Algerian desert
Pin This
Open Media Gallery

Algerian desert

© 123rf.com

Algeria Travel Guide

Key Facts
Area

2,381,741 sq km (919,595 sq miles).

Population

38.1 million (2013).

Population density

16 per sq km.

Capital

Algiers.

Government

Republic. Gained independence from France in 1962.

Head of state

President Abdelaziz Bouteflika since 1999.

Head of government

Acting Prime Minister Youcef Yousfi since 2014.

Electricity

220 volts AC, 50Hz. The European two-pin plug is standard.

For the intrepid traveller, a trip to Algeria is an adventure in waiting. Its troubled reputation may put off anyone looking for the quiet life, but for those who take the time to explore, Algeria offers culture and adventure in spades.

Here, a beguiling blend of cultures spans a vast chunk of land - taking in everything from whitewashed fishing ports, verdant hillsides and olive groves to the unmatched dramatic landscapes of the Sahara Desert and the Hoggar Mountains.

As the largest country in Africa, Algeria’s terrain – from the cities of the north, to the desert of the south – is hugely varied. Many never get past the northern port cities of Algiers, or Oran, and for good reason. Colonised by the Phoenicians and the Romans and covered with fascinating ruined cities, the north is green and fertile, and the imposing capital Algiers (‘the White City’) has a fascinating medina to explore and offers and interesting perspective on modern Algerian life. Tackle the sights and sounds of the UNESCO heritage Casbah, the walled city where neglected crumbling ruins sit adjacent with renovated homes. Despite its shady reputation, it’s well worth seeing, but taking a guide is essential.

Oran’s history is similarly colourful, having been the stopping point on the trade route between Spain and Morocco, due to its convenient geographic location. That legacy is reflected in the city’s altogether European feel, with evidence of a Spanish and French colonial past never far away. Tour the soaring Sacré-Cœurcathedral – now a library – or get involved with the numerous events going on at the Palais de la Culture.

With more than four-fifths of its territory covered by the Sahara, the desert is Algeria's most striking feature and the biggest draw for travellers. It’s the territory of nomadic Berbers and the source of myriad tales, but whilst the security situation makes independent travel difficult, tourists can still make it to the country’s accessible attractions under the guidance of reputable tour operators. Stop off at oasis towns like Ghardia and Timimoun or travel deep into the heart of the desert to see the prehistoric rock art in the Hoggar Mountains and Tassili N’Ajjer National Park.

Its recent sufferings through war and political strife have no doubt turned tourists away from Algeria, towards neighbouring Morocco. But if you’re looking for something more than souks and surf, Algeria makes an excellent start.

Travel Advice

Last updated: 15 April 2014

The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. 'We' refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all travel to areas within:

  • 450km of the Mali and Niger borders, with the exception of Tindouf town and Tamanrasset city
  • 100km of the Mauritania border
  • 100km of the Libya and Tunisia borders south of the town of Souk Ahras

The FCO advise against all but essential travel to:

  • Tamanrasset city
  • In Amenas
  • Tindouf town
  • the provinces of Boumerdès, Bouira and Tizi Ouzou east of Algiers

If you’re travelling to In Amenas or Tamanrasset city, you should do so by air.

You should take great care in the remaining areas of the provinces of Adrar, Tamanrasset and Illizi which are not specifically covered above, and the provinces of Bordj Bou Arreridj, Bejaia and Skikda east of Algiers, due to the ongoing threat from terrorism.

There is a high threat from terrorism in Algeria. A serious terrorist attack took place on 16 January 2013 at a gas installation near the town of In Amenas near the Algerian border with Libya. Terrorists have been involved in kidnaps in Algeria and the wider Sahel region, and further kidnaps are likely.

It is generally safe to move around Algiers and the other main cities, but you should avoid areas that you don’t know, especially after dark. There has been a sustained period of violent clashes in the town of Ghardaia since December 2013.

There are frequent demonstrations. Most are peaceful, but some have involved clashes between police and demonstrators. This has increased in the run up to Presidential elections on 17 April.

Avoid travel by road at night outside the major cities.

The Overseas Business Risk service offers information and advice for British companies operating overseas on how to manage political, economic, and business security-related risks.

Edited by Jane Duru
Did you find what you were looking for?
Newsletter