map of Algeria, click here.
Area: 2,381,741 square kilometres
Population: approx. 35 million
Currency: Algerian Dinar (DZD)
Algeria is a vast country of captivating natural beauty, bridging the Mediterranean with West Africa by way of the mighty Sahara desert.
The whitewashed cities of the Mediterranean coast, dominated by their unmistakenly French character, stand in sharp contrast to the traditional Arab towns of the Sahara. A tour around Algeria is an opportunity to experience the blend of Arab, African and European influences that makes this country a unique travel destination.
Getting to and from Algeria:
Houari Boumedienne Airport (ALG) is located 20 km southeast of Algiers, in Dar El Beida. The airport is the hub for the national carrier Air Algerie, the French airline Aigle Azur & the domestic Tassili Airlines. A total of 16 airlines operate scheduled flights from Algiers to destinations in Africa, the Middle East and Europe.
Terminals: Terminal 1 (international), Terminal 2 (domestic), Terminal 3 (for special flights).
Getting to & from Algiers: A regular bus service operates between Algiers city centre and the airport. The journey takes approximately 30-40 mins.
A free shuttle service operates between the terminals around the clock.
|Algiers, Oran, Annaba, Bejaia & Skikda are the main seaports. Passenger ferry services from Algiers to Marseille in France and Alicante in Spain are run by Algerie Ferries.
More information on their website (only in French). A number of other Mediterranean ports are also served from Algiers.
|Coaches run between most Algerian cities and towns. La Gare Routiere is the central bus terminus in Algiers, located in Hussein Dey. The coaches are mostly modern and equipped with air conditioning.|
|The national railway network covers some 3,900 kms. It is possible to travel to Algeria by train from Tunis, via Constantine and Annaba. It is currently not possible to cross the border between Morocco and Algeria.
Algiers Central Train Station is near the city centre and train services operate to major cities.
|Road distances in Algeria|
|From Algiers to:|
|Annaba:||556 km||Mostaghanem:||337 km|
|Biskra:||417 km||Oran:||412 km|
|Bordj Mokhtar (Mali border):||2,205 km||Ouargla (via Ghardaia):||787 km|
|Bou Saada:||245 km||Ouargla (via Touggourt):||770 km|
|Constantine:||424 km||Tamanrasset:||1,925 km|
|Djanet:||2,160 km||Tebessa:||609 km|
|Djemila:||22 km||Tipasa:||82 km|
|El Golea:||862 km||Tlemcen:||527 km|
|El Oued:||616 km||Touggourt:||610 km|
|Ghardaia:||597 km||Tripoli (Libya):||1,256 km|
|In Guezzam (Niger border):||2,320 km||Tunis (Tunisia):||857 km|
Algiers (population: 3,5 million)
The capital of Algeria is a beautiful, whitewashed city facing the Mediterranean. Founded in the 3rd century BC, Algiers has been a port city since the days of the Roman Empire. After the fall of Muslim rule in Spain in 1492, many Spanish Arabs came to settle in Algiers. Later, the Ottomans took the city, under the leadership of Khayruddin "Barbarossa". The French colonization of Algeria began in 1830, and ended after the war of liberation in 1962.
Algiers is distinguished by its being divided into two historically different sectors. The old sector is the original Arab quarter, with its "Kasbah" of narrow alleys, numerous mosques, and the old citadel built in the 16th century.
The other sector is the European part of the city. This was built during the French colonial rule, with wide boulevards and administrative and commercial buildings. Accordingly, although the general impression of Algiers is that of a French city, it still also has a typically North African ambience.
The Kasbah of Algiers is small, but more than 100,000 people live here. Typical of the North African kasbahs, its alleys are narrow and winding. The Kasbah played an important role during the days of resistance against the French colonial rule. Today, this part of Algiers is still one of the most interesting parts of the city. The Kasbah was added to UNESCO's World Heritage List in 1992.
The Grand Mosque (Jamaa-el-Kebir)
This is the oldest mosque in the city. The mosque’s interior is square-shaped, and divided into aisles by columns joined by Moorish arches.
The New Mosque (Jamaa-el-Jedid) dates, despite its name, from the 17th century. It has a large white cupola, with four small cupolas at the corners. The Ketchaoua Mosque used to be a cathedral before independence in 1962.
The Roman Catholic Cathedral of Notre Dame d'Afrique, is one of very few churches left since Algeria gained its independence.
