Algeria Travel Guide
Introduction to Algeria
While it is the largest country in Africa, Algeria remains an unknown quantity to most travelers. A post 9/11 fear of terrorism had a lot to do with this, as kidnapping incidents in the 2000s led to cancellations of flight routes and scary warnings concerning travel to Algeria being posted on government travel websites for many Western nations.
Onerous visa requirements haven’t helped, either, but in spite of these difficulties, we still believe Algeria to be a worthwhile destination. With ancient paleolithic cave paintings, Roman ruins, empty expanses of the Sahara Desert, uncrowded Mediterranean beaches, and much more, there is so much to discover.
However, the Algerian people may end up being your top highlight here, as intrepid travelers have reported that their hospitality was what made their trip here a special one.
Currency: Algerian Dinars
Languages: Arabic, Berber, French
What To Do in Algeria
Get your head around Algerian history by exploring the National Museum of Antiquities. It is here you will find some of the finest art in Algeria – from ivory carvings to sculptures depicting rulers from dynasties long past.
There are plenty of artifacts that will bring this nation’s story to life – from prehistoric tribes to the days of the Romans to the present day, there is a lot of ground to cover. Don’t miss their comprehensive collection of Islamic art either, as its symmetrical beauty will leave you astounded by the creative talent of the Algerian people.
There are plenty to keep you busy in Algiers for days on end. However, there are a lot of attractions in Algeria outside the capital that are also worth discovering. Start by checking out Fort Santa Cruz in the Mediterranean port city of Oran.
While there are two other forts in the area (all three are connected by tunnels), this is the one you’ll want to visit if you are short on time. Its elevated position and ingenious defenses made it an intimidating sight for invading armies.
Attempts to snag Oran away from the Spaniards failed repeatedly over their 300-year tenure. It took an earthquake to drive them out, leaving Fort Santa Cruz unoccupied until the French took over in 1831.
With amazing views over the city and the Mediterranean Sea and a whitewashed church just beneath it, you won’t regret spending part of your day here.
As mentioned before, the history of Algeria includes a period when it was a colony of Rome. The ruins of Tipasa pay homage to those days, as it became an important part of the empire after it was taken from the Punics during their war with Rome during the 3rd and 2nd centuries BCE.
There are plenty of fascinating ruins to check out here, with the mausoleum of Juba II and Cleopatra Selene II (daughter of Cleopatra of Egypt) being the most commanding of the bunch. Additionally, be on the outlook for remains of Early Christian churches and the exterior walls during the day that you spend here.
Those wanting to experience the Sahara Desert in Algeria will have plenty of options available, but if you are stuck on where to go, we suggest making your way to Tassili n’Ajjer, a heavily eroded sandstone formation found deep in the Algerian interior.
While these rusty red rocks are stunning enough on their own, this part of the world has gained notoriety for a series of paleolithic cave paintings that diverge considerably from creations found elsewhere in the world.
The characters depict the people going about their daily lives, as other paleolithic cave paintings do. However, some figures take on an unusual appearance, as they appear to look like astronauts, or potentially, ancient aliens. A bold claim to be sure – perhaps checking it out for yourself can help you make up your own mind.
If the heat of the Saharan interior has you craving a refreshing dip in the ocean, there are plenty of uncrowded beach towns along the Mediterranean coast where you can relax for a few days. Algeria may not be a tourism hotspot, but the scenery found in places like Oran, Annaba, and Skikda will have you wondering how long this place can remain a secret.
What to Eat in Algeria
If you are looking to dine on the national dish of Algeria, get your hands on some Couscous. Enjoyed as a savory dish with meat stew at dinner, or as a sweet dessert with almonds and raisins, it consists of tiny steamed balls of semolina. Simply put, it is a delightful dish you won’t want to miss.
Have a hankering for some sausage? Track down some Merguez, as it is made with a mixture of lamb and beef that is seasoned with cumin, harissa, fennel, garlic, and chili peppers before being stuffed into lamb intestine casing.
The result? An intensely flavorful link that will have you ordering more before you have even finished the first one.
After devouring a satisfying main course, have some Asida for dessert. A simple dish made with baked wheat dough dipped into a date honey and sheep ghee, you’ll have the best luck finding it during Eid and after the birth of a new child. Either way, you’ll be sure to have some joyous company when enjoying this fantastic sweet treat.