My trip to Algeria began when a friend, a very experienced traveler, told me that for a long time he had not "been so surprised with a country". It was at this precise moment that I decided to visit Algeria.
Unfortunately, I did not find much information about the destination, so I had some difficulty setting up my screenplay in Algeria. I hope, therefore, that this roadmap will be useful, and will help more people visit the country. Because, in fact, it really is an amazing destination.
Next post, I then share my travel itinerary in Algeria. It was 11 full days traveling the country, including Algiers and Constantine, the Roman ruins of Tipasa and Djémila to the north; and still Ghardaia, in the M'Zab Valley; and Timimoun, further south, in the middle of the Sahara desert.
In the end, I am also referring to what would have changed in the 11 days in Algeria, and what I would have added had I had more time to explore the country. Here is my travel itinerary in Algeria.
My script in Algeria
1 Day: Algiers
The first day of my script in Algeria was dedicated to setting me up in the capital and dealing with practical matters. The night before had arrived quite late, so I only left my accommodation around 10: 00 in the morning.
After having breakfast at a small local cafeteria, I bought a Ooredoo SIM card to make it easier to organize the trip and have Internet (and cheaper to call home). The first mission was accomplished, but the most difficult was to go to the Air Algerie offices to buy a domestic flight to Timimoun.
Practical matters treated, I walked through busy and busy streets, towards the historic center of the city, which I did not explore much. How would I visit the kasbah the next day, on this first day, I was on the lower part of the kasbah. That's when I decided to take the opportunity to go to the Basilica of Our Lady of Africa. A local bus, followed by a Hiace van up the hill, then arrived at the basilica, which I visited without haste.
Once back to the lower part of town, I walked back to my lodging. It had been a quiet day, but very interesting; good to create a positive first impression of the Algerian capital.
See also post about us Things to do in Algiers.
Overnight in Algiersairbnb
Day 2: Kasbah of Algiers
I woke up early, ready to explore the old part of the capital Algiers. I had contacted a local guide recommended by my host and went with her visit the kasbah from Algiers, which I highly recommend. The visit included, among other things, a lunch at the house of friends of the guide - something different from the common tourist experiences and that gave me great pleasure.
After the visit, mid-afternoon, I took the metro and went to see the Martyrs Memorial and the adjacent El Hamma botanical garden accompanied by two young Algerians I had met in the tour. The curious thing is that during this period I could not pay for anything - neither the subway nor the cable car, nor a tea, nor a crepe, nor the taxi, nor the subway again, nothing! "No, you're our guest!" They repeated each time I tried to pay. It reminded me of iranian hospitality.
Overnight in Algiersairbnb
3 Day: Tipasa
The third day in Algiers I decided to visit the Roman ruins of Tipasa using public transport. I went to the bus terminal in Tafourah, near the train station, and took a minibus to Tipasa. Once in the town of Tipasa, I went to the ruins which, to my surprise, and for being Friday, were taken by hundreds of Algerians to stroll and to make picnics.
After the visit to the ruins of Tipasa, I went to visit the Royal Mausoleum of Mauritania, also included in the list of World Heritage in Algeria. In the middle of the afternoon, I returned to Algiers, tired but satisfied.
Overnight in Algiersairbnb
4 Day: Timimoun
In the morning I caught a domestic flight from Algiers to Timimoun, a small town in the middle of the Sahara desert in central Algeria. The plane was a bit late, and when I got there the heat was tremendous. And that means staying at the hotel.
Only at the end of the afternoon did I meet Timimoun, looking fleetingly at the local market and walking the streets of the old town. Then I went from jeep with the Algerian Mohamed, a local guide, to the surrounding dunes, just in time for tea while watching the sunset.
Overnight in TimimounAkham Timimoun
5 Day: Timimoun
The fifth day of my travel itinerary in Algeria was quite intense. I spent it with Mohamed, in his 4 × 4, to visit the region. Including several villages near Timimoun and other precious things like the traditional irrigation system and the palm trees (I had a picnic in one). By the end of the afternoon, he was returning to Timimoun.
6 Day: On the go
Day completely taken by the bus trip between Timimoun and Ghardaia. It was to have gone to 9: 00, left at 12: 00; and I got to Ghardaia already would be some 19: 30. I went straight to the guesthouse and there I stayed. The next few days would be intense.
Overnight in GhardaiaAkham Ghardaia
Day 7: Ghardaia
With the batteries recharged, it was then meet Ghardaia and the other fortified villages of the M'Zab Valley. For me, it was one of the most anticipated moments of my road trip to Algeria, and expectations were not let down. On the contrary: I have not been in a place as unique as Ghardaia for a long time.
