8 Top Rated Tourist Attractions in Algeria

Jul 22, 2021

This Mediterranean country is a melting pot of cultures; the Berbers predominate, and over the centuries their towns and villages have been Islamized by various European colonists. Around coastal towns and cities are neat ochre-colored Mediterranean-style buildings, painted by _peints-graveurs_ in Tangier and the Algerian National Art School. The rugged Atlas Mountains lie to the west and the Saharan sands to the north, and are home to tribal communities, especially in the Atlas Mountains.

The most important destinations in Algeria are Algiers and Oran, the former the former colonial capital of France in North Africa, and the latter, a multicultural city of grandiose portraiture by British artists like Victor Pasmore. Algeria also has many small, provincial towns and villages, especially in the country's northwest, where the Berbers live and, somewhat inaccessible, their ancient kasbahs loom at the edge of the desert.

Here is a list of the top things to do and places to visit in Algeria.

Algiers

Photo of Algiers
Algiers: en.wikipedia.org

Bargaining is not unheard of in Algiers, as there is always something going on, whether it's a war, a market or a wedding. This year, Algiers was the site of the summer Olympics, and the area around the city, particularly in the hills near Aghnout, is now dotted with villages and fields of tents for the thousands of displaced residents. Besides these economic difficulties, the daily terrorist attacks of past decades have also greatly affected the city. Still, residents are determined to rebuild the city and keep on with their lives as usual. Even if Algiers is in turmoil, the large, vibrant city is worth seeing. Algiers' natural setting makes it look like a postcard-perfect Mediterranean city. With the towers of the city of Constantine nearby, Algiers' center is reminiscent of Tunis, making it one of the most picturesque of Mediterranean cities. For an excellent idea of how Algeria was before and after independence, visit the Musée du Travail (Work Museum), which documents the history of Algiers. The museum is near an old colonial building that now houses an art school, but for a clearer idea of how Algiers used to look, check out the old quarter of Algiers.

Oran

Situated between the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, Oran is the cultural capital of Algeria and home to a number of magnificent historical monuments including the ancient Amphitheater of Ba'albek and the town's magnificent mosques. The Parthenon of the Berber empire is nearby. The ancient city walls are still standing, as is the Citadel, built by the Hafsides and now housing an art museum, and the Quartier de la Bousculade or "Barbarians Quarter," which houses a collection of Moorish structures from the city's colonial period. The Berber Museum of Guelma displays a diverse collection of artifacts, including old African trading routes and old printing presses. In the western part of town is the vast, spectacular desert of the Algerian Sahara, now a national park and a popular place for hiking, camping and desert exploration.

Tiaret

Photo of Tiaret
Tiaret: en.wikipedia.org

The remote, desert oasis of Tiaret in the north of Algeria is a popular stop-off for those traveling between the capitals of Algeria and Tunisia. The town itself is made up of a large number of whitewashed buildings arranged around an elegant central square, Place du 16 Janvier, and bordered by an aqueduct that was built in the 1st century AD by the Romans. The town is currently best known for its annual camel festival, one of the largest in the Sahara, held on the Eid-el-Kebir, an important Muslim holiday, between July 15 and 20 each year. Held to celebrate the marriage of the Prophet to Khadija, the faithful process to the Tomb of the Prophet, the site of a black tent shrine in the middle of the desert. Thousands of locals from surrounding villages join the Muslims in their procession, which winds through the desert past a vast, white tent, within which live seven live camels. The town itself is not particularly worth a visit, although it is an interesting detour between Algiers and the Mediterranean Sea.

Tlemcen

Photo of Tlemcen
Tlemcen: en.wikipedia.org

Tlemcen, near the Moroccan border, is a former Carthaginian stronghold, and it's one of the best-preserved cities in Algeria. Once at the crossroads of Europe and Africa, Tlemcen remains, as it has for centuries, a bustling trade city on the edges of a sprawling city of 10,000-odd dwellings, including Roman-era streets and the Arab quarter of Medina. The Citadel is surrounded by a deep moat and was constructed in the 11th century under Abd al-Mu'min. It was built during the Almohad dynasty, a breakaway faction of the 12th century Almohad rulers of the Islamic empire. One of the many pleasures of a visit to Tlemcen is seeing the city as it has been for centuries. An eclectic mix of Moorish, Roman, and Berber architecture has blended into a wonderfully unique city, built around many small squares and neighborhoods, each characteristically with its own names. When visiting Tlemcen, set aside at least a half-day to explore the medieval town and the city walls.

