9 Reasons to Visit Algeria
Why Visit Algeria?
As a tourist local guide and a contributor in some travel forums related to my beloved country, I’m often asked this question.
Not only that, but I still sense that some old misconceptions about the country are still present. So I’ve decided to list the main reasons why you should consider Algeria as your next destination.
by Said HocineNorth Africa Local Guide and Traveler
Is Algeria Worth Visiting? I’m often asked this in some travel communities and forums with threads related to Algeria.
Unfortunately, when most think of a tourist destination, Algeria is not under the radar, and yet the country is magnificent. I might be biased, but I truly think it is a beautiful country with a rich history and culture.
As an Algerian myself showing the country to tourists, most of them as first time visitors, I’m still fascinated by my country and really proud of what we have to offer. And also proud of the recent developments for the travel sector, since the last decade.
But I still feel that there are some misconceptions about the country. So I’ve decided to compile a list of reasons why you should visit Algeria.
Algeria Is Not Just a Big Desert
You might be amazed that if you spend enough time in Algeria you might discover the ski resort of Chréa and the green plains between Algiers and Oran. What could be less desert?! Or the mountains of Djurdjura and the Kabyle coast.
In conclusion, the Sahara desert is indeed a large part of the Algerian territory but the country has many other types of landscapes to offer.
Algeria Is Not Dangerous
Is Algeria Safe For Tourists? Is it dangerous?
Algeria is a safe country for all types of tourists, including female solo travelers.
Algeria being a dangerous country to visit is a common idea. Sometimes, our tourist groups mention the look and the reactions od some of their relatives have when they told them they were going to visit Algeria. But I must admit that this prejudice is not completely unjustified. The country has indeed suffered many years of terrorism during the black decade that opposed the army and various Islamist groups from 1991 to 2002. And some more recent incidents (the assassinations of Yann Desjeux and Hervé Gourdel in 2013 and 2014, for example) have further tarnished the country’s image.
However, the situation has since improved significantly. Important security measures have been put in place for several years: searches at the entrance of airports, roadblocks… and the army regularly carries out anti-terrorist operations to eliminate the remaining small groups. Most of the country is not at risk, but it is recommended not to venture into (the still) sensitive areas – Kabylia, south of the country – without a trusted person who knows the region well.
But this kind of precaution applies to many tourist countries and recent events show that the risk of terrorism is globalized. To continue to travel in a respectful and benevolent way, to open ourselves to others, to share, without falling into either unconsciousness or paranoia, is surely the best response to terrorism.
Algeria Has Plenty of History
History lovers will find Algeria very interesting. It has a long history dating back to ancient times.
I dare to hope that people who have the idea that the country hasn’t history aren’t many. That being said, many are surely unaware that Algeria has many magnificent archaeological sites to offer. One of the most known archaeological sites is Tipaza. You can find many Punic, Roman, Christian and African remains. And the site is right on the Mediterranean, which makes it very photogenic. The only drawback is that the ruins are rather poorly protected and put forward. And as almost everywhere in Algeria, the numerous wastes come to spoil a little the party.
Apart from Tipaza, you can also discover some interesting prehistoric sites on the side of Djanet as the cow which cries, an old tomb of the neolithic, many rock paintings…
There are also many sites not to be missed if you can stay in Algeria for two weeks or more. Timgad, Tomb of the Christian, Djemila, Tiddis…
Finally, the country is also very interesting for its more recent history (Ottoman regency, French colonization, Spanish occupation on the Oran side…)
Algerian Landscapes Are Worth Seeing
Why is Algeria beautiful? Algeria offers a great variety of landscapes, but are they worth it? The answer is yes!
But I will let some Algerian landscape images speak for themselves in this one.
Stunning Algerian Landscapes
Algerians Are Welcoming People
Is Algeria A Friendly Country?
It’s somehow another widespread prejudice that Algerians do not like Westerners (especially French). One could indeed think that there is a certain bitterness, due to colonization. This is perhaps true for some people. But to be honest, this is not at all what the vast majority of tourists experiences, on the contrary. Eventually, all the Algerians you will meet will be happy to talk to you, whether you are a western (French or not), and will be proud to see that you are visiting their country.
Well Educated People
Whatever is your opinion about Bouteflika’s policy, there is something that cannot be denied. The progress in illiteracy.
Thanks to the national literacy strategy launched in 2007, the literacy rate is now around 85%, making it the most literate country in the Maghreb, ahead of Morocco and Tunisia.
In addition, it should be remembered that a large majority of Algerians speak at least 2 (Arabic or Berber language and French) or even 3 or 4 languages, which is not really the case for example for the French.
Some tourists might underestimate Algeria’s gastronomy before they visit the country for the first time. Once again, the country might surprise you with how rich its gastronomy is.
From the Berber cuisine of the north to the Mediterranean influences of the south, Algerians love their food. They also love to share it with visitors from around the globe.
Algeria is mostly known for its couscous which is above all a dish of Berber origin, so it’s not more Moroccan than Algerian. But there are also other dishes you should try. From Rechta (Algerian Noodles) to Tajin Zitoun (combination of chicken pieces with olives and other vegetables) or Dolma (vegetables stuffed with meat), just to name a few, there is plenty of local gastronomy to try you can serve it here are two types of couscous: the small, round variety, called tajine, and the larger, flat variety, called kababs. Both varieties are usually served with meat and vegetables.
Sample some Algerian cuisine and enjoy authentic local dishes!
On this point, I will try to be completely honest. To say that Algerian architecture is not interesting would obviously be wrong.
However, it is not a major asset of the country. Maybe you might be too used to architecture in European countries or other countries like Iran.
The real asset of Algeria at the architectural level is more historical than aesthetic. Some monuments or buildings are the reflection of the different occupants/colonizers who succeeded each other on the Algerian lands: Romans, Ottomans, Spaniards, French…
On the modern architecture side, I must mention the new Ibn Badis mosque in Oran, completed in 2015. It is proof that it is possible to build magnificent modern buildings in a country majorly marked by historical architecture buildings.
Not a “Backwards” Country as Some Might Think
Generalizing is never a great mark of intelligence. The idea that Algeria might be a bit of to change, is therefore deliberately silly. Everywhere in the world, you will find people opposed to change, attached to old values, and others who are more progressive, driven by a need to make these values evolve with our times. It is important to have this diversity.
Algeria is certainly a very religious country and Islam is the state religion. But that didn’t prevent me from seeing young people partying, living their romance (a little secretly of course) before getting married, young girls in shorts playing sports… In short, not the kind of thing I expect to see in a supposedly backward country…
So, Why Visit Algeria? Is Algeria A Good Tourist Destination?
Algeria has many beautiful places to see and explore and it’s not what some might think of before visiting it. There are many reasons to visit Algeria, but hopefully, some of the reasons pointed above will help you decide whether or not it’s right for you.
Whether you’re looking for adventure, culture, history, or relaxation, there’s something here for everyone.
Hope to see you soon in Algeria!