Best time to visit Algeria

BEST TIME TO VISIT ALGERIA


TEMPERATURE & RAINFALL

Algeria's coast, including Algiers and Oran, has a fairly typical Mediterranean climate so expect it to be hot from Jun-Sep; however, certainly not as hot as the desert regions to the south where temperatures rocket to unbearable levels. The best time to visit Algeria for a Saharan safari is Apr-Mar or Oct-Nov as conditions are less fierce and the rest of the country is dry and relatively warm. Oct also coincides with the annual date harvest, whilst in spring the hillsides of the north bound with new life and there are far fewer crowds around key cultural sites and beach resorts.

THINGS TO DO IN ALGERIA


WHAT TO DO IN ALGERIA & WHAT NOT TO

Things to do in Algeria…


From the ancient amphitheatre in Djémila to Trajan's Arch in Timgad, no history tour of Algeria would be complete without finding out more about the Roman Empire's foray into North Africa. Algeria's archaeological and UNESCO sites are dotted across the country with Algiers, Constantine, Tiddis and Oran offering endless historical intrigue as well as a chance to witness the French, Roman and Moorish manipulation that still play an important part in the country today.
Presiding over the grubby white roofs adorned with satellite dishes, aerials and corrugated iron, the Kasbah of Algiers stands as testament to strategic town planning as well as an example of how life in North Africa has continued in much the same way since the Maghreb era. Going on a guided tour of one of the world's largest kasbahs leads you past the mosques, souks and hammams where street food, community values and views over the twinkling Bay of Algiers reign supreme.
Trips into the Sahara on the Circuit de Sebkha offer an incredible experience with the Grand Erg Occidental (erg = continuous desert) covering an area (78,000sq km) large enough to be seen from space. Oasis towns of Taghit, Beni Abbes and Timimoun, provide great starting points with mud brick houses, twisting streets and sand-like, weather-beaten, ksars (castles), which were once the battlegrounds for Algeria's most legendary scraps between Berber tribes and the French army.

Things not to do in Algeria…


Most visits are trouble free, however terrorism is sadly a reality of traveling in these times. Algeria has, however, suffered at the hands of terrorists’ activities for many years, with a complex history of violence dating back to its independence from France in 1962. However, over recent years, the threat has been from Daesh (formerly referred to as ISIL), with attacks against the police in Constantine in 2016 and 2017. The most recent attack, in June 2017 was in Bir El-Ater in the state of Tebessa was against soldiers, believed to have been carried out by Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC), which has links to Al Qaeda.

Always get up to date information at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) travel advisory department before traveling to Algeria. These include staying away from areas within 30kms of Libya, Tunisia, Niger and Mali, sections of the Sahara.
Although Algiers is fascinating, it would be a shame not to explore more of Algeria. Explore nearby Tipaza’s Roman ruins and Berber tombs prior to heading off to Oran, or in the other direction to Constantine. Staying in one place is just not the done thing in Algeria, so fly into the desert or drive overland as Algeria offers an array of historical sites and cultural treasures just waiting to be unveiled.
Alround a third of Algerians parlent français and many more understand French far better than English so don’t forget your phrasebook. Chat to local guides, drivers and accommodation hosts, in French or even Arabic, and you'll find smiles broaden and heads nod more naturally. It’ll also give you the chance to haggle in the souks or order food in the streets.

ALGERIA TRAVEL ADVICE


TIPS FROM OUR FRIENDS IN ALGERIA

Linda Maguire, from our supplier Undiscovered Destinations, shares her top Algeria travel tips:

Meeting local people


“The Algerian people are delighted to see tourists in their country – I was asked to be in quite a few photos with local people – and are friendly and good humoured. Those that speak English are keen to practise whenever they have the chance.”

Shopping tips


“Almost no tourists visit Algeria and it does not have the souks and markets that you would expect to find in Morocco, for example. The markets are for local people to do their shopping rather than to sell souvenirs, so haggling isn't an issue.”

Jane Westwood, from our tour partners Wild Frontiers, offers advice on traveling in Algeria:

SAHARA SUITCASE


“If visiting the Sahara you’ll want to pack a good pair of enclosed boots or trainers as walking on sand can be tough, and hot. A good sun hat, sunglasses and a headscarf are also advisable as well as sun cream and lots of water. It’s also an idea to have a zip lock bag for your camera as grains of sand can play havoc with shutters. Note: Do not pack binoculars – they will be confiscated on arrival.”

SECURITY MEASURES


“The overwhelming feel is that Algeria is still a ‘closed’ country with strict controls from the Government in terms of movement. Security and red tape are still very much visible and Brits and Americans will have a security escort on journeys. It is nothing like other North African countries although the people are incredibly friendly and welcoming. Oil rather than Tourism is the focus.”

CULTURAL ETIQUETTE


“You will be unable to enter mosques as a non-Muslim even if appropriately attired. Remember to dress modestly especially when visiting local towns, markets and traditional areas. Remove your shoes if invited into a local house. If eating a meal, men and women should sit separately in a local house. Foreign men should not make prolonged eye contact with local women. If pointing at anything use your whole hand and not your finger. Finally, ensure you limit public displays of affection both for heterosexual and same sex couples (homosexuality is illegal in Algeria).”

And a tip from our vacation reviews


“The Roman ruins of Algeria are always a highlight, even more so when one is blessed with a very good guide as we had. Algiers is very beautiful and, as far as I know, the only Art Nouveau town; it's beautiful, despite the decay.” – Maria Camilo
Photo credits: [Weather chart photo: Hichem Merouche] [Help desk: Magharebia] [Meeting local people: Nairn Bairn] [Shopping tips: Nairn Bairn] [Sahara suitcase: Hichem Merouche] [Cultural etiquette: Calvin Smith] [And a tip from our vacation reviews: Stefan Krasowski]

Written by: Chris Owen
Algeria vacations, Desert and History

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