculately maintained, there is more action at the beaches used by locals. Tunisians are friendly and are often willing to invite strangers to enjoy in their own festivities including eating, dancing and singing.

For a sleepy little fishing village, Mahdia has much to offer visitors from five star hotels to great beaches and an inviting local culture.