Travel in Algeria – 13 Essential Things To Know Before You Go

Algeria is one of the least well-known countries in Africa. It was also one of the most difficult visas to obtain during my international travels. Even after extensive travel to almost all 54 African countries, visitors still find it difficult to travel independently in Algeria.

In this region, tourism is not very prevalent. In order to travel in Algeria, you will probably need the assistance of a local tour operator who can first help you secure the visa to enter and who can then enable permission for numerous passport holders to visit several areas of this nation.

There are numerous things you ought to be aware of before going to Algeria. You can use this book to help you plan a trip to Algeria and to get information and guidance while you’re there.

Why Travel to Algeria?

Algeria is one of the least well-known countries in Africa. If you do decide to visit Algeria, you will discover that it is a highly diverse country, despite the frequently difficult visa application process (more on this below).

The Sahara desert, the Mediterranean coast and beaches, beaches, fascinating Roman ruins, vibrant cities, and more can all be found there. It also has some amazing colonial architecture. The most beautiful city in Algeria is Oran; don’t miss it.

Algerians are also some of the friendliest and most hospitable people on the planet. They seem fairly eager and pleased to share their culture with foreigners.

More visitors would be able to enjoy Algeria’s exceptionally rich history and its seven World Heritage sites if only they could travel there to see these amazing destinations. Algeria is among the most advanced societies in Africa, despite the fact that most people might be astonished to learn this.

How to Obtain a Visa for Travel in Algeria

As I’ve already stated, Algeria does not in any way encourage travel. According to Algerians I’ve met with there, tourism isn’t seen as a big business for strengthening the economy because of the nation’s riches in natural resources (oil and gas being the main exports). E

In any case, obtaining a visa for travel to Algeria is a challenging, time-consuming, and expensive process for many nationalities. For the only purpose of submitting your application, you must also include copies of your itinerary, information about your travel insurance coverage, proof of your wage, and a number of other papers.

Not to mention, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs may require a Letter of Invitation from a person in Algeria.

I suggest getting in touch with an Algerian tour operator to assist with the facilitation of a LOI so that you may avoid some of the problems (letter of invitation). As a result, getting a visa will be simpler and, in certain situations, quicker. The Algerian Ministry of Tourism may accept supplementary paperwork from a tour operator to support your admittance request.

We made hotel and day tour reservations in Algeria and asked Wassim from AlgeriaTours16 for help with the visa application process. On Tripadvisor, where AlgeriaTours16 is presently ranked first, you may read some lovely testimonials from former tourists.

Is it safe to travel in Algeria?

Is traveling in Algeria safe? is typically the first question people ask when you mention your visitation intentions. The area encompassing Tunisia, Morocco, Libya, Mauritania, Niger, and Mali is a logical place to wonder about.

You can ask anyone and they will tell you that Algeria has a bad reputation. In the past, foreigners escaping the civil war, which concluded in 2002, were routinely attacked by armed terrorist organizations.
Algeria is still regarded as a risky location to visit due to a dearth of recent information online. The bulk of government travel recommendations still advise against visiting Algeria’s southern areas (including those from Australia, where I currently reside). Furthermore,

Overall, Algeria is the largest and most populous country in Africa. My experience there (in March 2022) led me to believe that Algerians are highly curious and hospitable to visitors. I felt safe the whole time. If you ask me if it’s safe to travel in Algeria, I’ll say sure.

Currency in Algeria

The official currency of Algeria is the dinar (DZD).

At the start of March 2022, we departed for Algeria. The native currency, the Algerian Dinar, is used for all prices indicated in this travel itinerary for Algeria (DZD). The exchange rate varies based on when you fly to Algeria, it goes without saying.

The prices listed below reflect the going rate on the black market.

1 USD is currently worth 192 DZD, while 1 EUR is worth 215 DZD.

Travel in Algeria – 10 Things to Know Before You Go

1) Bring Cash

Algeria has a “cash” culture. I advise having enough euros or dollars in cash to exchange on the underground market if you want to save at least 30% on whatever you purchase within this nation.

It was difficult to make purchases with Visa/Mastercard and to get cash from an ATM in the local currency. Numerous other foreign tourists have told us similar tales, so we know they exist.

The black market exchange rate for cash in the bank was 1 EUR = 215 DZD, despite the fact that the official rate is 1 EUR = 156 DZD. The black market exchange rate was 1 USD = 192 whereas the official exchange rate was 1 USD = 143.

Changing currencies is not entirely legal, so exercise caution. If at all feasible, try to trade it privately. Alternatively, see if a close friend of yours knows of somebody who could be interested in trading it for a reasonable amount. We identified places to exchange our euros in the back offices of “companies” that appear to sell souvenirs and other goods.

Once you discover how different this country is, we tell you that cash in either euros or dollars will be useful. You’ll probably want to extend your stay so you can see Algeria’s top 8 sights! Everything obviously depends on the conditions and timelines of your visa.

2) Language in Algeria

Arabic and Berber are the two official languages in the country. However, almost everyone is also able to speak French. We used our “survival French” during our transit through Algeria, the same basic French we had studied for our 2019 ground tour of West Africa. We can communicate in basic French and read French menus. We can comprehend numbers when purchasing goods. In Algeria, there was more than enough to get by, and to be honest, many people spoke English very well. They were such modest individuals that they would apologise for being unable to add more.

I suggest utilizing Babbel, a fantastic language learning program for mobile devices, to study French or Arabic. If not, at least download Google Translate to your phone for these languages so you can use it to communicate if you run into trouble.

3) The food in Algeria is great

Algerian food blends various cultures. Because Algeria was a French colony for more than 130 years, French cuisine has had a significant influence there.

