Algeria Travel Guide: Essential Facts and Information

Algeria camel train

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Part of the Maghreb region of North Africa, Algeria is a country with many different faces. Its scenery includes balmy Mediterranean beaches, the dramatic sand dunes of the Sahara Desert and mountain ranges that see enough snow for skiing in winter. Timgad and Djemila, both UNESCO-recognized ruins, tell the story of ancient Roman occupation while the capital, Algiers, is a historic settlement, colonial showpiece and cosmopolitan modern city all at the same time. Discover all the information you need to explore Algeria's wonders for yourself.

Location

Algeria is located on North Africa's Mediterranean coast in between Morocco (to the west) and Tunisia (to the east). It also shares borders with Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and the disputed territory of Western Sahara.

Size

With a total area of 919,594 square miles, Algeria is the largest country in Africa. It's also the 10th largest in the world. To put that into perspective, Algeria is roughly 3.5 times the size of Texas.

Capital City

The capital of Algeria is Algiers.

Population

According to July 2018 estimates by the CIA World Factbook, Algeria has a population of just over 41.6 million people. Nearly 43 percent of the population fall into the 25-54 years age bracket and the average life expectancy is 77 years.

Language

Algeria has two official languages: Arabic and Berber, or Tamazight. French is often used as the lingua franca.

Religion

Almost all (99 percent) Algerians are Muslim, with Sunni being the most popular denomination by a large margin.

Currency

Algeria's currency is the Algerian dinar (DZD). For accurate exchange rates, use this online converter.

Climate

Algeria has an arid to semi-arid climate that changes from one geographic region to another. On the coast, the winters are mild and wet while summers are hot and dry (albeit with some respite from cooling ocean breezes). The high plateau is colder in winter and generally drier year-round; while the southern desert sees very little rain at all. Here, temperatures are scorching in summer and pleasant in winter, although they do drop dramatically at night. The sand-laden sirocco wind is especially common in summer.

When to Go

Generally speaking, the best time to travel to Algeria is in the spring and fall, when temperatures are at their most pleasant and rainfall is minimal (this is particularly important if you're headed to the coast). However, winter brings opportunities for skiing in the mountains and is a wonderful time to explore the desert oases of the south; while summer brings the most abundant sunshine for those planning on enjoying the Mediterranean beaches.

Key Attractions

  • Algiers: Algeria's capital city was founded in the 10th century (although the area was settled as far back as Phoenician times). Its incredible history is evident in the city's architecture, which includes Ottoman palaces, Moorish mosques, and French colonial villas and boulevards. Top attractions include the historic Casbah, the Bardo Museum, and the National Museum of Antiquities.
  • Timgad: Situated on the northern slopes of the Aurès Mountains, the ancient city of Timgad was built by Emperor Trajan in 100 AD and is considered one of the finest Roman ruins on Earth. Today, visitors can wander amongst its well-preserved columns, villas, baths, and amphitheater. Of all Timgad's sights, the most impressive is the incredibly ornate Trajan's Arch.
  • Timimoun: Timimoun is the largest oasis town in the Grand Erg Occidental and charms visitors with its red adobe buildings and astonishing views out over the neighboring salt lake and desert sand dunes. Come to experience authentic Algerian culture beneath the date palms or to join excursions into the surrounding desert, either on camelback or via 4x4.
  • Tassili N'Ajjer National Park: Step off the beaten track with a visit to Tassili N'Ajjer National Park in the Sahara Desert. This UNESCO site is famous for its eroded sandstone peaks and spires, which resemble a lunar landscape. It is also home to one of the world's richest collections of prehistoric rock art. Access is restricted for safety reasons and can only be arranged through a certified tour operator.

Getting There

The main port of entry for most overseas visitors is Houari Boumediene Airport (ALG), located approximately 10.5 miles southeast of Algiers. Most nationalities (including those from the United States, Canada, Europe, and most commonwealth countries) need a visa to visit Algeria and will have to apply in advance at their nearest Algerian embassy. Travelers are advised that some parts of the country are unsafe for visitors—check government travel warnings for the most up-to-date information.

Medical Requirements

The CDC recommends that all visitors to Algeria are up-to-date with their routine vaccinations. Hepatitis A and typhoid vaccinations are also recommended for most travelers. Other vaccines that may be appropriate depending on where you're going and what you plan on doing once you get there include cholera, hepatitis B, and rabies. Although yellow fever is not present in Algeria, those traveling from a yellow fever country will need to provide proof of vaccination before being allowed to enter.

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