Algeria travel tips is our subject for today’s article. The largest country in the Maghreb but also the most unknown, a travel to Algeria, the largest country in Africa, remains the best-suited thing for those with a lot of patience and confidence, favoring an unforgettable African adventure.
A territory with extremely varied landscapes, Algeria is bordered to the north by the Atlas chain, which joins the Mediterranean Sea and, to the south, by the Sahara, a vast desert area occupies a big part of the country. The most important cities are located on the coastal plains, facing the Mediterranean, and benefit from the mild Mediterranean climate.
Since Antiquity, this country has inherited an exceptional cultural and architectural heritage. Before the arrival of the Muslims, its territory was occupied by the Phoenicians, the Carthaginians and the Romans, which makes it a destination rich in Roman archaeological sites, admirably preserved, like the ruins of the site of “Djemila” or the ancient city of Timgad, classified as UNESCO World Heritage.
The capital, Algiers, is definitely worth a detour with its Kasbah, hanging on the hillside, a historic district also listed as UNESCO World Heritage, which has whitewashed houses and old mosques reached through winding and steep alleys. Facing the sea, the modern district recalls the colonial past of the city with its magnificent white-hued buildings.
Oran, further west, known as the capital of the west. Renowned for its Ottoman citadel built by the Spanish. While Constantine, landlocked, is captivating by its beauty, with its bridges hanging over impressive ravines, and by the wealth of its heritage.
But Algeria is also the “Kalâa of Beni Hammad,” an archaeological site from the 9th century located at more than 1,000 meters above sea level, the villages of the “M’Zab” valley, in the middle of the desert, and the many natural parks where multiple species of plants and animals are protected.
Our Algeria travel tips guide gives the opportunity for the adventure seekers to come and admire the spectacular landscapes of the “Hoggar” massif, in the middle of the Sahara, before stopping at Tamanrasset, for intense moments outside the world.
Still have a lot to say about the forgotten country. In this article, we are going to illustrate a complete travel guide to help you discover this beautiful and ignored country. So, keep reading to find out the important travel tips and the most important attractions and activities to experience in Algeria.
To begin with, our guide for Algeria travel tips, let’s start with:
1. Travel procedure
For your travel to Algeria, you will need a valid passport for at least 6 months with a visa obtained from the Consulate of your country.
Among the main tip of Algeria travel tips that you should know before going is to know about its currency. In Algeria, the currency is the Algerian dinar. The latest currency exchange is 1 USD, equivalent to around 123 Algerian dinars. Exchange rates can fluctuate quickly, so be sure to check before you leave.
The official language in Algeria is Arabic.
People do not speak literary Arabic, but they learn it in school, and it is used by the media and by political, administrative, academic, and economic circles. It serves as a written language. Instead, Algerians speak the Algerian Arabic (Darija, popular Arabic) or the Berber languages. About 70% of Algerians are Arabic speakers, and 30% are Berber speakers. In fact, Algerian Arabic has different dialects, according to the regions. The most widely used Berber languages are Kabyle, Shaouia, and Tamazight. These languages use their own alphabet. To this, we will add that about half of the Algerians speak French, and you will be impressed by the number of English speaking people. During your shopping, you’ll find some of the shopkeepers who speak basic English. However, in restaurants, all menus are written in Arabic and French, so we advise you to learn some basic French to know what to order; otherwise, ask the waitress.
When it comes to security and safety, it is the first concern for travelers. Algeria, as many other countries is today considered to be a very secure and safe country. You will find the police forces all around, caring and protecting people, especially tourists and foreigners. In general, Algeria is a very safe country.
Another essential tip of Algeria travel tips is when planning a vacation to an African country; you need to be informed about its climate.
5. When to go to Algeria
The diversity of the relief marks the Algerian climate. For your travel to Algeria, here is general historical weather.
– The northern coast enjoys a Mediterranean climate, where summer is dry and hot, and winter is mild and humid. Coastal cities, as well as “Kabylia,” benefit from a temperature varying from 8 ° C to 30 ° C.
– In the south, the Saharan region, the climate is typically desert and arid with a temperature variation ranging from 45 ° C during the day to 5 ° C at night, with extremely low rainfall. A trek in the desert will be done, preferably in winter, mainly before April.
– In the mountainous regions and in particular, in the “Aures” area, the climate is harsh with snowfall in winter (- 18 ° C) and suffocating dry heat in summer (50 ° C in peak shade and 38 ° C on average).
6. Where to stay in Algeria
Once you have decided to travel to Algeria. You can plan your stay easily. You can book at any website and choose one option of the following:
We generally travel to Algeria through a tour operator or a company, by the invitation of family or friends who will take care of everything. However, if you need to book a room, be aware that Algerian hotels are classified by comfort categories according to the star system but in no way comparable to that used in Europe.
