Swap Out Santorini For This Coastal North African City

Santorini and its colorful blue and white houses are a sought-after destination for travelers all over the globe, but there are some issues that come with a place being popular. Overcrowding and a surcharge in prices can certainly spoil an experience, even if it's one that was at the top of our bucket list. With an uptick in tourists catching on to the overhype of popular cities, and swapping them out for "dupes," Santorini has a near-replica city in the North African nation of Tunisia.

Tunisia is a bustling Mediterranean city well-known for its blend of Arab and Berber cultures, and its capital Tunis resembles our favorite Greek city. There's one neighborhood in Tunis that boasts similarities to the white and blue houses of Oía called Sidi Bou Said. The cuisine of Tunis — while distinctly different from Greek food — has some similar Mediterranean flavors and ingredients due to its Mediterranean climate. If you want to plan a trip to Santorini but haven't been able to find a good deal — or have hesitation due to the crowds you're guaranteed to face — perhaps you should consider Tunis instead.

What to do in Tunis

If you're coming to Tunis specifically as a dupe city to Santorini, then a visit to Sidi Bou Said is a must. Known for its cobblestone and historical streets, Sidi Bou Said is a feast for the eyes with its white and blue houses overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Enjoy your time there at one of the many charming eateries, enjoying dishes such as couscous, tajine, harissa, merguez sausage, lablabi (a chickpea-based stew), and bambalouni for dessert.

Aside from Sidi Bou Said, you'll want to get out to the Ruins of Carthage, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and learn about the past rivalry between Carthage and Rome. One of the best things to do in Tunis is to simply wander the medina. It's easy to get lost in the old streets of Tunis, and if you end up at Souq des Chéchias, where you can purchase chechias, or traditional Tunisian red hats. That beats a keychain or magnet souvenir any day.

Where else to visit in Tunisia

If you're traveling all the way to Tunisia, you'll want to see more than one destination within the country. After you get your fix of its capital, head out to see what else this underrated African nation has to offer. Hammamet is a lovely coastal town filled with resorts, some being all-inclusives, and remains a popular place for tourists. Another bustling beach option is Sousse, which has pristine beaches with great resorts, as well as a medina that is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Want to get away from beaches and the city? Head out to the Saharan Desert in Douz. Speaking of dupe cities, Douz acts as a dupe to Morocco's uber-popular Merzouga. In Douz, you can take a sunrise or sunset ride on a camel, spend the night in the desert, or even go quad-biking.

While Tunis remains the country's best Santorini alternative, Tunisia is a great budget-friendly alternative to any European getaway. Whether it's camels in the desert, deep blue seas at pristine beaches, or historic colorful towns, Tunisia has a little bit of everything.