But you’ll also find elements of Turkish, Arab, Spanish, Italian, Turkish, and Berber cuisines. As you look around, you’ll see that there are several fast-food establishments that serve burgers, pizza, crepes, shawarma, and savory pastries. All you need to do to enjoy a holiday in Algeria on a very tight budget is eat the street food because it is so cheap.

I wanted to try as much of the local Algerian food as I could while I was there. My favorite regional dishes included Rechta, couscous with lamb or chicken, spicy harissa sauce- and olive oil-covered freshly baked bread, steaming marinated meats, BBQ brochettes (skewered meats), and brochettes. I assure you that Algerian food is wonderful!

4) Drink Only Bottled Water or Bring a LifeStraw

Avoid consuming Algerian tap water and opt for bottled water instead. Large bottles of water (1.5L) are available in small shops and supermarkets for about 35 DZD or $0.18 each bottle.

A LifeStraw water bottle would be much better. In addition to helping the environment by eliminating plastic waste, you can bring it on your forthcoming travel adventures.

5) Download App to help you navigate

Buy bottled water instead than drinking Algerian tap water. grocery stores and small enterprises sell l One of the best tools for traveling Algeria is the Maps.Me app. You may download offline maps of the entire country, so you never have to use mobile data to navigate. Google Maps does not have walking or hiking trails as this one does.

Using shared taxis is quicker even though Algeria has a first-rate railroad network connecting its cities, in addition to buses and trams. Shared taxis, which are small vehicles, are available in all cities and towns. You stop by the local specialty station,

After being loaded, the van drives directly to its destination. It’s one of the quickest ways to travel around Algeria if you’re not flying or taking the train.

6) Domestic flights are inexpensive, but reserve them after you arrive.

Algeria has 18 airports, with Algiers and Oran housing the two busiest ones. From Marseille, France, to Oran, Algeria, we took the Volotea. If you reserve in advance with Aviasales, this airline provides some incredible discounts.

Because they are inexpensive once you are in Algeria, the trick is to book Air Algerie internal flights while you are still in Algeria. Making cash payments at the black market rate will result in a sizable savings. Purchase your ticket at any Agence de Voyage location or an Air Algerie counter (regional travel agency).

It is worth it to obtain some amazing prices on travel within Algeria, even though there is always a line of people wanting to do the same thing.

Note that independent tourists cannot reach a number of destinations in Algeria without a guide or without special written permission from the Ministry of Tourism. Find out where these might be by speaking with a local tour operator (we recommend AlgeriaTours16), and if you decide to travel nonetheless, think about signing up for one of their specially created tours to make your trip simpler.

7) Get a Sim Card for travel in Algeria

Try to buy a SIM card at the airport when you arrive in Algeria. You’ll immediately discover how the internet connections at hotels are. Furthermore, if friends or relatives are concerned about whether it is safe to travel to Algeria, they will feel more at ease knowing that you have a functional phone in case you encounter difficulties.

We bought a local Ooredoo SIM card with 10 GB of data use and call time for 1200 DZD. Up to 40GB of data should just cost an additional 300 DZD, in my opinion. We had at least a 3G connection wherever we went, and having access to the internet was always quite convenient.

Traveling in Algeria will be much easier if you are connected. It suggests that you can use to book accommodations while traveling, order a ride using the ride-sharing app YASSIR, read reviews of the best restaurants in Algeria, and navigate cities using the map app on your phone.

8) Use Yassir Taxi Ride Sharing App

Install the YASSIR App either before you come or after you arrive. It will save time and money. You will need a local Algerian phone number in order to access YASSIR, therefore I suggest buying a SIM card when you get there.

This software will enable you to get where you’re going even if you don’t speak French or Arabic.

It is a useful tool for discovering how much fares from point A to point B typically cost and works similarly to Uber. The main difference is that you have to give the driver your fare in cash (Algerian dinar) after the ride is over. Taxis are an advised means of transportation in Algeria because they are reasonably priced.

9) Algeria was colonised by France for 132 years

Algeria was a part of France until 1962. The cities do resemble France far more than they do, say, Africa, because France has been here for such a long time. You’ll discover all the beautiful colonial buildings in Algeria that still exhibit the effects of earlier French influence.

Numerous wonderful patisseries offer mouthwatering French baguettes, pastries, cakes, and candies.

10) Open a bank account without any fees for international transactions.

You won’t be required to pay ATM withdrawal or foreign transaction fees after 2022. Banks have developed significantly throughout time. You’ll likely be paying extra bank fees anytime you travel if you haven’t opened a bank account with ING Direct yet.

This bankcard is required if you want to rely on using a debit card to make withdrawals, but I strongly suggest bringing euros (the best option) or dollars to convert on the black market to save a ton of money while you’re in Algeria.

For instance, I was charged 12 TND ($4.20) each time I drew money from an ATM during my vacation to Tunisia (see our 14-day itinerary for Tunisia here). However, I received a reimbursement for each ATM fee because I had a bank account with ING Direct. It’s fantastic!

I will also receive a refund for any foreign transaction fees this bank charges me when I’m traveling abroad. Learn more about ING and why it’s the best debit card for travelers by reading our post with more information.

11) Before leaving, exchange your Algerian dinars.

Before leaving Algeria, be sure to convert all of your dinars into euros, dollars, or any hard money. It is nearly impossible to exchange Algerian dinars after leaving the nation.

12) Everything is closed on Friday in Algeria

Algeria celebrates the weekend on Friday and Saturday because it is an Islamic country. On Fridays in Algeria, everything is closed and no one opens any enterprises. It’s intended to be a day of rest, family time, and prayer.

You should make arrangements in advance if you wanted to go out to dine, see some sites, or shop. Although it is still the weekend in Algeria, the atmosphere is much livelier and there are more people out and about.

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