Obviously, hotels without stars belong to the lowest category while that 5-stars are supposed to be located at the top of the scale, but it is more classification of prices than real comfort. Thus, an unclassified hotel may have little comfort (shared bathroom, for example), but the stay can be more pleasant.
An important thing that you must know while planning your travel to Algeria is that many hotels find a difficulty to accept the idea that an unmarried couple shares the same room … A family book will be systematically requested.
6.2 Youth hostels
The country has a good network of youth hostels of uneven quality. They are sometimes very well maintained, sometimes not at all, but in most cases, they repair properly and sometimes better than some small hotels. Housed in modern buildings, they are made up of dormitories and private rooms and offer rather basic comfort. If the rooms are well maintained, it is often in the common showers and toilets that the cleanliness leaves something to be desired … Youth hostels are generally frequented by sports clubs on the move.
Algeria has a wide range of food. You will find a variety of delicious food; you can find typical Algerian food with its variation depending on the region. Algeria is a big country, so you will find many specialties of food from the west to the east and from the north to the south; the north part itself has various dishes each belongs to a certain region. The famous dish in Algeria is Couscous (even Couscous has a different way to prepare it according to the region; the Couscous of the center Algiers is different from the one of the Berber regions, or even from the southern Couscous.
Besides, you find many local restaurants, as well as international restaurants. Chinese, Indian, Turkish, and other international restaurants such as Mc Donald’s, Burger King, and others, so don’t worry, you will not be starving in Algeria, and your tummy will be delighted by tasty local dishes.
Algeria travel tips concerning transportation
8. How to move around in Algeria
If you want to travel inside Algeria and discover the other cities than the capital city Algiers. You have different options;
Algeria has many airports and aerodromes for domestic flights. The cities served are Algiers, Annaba, Batna, Bechar, Bejaïa, Biskra, Constantine, Ghardaïa, Hassi Messaoud, Illizi, In Salah, Oran, Ouargla, Tamanrasset, Timimoun, and Tlemcen.
At the level of national connections by boat, there is now every summer, a ferry that connects Algiers and Bejaia (eastern city). A good plan to take a trip at sea and have a breathtaking view of the coasts.
The Algerian rail network has nearly 4,000 km of tracks.
Trains are often very punctual and really comfortable and safe. We have a preference for 1st class, slightly more expensive because the seats are more comfortable and the clientele less intrusive than in second. And above all, in the first class, a hostess regularly comes with her cart to sell you tea, coffee, sandwiches, cakes … Inexpensive and very practical.
The most popular lines are the Algiers-Bejaia, Oran-Algiers, and Algiers-Annaba lines via Constantine (night train). The connections are daily between Algiers and Oran, Bejaia, Skikda, Annaba, and Constantine, but the journeys are very long, at least 6 hours between Oran and Algiers … A little further south, connection once a day from Annaba to Tebessa via Souk-Ahras, and from Oran to Bechar, and twice a day from Constantine to Touggourt via Biskra. The major cities in the north of the Saharian Atlas are served by train.
A well-developed bus network connects all major cities in the country. Buses belonging to private companies are more or less comfortable, but connections are generally properly ensured. It takes an average of 100 DA (about 1 USD) per hour of the journey. The site of the management company of the Algiers bus station (www.sogral.dz) very conveniently presents the departure and arrival times. If the interurban network is well developed, it is not the same for the urban network, where in certain cities, like Algiers, the situation is more complicated: no plan, no timetables, and crowded buses.
The road network is in fairly good condition, except in regions where the climate is harsh. You will particularly appreciate that the highways are free. The new East-West highway, which allows you to go from Algiers to Oran in just 4 hours, is particularly comfortable. The roads are crossed by two-wheelers, private cars, collective taxis (yellow), and heavy goods vehicles all crazier than each other! Fishtails, high speed, or untimely stops are frequent. Stay calm if you are driving, even more, if you are not driving out of concern for the driver’s concentration.
Do not hesitate to take breaks in the highway cafeterias which are located at the petrol stations and are all very pleasant, with shops, toilets, etc.
An international driving license allows you to drive in Algeria for three months.
There are several types of taxis. The yellow intercity taxis connect the major cities of the country. They usually park near each city’s bus station and wait for them to be filled before leaving. While city taxis are generally collective, with well-defined routes.
Moreover, if you want to stay in a certain city, you will have different means of transportation, buses, taxis, metro, and Tramway.
Moving to the second part of the guide about Algeria travel tips, to talk about the important places to visit during your travel to Algeria.
9. What to see and do in Algeria
A travel to Algeria will take you from a city to another city to discover a rich and strong culture. Everywhere, you will discover magnificent “kasbahs,” veritable labyrinths of alleys that hide fascinating mosques and mausoleums. Islamic art and architecture draw ocher monuments adorned with superb colorful mosaics. Your trip will also be an opportunity to discover fine and fragrant gastronomy. Tasting couscous with an Algerian family is a must on any trip!