The Bardo Museum
This museum has an extraordinary collection of local artifacts from various regions of Algeria. It is housed in a beautiful Moorish-style mansion. The museum features exhibits on prehistoric findings and ethnography as well as regional jewellery, costumes, leatherwork and weaponry.
Tipasa is located on the shores of the Mediterranean, about 50 km west of Algiers. Tipasa is a pretty seaside resort with beautiful beaches. However, Tipasa is more famous for its ancient site, comprising unique Phoenician, Roman, palaeochristian and Byzantine ruins.
Originally a Phoenician trading post, Tipasa became a Roman colony in 2 AD. The site also has some indigenous monuments such as the Great Royal Mausoleum of Mauritania. The site is on UNESCO's World Heritage List.
Djemila is a mountain village near the Mediterranean coast, about 50 km northeast of the town of Setif. Its ancient site, called "Cuicul" in Latin, is a splendid example of a Roman town adapted to mountain terrain. Djemila has a forum, temples, triumphal arches, basilicas and houses. The site is on UNESCO's World Heritage List.
Tlemcen is situated some 600 km southwest of Algiers, in the region bordering on Morocco. The city is among the most important in Algeria when it comes to Islamic architectural heritage.
Tlemcen was founded by the Romans in the 4th century CE. The city came under Arab rule in the 8th century, and was named Agadir. In the 11th century, the Almoravid commander Youssef Ben Tachfine made the city his capital, and renamed it Tlemcen. The city's days of glory were during the Islamic sultanate between 1282 to 1553, after which it came under Ottoman rule.
Tlemcen stands in the wooded foothills of the Tell Atlas, among vineyards and olive groves, in one of the most scenic regions of Algeria. The city makes a pleasant retreat from the summer heat.
The Grand Mosque is one of the main sights in Tlemcen. It was built during the Almoravid rule in the 11th century, and was enlarged in the 13th century. Other places worth visiting are the Mansourah Fortress and the Almohad ramparts.
In the area around Tlemcen are some natural spas with hot springs.
Constantine (population: 500,000)
The capital of eastern Algeria, Constantine is the third largest city in the country. Originally settled by Phoenicians, the city was founded by the Carthaginians. Constantine is named for the Roman emperor Constantine I, who caused the city to be rebuilt in 313 AD, after it had been destroyed in a rebellion.
The most spectacular feature of Constantine is its spectacular position on a rocky plateau, more than 640 m above sea level. The city is cut off on all sides, except the west, from the surrounding country by a beautiful ravine. The location is very unique and picturesque with a number of bridges and a viaduct crossing the ravine.
Among places worth visiting in Constantine are: The 13th century Grand Mosque, the Mausoleum of Sidi Rached, the Ahmed Bey Palace, and the Hammam of Sidi Mir.
Constantine is famous for its gold thread embroidery, called "Kandourah", which can be seen practiced in the shops of the old town.
Mohamed Bou Diaf Airport is located 9 km south of Constantine. Air Algerie operates a number of international & domestic routes from here. Tthe French airline Aigle Azur flies to destinations in France & Switzerland. Tassili Airlines operates a route to Algiers.
Getting to & from Constantine: There are regular bus and taxi services between Constantine and the airport.
Timgad is an ancient site on the slopes of the Aures mountains, some 150 km south of Constantine. Timgad was created as a military colony by the Emperor Trajan in 100 AD. The site is one of the best examples of the grid pattern used in Roman city planning. Noteworthy buildings at Timgad are a 3,500-seat amphitheatre, a temple, four baths, a triumphal arch called "Trajan's Arch", and a library. The site is on UNESCO's World Heritage List.
Oran (population: 770,000)
Oran is Algeria's second largest city and a main commercial and industrial centre. The port is one of the busiest in the country.
The city was founded by Andalusian traders in the 10th century. It came under Spanish occupation from 1509 until 1708, when it was captured by the Ottomans.
During French colonial rule, Oran used to have a very large European population. The French novelist Albert Camus was born in Oran, and used the city's settings for two of his books. After independence in 1962, practically the whole European population left Oran.
Oran is home to a form of modern Arabic music called "Raï", which has attracted international audiences through the singer Cheb Khaled.
Oran Es Senia Airport is located 9 km south of Oran, near Es Senia.
Getting to & from Oran: Taxis.
