I have been intending to go to El Jem for quite some time but being up…
Korbous, or Qurbus, is situated on the north coast of Cap Bon, about 30 km east of Hammam Lif and 56 km from Tunis. The surrounding mountain terrain leaves Korbous with few neighbours but the trip to this isolated coastal town is well worth making. The scenic road in places clings to the cliff face with stunning sea views. The surrounding area is mostly dry and barren with a few oases of greenery where springs gush forth from the rocks. From a bend in the road, Korbous suddenly comes into view like a mirage at the foot of a steep ravine.
Set around a few local springs, the small settlement at Korbous has beautiful white beaches at the base of craggy cliffs making it a very dramatic setting. A walk to the Zarziha Rock is a popular attraction. It has a smooth polished appearance as for centuries local women who wanted to conceive have slid down the rock believing it would make them fertile. Just 2km east of Korbous are the springs of Ain Atrous, the main attraction for visitors. The hot spring water has been used for centuries for healing purposes. The Romans first made use of the thermal springs and called the area Aquae Calidae Carpitanae. Their ancient underground saunas can still be seen. The springs were rediscovered in 1801 by Ahmed Bay who re-established the area as a spa. There are seven springs in the area, each said to heal different ailments including skin complaints, respiratory conditions, rheumatism and arthritis. The waters emerge at 44-60C (111-140F) and are particularly crowded at weekends as locals bathe in the hot pool or stand beneath the waterfall. The coast is rocky and sandy in places and offers sheltered bays which are ideal for swimming.
The town itself is pleasant with a wide street lined with elegant Tunisian architecture. Most of the elegant buildings date back a few decades to when Korbous was considered a very chic place for the Tunisian elite to have a home. On the shore is a former beyical palace which has been used as the Etablissement Thermal or spa clinic since 1901. Nearby are the ruins of the presidential palace used by Bourguiba who was a great believer in spa treatments. In Korbous the springs are all part of hotels while out of town they can be bathed in publically. Alternatively, visit the local hammam or bathe where the sulphurous waters run down the rocks and into the sea.
Driving along the undulating mountainside is a wonderful experience with superb sea views. The local bus journey is exhilarating as it winds along the cliffside roads. Buses run irregularly from Soliman, a small inland town, and from Hammamet with connections to Tunis.
Where to Stay
Korbous has several medium standard hotels which are mainly used as health spas. Those on a tight budget may consider camping on the beach.
Korbous has some nice restaurants as well as cafés and bars along the main street. The Restaurant Bar Les Thermes is one of the best. Cafés are also clustered around the thermal springs at Ain Atrous.
The best place to go for nightlife is the popular bar in the Hotel Ain Oktor, 3km west of the town. It has breathtaking views over the Gulf of Tunis from its position on the cliffs.Climate in KorbousThe driest season to visit Korbous is between April and October when temperatures range from 20-32C (68-90F). July and August can be very hot and humid. Showers are more frequent during the mild winter months.CurrencyThere are no banks in Korbous so currency exchange and withdrawals must be made in Tunis, Hammam Lif, Nabeul or Hammamet.TransportLocal shared taxis are the best way to get around the Korbous area, or try the irregular local buses which run from Soliman along the coast.