Algiers, Algeria

Visit Algeria, the largest country in Africa

10 TIPS

1. Best view of the city = NOTRE DAME d’AFRIQUE

If you want to get the best view of Algiers, you should definitely visit this Catholic basilica, built in 1872, on top of the city hill.

Designed by a french architect in the late byzantine style, the church has this beautiful inscription saying : “Our Lady of Africa, pray for us and for the Muslims.”

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2. Street food is covered with bees

It’s not even a joke. I was walking down the streets of Algiers when I passed by this pastry kiosk and I got surprised to see tens of bees flying all over the food products to the extent of covering them up fully.

I asked for a baclava (turkish origin dessert)* just to see what happens. The vendor gently put his hand inside, retrieving my dessert as the bees simply flew away.. 🐝

* Note: Algeria was part of the Ottoman Empire before being colonized by the French (which lasted until 1962).

3. Safe or not safe

When I first visited Algiers I was told it’s not safe for a young woman like me to wonder the streets alone, because of the past political situation in the country. And there might be some truth in that (considering the kidnap threat in the region – read more about “Sahel kidnappings“), even if i didn’t feel any type of tension when I was walking down the streets. Plus, there is police almost everywhere, just to keep things in order.

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4. Not 1, but 7 UNESCO World Heritage Sites

In no particular order, this are (all worth visiting):

  1. Ghardaia & Benin Isguen
  2. Djemila
  3. Tipasa
  4. Timgad
  5. Beni Hammad
  6. Djanet and the Tassilli
  7. Algiers’Casbah

5. Sahara Desert

The Sahara Desert represents 80% of the surface of Algeria. Although transportation by air is more recommended than by car, there is no other way to reach the algerian desert than by land.

I recommend that you take a guide with you, bring water of course (Sahara has the greatest number of oases), a good camera, a light scarf to protect you from the sun radiation and heat.

You can arrange with a travel agency for a camel tour in the desert, also with an overnight camp stay in the sands.

6. Mixed cuisine

In Algiers you can enjoy a wide selection of mediterranean, arabic and french cuisine presented as a mix of fish, lamb chops, couscous, tajines, you name it.

The prices are very good in the city and you’ll want for sure to come back to eat as the berbers.

7. Changing your money

The local currency in Algeria is the algerian dinar. This is the best place to change money in the region if you want to achieve some small profit. But it’s not really easy to get there and they don’t accept just any currency.

It’s better i would say to choose the black market offer for exchanging your money (a common practice) and not the banks or ATMs. And remember the country has severe laws for taking dinars out of the country.

8. Street markets, coffee and a little bit of spices

Same like Morocco, if you are searching to purchase hand-made carpets, ceramics, leatherwear, silverware, pottery, jewelry, you came to the right spot.

Street markets are sparkling with scents and colours and vendors are ready to bargain all the time. Enjoy a coffee with cardamom while doing your shopping or have a small bite of fresh dates or some other fruits (grapes are amazing).

And don’t forget, Fridays and Saturdays are days off in the country, so most probably shops will get closed.

9. Albert Camus

I was surprised to find out that Albert Camus (Nobel Prize winner in 1957), one of my favourite writers, was actually born in Algeria.

Based in France, Camus was impressed by the civil war happening in his native place, with his mother still being in the country, being said that the problems in Algeria “affected him as others feel pain in their lungs“.

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10. Shaking hands

Ok, i remember when i was left with my hand hanging in the air. I learned that religious men don’t shake the ladies hand as a form of respect.

Also, if you are a guy travelling to this part of the world, it is mentioned that it’s not really nice to stare into a woman’s eyes or ask too many personal questions.

Respecting the Islamic culture should make aware also of the fact that in the holy month of Ramadan, eating, drinking, smoking or chewing gum is not allowed in public.

 

13 thoughts on “Algiers, Algeria

  1. wellcaffeinatedtraveller says:

    What an interesting article. I never considered travelling to Algeria because I thought it would be unsafe. I’m glad to hear that it is not (unsafe) and there are so many interesting things to see and do there. Especially drinking coffee with cardamom – YUM!

    Like

  2. TogetherInThailand says:

    I can’t get over how there were bees covering the baklava and they just reached in and grabbed it! My husband would freak out! The markets sound like a place I would like to get a rug for my parents! Glad to hear that you felt safe.

    Like

  3. nomadicfoot says:

    i always want to go to south africa but it was only cities like Capetown, Johannesburg, Knysna, Suncity. But this article making me eager for Algeria as well. Thanks

    Like

  4. 100cobbledroads says:

    I’m fascinated by the prospect of seeing these seven UNESCO protected sites. The first thing I am going to do after I submit this comment will be to check those out online. Are the Algerian tagines like the Moroccan ones?

    Like

  5. diytravelhq says:

    Algeria looks so exotic. Safety has kept me from visiting many parts of Africa, I like your take on it & it’s good to know that you didn’t have any untoward experiences. Really looks like a timeless country

    Like

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