9.1 Attractions in Algeria
The capital city is also nicknamed “the white Algiers” because of the buildings of colonial and local architecture of a sparkling white.
Algiers is a large Mediterranean port and the main port of the country since it is one of the most important cities of the Mediterranean Sea.
There are many interesting things to see in Algiers; visitors can learn a lot about the history of Algiers by visiting the many museums scattered throughout the city. In addition to museums, Algiers has a collection of monuments and archaeological areas with a long history, such as:
The Kasbah of Algiers corresponds to the old city of Algiers, located west of the city center. It forms a historic district listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1992.
The Kasbah is one of the most beautiful maritime sites in the whole Mediterranean; it constitutes a unique type of medina or Islamic city.
The Kasbah of Algiers built on the ruins of the ancient city founded by the Romans, “Icosium.” Built on a hill, descending to the sea and divided into two: the upper Kasbah and the lower Kasbah.
The labyrinth of alleys and succulent houses is captivating. From this structure emerges a great sense of community, as for its citadel, its mosques and it’s Ottoman palaces which stand proudly, they remind us that the places are steeped in history and memory.
The inhabitants of Kasbah still retain very interesting traditional dwellings, palaces, hammams, mosques, and various souks, in which the urban form represents the testimony of stratification of several trends in an original system that becomes adapted to a highly rugged site.
A smart blend of Roman-Byzantine and Turkish-Arab architecture, its architecture is inspired by mosques built in Turkey in the Byzantine style. The mosque is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
A botanical jewel of more than 3,000 plant species offering a breath of fresh air. “Hamma garden” is listed among the most beautiful gardens in the world. The west side of the garden is occupied by the French garden, in the center is the large avenue of plane trees, and to the east is the old garden. The garden catches the eye of the visitor by the contrast between the well-cut French garden arranged in tiers and the rest of the garden, where tree trunks with tortuous shapes and tropical flora plunge you into an exotic plant universe.
The Memorial of the Martyr or “Maqam E’chahid”
A monument to the martyrs overlooking the city of Algiers. The memorial was inaugurated in 1982 for the 20th anniversary of the independence of Algeria. It is dedicated to the memory of the fighters of the independence war who died for the liberation of the country.
The Martyr’s Memorial located on the heights of Algiers, in the commune of “El Madania,” north of the esplanade of the “Riadh El Feth” shopping center, and It overlooks the “Hamma Garden.
There are too many other places monuments and places to visit in Algiers; including, the big post office of Algiers “La Grande Poste,” the Cathedral of Sacred heart, Bardo national museum, the national museum of fine arts, the big mosque of Algiers, Sablette promenade……
located to the west of the capital Algiers (68 km far from the capital). Tipaza was originally a Punic foundation in North Africa. Like all the cities of the Mediterranean basin, Tipasa became Roman, in the Roman province of Mauretania cesarean, then Christian.
The archaeological site of Tipaza contains various remains, including the remains of a basilica, a cemetery, thermal baths, and an amphitheater. The archaeological site is quite fragmented, and the ruins difficult to read; this is due to the fact that all has not been cleared and that a good part of the city is still under the sediments. The roman city of Tipaza is classified as a UNESCO world heritage.
The beautiful city of “Oran,” which is one of Algeria’s most important places of interest. The second-largest city in Algeria called “EL BAHYA.” After a stroll through the city center, discover its fortress, its basilicas, its mosques, and its cathedral.
Indeed, the city offers the tourist loving colors and freedom a wide choice of beaches, all as magnificent as each other, and for the most part, authorized for swimming.
Oran is a modern city attached to its past; it proudly displays sumptuous monuments, radiant squares, and above all, an incomparable view of the Mediterranean.
Here are the most visited monuments in Oran: Chapel of Santa Cruz, regional theatre of Oran, Santa Cruz port, Hassen Pasha mosque.
located at the east of Algeria, known for the “Ain El Fouara Fountain.” A monumental fountain located in the city of Setif, it is represented by the statue of a naked woman, erected on a 2 m rock.
The fountain is initially a pure fountain around a pouring, hot in winter and cold in summer, it was sculpted by the French artist, Francis de Saint Vidal, and was completed on February 26, 1898. The fountain does not stop seducing visitors with its charm. The “Ain El Fouara fountain” lets pure and powerful water flow. Hence the famous sentence of the inhabitants, “Who will drink from Ain El Fouara, will come back one day.”
The most important monumental city in Setif is “Djemila,” founded in the 1st century by former soldiers of the army of Emperor Nerva in Algeria.
Djemila, with its forum, temples and basilicas, triumphal arches, and houses, at an altitude of 900 m, is a remarkable example of Roman town planning adapted to a mountainous site.
