A truly giant of a country and one that very few people visit. As a holiday destination, Algeria has much more to it than you would expect when it comes to tourist attractions. When you are looking for the ‘Best Things to do in Algeria’ then here at Undiscovered Destinations we have a great list of things. This is what we suggest that you must see and do in Algeria.
We have been operating our small group tours in Algeria for almost a decade. Our knowledge and experience of the country means that our list of the ‘Best Things to do in Algeria’ comes from first hand knowledge. With its Mediterranean sea and massive expanse of Saharan interior, Algeria should be on more people’s list of unusual holiday destinations. Here we list the five best things to do when you are in Algeria.
Discover Roman Ruins. Visit the Bardo Museum. Explore beautiful Djémila. Travel through the Sahara Desert and try an Algerian merguez!
Algeria is full of Roman ruins, some in much better condition than others. If you are limited for time on your trip to Algeria, we would recommend that you make time to visit Timgad. A UNESCO World Heritage site, Timgad was founded in 100A.D. by the Emperor Trajan. It is renowned as a world class example of Roman town planning.
Walking around the site, it is easy to imagine the hustle and bustle of the town as it would have been in Roman times. The grandeur of the Trajan Arch also known as the ‘Arch of Trajan’ dominates the site. It is certainly one of the best archaeological sites in this region of North Africa.
A good tour guide will bring the history of the place to life. They will explain how the Romans lived in the city. A good guide will also explain what you could expect as one of the inhabitants of this strong and prosperous colony.
As well as Timgad, there are stunning Roman ruins in Djémila. We thought that Djémila deserved a listing all to itself and see below for the reasons why!
The Bardo Museum in Algiers, the capital of Algeria, is a former Moorish Villa that was opened as a museum in 1927. It is officially known as ‘The Bardo National Museum of Prehistory and Ethnography’. The building alone is worth the visit as it has stunning architecture and a highly decorative design.
Inside, there is an impressive range of displays. Using video’s, models, and excellent diagrams as well as the unique exhibits, the museum manages to educate and entertain in equal measure.
For English speakers, you may find that the descriptions and information boards are in French. This does not detract from the learning experience if you have your guide book with you or even better, you are using a local English speaking guide.
Not too far from the Bardo Museum is the National Museum of Antiquities. This almost made it onto our list of the best things to do in Algeria but just missed out! If you have the time we would recommend combing both these Museums into a fascinating day out discovering some of the fine arts of Algiers. You should also make time when looking for Algiers attractions, to visit the Basilique Notre Dame d’Afrique. This is certainly one of North Africa’s most beautifully restored religious sites.
Kasbah of Algiers
It will certainly be busy and one of the only places in Algeria that you will bump in to other Western tourists. However, the Kasbah of Algiers, a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1992, is indeed one of the activities we think is a must do when in Algeria.
The splendid white washed houses and narrow streets still have an authentic feel despite the area being one of Algeria’s most popular tourist attractions. A word of warning though. Make sure that you visit the Kasbah of Algiers with a registered tour guide. Unfortunately, the area is well known as a haunt for pick pockets and petty crime.
Botanical garden El-Hamma Jardin d’Essai
The Botanical garden El-Hamma Jardin d’Essai also known as The Botanical Garden of Hamma is a must see when in Algiers. Created in 1832 from reclaimed marshlands, the aim of the garden was to act as a test garden for the plantation and study of various imported plant species.
The gardens are a haven of tranquility and peace. It is a wonderful place to just sit and watch life go by, not to mention the great opportunities for people watching the botanical gardens provide. Families and Algerians young and old come here in order to escape the traffic and find time to relax.
Djémila, formerly known as Cuicul, is a small mountain village located 900m above sea level, near the northern coast east of Algiers. It competes with Timgad as the best of the Roman ruins in Algeria. We believe that it certainly deserves its own place in the list of the best things to do in Algeria.
With a range of temples, basilicas, triumphal arches and houses all in a stunning mountain setting, it lives up to the English translation of its name, which is ‘beautiful’.
You may find that Djémila is much busier than many other historical sites in Algeria. It is very popular with local school groups as well as other tourists. Don’t let this put you off though. The added hustle and bustle and the friendly smiles from the school children certainly adds to the overall experience of the tour.
Seeing the local children learning about the history of their country is also a really enjoyable experience. It is one that any visitor to Algeria will remember with great fondness.
The Sahara Desert
Covering almost 10 percent of the whole African continent, the Sahara Desert is classed as the world’s third largest desert. Third largest, we hear you say? We were taught in school that the Sahara was THE WORLDS LARGEST desert!
For the pub quizzers out there, technically, the Sahara is the third largest desert in the world. It is behind the Arctic and Antarctic. If you really want to class it as the largest desert in the world, you need to add that the Sahara is the world’s largest hot desert. Call us pedantic if you must!
How can any list of the best things to do in Algeria be complete without mentioning the world’s largest hot desert? The Algerian Desert as this part of the Sahara is known, covers more than four fifths of the Algerian territory. Visits to the south of Algeria and the Sahara region are carefully monitored by the authorities. Many of the towns and regions in the south are out of bounds at the present time.
However, when the Algerian authorities do allow travellers to return, it is without doubt one of the highlights of any tour to Algeria.
There are very few desert trips in the world that come close to this journey. Travelling from the red-walled desert town of Tamanrasset, deep in the Hoggar region, to Tassili, a border town close to Niger in the far south of Algeria is a amazing experience.
The Hoggar Mountains are home to the rare and endangered African Wild dog and rock paintings found there date back to at least 6000bc. This combined with the dramatic scenery of the mountains rising above the desert make this journey a instant top five of the best things to do in Algeria.
The Algerian merguez is a sausage, usually of lamb or beef. It is heavily spiced using cumin, paprika and harissa as well as garlic and fennel. Regional variations are common with each town having a slightly different version, with the locals always claiming that their version is always the best.
The Merguez has a distinctive colour, a deep red that warns of the heat and intense flavours contained within.
The merguez is common throughout the North African region with Tunisia and Libya having their own versions of the dish. If you are touring in Algeria, there is nothing better than a freshly made and cooked merguez. Have it served with a side of frites. You will see them for sale from street vendors and in most cafes.
It is a taste of Algeria and is as much a part of the culture as anything else, so we had to list it as one of the top five best things to do in Algeria.
And so we come to the end of our list. There are many other sites, sounds and tastes of Algeria that we could have included. Narrowing it down to just five was a tough ask. We did not include the people themselves, who are certainly a highlight and the welcome you receive is always as enthusiastic as it is authentic.
We could also have included the capital city, Algiers. A fascinating blend of the modern and the traditional, Algiers will soon find a place in your heart. Anyone arriving in to Algeria will pass through the city and we would suggest that you take a little extra time and enjoy exploring the maze of streets and the walks along the beautiful Bay of Algiers.
Undiscovered Destinations offer small group tours that explore Algeria and have regular guaranteed departures to the country.