Tunisia © Dennis Jarvis

*A state of emergency is still in effect in Tunisia, imposed after a suicide bombing in 2015. The UK government currently advises against all travel to the Chaambi Mountains National Park, and territory in the south east of the country, on the border with Libya.

The captivating North African country of Tunisia sits at the heart of the Mediterran, straddling the old and the new, the exotic and the traditional. Caught in a cleft between Algeria and Libya, it offers travellers sumptuous modern seaside resorts set side by side with a treasure-trove of ancient Roman, Arab, Berber, and Phoenician sites.

Just a few miles north of the capital, Tunis, lie the remains of the legendary ancient city of Carthage, founded in the 8th century BC. By contrast, Tunis is a bustling modern metropolis where steel, glass, and palm trees form the backdrop to streets filled with fast-moving yellow taxis.

The centuries slip away in the medieval Medina found in the heart of this pristine city. It serves as a haven for souvenir hunters, boasting hundreds of narrow streets crammed with vendors of antiques, jewellery, pottery, carpets, perfumes, dried fruit, books, spices, and other delights. Also, no tourist to the city should miss a visit to the Bardo Museum, for the joy of viewing one of the world's greatest collections of Roman mosaics.

Tunisia has a thousand miles of coastline to the north, where luxurious resorts like Hammamet and Nabeul nestle amid citrus orchards. Vacationers relish the sandy beaches and crystalline waters along the waterfront, where the only alternative to lazy bronzing is to indulge in a round of golf or take the plunge with some watersports.

Those intrepid enough to venture into the south, on the threshold of the Sahara desert, will be rewarded with some interesting geographical features like the 'forest in the desert' at Ramada, the dry salt lake at Chott el Jerid, or the remote oasis at Ksar Ghilane.

The cherry on the top for visitors to this affordable and exotic holiday destination is the warmth and genuine friendliness of the Tunisian people. This is evident in even the smallest of villages, where if you happen to pass through during one of the numerous summer festivals you will be welcomed and urged to join.

Although recent political upheaval has kept Tunisia on the front page rather than in the travel section, the country has made the transition to democracy smoothly and is once again welcoming tourists and cruise ships to its shores.