In total, on this day I visited three of the five ksar classified by UNESCO as World Heritage in Algeria: Ghardaia, Melika and Beni-Isguen. It was absolutely fantastic!
Overnight in GhardaiaAkham Ghardaia
Day 8: Ghardaia
But the good surprises were not yet over, and the second day in Ghardaia, I had one of the best travel days of recent times.
I returned to souk of Ghardaia to photograph once more, but the main objective was to meet El Atteuf, the first village to be erected by the Mzabite people in the region. There I met a mzabita who, in the absence of the official guide, offered to guide me through El Atteuf. He was a very learned gentleman who, to the end, to my astonishment, invited me to come to his house. Inside was his wife, much younger than he, who received us uncovered, served us tea and there was the conversation. A very rare moment.
I left El Atteuf behind and had another opportunity to visit one of the new villages of the valley: Tefileh. By the positive, the notorious effort to copy as accurately as possible the architectural style of the original villages. In the negative, everything else: the city looks like plastic, a cheap Chinese imitation of Melika.
But the very best was even a young man from Tefileh, with the happiness of a newly married man stamped on his face, who showed me the village and, in the end, still invited me to go to his house. Her mother (who never showed herself) insisted that we eat, and we stayed there for a late lunch.
By this time, I went to my guesthouse relax in the palm grove and prepare myself for the night trip to Constantine.
After dinner, I then took a night bus that took me from Ghardaia to the suburbs of Constantine. It was a tiring trip, but it allowed us to enjoy the time. I only regretted not having left in Batna (an option I regret because I very much wanted to meet Timgad, accessible from Batna).
Sleeping: Night bus
9 Day: Constantine
It was melted down by the night trip but did not want to give the day as lost. So, after I set up, I ate breakfast and went immediately explore Constantine. It is the third largest city in Algeria, but surely the one that has the most curious and challenging orography. Not by chance, it is known as the "city of bridges".
Among other things, I went to visit the Palace of Ahmed Bey, the Sidi M'Cid Bridge and the so-called Monument to the Dead; beyond, of course, to spend some time on a terrace of the historic center to observe the daily life of Constantine.
Overnight in Constantine: Protea Hotel by Marriott
10 Day: Constantine
It was a quiet morning spent visiting the Emir Abdelkader mosque and strolling through the center of Constantine. In the afternoon, I took advantage of the excellent hotel where I stayed to work and posts on Algeria.
Overnight in Constantine: Protea Hotel by Marriott
11 Day: Djémila
It was the last day of my script in Algeria and I still had a very important place to meet. So early in the morning I took a bus to El Eulma, where I arranged a taxi driver to take me to Djémila. I spent almost two hours at visit the Roman ruins of Djemila, including its imposing and acoustically perfect Roman theater; and then I returned to El Eulma.
From there, I easily found a shared taxi to travel to Algiers, where I arrived late in the afternoon. I even had time to have a quiet dinner, before going to the airport to catch the return flight to Portugal.
What would change in the Algerian script
The only thing that would change in the Algerian script would be include the Roman ruins of Timgad and the Ghoufi Gorge, as originally planned. To do so, he had several options:
a) Do not visit Timimoun. Going to Timimoun was a conscious choice and a good experience, that's for sure; but the distance to Timimoun is immense, and because of that, my script in Algeria left little room to visit everything else I wanted. And the sacrifices were Timgad and Ghoufi's gorge. Not going to Timimoun, there would be time to stay in Batna and calmly visit Timgad and Ghoufi.
b) Stop in Batna on the journey between Ghardaia and Constantine. In fact, on the 9 day of the script could have gone out in Batna (instead of proceeding directly to Constantine). That was the plan, but I got to 4: 30 in the morning to Batna and did not feel like staying in the middle of the road until dawn to arrange a transportation to Timgad. Otherwise, it would have been possible to visit Timgad in the morning and in the afternoon he would go to Constantine (but he would not have that day in Constantine, of course). Even so, it would be virtually impossible to know Ghoufi's gorge.
c) Staying just one night in Constantine. Alternatively, you could go out in Batna as in the previous option, but stay to sleep that day 9 in Batna. In that case, after arriving in Batna on 9, I would settle in a hotel and arrange a taxi driver to go to Timgad and Ghoufi; and on the 10 day he would go to Constantine. I would only stay with Constantine one day; what for see the main attractions come perfectly (but not enough for feel the city, of course).
d) Add day and take a 12 day trip in Algeria. It would be the best option; since it allowed to see everything that wanted (and with more calm). In this case, he would do just as in option c), but would have two nights in Constantine.
That is, stopping at Batna, my what to do in Algeria, for 11 or 12 days, would be: Algiers - Timimoun - Ghardaia - Timgad and ghoufi gorge (Batna) - Constantine - Djémila - Algiers.
