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How to book a north African beach holiday for under £400

by Staff

As March and April swing wildly between mild, lightly sunny days and Baltic, bucketing-down misery, a few hours on a plane may be the only way to guarantee true warmth. Your mid-haul options at this time of year are many, though prices will differ: think the Canary Islands; north African classics Morocco and Tunisia; the Gambia or the Cape Verde archipelago in west Africa; or Arabian peninsula destinations such as the UAE and Oman.

Once you throw in a six-or-seven hour flight to, say, Dubai, often with a premium airline, package prices rise considerably — so look for budget flight routes. Given the warmer weather and three-hour flight time, easyJet Holidays’ Tunisia packages are staggeringly affordable, with no fewer than 15 options for a six-night holiday coming in at £400pp or less on the dates we searched (March 17-23). Big-name resorts from Hilton to Mövenpick were among the choices, with several even offering half-board weeks within that budget. Skipping over the bargain-basement options under £350pp, our pick is six nights at the five-star Iberostar Selection Royal El Mansour for £385pp; partly because the half-board rate makes it incredible value for money, and partly for the clean, modern design and consistently well-reviewed service.

In the coastal town of Mahdia, the resort is less than two hours’ drive from Enfidha-Hammamet airport. This area lacks the nightlife or local scene of, say, Sousse or Port El Kantaoui, so will be better suited to couples and young families who are happy to go with the flow of resort life. There is a well-preserved old town with a medina, a 10th-century limestone gate (Skifa el Kahla) and a tree-shaded town square, Place du Caire, should you want to see a little Tunisian character, but really this holiday will be about low-key, beach-resort living.

The Fatimid port of Mahdia

ALAMY

The Iberostar’s simple but modern cream-and-tan rooms look out to three outdoor swimming pools in manicured gardens trimmed by a sandy beach. There’s a thalassotherapy spa with an indoor pool and ocean-inspired treatments, plus tennis courts and kids’ clubs catering for children aged between 4 and 17. Sofra restaurant serves classic Tunisian couscous and tagine, while the main buffet restaurant does a bit of everything; or you can grab barbecue dishes at the snack bar. Authentic touches include a tea salon and a hammam in the spa.

Where is hot in March? 14 destinations for a sunny break
Where is hot in April? 13 sunny destinations

Things to know: March weather along Tunisia’s coast lacks the open-oven temperatures of the Middle East or Mexico at this time of year — but it’s warm enough for short sleeves and sunglasses, with highs of 21C this month rising to something like 23C in April. And it’s worth noting that the outdoor pools in this resort aren’t heated. Still keen? With the change left over from your £400 kitty, you can even afford to book seats in advance to sit together on the flight (from £6.49pp per flight). Fly-and-flop heaven.

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What you get for your £385pp

• Return Manchester-Hammamet flights
• 23kg hold luggage
• Shared shuttle-bus transfers
• Six nights’ half-board in a standard double room with balcony (easyjet.com)

Feeling flush?

If you’re inspired and have a bit more cash to splash, try these higher-end options

The £700 holiday

Les Orangers Garden Villas in Hammamet

Les Orangers Garden Villas in Hammamet

The discerning Tunisia-tripper may want a more boutique feel, which you’ll get at the low-rise, traditionally styled Les Orangers Garden Villas in Hammamet. This beachfront hideaway has stylish, whitewashed architecture, smart restaurants including a Mediterranean bistro and Asian kitchen, outdoor and indoor pools and a hammam. The team can organise trips into Tunis if you want a dose of culture; while horse riding along the beach can be arranged through its sibling hotel next door. This price includes hand luggage only with easyJet — it’s £50 extra each way to add one 23kg bag.
Details Six nights’ all-inclusive from £657pp, including flights and transfers (broadwaytravel.com)

The £1,100 holiday

Dar Said Hote in Sidi Bou Said

Dar Said Hote in Sidi Bou Said

ALAMY

With a bit more budget behind you, you can afford to go for a mini-tour with private guides and chauffeured cars. Corinthian Travel’s tailor-made Sojourn in Tunisia is a whizz through the country’s historic and cultural highlights, taking in the capital of Tunis, Carthage’s ruins, the pretty clifftop village of Sidi Bou Said, El Djem’s Roman amphitheatre, the abandoned Berber village of Takrouna and the laid-back seaside town of Nabeul. Accommodation is in authentic riad-like dars with private guides and drivers on hand to make the adventure seamless.
Details Six nights’ B&B from £1,045pp, including transfers and some extra meals (corinthiantravel.co.uk). Fly to Tunis

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