When you think of traveling to Africa, which countries come to your mind? Egypt, Morocco, Seychelles, Mauritius, Madagascar, Tanzania, Kenya or South Africa. These are some of the most popular tourist places on the African continent.
However, what if someone told you that they wanted to make a trip to Algeria? Would that sound strange?
For most people, Algeria is not one of the countries that they would think of when talking about Africa.
In fact, many people associate Algeria only with the Sahara desert and political instability which for years divided the country.
While it is true that Algeria experienced civil wars in the past, and is surrounded by countries plagued by unrest, it continues to be one of the most beautiful countries you can visit.
Fast Facts About the Algeria
Algeria, officially known as the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria, is a nation located in North Africa and is situated between Tunisia and Morocco.
Algeria is the largest country in the African continent with a Mediterranean coastline and the Sahara desert in its interiors, but also mountain which often get´s snow during the colder months.
Over the years, the country has been ruled by various kingdoms including the Numidians, Almohads, Romans, and the Ottoman Empire. From 1830 to 1962, Algeria was known as French Algeria. Its capital and large city is Algiers which one of the most modern cities in all of Africa.
With an area of 2.4 million square kilometers, Algeria is the largest country in Africa in terms of land area and the tenth-largest nation in the world.
The major languages spoken in the country are Arabic, French, and Berber, while Islam is the official state religion.
The official currency of Algeria is the Algerian dinar and it is equivalent to approximately 0.0075 US dollars. But if you exchange your USD or Euroo on the black market, will you get a much better rate.
Why Should You Visit Algeria?
The more well-known countries in Africa such as Egypt and Morocco, though picturesque, have become too crowded owing to the high influx of tourists every year. As a result, visiting them can be quite expensive.
Algeria, on the other hand, is still a lesser-explored territory. This also makes it cheaper for people to visit Algeria than the conventionally popular tourist spots in Africa.
In fact, the country is one of the cheapest countries in Africa, but there´s a downside to visit the country, a visa for Algeria is notoriously difficult to get.
But if you do spend the time and effort to get a visa, so is it worth the wait and hassle.
10 reasons why you should visit Algeria.
1. Algeria is a Huge And Diverse Land
Algeria is the largest country in the African continent, in terms of land area and size.
From the pristine Saharan desert in the south to the Roman ruins in the northern part of the country, Algeria has a lot to offer.
Each and every part of this country has its own distinct character.
Apart from the diverse landscape, so are the country also home to a wide range of cultures and traditions.
While on the one hand, you will find women of certain tribes wearing white burqas and robes, on the other hand, you will also be greeted by traces of the French colonial era and the nomadic culture in certain parts of the country.
2. Algeria is More Than Just A Desert
Although 80 percent of the country is covered by the Sahara desert, Algeria has so much more to offer than just the sand dunes.
The country boasts of a Mediterranean coastline that stretches for approximately 994 miles (1600 kilometers) and is home to a variety of mountains, waterfalls, and hot springs.
It is also said that, after Rome, so do Algeria have the highest number of Roman ruins anywhere in the world. with Tipasa, Djemila and Timgad being the main ones, with all tree being UNESCO world heritage sites.
Additionally, the different parts of the country are well-connected through the road, making traveling through this vast country fairly easy and convenient.
3. Delicious local Algerian Cuisine
Sadly, Algerian cuisine remains underappreciated as it has not been explored much. So not many people know about it.
But if you do visit the country, be prepared to gain some weight as the local Algerian food is sure to leave you drooling for more.
The different provinces in the country have their own unique food habits, but the cuisine in this country is a melting pot of influences and can be traced back to the Ottoman Empire, the French, the Spanish, and the North African Berber Mediterranean roots.
Some of the best dishes in the Algerian cuisine include Hmis, Chtitha Batata, Mhadjeb, and Mesfouf or couscous, which is a famous North African dish made from crushed white semolina and served with stew.
But almost every resturants in the country serve at least a few French dishes but often with a bit local mix.
And to many´s surprise so do the country produce its own wine and beer.
4. Algeria is almost a Tourist-Free Country
Though not exactly devoid of all tourists, Algeria is not the first country that comes to mind when people think of visiting Africa. Especially since there’s no safari options here.
Years of political instability and civil unrest had created a negative image of the country in the minds of the people.
However, these problems are a thing of the past, and today, Algeria is one of the safest places to visit in Africa with an extremely low crime rates against tourists.
But Algeria continues to be a tourist-free nation in spite of its picturesque landscapes and rich history.
For those who like to trod the path less explored, then this amazing country might be one of the best countries to visit.
It is not only beautiful and less crowded but is also cheaper than the popular countries that are often thronged by tourists every year.
5. The Magnificent Saharan Desert
The Sahara desert forms almost 80 percent of the country’s landmass. This suggests that most of Algeria has a dry, semi-arid climate.
Ignoring the heat, the Sahara desert offers an otherworldly beauty and quite a sight to behold.
Its beautiful sand dunes, awe-inspiring wildlife, and the chance to indulge in camel trekking and sandboarding are not something you want to miss out on.
You can also visit Ghardaia, a fortified town, and Tamanrasset, an oasis city that is home to mountains and rock formations.
6. Visit Constantine, The Emperor’s City
Constantine, one of Algeria’s biggest cities, was named after Constantinopole the Great.
Constantine is a must-visit if you are in Algeria. The City Museum can give you a glimpse into the local history during the Roman era and before.
The city is also known for its many bridges, leading to Constantine also being called the ‘city of bridges’. One of the city’s most famous bridges is the el-Kantra Bridge that is suspended at a height of 420 feet and connects the northern and southern parts of the city.
An interesting fact about Constantine is that the city is a natural fortress as it is surrounded by walled fortifications that have been largely constructed out of materials that date back to the Roman era.
7. Algeria is a Paradise For History Enthusiasts
If you are a history buff, your time in Algeria will be the most memorable.
Besides the Roman ruins, Algeria is full of ancient churches and administrative structures that were built by the Arabs, Spaniards, and the Ottomans.
You can also find cave paintings dating as far as 3000 BC in Taghit, a town in Western part of the country.
A visit to the Bardo National Museum of Prehistory and Ethnography will give you access to exhibits of remnants that date back to the Neolithic era.
In addition, some of the other famous historical sites in Algeria include the Royal Mausoleum of Mauretania, Martyr’s Memorial in Algiers, Djemila, or the Roman ruins in Tipasa located right by the sea and the roman ruins of Timgad, which is an ancient city in Algeria that has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1982.
But also the city of Tlemcen which has over the years been influenced by Berber, Arab, Moorish, Ottoman and Western culture if a must visit place for history nerds.
8. Gaze At The Notre Dame
Algiers, the capital city of Algeria, also hosts the Basilica Notre Dame — a church that was built in the year 1872.
This church has intricate and beautiful architecture that was influenced by the authentic Neo-Byzantine style.
It symbolizes peace and tolerance between religions in a country that predominantly follows Islam.
Located on a hilltop, this recently restored basilica offers splendid views of the capital and the sea.
It is a magnificent structure with striking interiors. Do not forget to visit Notre Dame while you are in the country.
9. The Kasbah of Algiers
The Kasbah is situated at the heart of Algiers, the capital of Algeria.
It is a World Cultural Heritage Site and hosts the palace ruins of the Ottoman Empire, ancient mosques, and an old urban complex structure, symbolizing the Islamic civilization.
This historic Maghreb city is a stellar example of robust architecture. Built on a hill and leading down to the sea, the Kasbah houses a charming labyrinth of houses and lanes.
10. Algeria is full of Friendly and Hospitable People
Algerians are known to be quite friendly and hospitable but also very direct and patriotic.
Although the historic narrative of political unrest has led many to believe that Algerians are unwelcoming towards tourists and outsiders, that is simply not the case.
Though English is not the official language of Algeria, and most people can´t understand it, so are they very open to helping and interacting with strangers. But it´s helpful knowing a bit of French before you decide to travel here.
So don’t be surprised if you are invited by locals to their homes for a cup of tea or even a home-cooked meal.
Conclusion about Algeria
For those of you who prefer to visit places that are unexplored and not flooded by tourists, Algeria is one of the best destinations to go to.
It is safe, friendly, affordable, and boasts of an amazing landscape, architecture, and food, but be aware that Algeria is a huge country, so you will be flying domestically to travel between parts of the country, especially if you are on limited time. But luckily domestic flights are very cheap here.
Apart from the various tourist spots around the country, the country is also known for its diverse culture and traditions.
The mouthwatering local cuisine is also sure to leave a delectable taste in your mouth.
Be it the rich history, delectable food, or enthralling nature, whatever your travel inclinations may be, the country do not does not disappoint!