In 1982 Djemila became a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its unique adaptation of Roman architecture to a mountain environment.
located in the northern-east of Algeria, located on a nerve junction connecting East and Tunisia to the central and western regions of the country as well as the Southern regions to the Mediterranean coast. Constantine also called the “city of hanging bridges,” “city of the old rock,” “city of the eagles,” or even “city of the Malouf”, a Constantine variant of Arab-Andalusian music.
Sahara; the Algerian desert
The Sahara is located on 80% of the total area of the country and represents 20% of the Greater African Sahara. It has a heritage, history, and culture rarely found in other regions that are reflected in drawings and colorful inscriptions and others carved in the rocks of mountains that date back thousands of years.
In the Algerian desert, you can also learn about the “Touareg “or “blue men,” relative to their blue dress that distinguishes them from the other Berber tribes.
The Algerian Sahara is not just a sea of sand dunes, as you tend to imagine. The Great Algerian South alternates between volcanic and lunar landscapes, stone plains and sand plains from which sometimes superb oases spring up.
You have many things to do and visit in the Sahara. Learn below about the most visited sites in Sahara.
called “Tam” by tourists; it’s considered as the capital of the Algerian Sahara.
The city of Tamanrasset is the first destination for tourists in Algeria from different parts of the world because it contains natural landmarks that made it well-deserved to be a first-class tourist city.
Also, in “Tamanrasset,” there is “Ain Salih Oasis,” which is located in the heart of the picturesque tourist desert of Algeria. It was once an important commercial link to the caravan road, and the moving sand dunes cut the town in half. Its rear parts include four red-brick palaces, each with its own castle.
The “Hajar Mountains” chain is another tourist area visited by thousands of tourists annually; nature lovers are admired by the beauty of nature, where there is one of the highest peaks in the brown continent, which is the summit of “Tahtatakor.” It is also available on the “Iskram” corridor if you visit you will enjoy watching the most beautiful sunrise and sunset in the world.
is the most recommended area to visit during the winter period, especially if you are looking for calm and tranquility. The Algerians call it “Bride of the Desert,” and it is located in the border region of “Adrar” with both Mauritania and Mali, and it has a unique architectural character.
In addition to its picturesque nature, the city, which is 1,400 kilometers from the capital, is known for its palaces and houses that were built with red bricks.
“Timimoun” is famous for its embrace of the “Dabbagh” corner, which is considered one of the most important historical sites in Algeria, and it was a military barrack during the days of French colonialism and later turned into a religious corner after independence.
It is a mountain range located in the southeast of Algeria, more than 2000 meters above sea level, with the highest summit, “Adrar Afau,” with a high altitude of 2185 meters, classified by Algeria as a protected national park and as a world cultural heritage by the United Nations Culture and Science Organization (UNESCO) in 1982.
The walls of “Tassili Nagar Caves” and their mountain forests contain a group of strange inscriptions that represent the full life of an ancient civilization dating back more than 6 thousand years BC. The region is considered a mystery that researchers are trying to decipher the secrets that are hidden in the Rocky Mountains and drawn on its walls.
9.2 shopping in Algeria
The great classics of handcraft
If during your life as a traveler you have ever walked the aisles of a souk in Morocco, Tunisia, or Egypt (as great classics of tourism in the region), you may find during this travel to Algeria as local crafts offer less choice than that of its neighbors. But since quantity and quality should not be confused, It is sure that you will find very beautiful pieces here. Each region has its own specialty.
Among the greatest classics of the genre, jewelry occupies a large place. Those from the “Kabylie” or “Aures” region are particularly appreciated. “Tuareg” silver jewelry is often superb.
In the big cities of the country, embroidery offers a wide choice in patterns. Some pieces are real works of art and are therefore very expensive.
Belts, bags, boots, or of course, the inevitable slippers are the big stars in the field of leather. It’s a great classic as a souvenir gift.
Copper objects are becoming increasingly rare. The last coppersmiths gradually disappear. Some remain in “Constantine” and “Tlemcen.” In another style, pottery is an art that offers many choices. You will find pieces almost everywhere on the territory. Basketwork or glasswork is rare, but it can also be a great idea.
Finally, buying a rug remains a classic. Small for prayer or very large to cover an entire room, you will have to compare and negotiate firmly around a mint tea for a long time.
Algeria is a unique destination. The city is beautiful, built-in an amphitheater around its port, with different districts well-marked architecturally; the sloping alleys of the Casbah buildings from the 50s and 60s. The other fascinated cities of the west and the east or the Sahara; the great desert, a country itself worth to discover. The welcome is warm, people so friendly with beautiful moments of sharing. In the end, a real favorite for this country, which makes you want to discover more about Algeria. And above all, still few tourists, a rare situation which must be taken advantage of before it too late.
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Originally published on Live Positively.