10 things I wish I knew before going to Algeria
Algeria, the largest country in the African sub-continent is rich in history and heritage and definitely a photographer's paradise. What is the reason that you are willing to travel to Algeria? Whatever it maybe there is one thing to keep in mind- it is quite challenging to obtain a visa to Algeria.
The country has a fantastic diversity of landscapes and has 7 world heritage sites to explore. It is also one of the most socially developed countries in the whole of Africa and a civilized country, unlike how the world perceives it to be!
The Sahara Desert occupies four-fifths of the Algerian territory in the south and offers tourists an encompassing experience. Nevertheless, Algeria is much more than a desert experience. In fact, the beautiful coastline along the Mediterranean Sea to the north and the surrounding mountainous peaks are something that a traveler ought to look out for on a trip. Several interesting places in Algeria are sure to make your travel to Algeria worthwhile. However, before you get excited and decide on your quest to find where is Algeria, I say you take a step back.
This article details some things that travelers said that they wished before their travel to Algeria. Not only will these tips help you to plan your travel to Algeria, but will also make your stay there more memorable and safer.
Is it safe to travel to Algeria?
Talking about which, wondering whether is it safe to travel to Algeria? Algeria is a country that shares its borders with Morocco, Tunisia, Libya, Niger, Mali, and Mauritania. The history of Algeria is shaded by civil wars, ranging from 2002. Government travel advisories recommend that visitors don't travel to the southern part of Algeria and the border areas shared with Libya and Tunisia as there is high risk in these regions. Nevertheless, the country has a great scope for tourism. You can travel comfortably without having to worry about how safe is it to travel to Algeria.
1. Visa for travel to Algeria
Algeria is a country that doesn't encourage outright tourism. Nonetheless, getting a visa to travel to Algeria is expensive and requires a little effort. You need to apply for a visa in advance from the Algerian Embassy or Consulate in your home country. You will have to provide proof of income, health insurance, hotel, and flight reservations. Also, it is worth remembering that Algeria refuses to issue visas to citizens of Israel and to anyone who has proof of travel to Israel. So, if you are in the rage to do interesting things in Algeria, make sure to get hold of your visa first (which is a cumbersome process!).
2. Money and changing currency
When traveling in countries like Europe, you can only think of exchanging money from the banks and nowhere else. However, in Algeria, it is totally normal to get foreign currency exchanged for the local Algeria currency on the streets! In fact, it is more profitable this way. The exchange rate that the "money changers" give you in the black market is much higher than that you get in the bank. So, wondering what language is spoken in Algeria to converse with these "money changers"? It is Arabic, and so, it is best if you can grab hold of some daily conversational Arabic words. Nonetheless, these people speak bits of English, enough for you to close a meaningful deal!
3. France occupied Algeria for 132 years
Algeria was part of France from 1830 to 1962. With the influence of France for a good 132 years, it is no surprise that cities in Algeria look more European than African! This country was earlier known as France Algeria. The grandeur of colonial buildings in Algeria showcases the influence of France to date. The Martyr's memorial or the "Maqam Echahid" in Arabic, is a monument commemorating the Algerian war for independence from the FRENCH. It is one of the best places to visit in Algeria if you want to get some insight into the French rule on the country.
4. Food in Algeria
Among the many things to know about Algeria, the most important probably would be that is related to food. Eating out is not a common culture followed in Algeria. And so, you won't see many restaurants selling local food. You can, however, see many fast-food joints selling pizza, crepes, and burgers. And for the most part, you can rely on street food. Do you know what would be one of the most interesting things about Algeria that you could be doing while here? Exploring freshly baked bread, meat snacks, and other regional specialties on the streets. Also, Algerians like their coffee really strong! If you aren't a coffee drinker, I say you should opt for tea instead.
5. Means of transportation in Algeria
Algeria has varied means of transportation. Want to travel to all places in Algeria? Try the bus, plane, train, tram, metro or taxi. In fact, public buses and trains are often the cheapest modes of transport here. There are also options for cheap flights for traveling within the country. But it is better to use the taxi when comparing to the bus, although it may be more expensive. Buses are slow and unpredictable in the schedule. You can also download the Yassir mobile app, an equivalent to Uber, to book your taxi ride.
6. 18 international airports around Algeria
So, one of the important things to know about Algeria, is that it is easily accessible from all parts of the world. Thanks to the vast number of airports in the neighboring vicinity. Nonetheless, the most popular airports are located in Algiers and Oran. Also, if you are coming from Europe, then probably the cheapest way is to get to Spain or the South of France and then, fly with Vueling. People from other parts of the world can check for connecting flights from major airports.
7. The Algerian language
What language is spoken in Algeria, you may wonder? There are two official languages for Algeria - Arabic and Tamazight or Berber. Algerian Arabic and Berber are the native languages of over 99% of the Algerians. However, one of the most interesting things about Algeria, is that French is also equally used in Algeria. French has no official status in the country. However, it is widely used in local media, government offices, restaurant menus, and schools. This is indeed one of the few interesting things to know about Algeria.
8. Safety in the country
How safe is it to travel to Algeria? Terrorism was prevalent in the country years ago. Since the information on Algeria is outdated, many tourists hesitate to explore the places in Algeria. Nonetheless, you can banish your doubts on whether is it safe to travel to Algeria, as it is safe for travel except for the places along with the neighboring countries.
9. Daring places to visit in Algeria
One of the interesting things about Algeria is that there are some peculiarly beautiful places to visit here, but there are certain restrictions that you have to abide by. The historical city of Tlemcen and the northwest part of Algeria are close to the boundaries. Nonetheless, these are must-see places to visit in Algeria! The historical place, Kasbah is equally splendid. However, make sure to travel as a group and avoid late-night visits, as these places have a bad reputation for safety. No, don't ponder over how safe is it to travel to Algeria now. The other places are extremely safe!
10. Male-dominated society
Where is Algeria in terms of equality for women in society? Quite backward I would say! Being a strict Muslim - oriented country, women are generally forced to cover themselves up from head to toe. Despite that, women are subjected to catcalling and demeaning by men in public. You won't see many women in the streets of Algeria, especially after the evening. So, it would be safe to say that Algeria is not a suitable country for solo female travelers; the locals are not used to seeing it rather!
Algeria is a very interesting place to visit. Also, the locals are friendly and welcoming. However, it's better to be aware of what language is spoken in Algeria, for a smooth interaction with them! The food is awesome with a big influence of French. This also applies to the fact that wine and alcoholic drinks are available in the country (in limited spaces), even though being a strict Muslim country. Algeria has a rather hot and humid climate for most parts of the year. So, it's better to come prepared for that. Now, where is Algeria on the list of tourist visits? Not bad, around 2.5 to 3.5 million annual visitors in recent years! That should help you to make your mind whether to plan your next trip to Algeria or not!
Rubina is a free thinker and a dreamer. She believes that there is something to be learnt from everything. Despite securing a technical background in education, Rubina pursued to think beyond and work in the management field. A proud mum of two boys, she aspires to explore the world with her family and create cherishable memories.