Airlines serving the airport:
The Sahara Desert
Bou Saada is an oasis town in northeastern Algeria. The town was built along the bank of a wadi (riverbed), where it stands out in stark contrast to the surrounding barren mountains and dry salt marsh.
Bou Saada has traditionally served as an important market place and was well known for its jewelry, metalwork, and carpets. The town is still today an important trading post and rest stop for travellers.
Bou Saada can basically be divided into two halves; the old Medina with its arched alleyways and aged walls which is situated within the city walls, and the French town which is located to the south of the Medina. Just outside the city are large date groves.
Being a traders' oasis, Bou Saada has bustling markets, well worth a visit.
The Bou Saada Park covers roughly 100 acres and has been planted with various grape vines, which are now harvested and bottled as wine.
Ghardaïa, a town on UNESCO's World Heritage List, is a cluster of five settlements on hills in the M'zab valley, some 600 km south of Algiers. White stone houses huddle together on each of the five hills. The town was founded by the Ibadhis in 1053.
Ghardaïa is mostly made up of original medieval architecture that has been amazingly well preserved. Two-storey houses, each with its own courtyard, carve clusters of terraces, yards and narrow streets into the hillside in a way that blends the city into the landscape. The architecture of Ghardaïa displays a form of unique harmony, and an ability to take advantage of the characteristics of the site and enhancing it without spoiling its natural beauty.
Sights of Ghardaïa include the Grand Mosque, with its 114-step minaret. The Grand Souk, also called "Sahat En-Nasr", becomes crowded with salesmen and customers on Fridays.
Ghardaïa is famous for its fine-wool carpet weaving and its copper works.
Ghardaïa has extensive date groves holding more than a hundred thousand trees of 24 different varieties. The region is also known for its production of peanuts, strawberries and cotton.
Touggourt is a large desert city in northeastern Algeria. The city is built around a very fertile oasis, and is a main producer of dates.
In the 15th century, Touggourt had its own sultanate dynasty. The city saw the rise of a large number of sultans until the French colonial authorities abolished their rule in 1854. Touggourt is mostly made of mud or clay-stone buildings and winding streets, giving it a very authentic feel.
Among the attractions are the large date groves and the Fortress Mosque. The mosque is also home to the tombs of the Beni Djellab kings, who rest together under a large dome. The tombs are a place of pilgrimage for the locals.
The Southern Sahara Desert
Tamanrasset & the Ahaggar (Hoggar) Mountains
The Ahaggar Mountains are a highland region in the Sahara, approximately 1500 km south of Algiers. The mountains are essentially made of volcanic rocks, with peaks reaching up to 3000 m. The climate is very hot in the summer. In the winter, it is not unusual that temperatures fall below 0°C. Rainfall is rare and sporadic, but since the climate is less extreme than in most other areas of the Sahara, the Ahaggar Mountains are a major region for biodiversity.
Air Algérie operates frequent flights from Algiers to Tamanrasset, the capital of this region. Roads are much improved, although summer sand storms and winter rains can make all but the major routes hazardous.
Tamanrasset, situated at the heart of the Ahaggar Mountains, is a vibrant town, full of character and an important stopping place for commercial traffic between the Mediterranean and West Africa. Tamanrasset is host to a yearly cultural festival, with local art displays and folklore performances.
Tourists often stop in Tamanrasset and use it as a base for touring the Ahaggar Mountains. This is the land of the Touaregs, the ancient inhabitants of this region. The Touaregs are nomads, distinguished by their blue robes, and the men often cover the lower half of their faces with a blue veil.
Tamanrasset Aguenar Airport is located 6,7 km northwest of Tamanrasset, and serves both international and domestic routes.
Getting to & from Tamanrasset: Taxis operate between the airport and Tamanrasset. The trip takes approximately 15 mins.
Airlines serving the airport:
Djanet & the Tassili N’Ajjer Plateau
The oasis of Djanet, in the southeastern part of Algeria, is another stopping point for commercial traffic and trans-Saharan expeditions. It is situated in the volcanic plateau of Tassili N'Ajjer. This area is crossed by massive gorges gouged out by dried-out rivers.
The Tassili is famous for its unique rock paintings, which go back at least as far as the Neolithic age. Tours of the Tassili Plateau and the rock paintings can be arranged by private agencies.
Djanet Tiska Airport is located 30 km from Djanet, and serves both international and domestic routes.
Getting to & from Djanet: Taxis operate between the airport and Djanet. The trip takes approximately 25 mins.
Airlines serving the airport: