Is It Safe To Travel To Algeria?
With any country, especially one that is as large as Algeria, the answer is often a lot more nuanced than a straight forward yes or no. We are talking about the largest country in Africa and there are regions within Algeria that are larger than the U.K. so we need to look at each region of the country.
Overall, Algeria is a safe country to travel to. The people are warm and welcoming, proud of their country and its amazing history and culture. It is in the nature of Algerians to look after any guests in their country and for them to extend the warmest of welcomes.
When looking at whether it is safe to travel to Algeria, as a UK based tour operator, our first point of call is the U.K.’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office otherwise known as the FCO. The FCO travel advice is there to provide information and advice to help British nationals make informed decisions about foreign travel. The purpose of their travel advice is to provide objective information and advice to help travellers make better-informed decisions about foreign travel.
No foreign travel can be guaranteed as safe and you must always take personal responsibility for any trip you make abroad.
With regards to travel in Algeria, the FCO advises against all travel to areas within:
- 30km of the borders with Libya, Mauritania, Mali and Niger
- 30km of the border with Tunisia in the provinces of Illizi and Ouargla and in the Chaambi mountains area
And against all but essential travel to:
- within 30km of the remainder of the border with Tunisia.
With the outbreak of Covid-19 there are further restrictions on worldwide travel. However, for the purposes of this travel blog, we are focussing on whether it is safe to travel excluding Covid-19.
So, according to the FCO, it is safe to travel to Algeria as long as you do not visit certain specific areas. Of course, there is more to finding out whether a country is safe to travel in than the U.K. government advice.
What is it actually like to travel in Algeria?
As with many north-African countries, Algeria has had issues with domestic and international terrorism. This is particularly focussed in the South of the country and in the regions that the FCO have advised against travel. In addition to this, the Algerian authorities restrict the movement of tourists in areas that they see as high risk. It is therefore very unlikely that if you follow the local travel rules that you will come to any harm.
The most likely safety issues that you will face when travelling in Algeria are petty crime. Petty theft is common and pickpockets operate in many tourist areas. Muggings have been known to occur after dark and it is advisable not to have valuable objects on display. Keep mobile phones, cameras, wallets and credit cards safely out of sight wherever possible. When you are staying in a hotel, make sure that you leave your valuables in the safe in the room. If the hotel that you are staying in does not have a safe then see if the reception has a safe you can use. If doing this then make sure that you get a receipt!
This advice on keeping your valuables safe when travelling is not specifically for Algeria and Algeria is no worse or better than many other countries, including those in Western Europe.
Tourist Guide Scams
Where there are tourists, then there will be criminals who are hoping to take advantage of the tourists lack of local knowledge. Locals who pretend to be tour guides and want to show you the ‘best places’ are a common issue throughout the world. The solution is simple. Do not use anyone who is not a licensed guide. The best way to confirm this is to book your tour, day tour or excursion with your tour operator before you leave or book a tour with the hotel. This way you do not run the risk of paying too much for a poor service or perhaps putting yourself at even greater risk.
Being a UK based tour operator ourselves, we have a selection of high quality, licensed guides who lead our tours and are experts in taking care of travellers to Algeria.
Sex,drugs and photography in Algeria
If you are a LGBT traveller then you need to be aware that homosexuality is illegal in Algeria. You can still travel in the country but you need to be very discreet and give the local laws the utmost respect. You are unlikely to be given a double room if you are a same sex couple checking in at a hotel. The punishment for homosexuality in Algeria is a jail sentence of up to three years and a considerable fine.
The possession and use of controlled drugs is an extremely serious offence in Algeria. Possession of even the smallest amount can result in a custodial sentence. It is just not worth the risk and if drug use is an issue that you have, then you should not travel to Algeria.
Algeria is a Muslim country so alcohol, although not illegal, is difficult to obtain and not part of the culture. Algeria actually produces a selection of wines and also a few local beers, but it is not widely consumed and is often frowned upon. There are bars in most cities, but the atmosphere as well as the occupants can be less than welcoming, especially to women. International chain hotels often have a more inviting and western feel about them.
Like many countries in the world, you should not take photographs of the police, military, government buildings or infrastructure and airports. If you are in any doubt about whether you are allowed to take a photograph, then check with your guide.
Algeria is a conservative Islamic country and travellers need to consider this when planning their days excursions and how they will dress appropriately. When in Algeria you will see that women dress in a wide variety of styles, including European, and they don’t have to cover their head unless visiting a mosque. We would suggest that to avoid any unwelcome attention, women may wish to dress modestly, particularly outside of the main towns.
Geographical Safety Considerations
There are parts of Algeria that are prone to severe flood damage. It should also be noted that Northern Algeria is also within an earthquake zone and you anyone travelling to Algeria should be familiar with safety procedures in the event of an earthquake.
To learn more about what to do before, during and after an earthquake, see this advice from the US Federal Emergency Management Agency.
So, is it safe to travel to Algeria? The answer in our opinion is certainly yes it is. The risks and safety concerns are similar to many other countries in this region, many of which receive a lot more tourists than Algeria! For the experienced traveller who has done their homework, Algeria presents a wonderful travel destination. The combination of historical sites, vast landscapes and a variety of cultures ticks all the boxes for us at Undiscovered Destinations.