As the largest country in Africa, Algeria’s terrain is hugely varied yet underexplored: few visitors travel beyond the country’s Mediterranean port cities (namely Oran and the capital, Algiers), which lie amidst fertile land and the scattered vestiges of Phoenician and Roman colonies.
For the intrepid traveller, adventure awaits in Algeria. A beguiling blend of cultures, landscapes and traditions, this giant chunk of land contains everything from tranquil fishing ports and bustling cities to the unmatched drama of the Sahara Desert and Hoggar Mountains.
Sometimes called ‘Algiers the White,’ the capital’s bustling showpiece is its UNESCO-listed Casbah. This whitewashed medina encompasses both crumbling ruins and newly-renovated spaces and is well worth a visit despite its shady reputation (taking a guide is recommended).
The ancient port city of Oran has a decidedly European vibe: Italian colonial influences are evident in everything from the soaring Sacré-Cœur Cathedral (now a library) to the richly ornamented Palais de la Culture. The city has long been a popular trading post and remains of the busiest ports in North Africa.
The Sahara Desert is Algeria’s defining feature and of its largest drawing cards. It covers over four-fifths of the country and is the source of myriad myths and legends. Wandering Berbers still live here, eking out traditional lives in difficult conditions.
The security situation makes independent travel difficult in the Sahara, but under the guidance of reputable tour operators, travellers can visit attractions like the oasis towns of Ghardia and Timimoun, or venture deep in to the heart of the desert to view the prehistoric rock art in the Hoggar Mountains and Tassili N’Ajjer National Park.
The desert is also home to the world’s most remote film festival. FiSahara takes place yearly in the Wilaya of Dakhla, a Western Sahara refugee camp, to highlight the plight of the Sahrawi people.
War and tumultuous politics have deterred lots of from visiting Algeria – rerouting them towards Moroccoinstead – but if you’re looking for a North African location with a difference, this country has much to offer.
When To Go
Algeria is a big country, so the weather is as diverse as some small European countries. Typically, though, the weather is predictable everywhere. One thing that is always certain is the high temperatures found everywhere in the summertime. Stay out of the south, especially. The mountains and coasts are cooler, and the north gets plenty humid. The winter is the best time to head south, as the weather is near perfect. The nights, however, can become cool and often you may need a sleeping bag (the temp can vary up to twenty degrees). If the south is a must, then plan your trip between September and May, as the disparity between the day and night is not as dramatic.
- Some parts of the country can be closed down to tourism. Be sure to check the latest information on your pertinent government travel page before booking.
- Try to stay away during the summer, especially if you want to see the Sahara. The temperatures are unbearable during the day and the night time won’t bring much relief for sleeping.
- Tassili N’Ajjer National Park
- El Kautara Gorges
- M’Zab Valley
- Atlas Mountains
- Chot Melrhir lake & Chott Ech Chergui Lakes
- Sahara Desert