Finally, having even more time and an adventurous spirit, consider visiting the region of Tamanrasset (including the incredible Ahaggar massif). Tamanrasset lies at the southern tip of Algeria, not far from the borders with Mali and Niger.
Seen to visit Algeria
The consular section of the Embassy of Algeria in Portugal is open from Monday to Friday, from 9: 00 to 12: 30 (except Algerian and Portuguese holidays.). The procedure is relatively simple, as long as you follow some rules before presenting yourself at the embassy:
- Preencha or available form on-line in duplicate (ideally, do it on the computer, not by hand) and print it;
- Attach two passport photos (on a light background);
- Add a copy of the flight reservation, travel insurance and hotel reservations. As for accommodation, I was advised to book every night of the trip. I'm not sure that it's mandatory, but I did it (I booking, as if it were to be part of the time in Algiers and the rest in Constantine). Subsequently, I canceled the reservations I would not use.
Once at the Embassy of Algeria in Lisbon, you will have to pay 60 € for the visa issue. Note that, as a general rule, the visa is ready one week later (if it is delivered on a Tuesday, it will be ready on the following Tuesday).
In my case, and after researching how to get the visa from Algeria, it was to have gone directly to the Algerian Embassy in Lisbon; but since I live in Matosinhos and would have to go to Lisbon twice, I have chosen to hand over the file to the Visateam. This is a visa specialist company, which I use many times in my travels and I highly recommend it. The additional cost was 35 € per visa (plus the transport of the passport between Porto and Lisbon).
Note that after the date of issuance of the visa, 30 has days to enter the country; and, after that date, can travel in Algeria for 30 days.
A TAP is flying to Algiers, so the alternatives are direct flights from Lisbon to Algiers with Air Algeria, or flights with stopovers at a European airport such as Frankfurt or Paris. I flew with Lufthansa because the price was acceptable, but I do not think it compensated for the additional hours of flight (not least because the lower fare did not allow hold luggage).
Please note that Air Algeria is not one of the most reputable airlines in terms of customer service and aircraft cleaning; but if you find a good price, it is an alternative to consider.
In any case, use the link below to find the best prices in any company for your dates.
Transportation in Algeria
I know who has traveled by rental car and has done well. This option gives full freedom to go to places like Djemila or Ghoufi Gorges without relying on taxi drivers; and allows you to naturally maximize time. When planning your route in Algeria, however, keep in mind that the country is huge, huge distances and travel can take longer than planned (traffic, police checks ...).
Moreover, buses and shared taxis are the most abundant options. The trips may not be very fast (by bus), but they are cheap.
Finally, note that the train is effective between Algiers and Oran; but the oldest from Algiers to Constantine (but a good experience, as it stands).
Where to stay
Accommodation is one of the great difficulties for those who like to make reservations in advance. This is because there are few hotels available on platforms such as booking (and even the airbnb).
I stayed lodged in an apartment in Algiers (airbnb), in the guesthouses Akham N'Timimoun and Akham Ghardaia, properties of the same person, in Timimoun and Gardhaia, respectively; and in the Protea Hotel by Marriott in Constantine. Highly recommend everyone!
Unfortunately, only the Protea is present in the booking, so in other hotels the solution is to consult the website and contact e-mail. In any case, check the link below to see other hotels in Algeria; with the development of tourism, it is natural that many other hotels and guesthouses are being integrated into the platform.
Algeria is one of those countries where the official exchange rate and the exchange rate on the black market are very different. To get an idea, when I made this script in Algeria, 1 officially worth about 140 Algerian dinars (DNZ); but I traded for 200DNZ.
This means that the answer to the question of how much to travel in Algeria depends to a large extent on how to exchange money. In practice, it is essential not to pay with debit or credit cards (the official exchange rate will be used); cash withdrawals at ATMs (not even using the Revolut card); nor to exchange money in banks.
Following this assumption, what I did was take in notes (Euros) all the money I thought I needed; and I switched through reliable Algerians (in Algiers) and the black market (in Constantine), but never in banks. Do not worry that it is possible to switch to most destinations.
Note that Algeria is a cheap country in terms of meals, transport and accommodation. If it were not for my budget eccentricity in Constantine's accommodation, domestic flight, and tour 4 × 4 in Timimoun (it was expensive because you had no one to share the cost with), the 11 days of travel would have spent much less. Thus, I spent 650 €, excluded flights (compensated travel to two, since I would have spent little more if they were two people). Even staying always in private rooms.
A World Nomads offers one of the best and most complete travel insurance recommended by National Geographic and Lonely Planet. Other excellent and cheaper option is IATI Seguros, which has no age limit and allows multivariate insurance (including long-term travel) to any destination in the world. It's the insurance I use in my travels.