Jijel

Jijel is on the western edge of the Sahara and sits in the unique heart of a tiny fertile valley surrounded by the rocky ridges of the Atlas Mountains. A centre of Islamist and anti-Western opposition, the town has seen more than its fair share of violence in the last 15 years. Today, however, the destruction that once plagued Jijel has been cleared away and is in many ways an unlikely town. First of all, it has more than doubled in size since the 2011 earthquake, which destroyed much of the area around it. It's no longer the town you might imagine from the images of brutal attacks on Western tourists in the old city center. The reason that Jijel is on UNESCO's World Heritage list is that it is a perfect picture of an Algerian oasis, serving as a trading hub in this otherwise desolate land. In the center of the town are the remains of the ancient Roman-era city of El Djazaïr, which was conquered in the 8th century by the Umayyad Caliphate and destroyed at the end of the 17th century. The main square is the Place de la Mairie, a lively market place full of handicrafts and the house of the mayor, who also has a market on Thursdays in front of his home. Things to do in Jijel include visiting the Roman ruins, searching for Berber wares, visiting the "Street of Secrets," a traditional crafts area, the souk, the Beylika, an archaeological site, and the mysterious Tuktanin mausoleum, which was unearthed during the construction of a building.

Tizi-Ouzou

Photo of Tizi Ouzou
Tizi Ouzou: en.wikipedia.org

Located in the far south of Algeria, Tizi-Ouzou is a bustling town, which in the past has also been an important hub for trade. It is one of the oldest cities in North Africa and for centuries has been a city with a large Jewish population. Tizi Ouzou has remained a trading centre, with in recent years a large influx of refugees from Iraq. The fortress of Bou-Allejjou dates back to the 14th century and the suburbs of Maâjer and Ksar-Nil can be visited. Travel and Transportation in North Africa offers a range of information on this cultural destination.

Cherchell

Photo of Cherchell
Cherchell: en.wikipedia.org

Cherchell, the ancient city of Constantine, is in the Algerian province of Constantine and is currently the capital of Constantine Province. After French and British colonization, it was then the capital of the independent French protectorate of Algeria and of the French Department of Constantine. In 1954 it was declared a free city, and the first mayor was Boudjerra Bouabidi. The city is one of the oldest known cities in the Maghreb region, and one of the most important cities in the Roman Empire. Among the numerous archaeological sites, the best known is the synagogue of Cherchell, built on the site of an earlier Greek temple. The huge synagogue has four towers on the facade, as well as a ceiling with a large dome. It is characterized by its materials and style, being a Greek, Byzantine and Roman architecture in one. Other sights worth a visit in Cherchell include the Mausoleum of St. Tibe, a Roman cemetery dating from the 5th century, the National Library of Constantine dating from 1726 and the Parc Des Récollets, a park of the 20th century housing a rare and beautiful mansion. The airport has daily flights from Tétouan, the city's capital, and from Algiers, the capital of Algeria.

Annaba

Photo of Annaba
Annaba: en.wikipedia.org

Annaba is the second largest city in Algeria, situated near the east coast of the country. With a temperate climate and large fertile land, Annaba is known for producing citrus fruit such as pomelo and orange, hence its name in Arabic (Annab, "apricot"). Shopping in the city's European-style squares is popular with locals and visitors alike, while Annaba's impressive mosque is as impressive as those at Fez, Marrakech, and Tangier. Tourist sites include the delightful Roman ruins at Henchir Lotphar, while visiting the International Center of Khemisset (South of Annaba) will give visitors a taste of Algeria's important role in the development of World Heritage projects in both Tunisia and Morocco. The city's port is used to ferry travelers between Algeria and Tunisia.